Review: The Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set sits at the top of the list and comes with 2x 500ml soft bottles, is 1.5L water bladder compatible (though this needs to be purchased separately) and claims to have a 12L pack capacity.
Designed for European mountain ultras, it has the storage solutions to let you carry all sorts of gear.
Also designed with serious comfort in mind with its stretchy mesh and figure-hugging strap design, the advanced Skin 12 Set is ideal for running long distances.
Unique kangaroo pouches are a novel but effective way to store your snacks or extra layers of clothing and the heat shielded bladder sleeve keeps your water cool.
At 17.5 oz including the bottles, this is a lightweight pack.
Breathable mesh back panel.
Many sizes available.
Multiple pockets of different styles.
Very comfortable figure-hugging mesh.
Bladder sold separately.
Arguably the best running backpack on the market, if you are willing to front up the cash for a comfortable and convenient running partner.
This is the best hydration pack for ultra running and the best trail running hydration backpack.
Review: With a 1.8L water bladder, 12L gear storage capacity and 12.6 oz. weight, the Nathan Vaporhowe was designed by champion ultra runner Stephanie Howe, especially for women. It is light, soft and the most comfortable women’s vest.
A magnet on the sternum strap lets you connect the hose for easy access. The easy to use, adjustable straps let you find the perfect fit quickly and then allow you to move freely while you run without feeling restricted in any way.
Symmetrical chest pockets keep you feeling balanced, and the bladder that comes with the vest does its job admirably without bouncing around.
Female specific design.
Very comfortable figure-hugging fabric.
Well ventilated with strategic holes.
Easy access, plentiful pockets.
Includes emergency whistle in hidden pocket.
This is easily the best running hydration pack for women. If you can handle the steep price, it won’t let you down.
Furthermore, it is the best hydration vest for trail running for women due to its durable and snug-fitting design.
Review: The Nathan VaporAir comes with a 2L water bladder, 7L gear storage capacity, a magnetic hose clamp for easy access, adjustable shoulder straps, external bungee cords for extra storage and reflective features.
What more could you want?
If you prefer chest-mounted water bottles, this is not the pack for you, but the 2L water bladder more than does the job of keeping you hydrated and comfortable.
It isn’t as snug a fit as the previous 2 vests on the list, but is still at the very comfortable end of the spectrum when compared to other vests on the market.
At just 9.3 oz. with the bladder, this is likely to be the best lightweight running backpack 2021.
Easy to use and refill on the go.
Plenty of roomy pockets.
On the expensive side.
This is the lightest hydration pack for running so a great choice when looking for the best hydration pack for marathon running or the best hydration pack for running half marathon races that uses a bladder hydration system.
Review: 20% lighter than the Ultra Vesta 3.0, this vest just gets better and better. Less comfortable but comparatively less expensive than the Nathan Vaporhowe, this vest is the next best choice for serious women runners.
Pack capacity is 10.1L and there is space for the addition of a 2L bladder which must be bought separately. It comes with 2 x 500ml bottles which may or not be adequate depending on the length of your run.
They are also positioned a little high which could make on-the-go access awkward. The Ultra Vest is the male version, equal to the Ultra Vesta and a fantastic choice for male runners who don’t want to fork out for the Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set.
Ample pockets and rear storage space.
Highly adjustable sternum and waist straps for a snug fit.
Bladder must be bought separately.
Among the best women’s running backpacks and another great choice when looking for the best hydration pack for marathon running or best hydration pack for trail running for women.
Review: This is CamelBak’s most popular hydration vest for running, designed to carry everything you might need for your marathon distance run.
It comes with a 2L bladder and a pocket for an extra drink bottle. It is simple, comfortable and reliable. It can be adjusted to cope with different loads and not bounce with any of them, while its easily accessible and refillable bladder makes rehydrating easy while on the go.
Weighing in at 9.5 oz without the bladder, this is a seriously lightweight pack.
Mesh panels for breathability.
Sweatproof phone compartment.
Ample pockets for snacks and an extra layer.
Reflective strips for night safety.
Comes in only one size.
2016 model so may not be available for too much longer.
This is the best CamelBak for running provided you don’t want to carry endless amounts of knick-knacks, and is similarly CamelBak’s best hydration pack for marathon running.
Review: The Teton Sports Trailrunner comes equipped with a BPA free 2L water bladder and is great for both road and off-road running.
Reflective trim keeps you visible at night, chest shock absorber reduces bounce, and a deep mesh pocket provides storage for valuables and snacks. With the different sizes to choose from and the highly adjustable straps, you can be assured of a snug, bounce-free fit.
Weighing in at 14.4 oz., this is a great option for those who don’t want to fork out for a top of the range pack.
Extremely good value for money.
Many sizes to choose from.
Highly adjustable straps.
Includes safety features such as orange whistle and reflective strips.
Easy refill and cleaning.
External bungee for extra storage.
Limited extra storage.
This is excellent value for money option for trail runners and road runners alike who are looking for a comfortable pack with ample hydration volume and don’t need too much extra storage space.
Review: With its female-specific design and included 1.5L water bladder, this minimalist vest is another top-rated women’s hydration pack for those who want to feel as though they’re not wearing anything.
At just 9.6 oz., with room for water, a layer and a snack, this is an extremely lightweight option, great for the minimalists out there!
Magnet on sternum strap for drinking hose.
Ultra-lightweight, minimalist design.
Small emergency whistle.
Adjustable and removable chest straps.
Size small is very small.
Not as comfortable as the more expensive women’s packs.
This is the best running hydration vest if you want a minimalist experience, useful for short runs or longer runs.
Review: Simple and functional, the High Sierra Propel 70 has no gimmicks and gets the job done. It comes with a 2L water bladder which is BPA free and antimicrobial, and has a 6L storage capacity so plenty of space for a spare jersey and some snacks.
The padded back panel and straps are made of moisture-wicking mesh for comfort and breathability, and the Women’s Propel has a female-specific fit.
At 20.8 oz, this isn’t the most lightweight pack but it’s versatile and affordable.
Bounce reduction strapping system.
Good number of pockets.
Comes with 2L bladder that is easy to use and clean.
No sternum strap so possibly better for hiking than running.
Not at the top of the list of best hydration packs, but here to provide some options as we all have different body shapes and criteria.
This pack is an affordable option for someone who may use it for a bit of hiking and cycling as well.
Review: This hydration vest is durable, very comfortable, and lightweight. You can forget you’re wearing it, with no hot spots or rubbing.
It’s loaded with pockets so you definitely won’t run out of places to put stuff. Two of the front mesh pockets come loaded with 500ml squeezy bottles, while the 12L main compartment comes with a 2L hydration bladder.
It also comes in 3 sizes and the two front straps are easily adjustable for the perfect fit.
Super stretchy pockets.
2L hydration bladder included.
12L weather-resistant main compartment.
2 sternum straps for extra stability.
Sternum straps are very thin.
This is a very highly rated hydration vest and could be the best hydration pack for trail running due to its durable, weather proof design.
Review: Includes 2 x 300ml bottles so less liquid capacity than a hydration vest, but if you’re just after a little rehydration and the convenience of being able to carry some snacks and valuables, then a belt might be a great way to go.
Stretchy straps make for a snug, bounce-free fit, while secure bottle holsters reassure you that you won’t lose your bottles mid-run. The bottles are also easy to access while on the go.
Not as roomy in terms of pocket space compared to some other belts on the market, but the Trail Mix carries everything you need for a minimalist run – keys, phone and snacks.
Non-bounce and non-twist design.
Zip pockets for valuables.
Durable materials and well made.
Doesn’t fit larger smartphones.
This is likely to be the best hydration belt for running 2021 owing to its great design. If you want to be able to fit your iPhone 6, may need to upgrade to the Trail Mix Plus.
If you’re interested in more belts as an alternative to the vest design, check out our list of the best running belts.
Why Do You Need a Hydration Vest?
Hydration vests are the most convenient way to carry water while you run, without the bulkiness of a conventional backpack cramping your stride and without having to stop and rummage through said backpack to find your bottles.
The best ones are also designed to minimize bounce so that you forget you’re wearing them, and provide plenty of ventilation across your back so that you and the vest don’t get excessively sweaty.
Some hydration vests are even gender-specific which makes for a more comfortable fit.
But how do you choose?
Things to Consider When Choosing Your Best Running Backpack
Hydration system – Do you prefer to drink out of bottles a straw from a bladder or both?
Breathability – Is the back panel well designed with plenty of mesh to allow your back to breath?
Comfort – Will the vest bounce or chafe your skin?
Durability – Will it be worth your money in the long run?
Size and fit – Is it a one size fits all deal or is the size right for you? Are there enough adjustable straps?
Pockets – How much extra storage do you need? Do you run with food or extra clothing?
Liquid volume – How many liters are you likely to drink while wearing the vest? Don’t carry more than you need – it’ll just weigh you down!
Waterproof – Are you likely to be running in the rain? This only matters if you’re using the vest to carry something like your phone which can’t get wet. But even if the whole thing isn’t waterproof, there should at least be a waterproof pocket for valuables.
In order to decide on these considerations, you need to know what you want to use your hydration pack for.
Different priorities will be at play depending on whether you want to hit mountain trails or a road marathon, whether you want to be out for hours on end or just 1 hour, and whether you will be encountering changeable weather or constant sun.
For example, the best hydration packs for marathon running are going to be those packs that provide a comfortable, bounce-free fit, are as light as possible and focus on the hydration system without necessarily providing room for storage of things that you may prefer not to be weighed down by on race day.
The best hydration pack for running half marathon will be even lighter with literally just enough space for essentials like a few gels.
Conversely, if ultra running is your thing, hitting the trails in the variable weather conditions of the mountains may call for more storage space in order to be prepared for a wide range of situations, and a waterproof pack may be advantageous.
Once you’ve decided on your criteria, with the help of the above list, you should be able to choose the best running backpack to tick all of your boxes.
What else can I help you with?
If you’re interested in hydration packs, I’m probably right in thinking you’re into long-distance running? Make sure your shoes are up to the task and choose your next best long-distance running shoes here!
When you’re covering more miles, nutrition becomes even more important, right? It’s true what they say, you are what you eat!
Runners need to be fuelled effectively in order to train and recover effectively. If you’re not sure whether you’re getting what you need from your current diet, be sure to have a read of our guides to the best pre-workout supplements for running and protein powders for runners so that your nutrition won’t be the thing holding you back from your best performance!
And while we’re talking about performance, do you track your stats? Or do you currently use your phone to navigate?
If you’re likely to be running for more than 2 hours without access to water, or more than an hour if the weather is hot, then a hydration pack is pretty essential to make sure you stay hydrated.
Do Marathon Runners Wear Hydration Packs?
This depends on the marathon and the runner. A lot of marathons provide drink stations where you can grab something to drink mid-race.
But, some people prefer to have their own sports drink on hand, or want to make sure they can sip smaller amounts at more regular intervals than the drink stations might allow.
It’s a very personal choice, but yes, some marathon runners do wear hydration packs.
Will My Shoulders Get Tired from Carrying the Pack?
No. If your hydration pack fits you properly and your chest straps are adjusted appropriately, the weight of the pack should be evenly distributed across your back and chest so your shoulders shouldn’t get tired.
How do You Run with a Hydration Pack?
If you’ve chosen a good hydration pack for running, then you shouldn’t need to run any differently. The hydration pack should stay in place and not bounce or cause you to change your running style.
How Much Water Should You Carry when Running?
This depends on how long you’re running for. But, unless the weather is dangerously hot (in which case you probably should be choosing a cooler time of day to run!), most runners won’t drink more than 250ml or 8-9 fluid ounces per hour.
Are Hydration Backpacks Comfortable to Wear?
Good hydration packs for running are comfortable to wear, yes. But the key is in the fit!
So there we have it, the best hydration packs for running of 2021.
We hope you enjoyed reading this guide and manage to find a hydration solution that leaves you running comfortably and hydrated!
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Michael is a fitness expert and professional home/garage gym builder. His tutorials, guides, and reviews are backed up by his own experience and will definitely help you achieve your goals. He also loves putting mayo AND ketchup on the pizza for some reason!