We can all agree that hydration is extremely important, especially as we enter the summer months.
Most people don’t drink the recommended daily amount of water and this can lead to numerous health impacts.
But for runners, this can be especially dangerous, as well as slowing the recovery process and hindering future running performance.
For shorter distances, drinking before and after the run can be enough.
But in summer temperatures, it would be beneficial to be carrying water for runs longer than an hour.
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.
Things to Consider When Choosing Your Best Running Backpack
- Hydration system – bottles or bladder or both?
- Breathability – well designed mesh back panel?
- Comfort – will it bounce or chafe your skin?
- Durability – will it be worth your money in the long run?
- Size and fit – will the size be right for you or are there enough adjustable straps?
- Pockets – how much extra storage do you need?
- Liquid volume – how much is enough for your needs?
- Waterproof – are you likely to be running in the rain?
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.
Conversely, if ultra running is your thing, hitting the trails and 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 water proof pack may be advantageous.
Once you’ve decided on your criteria, will the help of the following list, you should be able to choose the best running backpack to tick all of your boxes.
TOP 13 Best Hydration Packs for Running 2019
Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set Backpack
Review: The Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set sits at the tops 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.
Nathan Women’s Vaporhowe Hydration Vest
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 extremely comfortable. 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 Vapor Air 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 sung 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 2019.
- Very Comfortable.
- Easy to use and refill on the go.
- Plenty of roomy pockets.
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.
Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Vesta 4.0
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.
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Review: Popular and comfortable, 1.5L water bladder compatible, and coming equipped with 2 x 20 oz. bottles, the SJ Ultra Vest was designed through collaboration with ultra runner Scott Jurek.
With its 7L gear storage capacity and multiple pockets, this pack has a good amount of storage for all the essentials to ensure that you are well supplied.
Weighing in at 11 oz. without bottles or 16.5 oz with bottles this is definitely a lightweight pack that will comfortably go the distance.
- 2 x adjustable sternum straps minimize bounce.
- Multiple pockets.
- Unisex sizing.
- Bladder not included.
The best hydration pack for marathon running and trail running due to its impressive volume to weight ratio, and durable, waterproof and comfortable design.
Review: A reliable Osprey Pack, the Duro 6 is a Men’s pack designed for trail running and comes equipped with a 1.5L BPA free water bladder and a 6L gear capacity.
6 external pockets provide all the storage you might need for your running adventure, while a vertical zip pocket has the additional feature of a whistle zipper pull for easy access in emergencies.
Deep mesh pockets cater for larger items and stretchy sternum straps make for unrestricted breathing. At 19 oz. with the bladder, the Duro 6 is a lightweight pack.
- Plenty of pockets.
- Sternum magnet for securing hose.
- Bladder designed with baffles to maintain streamlined shape.
- Men’s and Women’s versions available.
- Doesn’t bounce.
A good quality, well designed pack with ample storage space makes the Duro 6 a great option for longer trail runs.
Review: This is CameBak’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 differing 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.
- Sweat proof 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: Another popular CamelBak vest, the Circuit has a 1.5L Crux Reservoir which delivers more water per mouthful resulting in more hydration for less effort.
Though not gender specific, the adjustable sternum straps make this vest comfortable for women of all sizes. With 6 exterior pockets, it has enough storage space to carry the necessities.
It’s the smallest vest on the CamelBak line weighing in at just 6 oz without the bladder, so perfect for minimalist or entry level runners.
- Adjustable sternum straps.
- Good value.
- Reflective strips for night safety.
- Ample pockets including a zip pocket for valuables.
- No specific water bottle holders.
A great value pack that does what it’s supposed to do – provide you with a comfortable and lightweight hydration solution while you run.
Review: Designed for trail running, this 12.8 oz pack comes with a Source WLP 1.5L low profile water bladder with a cut out center that minimizes water sloshing while you run.
Adjustable, contoured shoulder straps allow for a snug fit, while not restricting body movement.
Quick access zip pockets allow for convenient storage of snacks and valuables while the insulated reservoir compartment keeps your water cool in hot weather.
- BPA and Phthalate Free.
- Adjustable straps.
- Waist and sternum straps for a secure fit.
- Limited extra storage space.
This is a comfortable trail running pack that will fulfill your hydration needs with its top quality bladder and hose, provided you don’t need to carry any extra clothing.
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.
- Streamlined shape.
- Easy refill and cleaning.
- External bungee for 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.
Another great option for marathons and day hikes.
Review: With its female specific design and included 1.5L water bladder, this minimalist vest is another great 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.
- Breathable mesh.
- Bladder included.
- Adjustable and removable chest straps.
- Size small is very small.
- Not as comfortable as the more expensive women’s packs.
Useful for short runs or longer runs and the best running hydration vest if you want a minimalist experience.
High Sierra Women’s Propel 70
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 an extra layer and some snacks.
The padded back panel and straps are made of moisture wicking mesh for comfort and breathability. The Women’s Propel has a female specific fit.
At 20.8 oz, this isn’t the most lightweight pack but its versatile and affordable.
- Bounce reduction strapping system.
- Good number of pockets.
- Comes with 2L bladder that is easy to use and clean.
- Gender specific design.
- No sternum strap so possibly better for hiking than running as such.
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.
Nathan Trail Mix Hydration Running Belt
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.
- Snug fit.
- Non-bounce and non-twist design.
- Reflective Trim.
- Zip pockets for valuables.
- Durable materials and well made.
- Doesn’t fit larger smart phones.
This is likely to be the best hydration belt for running 2019 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.
So there we have it, the best hydration backpacks for running on the market.
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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