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The best hydration packs for running on a hot day

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The benefits of a hydration pack for running

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends ingesting fluids before, during and after exercise. The right hydration pack provides more convenient access to water in one or two ways. The first is in easy-to-reach bottles on a vest. The second is through a straw-like reservoir connected to a bladder in the pack for hands-free access. Today’s modern hydration packs are comfortable, durable and lightweight. But, picking out a suitable pack depends on how you plan to use it.

Shop this article: Cherainti Hydration BladderNathan Men’s VaporKrar 4L 2.0 Hydration Vest and Camelbak Circuit Running Hydration Vest.

Styles of hydration packs for running

  • Hydration backpacks: Quality backpacks are sleek and lightweight. They also have room for any gear and supplies you might want to carry. This makes hydration backpacks the better option for longer runs where you might need access to food or clothing. However, the bigger the pack and the more gear you carry, the heavier the load and the more restricted your movement becomes.
  • Hydration vests: Hydration vests are tighter-fitting, less bulky and not as visible as backpacks. They are still secured to your back using shoulder straps. They’re ideal for those focused on convenience, speed and comfort.
  • Hydration waist packs: Hydration waist packs are the most compact option, intended for minimal storage and water capacity.

Types of hydration packs for running

Consider distance, terrain and weather conditions when deciding what type of hydration pack is right for you.

  • Recreational: Recreational hydration packs are more affordable and provide many storage options. They are less form-fitting and tend to be unisex or one-size-fits-all. They're best for casual or beginner runners.
  • Performance: Performance packs are typically hydration vests designed for serious runners. Storage capacity and extra features are minimal compared to recreational packs. These also tend to be more expensive.
  • Fastpacking: If you’re into hiking, backpacking and long trail runs, fastpacking is the optimal pack for you. These packs have the largest storage capacity, the most features and use the most durable fabrics.

Bottles vs. reservoirs

Water bottles are easier to refill, and you can often drink from them without taking off the pack. Hydration reservoirs can hold more water, and the straw-like device allows you to hydrate more often without having to grab a bottle. However, when water runs low, a reservoir can be challenging to refill when not at home. Depending on the type of vest you’re looking for, you might have to purchase bladders and reservoirs separately.

Water capacity

Most reservoirs hold 1.5 to 3 liters. Depending on the vest, bottles and reservoirs are swappable to fit your needs. Remember that water is heavy: 3 liters of water weighs 6.6 pounds. That's not great if speed and comfort are your primary objectives. It could be advantageous if you intend to travel long distances without anywhere to replenish your supply.

Best hydration packs for running

Nathan Men’s VaporKrar 4L 2.0 Hydration Vest

Comfortable and made with soft, easily stretchable fabric, the vest holds two 20-ounce soft bottles. It’s lightweight, and the minimalist design still includes pockets for carrying small supplies.

Sold by Amazon


Camelbak Circuit Running Hydration Vest

One of the more inexpensive products on the market, this comes with a 1.5-liter hydration reservoir included. The mesh is breathable and the vest is lightweight, but it only comes in one size.

Sold by Amazon


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Ryan Dempsey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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