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The best hydration pack for running

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 you more convenient access to water and storage options when running or hiking than the typical backpack.

Water can be stored in easy-to-reach bottles on a vest or is accessible through a straw-like reservoir connected to a bladder in a pack for hands-free access without having to slow down or stop.

Today’s modern hydration packs are comfortable, durable and lightweight, but picking out a suitable pack depends on how you plan to use it. It doesn’t matter your skill level, the distance you traverse, conditions you encounter or the temperature you will endure — there’s a pack out there for everyone.

Styles of hydration packs for running

Hydration backpacks

Quality backpacks are sleek and designed to be lightweight but still have room to accommodate 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

Both hydration vests and backpacks are designed the same way, but vests are tighter-fitting. Vests are, as a result, less bulky and not as visible as backpacks but 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 smallest and most compact option, intended for minimal storage and water capacity.

Types of hydration packs for running

Running varies in terms of distance, terrain and weather conditions, so consider these things when deciding what type of hydration pack is right for you.


The casual or beginner runner benefits from a recreational hydration pack because it’s more affordable and provides multiple storage options. These are less form-fitting and tend to be unisex or one-size-fits-all.


Performance packs are typically hydration vests designed for serious runners seeking quality, comfort and lightweight models. Storage capacity and extra features are minimal compared to recreational packs. These also tend to be more expensive.


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 are made with the most durable fabrics.

Bottles vs. reservoirs

Access to water is the most attractive feature of a hydration pack, and this can come in the form of easy-to-reach water bottles or hydration bladders connected to a reservoir in the pack.

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 typically hold 1.5-3 liters, but smaller and larger options are available. Depending on the vest, bottles and reservoirs can be swapped out to fit your needs.

The hydration pack itself may be light, but it’s important to remember that water is heavy. Consider that 3 liters of water weighs 6.6 pounds, which is not great if speed and comfort are your primary objectives, though it could be advantageous if you intend to travel long distances without anywhere to replenish your supply.

The 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 multiple pockets ideal for carrying small supplies.

Sold by Amazon

Osprey Duro 6 Running Hydration Vest

The breathable mesh material makes for a snug and comfortable fit. The multiple pockets are easily accessible, and the reservoir can hold 1.5 liters. 

Sold by Amazon

Osprey Duro 1.5 Men’s Running Hydration Vest

At 10.5 ounces, this model is heavier and less streamlined than most vests, so it’s not optimal for runners looking for a sleek fit, but the added storage makes it worthwhile for those seeking comfort. It has a 1.5-liter reservoir and is one of the more affordable vests on the market.

Sold by Amazon

Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance Vest

Simple, lightweight and form-fitting, this vest is great for short outings and those looking to limit the weight for racing purposes. Storage capacity is limited, but it’s easily adjustable.

Sold by Backcountry

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

Salomon Women’s ADV Skin Set 8L Hydration Pack

Slim, light and minimal, this is a model designed for women and has enough pockets to carry light gear. It’s great for trail running but is versatile and well-rounded for both longer and shorter outings.

Sold by Amazon

Nathan Women’s VaporAiress 7L Hydration Vest 

Designed specifically for women, this model is easy to adjust and form-fitting for comfort. Lightweight with a 2-liter reservoir, the kangaroo pocket in front and main back pocket provide additional storage.

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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