Best Hydration Packs for Running & TOP 13 Running Backpacks Reviewed 2022

Jeff Baldelli
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Running is an activity that requires mental and physical strength, endurance and perseverance.

Your shoes provide cushion for your feet, your clothes provide warmth for your body, and your hydration provides hydration for your body.

You see, mental toughness can sometimes overpower physical toughness.

You see a big hill up ahead, and you start thinking about how tired you are.

You see the mileage ticker on your watch under 100, and you start thinking about focusing on being as light as possible to go the distance.

It’s a fine line between embracing the big picture and focusing on the small picture.

Maybe you cut your water weight down to just one sheet of toilet paper in order to cut that extra weight off your feet. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t sit very well. Or is that just me?

We’re here to help you achieve your running goals.

Below, you’ll find a detailed breakdown on how much water you should drink per hour of running, the right type of water you should drink, and three new hydration lines coming from GRAYBAR.

NameCategoryProduct
Nathan Vaporhowe Hydration PackBest OverallNathan Vaporhowe Hydration Pack
TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack; BackpackBudget PickTETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack; Backpack
Osprey Dyna 1.5 Women's Running Hydration VestUpgrade PickOsprey Dyna 1.5 Women's Running Hydration Vest

1. Nathan Vaporhowe Hydration Pack

Our rating: 9 / 10

Nathan Vaporhowe Hydration Pack

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Pros:

  • Adjustable Velcro straps
  • Hidden zip pocket for valuables
  • Great for long trail runs
  • Hydration bladder stays cool
  • A great option for women, available in many different colors
  • Lifetime warranty

This small, lightweight yet versatile running vest is great for long-distance runners. It has a number of pockets for snacks, water or valuables, and a 1.8L capacity purge/drink system keeps you hydrated.

It is gender-specific, so it fits the female body shape. A number of different colors are available, so you can choose one that fits your style of running.

2. Nathan VaporAir Hydration Pack Running Vest

Our rating: 9 / 10

Nathan VaporAir Hydration Pack Running Vest

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Pros:

  • Hydration with 2L capacity.
  • Has 2 pockets with elastic sides for easy storage.
  • Padded straps.
  • Can fit up to 3 Litres of storage capacity.
  • Hydration Bladder has 5/8 tubing which can be detached from the reservoir.
  • Comes with a hook to secure the reservoir so it stays in place.

Cons:

  • Storage capacity is not very big.
  • Some users say it’s too small to fit much.

3. Ultimate Direction Womens Ultra Vesta 4.0

Our rating: 8 / 10

Ultimate Direction Womens Ultra Vesta 4.0

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Pros:

  • Great for 3-season runs.
  • Recommend for women.
  • Small and lightweight.

Cons:

  • Does not fit well for larger bodies.
  • Not recommended for winter training.
  • Cardholder pocket is a bit small.

The Ultimate Direction Women's Ultra vest is a very attractive small hydration pack for women who run distances from 5K to half marathon. The pack is also great for the adult runner with a slightly smaller body. With a weight of just 0.62lb, this is a very lightweight hydration pack. It easily fits essentials such as keys, a phone, lip balm, nutrition (gels, bite-size bars, etc.), and a few small items such as a whistle and a small flashlight.

It is made of a thin, stretchy fabric and is very breathable. It only has two main storage pockets (plus a few elastic pockets for small items) and a water bladder for fluid storage. It is easy to reach even when you’re running or working out, and the zipper and hose ports are easy to access.

4. Arc'teryx Norvan 14 Hydration Vest

Our rating: 8 / 10

Arc'teryx Norvan 14 Hydration Vest

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Pros:

  • Compatible with cycling accessories like a water bottles or a phone pocket (sold separately).
  • The vest is easy to remove and put on smoothly, and it does not bounce.

Cons:

  • The size is slightly big.
  • There is only one set strap.

The AG's Arc'teryx hydration vest boasts comfort and utility at the highest level. This vest is versatile and is designed to sustain long runs or hikes. The pocket on the side allows you to store your phone or other goods, and the base of the vest allows you to attach a water bottle.

The vest comes with a dual-directional zipper, a whistle, and a full-length shoulders strap. Moreover, it is water resistant, keeping out any rain that may ruin your day. A temperature of more than 40 degrees would cause you to sweat during the run.

Therefore, it is recommendable to wear a hydration vest to keep you cool off. The Arc'teryx hydration vest is highly recommended to runners and hikers.

5. Nathan Hydration Running Belt Trail Mix

Our rating: 8 / 10

Nathan Hydration Running Belt Trail Mix

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Pros:

  • Incredible Range Of Adjustments
  • Comfortable Fit
  • Great For Long Runs
  • Neoprene Padded Waist Comfort Belt
  • Reasonably Price for Price
  • Has A Unique Feature- Pocket With A Velcro Closure For Keys, Money, And Credit Cards
  • Great Design
  • Enough Space For My Phone And Food and Everything Else I Need To Take With Me On Long Runs
  • Has A Pouch For A Water Bottle
  • Easy To Get Your Phone In and Out Of Without Having To Take The Belt Off

Cons:

  • The 3M Reflective Strip Could Be a Little Longer To Be More Visible At Night
  • Straps are a little tight, but this may be because they are adjustable and they will expand over time
  • Not Recommended to Run With If You are Planning on Putting Large Amounts Of Weight In This

6. TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack; Backpack

Our rating: 7 / 10

TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack; Backpack

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Pros:

  • Bigger Bladder than Competition
  • Removable framesheet
  • Great value and tested
  • storage with the belt pockets and compression straps
  • Affordable and breathable

Cons:

  • Strap placement is not well designed
  • No side pockets or mesh

This is great backpack that has lots of storage for your daily run. The vest itself is breathable, with good airflow.

You have 2 main pockets (the one on the back is really big and has a zipper compartment inside), 2 side pockets and a main compartment with a hidden zipper (zipper is hard to open).

The front and back shoulder straps are well designed, the back straps are removeable, just remove the Velcro and you can even make a functional fanny pack.

7. Ultimate Direction SJ 2.0 Ultra Vest

Our rating: 7 / 10

Ultimate Direction SJ 2.0 Ultra Vest

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Pros:

  • Hip pockets can fit small external water bottles
  • Spacious main compartment can hold all your race essentials, including a light jacket and snacks.
  • Spacious pockets in the back of the belt for your nutrition and electronics
  • Ample reflective accents
  • Comfortable, breathable mesh harness will keep you cool.
  • You can adjust the shoulder and sternum straps to find a perfect fit.
  • The bottles accommodate hand warmers.
  • No bounce when running, the vest has great fit.

Cons:

  • The vest is pricey, but the quality, storage options, and versatility are worth the investment.

Ultimate Direction vest is by far the best hydration pack for long distance trail running. The hip belt fits snugly around your hips to help transfer any weight from the shoulders.

This design feature makes it easy to use the pockets without the need to take the vest off and put it back on multiple times. The 3D mesh back adds extra breathability and comfort, with no bounce when running. The shoulder straps and sternum straps can be adjusted so you can customize the fit.

The vest is also hydration and nutrition ready, with 2L of storage capacity and 2 10oz Ultimate Direction soft flasks. There are plenty of pockets for nutrition and other essential race items during your run, too.

8. Salomon Adv Skin 12 Set Black

Our rating: 7 / 10

Salomon Adv Skin 12 Set Black

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Pros:

  • Dual rear pockets for storing bottles or other gear
  • Sturdy materials
  • Large main compartment
  • Lightweight
  • Can hold many items
  • Comes with adjustable waist strap

Cons:

  • Takes a long time to dry
  • Mesh water bottle pockets may not be secure.

This backpack is excellent for sports of all types. It can be used for activities including road biking, trail running, mountain biking, kayaking, and camping. It comes with a foam back panel, hip belts, and carrying straps that allow it to be used as a hydration pack.

The pockets on the side are helpful so that items don’t need to be placed on the bottom of the main compartment. The zippers are also very long so they can reach around the entire back. They won’t snag on things as they are being closed. The straps is also conveniently located so items can be secured easily.

The hip belt is padded and the waist belt is wide enough to distribute the weight across the whole back. It can hold an amazing amount of items without excessive weight. It holds up to 12 liters of water, and with the pockets carefully placed, it can hold a variety of items.

9. Osprey Duro 6 Backpack

Our rating: 7 / 10

Osprey Duro 6 Backpack

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Pros:

  • Solid construction.
  • Light and has plenty of storage for a hydration backpack
  • Has space to store wet clothing or shoes.
  • Has a removable daypack section.
  • Hydration bladder included

Cons:

  • The reservoir is almost too large and requires ice to be put in it.
  • If you are looking for a hydration backpack that is high-quality, yet still affordable, the Osprey Duro 6 is an excellent option to consider.

This backpack has plenty of venting channels, which really helps keep you cool on those hot days. It also has dedicated shoe storage with padded straps.

When all is said and done, this is a great option for anyone looking for a hydration backpack.

Bottom Line: The Osprey backpack is a solid choice for anyone looking for a quality long-lasting hydration pack.

10. Osprey Dyna 1.5 Women's Running Hydration Vest

Our rating: 7 / 10

Osprey Dyna 1.5 Women's Running Hydration Vest

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Pros:

  • Perfect for warm weather runs
  • Plenty of storage pockets
  • Two belt pockets included
  • Large capacity
  • Perfect for hiking
  • Great value for money

Cons:

  • * It is not a women's specific fit

This is a great comfortable running backpack with a little more freedom of movement than some of the alternatives, and it has a number of features which are essential for every runner, including a reflective trim for safety, integrated pockets on the shoulder straps to keep keys and energy gels handy, a separate compartment for your mobile phone and a big spacious main compartment.

It has a large main compartment and three external pockets that are great for all your extra stuff including the obvious requirement of a hydration bladder and the not so obvious extras like a dry bag to keep your wet stuff separate.

Comfort is provided with the addition of a waist strap and padded shoulder straps. It is a great versatile bag which would also be perfect for hiking, for day trips, and even as an everyday lifestyle backpack.

11. CamelBak 2016 Marathoner Hydration Vest

Our rating: 6 / 10

CamelBak 2016 Marathoner Hydration Vest

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Pros:

  • Boasts a 30 ounce reservoir.
  • Reflective accents.
  • Padded shoulder straps.
  • Multi-point routing for equipment.
  • Large main storage compartment.
  • Two external side pockets.

Cons:

  • Some users find water bladder to be a bit too big.
  • Includes a bladder that is not very easy to clean.

The CamelBak 2016 Marathoner harness is a versatile hydration pack designed for runners and other athletes that work out outdoors.

The straps on this pack are adjustable, and they comfortably grip the wearer.

The pack also includes storage compartments for a mobile phone, keys, and other small items. The included pockets are made from water-resistant material, which is a great feature that protects the items inside the pockets from rain.

12. High Sierra Propel Hydration Pack

Our rating: 6 / 10

High Sierra Propel Hydration Pack

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Pros:

  • Padded, adjustable shoulder straps
  • Lightweight
  • Includes a bladder and bite valve
  • Compact design but holds plenty of gear
  • Securely holds water bottle
  • Ample amounts of storage for energy bars and other running essentials
  • Color options for both men and women
  • Affordable and made by a reputable brand

Cons:

  • Water bottle is not insulated
  • Small water bottle capacity
  • Bladder is a little tough to refill

This cross-body hydration pack is suitable for both men and women because of its breathable, padded shoulder straps and adjustable women’s waist belt.

It’s got a slim design and lightweight, but it holds plenty of gear: a bottle, two gels, keys, iPhone, two energy bars, hand towel and chamois.

The BPA-free bladder holds 32 ounces of fluid, which is the minimum recommended amount for long runs, plus the bite valve makes it easy to rehydrate without breaking stride.

13. CamelBak Circuit Hydration Vest

Our rating: 5 / 10

CamelBak Circuit Hydration Vest

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Pros:

  • Large capacity.
  • Large, convenient side pockets.
  • Quick access hydration pocket.
  • Sturdy removable webbing.
  • Adjustable vest with four points of attachment.
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Highly visible, highly reflective trim.

Cons:

  • No bladder included.
  • Some sun logo wear.

If you are looking for a solid running vest at a reasonable price, the CamelBak Circuit Hydration Vest is a great choice.

There are four detachable reflective tabs that are a cool safety feature that help motorists see you at night.

This makes running on busy streets much safer than it would be otherwise.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the best hydration packs for running?

The best hydration packs for running are modular. They provide easy access to your stuff; no need for a fiddle to open up a pouch or zipped compartment. Ergonomics and comfort are important, because you want your hydration pack to be very comfortable to carry and light-weight.

As for the reservoir capacity, we find that a 2 liter reservoir is ideal for most hydration packs for running.

Do marathon runners wear hydration packs?

Hydration vests are commonplace among long-distance runners, especially those training for marathons and other such events. A conventional hydration pack will hold plenty of water and nutrition and will be secured to your body through straps around the waist and shoulders. Body armor is another benefit that a hydration vest has over a hydration backpack that many athletes appreciate.

This is an item that you may only want to wear on workout days, however, as wearing a heavy vest laden with water can cause unnecessary fatigue. However, this is just anecdotal, and there are few rules that say you can and cannot wear a hydration vest while you are running.

How do I stop my backpack from bouncing when I run?

There are two primary issues that impact bounce: the weight of your bag and the size of your bag. A bag that is too small isn't going to give you enough room for whatever you are carrying around. This negatively impacts the center of gravity of your pack and will make the pack more likely to bounce if it is weighted. To counter this, there are a few options. The most effective one is to simply switch to a bag that is larger. This will allow for more load stability and ultimately, less bounce. Another option is to fill your bag with more weight instead of using the same amount of weight and adding more space in the bag. This will work better with backpacks that have a more rounded shape, as opposed to a box shape. The more rounded your bag is, the better it will distribute the load.

Is it weird to run with a backpack?

I never thought it was, but on a recent run through the Colorado Springs neighborhood, I saw a little kid staring at me with his mouth hanging open. I smiled and said hello as his mother rushed him past me, and in his hurried quiet voice he said, “Mommy, mommy. That guy has a fanny pack, can you believe that?”

Maybe this example isn’t very compelling, but it’s the first time I can remember ever running into someone with a backpack and I think this is an example of how we are conditioned to see certain things and make certain assumptions.

Conclusion

Finding the best hydration pack is NOT an easy task, especially if you do not do much research and spend time on reading reviews on the top rated running backpacks.

Because of the high number of backpack hydration system options, we came up with a list of 13 best running backpacks of 2022 including our TOP 5 choices.

Did we included the best hydration bladder pack for you?

You can find all the details below and make a wise decision!

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Nathan Vaporhowe Hydration PackBest OverallNathan Vaporhowe Hydration Pack
TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack; Backpack</