What is the best hydration pack for running and how do you choose one that is right for you?
Our guide will give you tips on which features to look out for and what’s different between each style
Next, we give 7 running hydration pack reviews for backpack/vest systems and review one of the best running hydration belts so you can see how they stack up.
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- What is a Hydration backpack for running?
- Important Characteristics of the Best Running Backpack
- Running Hydration Belt vs Hydration Pack for Running
- TOP 7 Best Running Hydration Pack Reviews 2021
What is a Hydration backpack for running?
How is a hydration running backpack different from other backpacks with hydration systems?
The biggest difference between running hydration packs and other packs is size and fit.
Hiking packs with hydration systems are designed to carry a lot of other gear so they are larger and bulkier.
The best running hydration pack is designed to minimize bouncing and jostling of the pack. The running backpack must fit snug and secure. It also must not rub on any part of the body because it is very easy to experience chafing during a long run.
Important Characteristics of the Best Running Backpack
Running backpacks are lightweight. You only carry what you need for the run, water, phone, food or nutrition gels and items like these.
There are exceptions.
Long-distance remote runners might carry a map, water purification tablets, camera, and raingear.
The running Commuter may need space for a laptop and other work items, in addition to what they need on the run. The commuting runner needs a larger backpack, but generally has a shorter run length making a larger pack tolerable.
Check the storage features, pockets, compartments, bungees and attachment straps and other storage features of the backpack.
The best running backpack will have room for a jacket, water, food and other accessories you need for the run and keep those items in easy reach, without having to remove the backpack, slowing you down.
The volume of a running hydration backpack is smaller than say a hiking backpack. Generally, 6 to 12 liters is a good target size.
More for running commuters who need to carry a laptop or work items, and perhaps less for marathon runners who have water available on the trail.
Included hydration system
Most of these backpacks include the hydration system with the pack. There are two styles of a hydration system.
One uses a water bladder and hose you can drink from. The other type uses water bottles or flasks held in pockets on the pack.
Bladder style systems are more comfortable to wear, bounce less and don’t slosh around. They usually are able to carry more water comfortably and are easy to drink from without slowing down.
Bottle/flask style systems are easier to clean, more versatile and convenient You can have two different drinks, perhaps one bottle with water, the other Gatorade.
You could even use one bottle for snacks, like trail mix or nuts. These bottles are easy to refill at rest points and you can visually see how much drink is left.
If you run in the rain, a pack with a rain cover may help, especially for running commuters who carry computer gear.
If you run in cold weather you may need to layer. The pack will need storage to remove extra layers and hold a jacket.
Most runs involve lots of sweat, so check that the backpack has a place to keep your vulnerable items, like a Smartphone, away from sweat.
The best running hydration packs take sweat and rain into consideration to protect your belongings, like a Smartphone, from getting wet.
Running Hydration Belt vs Hydration Pack for Running
Belts are smaller than backpacks and add less bulk. They usually fit more sung and bounce less than backpacks.
The hydration belts will not hold as much, maybe a phone, keys, wallet, a few food items and smaller water bottles.
They are good for marathon runs and short runs where less gear is needed, and access to water is frequent.
TOP 7 Best Running Hydration Pack Reviews 2021
Deuter Speed Lite 10
This running backpack is very light. It does not include a hydration system, and the price reflects that, but you can use your own bladder because there is a bladder sleeve and room for a 2 liter bladder.
The lightweight frame provides structure and move-ability at the same time. Mesh back panel for ventilation. Removable hip belt.
Narrow shoulder straps that come together at the top allowing unhindered arm movement. Large panel opening the main pocket and a small zippered pocket on the top with oversized pulls for easy open.
The side has room for small water bottles, gel pack or snacks. The pack has small reflector tabs and loops to hang gear.
- Suspension system.
- Minimalist pack.
- Not for people with over 40” chest or waist.
- Thin straps.
Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin Set Racing Vest
This hydration pack racing vest holds two soft flasks in front, flask holds 17.5 oz of liquid and fit flush against the body.
The vest hold 1.5 liter bladder. Bladder is not included, but the insulated sleeve is included. Very light and well ventilated. The vest fits snug and close to the body and does not bounce.
There are storage pockets above each flask, a stretch mesh kangaroo pocket in the back that you can access without removing the vest. There are stretch mesh pockets on the side and a few more zippered pouches on the side for snacks and gels.
This vest has a battery pocket on the top shoulder. On the top of the vest there is a zippered sleeve and a pouch for the water bladder.
The vest comes with an emergency blanket and a whistle. There are loops on the shoulder straps that can hold small items, like sunglasses.
- Good storage.
- Comfortable to wear.
- Both flask and hydration pouch compatible.
- The mesh panels have warped for a few users after a while.
Running hydration pack reviews for commuters who run to work.
Osprey Men’s Raptor 14 Hydration Pack
This is a 14 liter running hydration backpack. It has a helmet hook, mesh ventilation back and 5 outer zip pockets, two outer multi-function pockets and one interior multi-function pocket. The hip straps have mesh zip bags.
The bottom of the bag has a zippered pouch that secures shut and has a mesh organization panel that rolls out for storing small items like snacks, pens, or other supplies.
This roll is removable and keeps items from bouncing around in the backpack.
The main compartment has mesh organization pockets. The hydration system hose is mounted with a magnet to the sternum strap and threads up through the shoulder strap where an easy-access zipper allows you to quickly remove it and the bladder has a separate compartment.
The bladder holds 3 liters and has a fold-over and clip design. Can fit a 15” or smaller laptop.
- High quality integrated hydration system.
- Hip belt.
- Fits 15” or smaller laptop.
- Does not hold a lot of gear.
The best hydration vest pack for women…
Nathan Intensity Race Vest
This hydration vest for women holds a 2 liter bladder included with vest. The bladder opens completely from the top, making cleaning and filling easier.
Has front mesh stretch pockets that hold water bottles, front zip pocket for food and other necessities.
The vest has a sternum strap and adjustable side straps to securely fit the vest and prevent bouncing.
Tip: Always adjust the sternum strap first, then tighten the other straps for the best fit.
Room for an iPhone in the front pocket. Two zippered compartments on the back.
- Several storage compartments.
- Straps snug to the body.
- Has a 2 liter bladder.
- The bladder moves around if not completely full.
Best backpack for running trails…
OMM Adventure Light Running Backpack
The OMM Adventure Light Running Backpack is a lightweight 20 liter running backpack. It has one main compartment, a lid, two pockets on the waist straps and two stretch-mesh water bottle pockets that are slanted for easy access to the bottles.
The lid has a key hook and easy open zipper. There is a hydration sleeve for a hydration system, although the pouch itself is not included.
The backpack has reflective panels and an easy-open buckle to access to quickly open and close with one hand.
This pack has a ‘gear rail’ which is a strip of daisy chain that lays horizontally across the pack. It can hold extra gear or you can clip items to it.
- Plenty of water storage and room for 20 liters of gear.
- It can be used for running commuters and runners with larger chest circumference.
- Hydration pouch not included, but is compatible with one so you can use your own.
- Straps flap around, no place to secure them.
TETON Sports Oasis 1200 3 Liter Hydration Backpack
The Teton sports pack has some unique design features that set it apart. The zippers have been reversed to give it a smooth zip and keep dirt out.
The pack has a large ‘butterfly’ pocket that allows you to sandwich a jacket or something similar to the bag. There are two stretch-mesh water bottle pouches and the compression straps can be used to secure those water bottles.
There are zippered pockets on the hip belt, and the hip belts are padded and have a ventilation layer. There are thick ventilated pads on the back with ventilation.
The hydration bladder is included and has a wide mouth opening for easy cleaning and filling.
- Comfortable well ventilated suspension system including hip belt to keep weight at the hips.
- Hydration pouch and hose included.
- Bladder hose mouthpiece is hard to use.
And now best hydration belt…
Fitletic 12-oz Hydration Belt
The fitletic 12 oz hydration belt is a neoprene belt with an adjustable stretch belt designed to be worn over the hips. The belt has silicone pads that lay against the body to prevent bouncing.
Each 6 oz flask has a reflective tab to help motorists see you as well as reflective tabs nest to the zippered pouch. The bottles sit at an angle and are easy to remove and replace.
The pouch, which is sold separately, fits most phones, along with keys and credit cards/cash. This pouch is waterproof thanks to the neoprene material it is made from.
There are two elastic loops to hold gels and the belt has two bib toggles to attach your race bib.
- Angled water bottle holder.
- Two 6 oz flasks included.
- Belt is neoprene and waterproof.
- Phone pouch is sold separate from the belt.