A hydration pack or vest is very useful for speed hiking, long-distance running and similar activities. Hydration packs come with hydration bladders (often referred to as hydration reservoirs) and thus allow you to drink on the go without stopping. Although hydration packs and vests differ in cargo capacity, they typically don’t provide a lot of storage space and are thus best for activities where you don’t need to carry much besides water, snacks, an extra layer and other essentials. If you are not used to pack minimalist and often do lengthy activities such as day hiking, you might also want to check out our selection of hydration system compatible daypacks. These provide more cargo capacity but are also heavier and the hydration bladder has to be purchased separately.
Below is our selection of the best hydration packs and vests for speed hiking and long-distance running. We only included lightweight products that come with high-quality hydration bladders and provide good functionality and durability. To suit everyone’s wishes and needs, we included hydration packs of various sizes (i.e. cargo capacity and water capacity).
To learn more about hiking hydration and hydration bladders, read our articles How much water to take on a hiking trip and Hydration Systems VS. Water Bottles. For shorter hiking trips a lumbar waist pack can also be a great alternative to a hydration pack; check out our selection of the Best Lumbar Waist Packs.
1. Buying a Hydration Pack for Hiking or Trail Running – What is important?
The harness of a hydration pack or a vest has to be adjustable for good fit. Hydration packs typically have adjustable shoulder straps while vests feature adjustment systems that shorten the sides of the vest and thus bring the vest closer to your body. Both hydration packs and vests have at least one sternum strap which ensures that the shoulder straps are not jumping of your shoulders while you are active. Vests are often available in multiple sizes while packs are typically one-size-fits-all. The harness should also be made of mesh fabric for good breathability.
A hydration pack for hiking or running should be lightweight because lightweight equipment puts less strain on your muscles and thus allows you to hike/run faster (read more about this here). In this selection of the best hydration packs, we only included lightweight products.
The hydration bladder that comes with the respective pack/vest should be easy to maintain and durable. Hydration bladders that are easy to maintain have wide openings which allow you to clean the interior of the bladder. Most hydration bladders also feature an antimicrobial film which prevents/minimizes the growth of microorganisms. The durability of a hydration bladder depends on the quality of the material and joints – such as the mouthpiece/tube joint, tube/water reservoir joint etc. In this selection we only included hydration packs which come with durable and easy-to-maintain hydration bladders. Furthermore, all hydration packs here come with hydration bladders with bite valves. Bite valves provide the most hassle-free access to water.
Storage any Hydration Capacity:
The hydration packs and vests in this selection have from 3.5 to 7 liters of storage capacity and from 1.5 to 2 liters of hydration capacity. All packs in this selection are big enough to fit a full hydration bladder, snacks, a lightweight rain jacket and essentials such as sun cream, phone etc.
Pockets allow you to organize your gear. Therefore, it is a great benefit if the hydration pack has multiple pockets. Some products listed below also have pockets for soft flasks which are very useful if you need to carry more water than what a hydration bladder can hold.
Some hydration packs have attachment points for trekking poles which is very useful for adventures where you might switch between running and walking uphill.
We only list top-tier products. Read how our selections of best hiking products differ from others here.
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2. The Best Hydration Packs and Vests Review
The Best Hydration Packs – List
|Feature/Product||CamelBak Circuit Vest||Nathan VaporAir 2.0||Camelbak Octane XCT||Osprey Duro 1.5||Evoc CC 3l + 2l Race|
|Weight||5 oz.||8.3 oz.||11 oz.||10 oz.||1 lb. 2.7 oz.|
|Weight (Metric)||160 g||235 g||310 g||300 g||530 g|
|Material||Nylon||Nylon||Nylon||Nylon||Ripstop 210-Denier Nylon (PU Coating)|
|Hydration Capacity||1.5 Liter||2 Liters||2 Liters||1.5 Liter||2 Liters|
|Cargo Space||3.5 Liters||7 Liters||0.5 Liters||Essentials only||1 Liter|
|Back panel||Breathable mesh||Breathable mesh||Padded (foam with air channel)||Breathable mesh||Padded (foam with air channel)|
|Chest Strap||Yes (double)||Yes (double)||Yes||Yes (double)||Yes|
|Soft Flask Pockets||Yes (2 X 17 oz.)||Yes (2 X 22 oz.)||No||Yes (2 X 17 oz.)||No|
|Trekking Pole Attachment System||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
1. CamelBak Circuit Vest
- Speed Hiking
- Trail running
The CamelBak Circuit hydration pack is shaped like a vest and thus provides great fit and stability during fast-paced activities such as running, trail running and speed hiking. It comes with 1.5-liter Crux hydration reservoir (reviewed here) which features on/off lever and a handle for easy filling. In terms of storage options, the vest has a small front mesh pocket and a front zippered pocket for storing valuables. It also has two open front harness pockets that are designed for CamelBak Quick Stow flasks in case you need more than 1.5 liters of water on your adventure. The vest also features reflective panels, dual sternum straps and a tube clip. The harness is made of breathable mesh fabric. Read the full review of CamelBak Circuit Vest here.
2. Nathan VaporAir 2.0
- Trail running
The Nathan VaporAir 2.0 hydration vest is super lightweight although it provides 7 liters of storage space. Due to its large storage capacity, it’s perfect for day hikes in the summer. Nevertheless, since it weighs only 8.3 oz. (235 g) it’s also a great option for long distance running. The vest has 8 pockets on the front side, 1 zippered pocket on the backside and three compartments. Two pockets on the front side fit soft flasks with the volume up to 22 oz (650 ml). The vest comes with 2-liter HydraPak hydration bladder which has a wide opening for easy cleaning and is reversible so you can simply turn it inside out for drying. The Nathan VaporAir 2.0 hydration vest also features trekking pole attachment system, magnetic clip for the tube, reflective panels and breathable mesh harness.
3. Camelbak Octane XCT
- Trail running
The Camelbak Octane XCT pack comes with the newest 2-liter Camelbak Crux hydration bladder and offers 0.5 liters of storage capacity in addition. The hydration pack is made of ultra-light materials and has a comfortable and breathable harness. For good fit, the hydration pack has a sternum strap and hip belt. The sternum strap is equipped with a tube clip to keep the tube within easy reach. The Camelbak Octane XCT also has two zippered hip belt pockets, two pockets on shoulder straps and a big zippered front pocket. The 2-liter Crux hydration bladder has a wide cap closure which can be easily opened or closed. The hydration bladder also features “quick link” system which allows you to connect different accessories, such as a water filter, flow meter etc. The tube has a bite valve and a locking mechanism to prevent leakages.
4. Osprey Duro 1.5
- Trail running
The Osprey Duro 1.5 hydration vest is another great option for fast-paced activities. The hydration vest has two sternum straps, breathable shoulder straps and a comfortable harness. Both sternum straps are adjustable in height. The vest offers surprisingly good options for storing essentials. It has two mesh shoulder strap pockets which fit Hydraulics Soft Flasks, one zippered shoulder strap pocket, two mesh lateral pockets and a zippered pocket on the back. It is also equipped with a convenient trekking pole attachment system. The Osprey Duro 1.5 comes with the Osprey Hydraulics LT water reservoir which holds up to 1.5 liters of water. The reservoir is made of BPA- and PVC-free polyethylene material. The vest is also available in 6-liter (1.5-liter hydration reservoir) and 15-liter (2.5-liter reservoir) version.
5. Evoc CC 3l + 2l Race
- Trail running
The Evoc CC 3l + 2l Race is a very practical hydration pack that provides great fit. The pack is made of durable 210-denier ripstop nylon and equipped with breathable harness. It also has a sternum strap and a hip belt for better fit during high-impact activities. The included hydration reservoir is placed in the main compartment while other gear can be stored in one of the many pockets. The pack is equipped with two zippered hip belt pockets, a shoulder strap pocket, a front zippered pocket and two front mesh pockets. It also has a small zippered pocket in the main compartment. The hydration pack comes with the Evoc hydration system that holds up to 2 liters of water. The water reservoir is BPA- and PVC-free and has a wide opening at the top for easy cleaning. The tube is insulated, and the mouthpiece can be locked to prevent leakages.
Where to buy?
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3. Questions and Answers
What is a hydration pack used for?
A hydration pack is perfect for short and fast-paced activities such as trail running and hiking. Hydration packs come with a hydration bladder which allows you to drink on the go without stopping.