Best Hydration Vests in 2023

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Nathan VaporAir 7l

Nathan VaporAir 7l

A hydration vest is very useful for long-distance running, trekking, speed hiking and similar activities. Hydration vests allow you to drink on the go without stopping. They typically come with a hydration bladder, although some brands sell hydration bladders separately. Hydration vests differ by cargo capacity, but they typically don’t provide that much 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 instead. These provide more cargo capacity but are also heavier.

Below is our selection of the best hydration vests. 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 vests 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 vest; check out our selection of the Best Lumbar Waist Packs.

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1. Our Picks of Hydration Vests for Hiking

Best Hydration Vests

Best Hydration Vests

  1. CamelBak Circuit Vest
  2. Nathan VaporAir 2.0
  3. Salomon Advanced Skin 12
  4. Osprey Duro 1.5
  5. Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0

2. Comparison of Hydration Vests for Hiking

Scroll Horizontally
Feature/Product CamelBak Circuit Vest Nathan VaporAir 2.0 Salomon Adv Skin 12 Osprey Duro 1.5Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0
Weight5 oz.8.3 oz.13 oz.10 oz.6.3 oz.
Weight (Metric)160 g 235 g 367 g 300 g 180 g
MaterialNylon Nylon Nylon Nylon
Nylon
Hydration Capacity 1.5 Liter2 Liters1.5 Liter1.5 Liter2 Liters
Cargo Space3.5 Liters 7 Liters12 LitersEssentials only10.8 Liter
Back panelBreathable meshBreathable meshBreathable mesh Breathable meshBreathable mesh
Chest Strap Yes (double)Yes (double)Yes (elastic with 4 attachment points)Yes (double)Yes (double)
Soft Flask PocketsYes (2 X 17 oz.)Yes (2 X 22 oz.)Yes (2 X 17 oz)Yes (2 X 17 oz.)Yes (2 X 17 oz)
Trekking Pole Attachment SystemNo YesYesYesYes

3. The Selection

CamelBak Circuit Vest

CamelBak Circuit Vest

1. CamelBak Circuit Vest

Suitable for:

  • Speed Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Running
  • Trail running

The CamelBak Circuit 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.

 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Pockets for Quick Stow flasks
  • High-quality harness

Cons:

  • Very small cargo capacity
Nathan VaporAir 7l

Nathan VaporAir 7l

2. Nathan VaporAir 2.0

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Running
  • 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 if you pack minimalistic. 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. Read the full review of Nathan VaporAir 2.0 hydration vest here.

 

Pros:

  • Fit
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Storage capacity
  • Many pockets/compartments

Cons:

  • /
Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Hydration Vest

Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Hydration Vest

3. Salomon Advanced Skin 12

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Running
  • Trail running

The Salomon Advanced Skin 12 hydration vest has 12 liters of storage space and is thus perfect for lengthy activities. The vest provides incredible comfort and freedom of movement. It features SensiFit construction which ensures a snug fit with optimal comfort and friction-free wearability. The Salomon Advanced Skin 12 has loads of pockets and a very spacious rear compartment for storing clothes and other bulky items. The vest doesn’t come with a hydration bladder. Nevertheless, you get two 500 ml soft flasks with it. The vest is of course also compatible with hydration bladders. It fits 1.5-liter hydration bladders in an insulated sleeve. The Salomon Advanced Skin 12 is a great option for those who need a spacious hydration vest for lengthy activities

 

Pros:

  • Fit
  • Comfort
  • Storage capacity
  • Many pockets and compartments
  • Versatility

Cons:

  • Hydration bladder is sold separately

 

Osprey Duro 1.5

Osprey Duro 1.5

4. Osprey Duro 1.5

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Running
  • 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.

.

Pros:

  • Stability
  • Fit
  • Pockets
  • Comfort

Cons:

  • Relatively narrow cap closure

 

Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0

Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0

5. Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Running
  • Trail running

The Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0 weighs only 6 oz. although it provides no less than 11 liters of cargo space. It’s an extremely lightweight vest which provides great versatility, comfort and fit. The vest comes with two 500 ml soft flasks but without hydration bladder. However, it has a sleeve with a hook for hydration bladder which fits bladders with volume up to 2 liters. The Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5.0 also has numerous pockets for storing gear and essentials. It also features trekking pole attachment system and has a corded elastic on the back side for storing things you don’t want to put directly in the main compartment, like a sweaty t-shirt. This vest is a great option if you want a super lightweight vest with large storage capacity.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Price
  • Comfort

Cons:

  • Hydration bladder is not included

4. Buying a Hydration Vest for Hiking and Trail Running – What is important?

Harness:

The harness of a hydration vest should be adjustable for good fit. High-quality hydration vests feature adjustment systems that shorten the sides of the vest and thus bring the vest closer to your body. They have at least one sternum strap which ensures that the shoulder straps are not jumping of your shoulders while you are active. Hydration vests are often available in multiple sizes for good fit. The harness is typically made of mesh fabric for good breathability.

Weight:

A hydration vest 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 vests, we only included lightweight products.

Hydration Bladder:

The hydration bladder that comes with the respective 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 vests which come with durable and easy-to-maintain hydration bladders. Furthermore, all hydration vests here come with hydration bladders with bite valves. Bite valves provide the most hassle-free access to water.

Storage and Hydration Capacity:

The hydration 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 vests in this selection are big enough to fit a full hydration bladder, snacks and essentials such as sun cream, phone etc.

Pockets:

Pockets allow you to organize your gear. Therefore, it is a great benefit if the hydration vest has multiple pockets. Some products listed above also have pockets for soft flasks which are very useful if you need to carry more water than what a hydration bladder can hold.

Attachment Points:

Some hydration vests have attachment points for trekking poles which is very useful for adventures where you might switch between running and walking uphill.

5. Questions and Answers

What is a hydration vest used for?

A hydration vest is perfect for short and fast-paced activities such as trail running and hiking. Hydration vests typically come with a hydration bladder which allows you to drink on the go without stopping.

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Author Information

Blaz

Outdoor enthusiast with experience in all types of hiking and mountaineering. Hiked in the Alps, Iceland and other countries. In love with via ferrata trails and snow-covered slopes. Check out my hikes.

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