Top 5 Best Hydration Packs for Runners 2018

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Comfort, fit, and hydration capacity are some of the most important considerations when shopping for a hydration pack for running. Whether your goal is to stay hydrated for a marathon or a shorter distance event, it’s crucial to invest in a hydration pack that best suits your needs. For example, many vests come with mesh panels to allow the skin to breathe in warmer weather. In addition, some hydration packs have lots of straps for a more customized fit. A few are also specifically designed to fit women. Those who require less hydration may opt for a smaller capacity, such as 2 liters. However, if you typically need a lot of fluids during a workout, a larger capacity pack could be a better choice. Keep in mind that larger capacity packs generally weigh more and aren’t quite as streamlined.

Some packs hold water in a bladder while others use bottles. The advantage of a bladder is that it can typically hold more liquid at a time than a bottle. However, bottles are ideal for quick access and are easy to refill on the go. If you opt for a hydration pack with bottles, keep the bottle placement in mind. Some runners find that certain pocket placements work better than others, both in terms of ease of access and whether or not the bottles impede arm movement.

If you don’t see the right hydration vest on this list, browse a wider selection of hydration packs for runners on Amazon. You can also check out the Top 10 Best Hydration Belts for Runners and the Top 10 Best Handheld Water Bottles for Running for more hydration options.

1. Ultimate Direction Marathon Vest

Ultimate Direction Marathon Vest

The Ultimate Direction Marathon Vest is designed for distance runners seeking a comfortable and lightweight hydration pack. The front pockets have enough room to fit one bottle. There’s also enough room to store an iPhone 6 in the front pocket. There’s also an internal key pocket for safe storage. The mesh harness promotes a secure fit while allowing the skin to breathe. Other features include compression straps to help eliminate bouncing along with a rear pocket that can hold up to 2 liters of liquid. This vest comes in small, medium, and large sizes.

A women-specific vest, Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta, is also available.

Price: $69.00 – $166.41

Buy the Ultimate Direction Marathon Vest here.


  • Compression straps reduce bouncing
  • Breathable mesh harness for comfortable, secure fit
  • Plenty of storage space in front and back pockets


  • Only comes in one color
  • Some find it tricky to close the hooks in the back compartment
  • Can feel unbalanced when only using one water bottle

Find more Ultimate Direction Marathon Vest information and reviews here.

2. Nathan Intensity Race Vest

Nathan Intensity Race Vest

The Nathan Intensity Race Vest is specifically designed to fit women. Highlights include breathable mesh shoulder straps and a harness to help stabilize the bladder, which in turn reduces bouncing. There’s also a front pocket specifically designed for storing bottles as well as a pocket to hold a smart phone. The bladder tube is located at the top of the pack to keep it from rubbing against exposed skin during a workout. A 2-liter bladder is included.

A similar vest, Nathan Fireball Race Vest, features a unisex design. The Nathan HPL 020 Vest, designed specifically for ultrarunners, is also available.

Price: $71.99

Buy the Nathan Intensity Race Vest here.


  • Designed for women
  • Harness helps stabilize movement and eliminate bouncing
  • Includes a 2-liter bladder


  • Several mention an initial rubber/chemical taste when using the bladder
  • Can take several adjustments before finding the proper fit
  • A few find it tough to properly adjust the sternum strap

Find more Nathan Intensity Race Vest information and reviews here.

3. CamelBak Ultra Pro Hydration Vest

CamelBak Ultra Pro Hydration Vest

The Camelbak Ultra Pro Vest is geared towards long distance and elite level runners. Highlights include ventilated mesh material with maximum cushioning along with ultra-lightweight materials and a streamlined design. The vest comes with two 17-ounce collapsible flasks in addition to a secure phone pocket. There’s also a stretch overflow pocket and reflective elements on the front and back for increased visibility and safety in lower light settings. This vest is available in several sizes.

A similar option, CamelBak 2016 Circuit Hydration Vest, is also available.

Price: $89.99 – $128.00

Buy the CamelBak Ultra Pro Hydration Vest here.


  • Includes two 17-ounce flasks
  • Reflective elements on front and back
  • Comes with a secure phone pocket


  • Phone pocket may be a bit too small for larger phones
  • Some wish there was more insulation for keeping beverages colder
  • A few mention that the bottles can stick out at awkward angles

Find more CamelBak Ultra Pro Hydration Vest information and reviews here.

4. Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin 3 5 Set Racing Vest

Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin 3 5 Set Racing Vest

The Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin 3 5 Set Racing Vest is specifically designed for trail running. There’s ample storage space in the front, including two soft elastic pockets for hydration, and plenty of room to store fuel. This vest also comes with a whistle for added safety on the trail. Its lightweight construction and room to hold enough essentials makes this Salomon hydration vest a practical choice for shorter endurance races.

Price: $159.95 – $368.80

Buy the Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin 3 5 Set Racing Vest here.


  • Ideal for trail running
  • Dedicated hydration pockets in front
  • Available in multiple sizes and colors


  • Doesn’t include a bladder
  • Some find it tricky to figure out how all the straps are supposed to be used
  • Pricey

Find more Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin 3 5 Set Racing Vest information and reviews here.

5. TETON Sports Trailrunner 2 Liter Hydration Backpack

TETON Sports Trailrunner 2 Liter Hydration Backpack

The TETON Sports Trailrunner 2 Liter Hydration Backpack is ideal for running, but can also be used for hiking, cycling, and other outdoor activities. This budget-friendly hydration pack features an adjustable fit and can be worn by men and women. It’s also loaded with safety features such as reflective trim and a built-in whistle. Other highlights include a breathable mesh back panel and a large opening for ice. This hydration backpack comes with a 2-liter BPA-free hydration bladder.

Price: $19.40 (22 percent off MSRP)

Buy the TETON Sports Trailrunner 2 Liter Hydration Backpack here.


  • Comes with a 2-liter hydration bladder
  • Includes a built-in whistle
  • Breathable back mesh panel


  • Relatively limited storage space
  • Bladder should be thoroughly washed before use to eliminate rubber/chemical taste
  • Some mention it can take awhile to get used to the bite valve

Find more TETON Sports Trailrunner 2 Liter Hydration Backpack information and reviews here.

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.

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