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.
1. Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta 4.0
The Ultra Vesta 4.0 is designed specifically for female runners, and comes in extra-small/small and medium/large sizes. In comparison to previous versions, the Vesta 4.0 is lighter and comes with several improvements. For example, there are six pockets for storage. The vest also has a cinching technology for adjustments on the go. You can store two 500ml bottles in the front pockets of the vest for easier access to hydration on the run. The bottles come with the vest. The Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 4.0 is available for men.
Price: $94.99 – $134.95
- 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
2. 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.
- 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
3. CamelBak Ultra Pro Hydration Vest
This Camelbak 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.
Price: $89.99 – $148.00
- 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
4. 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: $257.16 – $490.78
- 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
5. 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.
- 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