Keep Your Thirst Quenched with the Best Hydration Packs

Man wearing hydration pack


Pill Organizers | Electrolyte Drinks | Protein Bars | Energy Gels | Hydration Packs | Food Storage Containers | Eating Healthy While Traveling

Whether you're on a strenuous trail run, a leisurely hike, or a grueling half-marathon, staying hydrated is one of the main components key to success and enjoyment. However, when you're navigating rocky terrain or pounding the pavement for a long training run, the last thing you want to worry about is holding water bottles. However, hydration packs are a convenient and easy way to ensure that your water supply is always easily accessible.

From leaky spouts to flimsy straps, not all hydration packs are created equal, and that is why the ACTIVE Reviews Team is breaking down the best hydration packs that will keep your thirst quenched on all of your adventures.

Why Trust Us?

ACTIVE.com's editorial team relies on the knowledge and experience of fitness and wellness experts including competitive athletes, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, and certified trainers. This helps us ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. Collectively, the team has spent countless hours researching equipment, gear, and recovery tools in order to create the most accurate, authentic content for our readers. Customer satisfaction is also a key part of our review process, which is why we only feature products that are highly rated. More importantly, each member of our team is a fitness enthusiast. Fitness may be our job, but it is also our passion. Therefore, we strive to bring you products that we trust and would personally use.

What to Look for When Shopping for Hydration Packs


Intended Use(s)

Will you be using your pack for long road runs or will it be accompanying you as you hike up a steep trail? Perhaps you will be using it for several different outings. You will need to consider how much water you will need, how the pack may affect your speed or stamina, and if you will need pockets for mid-run snacks or to store your belongings. Also, how easy is it to clean? If you plan on using electrolyte tablets in your water, this could be important to consider.

Drinking

When it comes to hydration packs, getting the water from the pack to your mouth is probably the most important component. Therefore, you will need to make sure that the tubing and nozzle are convenient and keep the water flowing. If your pack has water bottle holders check that they are easily accessible and what size bottle they hold.

Size

Hydration packs are available in a wide variety of sizes and weights. The type that is best for you will depend on what activity you will be doing while wearing them, your body size, and, of course, personal preference. For instance, you most likely wouldn't want a heavier backpack for fast road or trail runs, and you will.

Straps and Belt

Hydration packs that shift and jostle around can be annoying and cumbersome. Therefore, look for packs and vests that come with chest straps or waist belts to keep your pack secure and easily accessible.

Ventilation

Ventilation may not seem like that big of a deal, but the last thing you want is for your pack to make you hotter and sweatier than you already are. Also, if you're using your pack during the cold, winter months, you will want a pack made from fleece or another warmer material to keep your water from freezing.

The Best Hydration Packs - Our Top Picks

By clicking on the product links in this article, we may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Read full affiliate disclosure Here.

Best Overall - Osprey Skarab 30 Hydration Pack

Osprey Skarab 30 Hydration Pack

SPECS

  • Frame type: Internal Frame
  • Dimensions: 21" x 13" x 11"
  • Reservoir compatible: Yes, included
  • Bottle included: No
  • Liquid capacity: 2.5L
  • Weight: 24.6 oz.
  • Torso length: 17-22"
  • Pack materials: Nylon
  • Frame material: AirScape EVA Foam/Atilon Framesheet
  • Pack access: Top
  • Extra exterior pockets: 5
  • Hip belt: Yes

Check Price

To be considered the Best Overall, the hydration pack needs to combine functionality, comfort and convenience. That is exactly what you will get with the Osprey Skarab 30 Hydration Pack. When it comes to filling your pack, it doesn't get much better than the wide mouth opening on the Skarab 30. And, there is plenty to fill up with a 2.5-liter reservoir, making this great for long treks.

In addition to the roomy main compartment, the Skarab has two amble accessory pockets, smaller hip belt pockets and a zippered front pocket that is large enough for extra clothing layers. So, from airpods to snacks to a pullover, this pack has the space for it all. The hip belt helps keep all of your belongings in place as you enjoy your hike.

PROS

  • Ample water bladder
  • Large, convenient pack opening
  • Storage pockets in various sizes

CONS

  • Fairly heavy
  • Only available in 1 size (the Skimmer is a similar pack in a smaller size)

BUY: Osprey Skarab 30 Hydration Pack

Best Budget - Osprey Katari 1.5 Hydration Pack

Osprey Katari 1.5 Hydration Pack

SPECS

  • Frame type: Frameless
  • Dimensions: 14" x 8" x 6"
  • Reservoir compatible: Yes, included
  • Bottle included: No
  • Liquid capacity: 1.5L
  • Weight: 8 oz.
  • Torso length: 17-21"
  • Pack materials: Polyester, Denier Packcloth, Atilon Foam
  • Frame material: N/A
  • Pack access:Top
  • Extra exterior pockets: 1
  • Hip belt: No

Check Price

If you are looking for a pack that is light on your back and your wallet, you will definitely want to check out the Osprey Katari 1.5. While the lower price also means that the features on this pack are pared down, you will still find that you can get many of your essentials such as; car fob, wallet, sunglasses, and earbuds in the top-zippered pocket. The shoulder straps are minimal but durable, and the chest strap is simple but stable.

The Katari holds 1.5 liters of water and the body of the pack is made from breathable mesh. This will help you stay cool during your hike. The Katari serves many purposes well and it does it at a price point that will make you want to run to snag it up. In many ways this pack is a minimalist's dream.

PROS

  • Inexpensive
  • Durable
  • Mesh keeps

CONS

  • Hard to see how much water is left in bladder
  • Not much storage space

BUY: Osprey Katari 1.5 Hydration Pack

Best Lightweight - Gregory Nano 18 H20 Hydration Pack

Gregory Nano 18 H20 Hydration Pack

SPECS

  • Style: Frameless
  • Dimensions: 20" x 10" x 7"
  • Reservoir compatible: Yes, included
  • Bottle included: No
  • Liquid capacity: 18L
  • Weight: 23 oz.
  • Torso length: 14-19"
  • Waist size: 28-48"
  • Materials: Nylon/polyester
  • Pack access: Top
  • Extra exterior pockets: 3
  • Hip belt: Yes

Check Price

Although there are certainly some hydration vests that are lighter than the Gregory Nano 18 H20 Hydration Pack, we found that this one was the best lightweight pack when you considered its weight with what it could potentially carry. This versatile, lightweight pack can be used for day hikes, but it can also easily double as a gym or carry-on bag.

Additionally, there will be no worries when it comes to staying hydrated when this pack is on your back. It can hold 3-liters of water. It also has 18-liters of storage volume. The pack does lack some of the bells and whistles of others in its class, but given that it is more budget-friendly and weighs less than most of its competitors, you can see why we like its combination of lightweight versatility.

Pros

  • Large bladder
  • Plenty of storage
  • Tie-down loops for extra security

Cons

  • Lack of hip belt
  • Material isn't very breathable

BUY: Gregory Nano 18 H20 Hydration Pack

Best for Running - CamelBak Nano Hydration Vest

Camelbak Nano Hydration Vest

SPECS

  • Style: Vest
  • Dimensions: 13" x 7.5" x 2.8"
  • Reservoir compatible: No, not included
  • Bottles included: 2
  • Liquid capacity: 1L
  • Weight: 4 oz.
  • Chest size: 38-46"
  • Materials: 3D Micro Mesh
  • Pack access: N/A
  • Extra exterior pockets: 8
  • Hip belt: N/A

Check Price

CamelBak knows a thing or two about keeping you hydrated while you're on the go. The Nano Hydration Vest is fairly simple when compared to others on the market, but sometimes all you want to worry about is knowing that you can quench your thirst while racking up the miles. Furthermore, just because it isn't decked out, it doesn't mean that you'll be inconvenienced when wearing the Nano. In addition to the two easily accessible water bottles that come included, this running vest has enough storage for some rain gear as well as holders for your trekking poles. It also has a secure, zippered-pocket for our cell phone.

Speaking of phones, this vest weighs less than most smartphones. The micro mesh backing keeps you from overheating while the two chest straps keep your vest in place as you speed down your favorite course. The CamelBak Nano is a sturdy vest that will allow you to take your runs to the next level.

PROS

  • Lifetime warranty on manufacturing defects
  • Reflective
  • Zippered phone pocket

CONS

  • Some complaints of how the vest fits women
  • Buckles on sternum straps are small

BUY: Camelbak Nano Hydration Vest

Best for Cycling - CamelBak HydroBak Light Hydration Pack

Camelbak Hydrobak Light Hydration Pack

SPECS

  • Style: Frameless
  • Dimensions: 14" x 9.4" x 2"
  • Reservoir compatible: Yes, included
  • Bottle included: No
  • Liquid capacity: 1L
  • Weight: 6 oz.
  • Torso length: 15-21"
  • Pack materials: Nylon and polyester
  • Frame material: N/A
  • Pack access: Top
  • Extra exterior pockets: 2
  • Hip belt: N/A

Check Price

The minimalist CamelBak HydroBak is the perfect companion for cycling in any setting. It has a 1.5-liter reservoir that fills easily thanks to the wide mouth. The reservoir's opening also makes it easy to keep clean. As you speed down your course, CamelBak's patented Big Bite Valve makes keeping yourself hydrated very easy.

Lightweight and made from mesh material, the HydroBak will help keep you cool with every pedal stroke. One of the standout features of this vest is its reflective strip. This increases visibility even when the sun starts to set, making it perfect for cyclists.

Pros

  • Water valve easy to turn on and off
  • Reflective strip increases visibility
  • Easy to clean reservoir

Cons

  • Not much room for storage
  • No chest strap

BUY: Camelbak Hydrobak Light Hydration Pack

Best for Hiking - REI Co-Op Flash 15 Hydration Vest

REI Co-Op Flash 15 Hydration Vest

SPECS

  • Style: Vest
  • Dimensions: 16" x 10" x 8"
  • Reservoir compatible: Yes, included
  • Bottle included: None
  • Liquid capacity: 1.75L
  • Weight: 14.0-14.5 oz.
  • Chest size: 33-48"
  • Pack materials: Ripstop nylon
  • Frame material: N/A
  • Pack access: Top
  • Extra exterior pockets: 8
  • Hip belt: N/A

Check Price

Keeping your balance is an important part of a successful hike. The adjustable sternum and waist straps of the REI Co-Op Flash 15 Hydration Vest help keep all that your packing tight and in place. However, what makes this vest ideal for hiking is its self-sealing bite valve that shuts off your flow of water after every drink. Therefore, you do not have to worry about water leaking out as you make your climb.

The back is made from breathable, padded mesh, that in combination with the mesh shoulder straps help keep your body temperature down even as your exertion goes up. This vest also has a variety of pockets so that you can make sure that you're prepared for whatever you may encounter in the great outdoors. There are four bungees included that can be used in tandem with any of the loops to bring added security to your supplies.  

Pros

  • Made with environmentally friendly materials
  • Has a locator device pocket
  • Mesh pockets are bottle compatible

Cons

  • Some complaints about bladder leaking
  • May be too heavy for some hikers/runners

BUY: REI Co-Op Flash 15 Hydration Vest

FAQs about Hydration Packs


What is the best hydration pack to buy?

There are many factors that go into which hydration pack is the best for you. You will need to consider the type of activity that you will be doing, the amount of water that you'll want in your pack, the weight of the pack, and the amount of storage that will be available to name a few. For a pack that checks off many of these perimeters, we choose the Osprey Skarab 30 Hydration Pack.

Is a hydration pack worth it?

Staying hydrated is one of the most important things we can do to stay healthy. When we are engaged in outdoor activities, this can be somewhat of a challenge. Hydration packs make it easy to stave off dehydration, while not being burdened with carrying water bottles. Further, they come in a wide variety of sizes and prices.

What makes a good hydration backpack?

There are many components that go into a good hydration pack, and many of those depend on personal preference. However, you will want to make sure that any pack or vest you are considering is made from quality materials that suits the climate and terrain where you will be using your pack. Additionally, a good hydration pack will be equipped with the kind of storage, for both water and supplies, that you will need.

What hydration pack does the military use?

California-based CamelBak, supplies a vast majority of the hydration packs that the military uses. Over the years, it has been tasked with designing them in a variety of sizes and uses.

Do hydration packs work?

The short answer is—yes! Hydration packs are great tools to stay hydrated when you are on the go. They allow you to carry your water with you without having to carry them in your hands. Furthermore, many of them are almost completely hands-free. There are a wide variety of hydration packs that fit many different needs and activities.

Pill Organizers | Electrolyte Drinks | Protein Bars | Energy Gels | Hydration Packs | Food Storage Containers | Eating Healthy While Traveling

Discuss This Article