Last Updated on December 10, 2020
There was a time when, if you wanted water on a run, you had to carry a bottle in your hand. Some people still live like we’re in those dark ages, but for the rest of us, hydration packs have made running much more comfortable and they make it easier to stay hydrated. But not all hydration packs are great for running. Some packs are great for hiking or normal use but fail miserably when it comes to running.
We do a lot of running, and we weren’t thrilled with how our general-use hydration packs were performing during our runs. So, we set out to solve the problem by finding the best hydration pack for running. To do it, we had to test a lot of them, and we’ve compiled our findings into the following ten reviews to spare you the headache of testing so many yourself.
Our Favorites in 2021 Compared:
|Best Overall||Nathan VaporAir Hydration Pack||
|Best Value||U`Be Hydration Pack Water Backpack||
|Premium Choice||Osprey Packs Duro 6 Running Hydration Vest||
|Nathan Unisex Hydration Back-Pack||
|CamelBak Circuit Running Hydration Vest||
The 10 Best Hydration Packs for Running:
1. Nathan VaporAir Hydration Pack – Best Overall
Nathan makes a lot of great running gear, and they’re a well-respected brand in the sport. Their VaporAir hydration pack was our top pick after testing it against all the other options we could get our hands on. This vest holds your gear tight to your body, so it doesn’t feel like it’s sticking out and it doesn’t affect your balance. More importantly, it helps stop the pack from bouncing. Along with the unique front straps, they prevent the pack from moving while you run, keeping it tightly pressed to your back.
For most of us, this vest was a great fit. Some of our larger testers had a more difficult time getting in it though, so expect a snug fit if you’re big or broad-shouldered. But that’s a difficulty we found with many of these running vests since they’re designed to fit snug anyway.
We also liked other features on the VaporAir like the reachable front pockets that keep your most essential gear in reach or give you space for carrying more water bottles. The pack is also reflective to keep you safe when you’re running in the mornings and evenings.
2. U`Be Hydration Pack Water Backpack – Best Value
Hydration packs can be expensive pieces of gear, but they don’t have to be. The U`Be Hydration Pack is a dirt-cheap alternative to higher-priced designer brand hydration packs. It doesn’t have a lot of extras, but it will provide you with water on your runs, which is what you really need it for anyway.
Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it will fall apart though. This pack is made from durable 300D polyester, so it should hold up for many miles. It carries a two-liter water bladder, and the pocket is insulated to keep your water cool so it’s refreshing when you’re gasping for breath.
Though there’s not much room for storage, we appreciate the small size and light weight of the U`Be hydration pack. Combine that with the dirt-cheap price it sells for, and in our eyes, it adds up to the best hydration pack for running for the money.
3. Osprey Packs Duro 6 Running Hydration Vest – Premium Choice
Osprey makes a lot of great hydration packs, but the Duro 6 hydration vest is purpose-built to provide you with exactly what you need on a run. It’s got dual chest straps, lower compression straps, and a vest-style design that keep it snug to your body, practically eliminating bouncing altogether. It’s also very lightweight and breathable, so it won’t weigh you down or warm you up in the summer heat.
Our only real complaint with the Duro 6 is the small water reservoir. It’s just 1.5 liters, so if you want to do marathon-length runs, you may need a pack with a larger reservoir.
Dual compression pockets on the front stretch to fit your needs and can easily hold large phones, water bottles, food, or whatever else you want to keep in reach. A large pocket on the back provides additional storage for longer distance runs. It may cost a premium, but we think all the well-thought-out features the Duro 6 provides is worth the higher cost.
4. Nathan Unisex Hydration Back-Pack for Running
We’ve been impressed with a lot of Nathan running products we’ve tested, and their Unisex Hydration Back-Pack for Running was no exception. It’s very lightweight, and you barely notice it on you after a while because it’s so comfortable. There’s just one chest strap, but a three-way weight distribution harness helps to keep the load even and comfortable while no-bounce compression straps aid the sternum strap in keeping it from bouncing.
Like many of the running hydration packs we tested, this one has a tight fit that may be too snug for bigger individuals. Even if it fits, it can be a bit difficult to put on. But once it’s on, it’s comfortable and snug with very little running bounce.
There are two front pockets to allow easy access to your essentials, Unfortunately, they’re a bit too small for carrying a large smartphone, which will have to go in the bigger zippered pocket on the rear.
5. CamelBak Circuit Running Hydration Vest
CamelBak is one of the first and most well-known makers of hydration vests, but their Circuit Running Hydration Vest wasn’t one of our favorites, even though it is a very solid product overall. The included bladder is just 1.5 liters, which is smaller than we prefer. But if you need more water, you can fit a water bottle in each of the two front pockets where it will be easy to reach.
Two chest straps on the front keep this pack snug, so it only bounces a little while you run. It’s comfortable though, with wide mesh straps and back that allow plenty of ventilation. At just five ounces, this is one of the lightest vests we’ve seen, so weight weenies may love it.
Two issues held the Circuit back in our testing. First, if you use the front pockets for water bottles, you’re left with almost no storage. Worse, the straps tended to loosen while running. This was the major flaw that we couldn’t get past as it was quite annoying to constantly re-tighten the straps during our runs.
6. Nathan TrailMix Running Vest/Hydration Pack
The Nathan TrailMix Running Vest is lightweight and offers plenty of storage, but it doesn’t stay tight enough to make a great running pack. It weighs just 11 ounces with the bladder or seven ounces without it, so it’s not heavy. Despite the dual chest straps and side compression straps, it bounces more than some of the other premium packs we’ve tested. As we mentioned, the straps would also keep coming loose, so we were constantly tightening them while running.
There’s a large zippered pocket on the back for storing bigger items, and two bottle pockets plus a third smaller pocket on the front allow for reachable storage. But the front pockets don’t close, and they’re shaped for a water bottle, so they’re not great for holding much else. Despite the ample storage space, we found ourselves wishing for something more convenient, like stretch pockets on the front instead since they can accommodate more than just water bottles.
7. TETON Sports TrailRunner Hydration Pack
We like the low price of the TETON Sports TrailRunner Hydration Pack. Unfortunately, too many other flaws kept it from fulfilling its potential. But there were still features we liked, such as the mesh compression pocket on the rear that stretches to accommodate your gear. The chest and sternum straps were also nice since they helped reduce bouncing.
For its size, this is a pretty heavy pack. And even though we could fit a good number of items in the mesh pocket on back, there really wasn’t much storage. There were no front pockets at all, so nowhere to keep your phone or anything you need in reach. One pocket to stuff everything in just isn’t ideal.
The bladder is two liters and functions well overall, but the opening is a problem. It’s got a small cap that makes it very difficult to clean since you can’t fit your hand inside.
8. Fitly Minimalist Running Pack
At first glance, we liked the Fitly Minimalist Running Pack. You don’t need a lot with you when you run, just a few essentials and some hydration, so we thought this pack would be perfect. It’s very lightweight and small. We also liked how secure it is on your back, never bouncing with your steps.
There are two small zippered pockets on the belt. They can hold a few items, but they’re very small and won’t fit a cell phone. The belt closes with a magnetic enclosure, which we liked. It’s easy to use and stays put well.
A thermopocket insulates your water bladder, keeping it cool while you run. But the bladder is tiny; just 17 ounces. The pocket won’t fit anything larger though, so that’s what you’re limited to with this pack. It seems like just a few sips of water when you’re parched and panting.
Despite the limited carrying capacity, this pack is very expensive. It’s well-made but doesn’t carry enough water to suit our needs.
9. TRIWONDER Hydration Pack Backpack
This hydration pack from TRIWONDER offers several ways to store your water. You can use the front pockets to carry water bottles, or you can use a hydration bladder in the large back pocket. We prefer the hydration bladder, but you may like bottles or both. It’s nice to have options.
This pack is very lightweight, but it also doesn’t stay very snug. We found that it was bouncing a lot more than the other packs we tested, and no one wants a bouncy running pack.
We also had problems with the hydration bladder. The hose wouldn’t stay connected properly and came unhooked more than once. Worse, the hose connection leaks, and left our backs wet on several occasions. Luckily, the pack is protected by an 18-month warranty, but we still don’t recommend chancing it.
10. Mubasel Hydration Backpack
The Mubasel Hydration Backpack is a cheap piece of gear that’s perfectly usable for hiking or other uses that aren’t as demanding as running. But as a running pack, it’s not a great choice. We did like the stretchy mesh pocket on the back, but the lack of reachable front pockets is a problem. So is the lack of front straps. There are no sternum or waist straps, so the pack doesn’t stay put. There is also nowhere to secure the hose, so it just flops around as you run, another annoying drawback. Overall, it’s fine for light use, but we don’t recommend the Mubasel Hydration Backpack for running.
Long runs require water and a way to carry your essentials, but nothing cumbersome, uncomfortable, or bouncy will do. We were on a mission to test as many running-specific hydration packs as possible to find which ones were the best to power us while we’re making distance. If you read our reviews, then you know we think we have. For us, the best choice overall is the Nathan VaporAir Hydration Vest. A vest design with multiple straps keeps your gear and watertight to your body for a bounce-free fit while front pockets hold your essentials within reach.
For the best value, we think it’s hard to beat the dirt-cheap pricing and solid performance of the U`Be Hydration Backpack. It’s made from durable 300D polyester, has an insulated bladder pocket to keep your water cool, and it’s small and lightweight enough not to be a nuisance when you run.
Finally, the Osprey Duro 6 is our premium choice recommendation. It has a snug fit with multiple straps that prevent bouncing, and dual compression pockets that stretch to accommodate your needs. It’s also super light and very breathable with plenty of storage for marathon-length runs.
David Slone runs the TapIt Water blog. He first learned about water filtration and the impact it has on the world in college. Ever since that day he has worked towards making the world a better place. He writes to inform you about water filtration, the consequences of plastics, bottled water, and how we can do things better.
He loves to spend time with his beloved wife, 3 kids, and dog when he’s not writing.
- 1 Our Favorites in 2021 Compared:
- 2 The 10 Best Hydration Packs for Running:
- 2.1 1. Nathan VaporAir Hydration Pack – Best Overall
- 2.2 2. U`Be Hydration Pack Water Backpack – Best Value
- 2.3 3. Osprey Packs Duro 6 Running Hydration Vest – Premium Choice
- 2.4 4. Nathan Unisex Hydration Back-Pack for Running
- 2.5 5. CamelBak Circuit Running Hydration Vest
- 2.6 6. Nathan TrailMix Running Vest/Hydration Pack
- 2.7 7. TETON Sports TrailRunner Hydration Pack
- 2.8 8. Fitly Minimalist Running Pack
- 2.9 9. TRIWONDER Hydration Pack Backpack
- 2.10 10. Mubasel Hydration Backpack
- 3 Conclusion