- Buyer's Guide
The 5 Best Hydration Running Packs 2018
Whether you’re participating in urban races, exploring outdoor trails or simply looking to keep fit during the week, it’s important to stay hydrated during running activities. But equally important is lightweight yet functional gear that will help you perform without weighing you down. Hydration running packs offer a great way to keep yourself hydrated on the go and your gear within easy reach. And the best ones will do this without hindering your performance.
So to get your running journey off to a great start, we’ve selected the 5 best hydration running packs that deliver a dialed-in balance of user comfort, load stability, light weight, and easy access to hydration and essentials…
Arc’teryx Norvan 14 Hydration Vest (US$ 199)
The Arc’teryx Norvan 14 Hydration Vest is a sleek, durable option for carrying food, hydration and equipment on day-long runs. The bounce-free design includes dual sternum straps and side tension straps that allow the user to fine-tune the fit and enhance stability. The pack features a weather-resistant rolltop main compartment with 12L of storage space. Additionally, the Norvan 14 also includes a 2L Source™ hydration reservoir. A choice of mesh and zippered pockets on the front and back provide convenient storage for quick-access items. Weighing just 0.256 kg (9 oz.) without the reservoir, the pack also includes a detachable emergency whistle on the right shoulder.
- Good balance of light weight and larger capacity
- Includes 2L hydration bladder
- Sleek, durable design
- Super comfortable
- Bounce-free design
Salomon ADV SKIN 12 SET (US$122.50)
The Salomon ADV SKIN 12 SET (a common choice in running circles) features Salomon’s Sensifit construction and MotionFit Trail construction, allowing the pack to wrap comfortably around your body without hindering freedom of movement or irritating your skin. The self-adjustable fabrics conform to your body for stability while remaining breathable and moisture-wicking. The ADV SKIN 12 SET weighs 514g and offers front access hydration pockets, along with a host of zipped and stretch front, side and back pockets to organize your gear. It also comes with two 500ml soft flasks and is hydration bladder compatible (1.5L), with a removable insulated bladder sleeve. Added benefits include a safety blanket, whistle and reflective detailing.
- Good freedom of movement and load stability
- Includes two soft flasks
- Useful additional features such as whistle and safety blanket
- Good range of pockets
- Hydration bladder compatible, but bladder not included
- Fairly weighty compared to other lightweight alternatives
- Can be expensive if no deals available for your size
Best Budget Option
Nathan VaporAir Men’s Hydration Backpack (from US$ 83.95)
The Nathan VaporAir offers a thoughtful combination of lightweight design, comfortable fit, and handy storage space for essentials. The pack is made with body mapped materials to maximize sweat wicking and user comfort, and also includes load lifters for a no-bounce fit. Plenty of pockets are on hand for organization, including a front mesh pocket to hold gels, a front easy-clean pocket for gel empties, a front zip pocket for a phone, side mesh pockets, and two front bottle pockets.
The VaporAir has hydration needs covered with an included 2L bladder and weighs in at 14 oz. (397g) including the bladder. A 7L total capacity without the bladder (5L with the bladder) provides sufficient space for gear essentials. Additional useful features include reflective detailing for increased visibility, as well as exterior shock cord for added attachment options. And for female runners, Nathan also offers the women’s-specific VaporAiress, designed to fit the female form.
- Good range of quick-access pockets and exterior attachment cord if required
- Includes 2L hydration bladder
- Comfortable, sweat-wicking and bounce-free design
- Not nailing aesthetics
Solid Lightweight Option
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 4.0 (US$ 129.95)
The Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 4.0 offers an exceptionally lightweight, functional and adjustable design. It’s made with Flex Mono Mesh and MicroMono mesh fabric with 4-way stretch nylon, which keeps weight and sweat absorption to a minimum while also preventing irritation on sensitive areas such as the shoulders, neck, and ribs. The vest features Comfort Cinch™ technology that provides maximum comfort by easily adjusting the fit on the go. Additionally, the adjustable sternum and waist straps can be positioned in your preferred place, and an exterior compression cord enhances the load stability.
The 10.32L vest comes with two 500ml bottles that can be stored in the front bottle pockets, and the pockets can also be tightened to hold a phone or camera. The vest provides six pockets in total, and will fit a 2L hydration bladder. Further features include a redesigned trekking pole holder that reduces bounce and snaps out of the way when not needed, as well as an emergency whistle. A great option if you’re looking to keep weight to a minimum, the Ultra Vest 4.0 weighs 10.72 oz. (304g) with the bottles, or 7.27 oz. (206g) without the bottles. Ultimate Direction also offers the Ultra Vesta 4.0 with a women’s-specific fit and 10.1L total storage. The Ultra Vesta 4.0 weighs 11.22 oz. (318g) with bottles, and 7.76 oz. (220g) without.
- Can be easily adjusted to tailor it to your body type
- Very lightweight design
- Includes two bottles
- Hydration bladder compatible but needs to be purchased separately
Best for Larger Loads
Osprey Men’s Duro 15 (US$ 140)
The Osprey Duro 15 is well suited to runners who need a larger capacity pack for carrying clothing, food, equipment and water. The pack features a body wrap hipbelt and a vest style fit for maximized comfort and no-bounce running. Compression straps and removable and adjustable sternum straps provide a tailored fit to suit a range of body types. A choice of stretch mesh and zippered pockets keep running essentials within easy reach, while reflective detailing and a safety whistle enhance the overall functionality of the pack. Want hydration options? The Duro 15 comes with two 500ml soft flasks that are carried in the upper front pockets, as well as an included 2.5L Hydraulics LT reservoir. The pack weighs 0.59 kg without the soft flasks or reservoir. Osprey also offers all of the above in the women’s-specific Dyna 15 hydration pack.
- Includes two 500ml soft flasks and a 2.5L hydration bladder
- Comfortable, no-bounce design for carrying larger loads
- Killer build
- Fairly heavy compared to other alternatives