Hydration packs are an elaborately designed hydration systems that are built into a variety of garments and outdoor equipment. The most common type of hydration system is one that is built into a backpack. This is often the favorite of avid backpackers, trekkers, and camping enthusiasts. Waist pack hydration systems are also available to avid hikers, joggers, and even cyclists and mountain bikers.
The most popular hydration systems in the market today are in the form of a backpack or a waist pack. Depending on your preferred outdoor activity, a good quality hydration pack can be rather handy in any condition. They are available in many different colors, designs, weight and water capacity, from a 28 ounce pack to a whopping 100 ounce hydration system.
When shopping for a hydration pack, there are certain aspects that you need to consider:
- What is my budget?
- How much water storage do I require?
- How sensitive am I to water taste?
- How much storage for my other sport items will I need?
- Do I want my hydration pack to be multifunctional?
- Which one has the most comfortable and adjustable straps?
There are hydration packs for men, women, and kids as well as unisex models. Each will have different features, but only one will be the best hydration pack for you.
It is ultimately one you can afford. Hydration packs can run anywhere from a basic kid’s model up to deluxe model.
Most water bladders hold 70 ounces of water (around 2 liters). Many users prefer this size because it provides enough water to last for long hikes or bikes rides without being too heavy to wear for long journeys. There are 50 ounce models available if you don’t require as much water or if you want a lighter backpack. The best hydration pack will be the one that holds as much as you need it to.
As with anything made of synthetic materials, some water bladders will affect the taste of your liquid. Even some of the higher-end models can give water a “funny taste” if the water bladder isn’t cleaned and properly dried out.
No matter how much you pay for your hydration pack, we recommend thoroughly cleaning the water bladder before use. We find the easiest way to clean it is to fill the bladder with water and just a teaspoon of vinegar. Shake the bottle vigorously, dump out the water and vinegar mixture, and fill it up with just water this time. Shake it again, empty the water, and make sure the bladder is completely dry again for use. Even the best hydration packs do require a little maintenance to save your investment.
Most hydration packs are designed to hold more than just water. The best one that can handle whatever storage you require for your sport. Whether you are hiker, runner, camper, or mountain biker, you will want to carry items such as snacks, keys, phone, wallet, etc. Make sure you find a pack that has the kinds of pockets you like. Some people prefer several smaller pockets so they can locate items quickly. We prefer one or two larger ones to give us more storage options. We have a big Smartphone, and some models simply do not have a pocket large enough for our device.
You may want to consider one that has storage pockets in convenient locations. I know some of us have complained that certain models put their pockets in places that lay uncomfortably on their body while hiking.
Let’s be honest: it’s not every day that we are taking 10 mile hikes into the deepest part of the forest. We feel the best hydration pack for us is one that we can use for more than hydration. Kids especially like to have a hydration pack “just like Mom or Dad’s”, but will want to take it to the mall, sleepovers, the back yard, etc.
You may want this option for your hydration pack as well. If you are short on space (or funds), you will want a hydration pack that pulls double duty. Look for models that have easily removed bladders and offer enough storage for your “off-duty” needs.
Any hydration pack you choose needs to fit your body securely and snugly. Choose one that has adjustable straps that fits your height and weight requirements. Most users recommend mesh straps as they are breathable. A common complaint about any backpack, including hydration packs, is that they can make your body sweaty where the straps lie. Mesh straps add enough air to avoid this problem while still staying secure to the body.
Definitely keep your height in mind when purchasing a hydration pack.
Check out the 12 Best Hydration Packs on the market right now:
1. CamelBak Fourteener 24 Hydration Pack
With its perfect balance of weight, comfort and maximum ventilation the top-of-the-line Fourteen 24 takes hydration to new heights. Starting with their best-in-class 3 liter Antidote Reservoir-the Fourteen 24 rides on the revolutionary NV Back Panel, which keeps you cool and comfortable with multi-directional ventilation and fully-articulated suspension. Paired with the internal framesheet, structured waist belt and the well-engineered load carriage for distributing weight, the Fourteen 24 always sits comfortably on your back under any load. Large main compartment, stretch overflow front pocket, two stretch side pockets for carrying essentials and a quick-access fleece-lined pocket for your sunglasses, smartphone or other valuables. Four point compression and multiple lash points for ice axes, trekking poles or other gear.
2. Osprey Packs Raptor 14 Hydration Pack
Pump up your tires and head for the single track with the raptor 14. The trail may be rough but your pack will carry close thanks to osprey’s bio stretch harness and hip belt that comfortably connect the pack to your body. A specially designed backer plate in the 3 liter hydraulics reservoir reduce liquid movement for increased pack stability at high speed. The hydration sleeve is zippered for convenient refills and the hose routes over the right shoulder strap to the sternum strap where it anchors with a magnetic disk for on-the-fly access to the bite valve. The main compartment is accessible via a front zipper panel. There’s a stretch mesh front pocket for stashing a layer at the bottom of the big climb, zippered hip belt pockets to keep a phone or other valuables secure, and a special scratch-free sunglass pocket to protect your shades. The lid lock helmet carry system gives you a place to secure your helmet when you’re off the bike. If you have mechanical troubles on the trail, a roll out tool pouch provides organized access for Rapid trailside repairs. And if you ride late, there’s a blinker light attachment point and reflective patches for nighttime visibility.
3. CamelBak M.U.L.E. NV Hydration Pack
Breathability, durability and comfort are just some of the features that make this pack perfect for a full day on the trail. Antidote reservoir features Quick Link system, easy open/close cap, lightweight fill port, Dryer arms, center baffling and low-profile design. Designed to carry helmet, Multi-tool, pump, Spare tube, extra layer, lunch, phone, keys. Three interior slip pockets. Five exterior zipper pockets, one slip pocket.
4. CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
There’s a reason this is one of CamelBak’s bestselling, longest-running packs: it’s got everything you need, and nothing you don’t. The M.U.L.E. has a narrow-gauge design that keeps it light and maneuverable-so even when it’s fully loaded for a day of mountain biking, it won’t get in your way. Since they launched the first M.U.L.E. in 1996, mountain bikers have been telling us that it hits the sweet spot of size vs. storage: it’s lightweight, but big enough to carry three liters of water and a day’s worth of snacks and gear.
5. BLACKHAWK! Titan Hydration Pack
Constructed of heavy-duty 1000 denier Nylon
Reinforced stitching to ensure durability
Includes 100 oz. Blackhawk hydration System
Drink System protected by microban antimicrobial Treatment
Bite Me bite valve and patent-pending quick-disconnect System
Large, functional pack that comes with two of BLACKHAWK!’s best-selling pouches
Heavy-duty 1000 denier nylon with reinforced stitching to ensure durability
6. CamelBak Dart Hydration Pack
Minimalist design, maximum comfort. When a handheld just isn’t enough, but an ultra running vest feels like overkill, the Dart is your streamlined companion. A favorite among runners, this lightweight and compact pack is redesigned with an improved harness and more compression for a snug, breathable fit on roads or trails. They’ve added a stretch mesh pocket on the harness for stashing gels, so you can hydrate and refuel without slowing down. Front and back reflectivity keeps you visible on morning and evening runs.
7. TETON Sports Oasis 1100 2 Liter Hydration Backpack
The Oasis 1100 sports an athletic cut that fits higher than a typical backpack—though still low profile—so you can access jersey pockets. It won’t interfere with a bike helmet, and attached hauling loop tucks inside. You’ll appreciate the cushioned, breathable mesh back panel, as well as the adjustable mesh shoulder straps and chest strap with comfort taped edges and built-in shock absorber, giving you a perfect fit. Deep 9” mesh pocket holds keys, wallet, phone, snacks. A pack you’d expect from TETON Sports.
8. Outdoor Products Ripcord Hydration Pack
Carrying water and tools while riding is not only important but necessary on a dual sport, hare scramble, or endurance race. The Hydration Pack carries all the tools and gear you need and has a comfortable fit. It has a total of 4 zippered pockets of various sizes, most have dividers or straps in them to keep everything organized and in place. The largest pocket is big enough to carry 3 tire spoons, large zip ties, a KTM tool kit, and a spare tube. The smaller lower front pocket fits an air compressor, spare bolts, valve stem puller, multi-tool, air gauge and small roll of tape. The top pocket is perfect for carrying items that you need quick and easy like a cell phone, extra money, driver license. The fourth pocket can fit a poncho, spare batteries and memory cards. Another aspect that makes this hydration pack stand above the rest is the insulated water suction hose that comes with the pack and can attach to either the left or the right shoulder strap.
9. Camden Gear Hydration Pack with 1.5 L Backpack Water Bladder
Need to have enough water on your trail run? And make sure you have a leak-free experience and lightweight backpack. When going on your run, hike or trail run, you want to make sure you have enough water for the day. you need a daypack back that does not leak and also has enough volume to take your belonging safely along with you. The camden gear hydration pack gives you 50 oz. guaranteed enough hydration for your run or hike. Lightweight, breathable mesh fabric with a chest and waist strap for a snug fit.
10. Ledge Sports Gooseberry Hydration Pack
The Gooseberry is the affordable choice for a small and simple, easy to use, quality hydration pack.
11. TETON Sports Trailrunner 2 Liter Hydration Backpack
TrailRunner 2.0 includes a high-quality bladder inside the quick-access main pocket with easy Velcro closure. The 70-ounce (2-Liter) bladder resists puncture and meets FDA standards for food containers. Edges are triple heat-sealed. 2” wide opening and holes for hanging make filling easier. Thick drinking tube won’t kink or tangle and connects with a gasket, not just threads. Cushioned bite valve comes standard with twist lock.
12. ErgaLogik Gravity 70 UltraLight 2L Hydration Pack
Ergalogik is a u.s. based manufacturer and distributor of outdoor, health and lifestyle products. The gravity 70 ultralight hydration pack is designed to withstand the most rigorous outdoor activity. Whether running, hiking, cycling or skiing, this rugged hydration pack will meet all of your outdoor needs.
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