Runners are well aware of the importance of proper hydration before, during, and after running and racing.
Dehydration of just 2% of your body weight has been found to significantly reduce athletic performance.
Moreover, studies have found that athletes who do not ingest any fluids during their workout have a higher rate of perceived exertion, higher exercise heart rate, and higher sodium level than athletes who take in adequate fluids during their workout.
However, it can be difficult for runners to comfortably carry along enough water or other fluids to stay properly hydrated while on the run. Hydration packs for runners are arguably the most practical, ergonomic, and effective solution for most marathoners, trail runners, and distance runners.
A hydration pack eliminates the need to stop at a water fountain or some other location to drink water.
The best hydration packs for running are lightweight, well ventilated to prevent sweating and to promote airflow between your back and the pack; adjustable so you can customize the fit to reduce any friction, bouncing, or movement of the vest while you run; leak-free; and large enough to carry all the fluid you need as well as other running essentials.
We have reviewed and tested the top hydration packs for runners. Keep reading for our picks for the best hydration packs, vests, and belts, and start eliminating the hassle of fluid ingestion during your workouts and races.
The Best hydration packs for running
Without further ado, here are our picks of the best hydration packs for running in 2022.
#6: Best Budget Hydration Pack for Runners: TRIWONDER Hydration Pack 5.5L
Cheap hydration packs often are poorly constructed and aren’t shaped to conform closely to your anatomy, meaning they bounce and rub during every single step you run.
They usually include a cheap bladder that often leaks, and if you end up replacing it and upgrading the original bladder with a better one, you’ve now spent much more money but still have a relatively cheap hydration pack in terms of quality.
With that said, there are some good affordable hydration packs that successfully strike the balance between performing well while cutting costs where possible to keep the price tag down.
Our pick for the best budget hydration pack for runners is the TRIWONDER Hydration Pack 5.5L. It comes in a variety of colors and options in terms of what bladders, flasks, and water bottles are included in the package. All of the hydration packs have an 18-month warranty.
The water bottles and bladder are BPA-free and leakproof, and the hydration vest itself is lightweight, adjustable, and well ventilated. It’s not quite as sleek and streamlined as some of the premium, more expensive hydration vests for runners, so there can be a little bit of a bounce depending on your personal anatomy.
As indicated by the product name, the TRIWONDER Hydration Pack 5.5L has a capacity of 5.5 liters, and comes with a 1.5 liter bladder. It is made from nylon and polyester with reflective details on the front and back.
Lastly, this hydration vest has front and back pockets to store your fuel, phone, or small running gear. Overall, it’s an impressive hydration pack for the price.
#5: Best Hydration Belt for Runners: AiRunTech Hydration Running Belt with Water Bottles
When you are going for a shorter run, you don’t always need a full hydration pack or hydration vest. Instead, a hydration belt can be a convenient way to carry your water bottles and other running necessities.
Our pick for the best hydration belt for runners is the AiRunTech Hydration Running Belt. This inexpensive running hydration belt is surprisingly high-performing, comfortable, easy to use, and well designed.
For less than $20, this is the best budget hydration belt for runners we tested. Bouncing, friction, and chafing were virtually eliminated due to the anti-slip technology, adjustability, and hook-and-loop closures. The neoprene material is soft and comfortable against the skin.
This running hydration belt fits hips from 18-51 inches, and is designed to be worn low down on the hips, snugly, and has contoured grips to reduce any friction or movement of the pack while you run.
The AiRunTech Hydration Running Belt comes with two BPA-free water bottles (175 mL each). With a push-pull nozzle, there’s no hassle of dealing with the cap, yet the bottles don’t leak at all.
There’s a large pocket in the front for your cell phone, energy gel, and other small items. There are also two removable race bib toggles to hold your race bib for runners racing in this hydration belt.
#4: Best Hydration Vest for Runners: CamelBak Women’s Circuit Run Vest with 50oz Hydration Bladder
Some runners still want one of the best-running hydration packs but really just want something streamlined that focuses on fluids only rather than lots of extra space in a larger pack for storage. In these cases, a running hydration vest is ideal because hydration vests have a more minimalist design than hydration packs.
Our pick for the best hydration vest for runners is the CamelBak Women’s Circuit Run Vest with 50oz Hydration Bladder. There is also the male option: the CamelBak Circuit Run Vest with 50oz Hydration Bladder.
Trail runners, ultramarathoners, marathoners, and distance runners looking for a streamlined, lightweight hydration pack for runners will love this 3D micro-mesh hydration vest. It’s so lightweight, breathable, and aerodynamic, and the airflow through the back is excellent.
The dual-adjustable sternum straps help customize the fit to eliminate bouncing and chafing.
The CamelBak Women’s Circuit Run Vest comes with a 1.5-liter Crux reservoir container, which is made from BPA-free materials and has a high-flow nozzle that delivers 20% more water per sip.
The self-sealing bite valve and ergonomic cap reduce the risk of leakage while you run. Plus, there’s a tube trap to keep the straw nozzle at the ready.
You can add more fluids on the front, with two pockets designed to fit CamelBak Quick Stow flasks. There’s a zippered phone pocket and an overflow pocket for small gear or food.
#3: Best Hydration Pack for Trail Runners: Nathan TrailMix Running Vest/Hydration Pack 7L
The Nathan TrailMix Running Vest/Hydration Pack 7L is the best hydration pack for trail running or long runs during marathon training. This lightweight, ergonomic hydration pack is bounce-free, highly adjustable, and doesn’t chafe.
It has a 7-liter capacity so you can stow race fuel and running essentials, and the included 2-liter bladder will keep you hydrated for miles.
This size tends to work really well for trail runners, striking the balance between not being too bulky while still providing enough room for your running essentials, fuel, and fluids.
There’s a convenient front storage pocket for your phone, a well-designed compression system for comfort and aerodynamic performance, and comfortable mesh paneling to promote airflow.
#2: Best Running Hydration Pack for Women: Nathan VaporAiress Lite 4 Liter Women’s Hydration Vest
Our pick for the best running hydration pack for women is the Nathan VaporAiress Lite 4 Liter Women’s Hydration Vest. Note that there’s an equally excellent model for men called the Nathan Men’s VaporAir.
Nathan is arguably the industry leader when it comes to designing and manufacturing the best hydration packs for running, and the VaporAiress Lite 4L is a perfect everyday hydration vest for marathoners or other distance runners.
It is soft, flexible, and contours to your body to minimize bouncing, chafing, and irritation. It sounds strange, but it feels like the hydration pack and your body become one, such that you forget you’re wearing it except for when you’re relieved to have a refreshing drink at the ready.
The Nathan VaporAiress Lite features two separate adjustable hook and loop panels at the lower lumbar area, enabling you to dial in the exact fit you need for optimal comfort and no-bounce support. There is also an adjustable sternum strap.
We love the storage and organization of this running hydration vest. It has seven pockets in all, including two bottle pockets in the front that fit bottles up to 22 ounces each and the bladder pocket. A durable 2L bladder with a quick-release valve comes with the hydration pack.
Made from 60% Nylon and 40% Polyester, this rugged yet flexible and soft hydration pack has a storage capacity of 4 liters, giving you ample room for your fluids, fueling choices, phone, change of socks, and other necessities.
The colors are vibrant; it’s an attractive product, and there are reflective details for enhanced visibility.
#1: Best Large Hydration Pack for Runners: USWE Sports Vertical 10 Hydration Pack
Our pick for the best large-capacity hydration pack for running is the USWE Sports Vertical 10L Hydration Pack. Surprisingly lightweight for its impressive 10-liter storage capacity, this running hydration pack outperformed every other hydration pack for runners we tested in terms of eliminating bounce and chafing.
The USWE Sports Vertical 10L Hydration Pack feature’s this premium brand’s proprietary No Dancing Monkey™ 4-point harness system. This zero-bounce system keeps the hydration pack essentially glued to your body when you run. It’s amazingly effective and makes even this larger hydration pack feel like it’s one with your body.
This is one of the best hydration packs for runners looking for a larger pack to store all your fuel and food, a change of clothes for ultramarathoning, a first aid kit, your phone, or even extra running shoes. There are also loops to attach trekking poles and rear lights.
The USWE Vertical 10 Hydration Pack comes equipped with a 2L/70oz Hydrapak Elite hydration bladder, which features a Slide-Seal top and Plug-N-Play coupling for quick and easy handling. The overall capacity of the hydration pack is a roomy 10 liters.
Aligned with the no-bounce quality of this hydration vest, the bladder sits snugly in the pack due to the tight fit in the bladder compression sleeve. There’s a handy tube clip to keep the no-leak drinking tube ready and convenient when you need it.
Between the ingenious zero-bounce design and innumerable features, this is absolutely one of the best hydration packs for running, whether you’re doing an ultramarathon, marathon, trail race, triathlon, or long training run.
Don’t fill your hydration pack with water!
While most runners fill their hydration pack with water or sports drinks, some runners drink pickle juice! Learn more here.