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In recent years, people who have exclusively worked out in indoor gyms have started to rediscover the wonders of outdoor activities like hiking and mountain climbing.
If you are one of those who got swept up by this loving nature trend, then you already know that proper hydration can spell the difference between conquering a mountain and giving up halfway, or being able to do one more set or copping out early.
When you’re having adventures in the wild, it’s completely up to chance if you can find a source for potable water somewhere along the way, so it’s always safer and more practical to pack your own water wherever you go.
If you want to get serious about outdoor activities, your regular water bottle just won’t cut it. You need something that can carry enough water, survive hostile weather conditions, and stand the test of time.
In this article, we’ll help you find the best hydration pack that will meet your needs.
Best Hydration Backpacks
Hydration backpacks offer a lot of room, so it’s a good option if you are fond of overnight camping, mountain climbing, or long hiking trips. Since the water bladder in backpacks are connected to sipping pipes, they also provide efficiency for bikers who cannot hold bottles while riding. Here are our top recommendations:
You can use the Osprey Raven 14 Backpack for any outdoor activity, but it is specifically designed for long mountain bike rides.
It has a LidLock attachment that can securely hold your helmet, and winged shoulder straps that contour and adjust to the shape of your body when you’re leaning forward and reaching towards the handlebars.
This means the backpack will offer no resistance even when you’re riding at fast speeds.
Most importantly, the Raven 14 has an impressive water capacity of 2.5 liters, which ensures that you get enough hydration even for strenuous outdoor activities
- Made with high-quality materials and top of the line manufacturing
- Amazing back panel allows for maximum ventilation even as the backpack fits very close to the body
- Drinking valve comes with a magnetic sternum strap, allowing very easy access to the water reservoir
- More expensive than most hydration backpacks available in the market
- Not made to carry semi-essentials like laptops
For casual hikes where you need to bring a lot of gear aside from water, the TETON Sports Oasis Hydration Pack is an excellent choice. It may not be as bulky as other packs, but you can easily fit a 13” laptop in this one, along with essential navigation gear, and enough snacks for a 6-hour hike.
The bag itself may not be waterproof, but this bag does come with a sewn-in rain cover, so you don’t have to worry about your stuff getting wet if it rains
- Heavy duty compression straps let you adjust and tighten the pack for a perfect fit — no bouncing, no chafing
- Has a lot of room for gear without being too bulky
- On the more affordable end despite its quality
- Rain cover does not have the same quality as the actual bag, so it is a bit flimsy
- 2-liter water capacity might not be enough for whole day trips
Best Hydration Vests
If you’re more comfortable carrying water bottles up front than on your back, then vests would be the way to go. The tricky part here is finding one that would fit you perfectly. Otherwise, you could be stuck with an ill-fitting vest that could cause discomfort either by being too tight or too loose that it starts bouncing around every time you move.
Here are our top picks:
Most vests will not have space for anything other than water. The Ultimate Direction Mountain Vest .4.0 is different. It has a total of 11 pockets to accommodate everything you need to bring on a day hike. You can use these pockets to carry your phone, your charger, and even a couple of extra clothes and gear.
- Lightweight material makes it easy to carry even at full capacity
- Highly adjustable and would fit any body type and size
- Has 11 pockets of various sizes to carry all your hiking essentials
- Makes use of traditional bottles which you would have to take out of the holster if you want to drink
- Straight vest cut might be uncomfortable for some women
Vests are tricky choices for women because most vest makers forget to consider the way women’s bodies are shaped in front. Luckily, there are products specifically designed for the ladies, like the Nathan VaporMag Hydration Pack for Women.
Aside from its “curvy” make, it also includes two hydration flasks that come with extended strap tubes. These things will allow you to draw water without taking out the bottles from the holsters. This is very efficient if you have to drink water while mounted on a bike.
- Specifically made to fit a woman’s body
- Comes with easy-access water flasks which you don’t have to take out so you can drink
- Features stash pockets that can carry keys, medication, and other small gear
- Minimalist pack does not have enough room for bigger stuff
- Not capable of carrying a water bladder on the backside.
Best Handheld Bottles
If you are looking to just do casual laps around the neighborhood, handheld bottles would be the safest, most practical, and generally most affordable kind of hydration packs for you. Here are our best recommendations:
Gripping a water bottle while you’re running or doing any other physical activity puts unnecessary strain on the hands and arms. No worries, though, since the Nathan SpeedDraw handheld water bottle will cling on to your wrist and allows grip-free use.
If you can’t stand lukewarm water on your hydration breaks, then you would definitely appreciate the double insulated walls of this 18 oz bottle. This will keep your drink cold enough for at least a couple of hours.
Apart from the water bottle, this handheld pack has enough room for a smartphone, a set of keys, and a couple of ID cards.
- Features reflective fabric that makes the bottle highly visible even when out at night
- Has a race cap that allows you to draw quick bursts of water on the fly
- Comes with a slot for your thumb to slide through so you don’t have to exert any effort in trying to grip the bottle
- Constantly comes loose and needs tightening/readjustment around the hand every several minutes
- The lid is prone to leakage
When you go for the Gear Beast Running Water Bottle, you will never need a separate phone case again. This one comes with a pocket that allows you to operate your smartphone full screen while working out. The adjustable, sweatproof hand strap makes it virtually impossible for you to drop your water bottle or your phone while it is strapped on.
- Allows full screen functionality of your smartphone and has enough space for cased gadgets
- Made with high-quality, durable, and sweatproof neoprene
- Adjustable cinch accommodates all hand sizes
- Stitches are not that durable; can unravel after a few months of use
- The free water bottle has an aftertaste that won’t wash out.
Best Hydration Belts
If you love fanny packs and think you are best accustomed to carrying weight around your lumbar area, then you might want to take a look at waist packs and hydration belts. Here are some of the best ones available on the market today:
Belts might not carry as much water as backpacks, but if you’ve got water pockets as big as the two holsters of the Runtasty Fuel Belt, then you’re pretty much set for a long run or even a half-day hike.
This one has an anti-slip mechanism that allows the pack to remain snug around your waist for as long as your workout lasts.
- Front pouch is a touchscreen compatible cover that will let you use your smartphone right in the middle of running
- Inclusive of two BPA-free bottles with a combined capacity of 20 ounces.
- Classy design but plastered with reflector strips that ensure visibility on your night runs
- The classic-type water bottles do not have racer caps and cannot be squeezed, so you really have to stop for a while if you want a water break
- Is not the most durable belt out there so it’s more suitable for casual runs
Right off the bat, this will be one of the most affordable hydration packs you will ever encounter. However, it’s capacity is ideal only for one 12-ounce bottle at a time. This shouldn’t be a problem for city runners who have at least one water fountain in their track, but it just couldn’t sustain you for more strenuous activities like camping or mountain climbing.
- Accommodates any store-bought water bottle
- Has a pouch big enough for your phone, wallet, and even a few first aid items
- Has a headphone slot so you can easily listen to music while running
- Low water capacity
- Does not come with a free bottle
There is definitely something for everyone in this short list of 2020’s best hydration packs. We don’t have a clear overall winner, since it’s all about finding one that will fit your needs and preferences.
The Bottom Line
The goal is for water breaks to become a fun and enjoyable part of your outdoor workouts, so as long as you find a product that does this job for you, you’ll do just fine. With all the options to choose from, there’s bound to be the perfect hydration option for you. To learn more about types of hydration packs, check out our detailed article here.