Best Hydration Pack Reviews

Being in the market for a good hydration pack for your outdoor needs can be troublesome if you’re new to hydration packs in general or just poorly informed about them. There are so many good packs to choose from, and occasionally, there are also a few of them that are not so good.

Considering the wide growth of the market demand for hydration packs, it would be a good idea to consider buying one. They’re pretty nifty and basically serve two purposes. They also replace the need for extra bulk in the form of a water bottle, and take your hydration needs to the next level by making it hands-free.

A short disclaimer to consider though: if you’re not sure what to buy, and what your price range is, then read on first and consider what you need in a good hydration pack. Also, what separates a good buyer from a bad one is knowing what features would be most useful to you in advance. Hydration packs can be pretty varied, so it is definitely in your favor to know what you want before you even know what the choices are.

Best Hydration Pack For Running

  1. Nathan VaporCloud
  2. CamelBak Marathoner
  3. Nathan Zelos
  4. Geigerrig Cadence Rig
  5. Ultimate Direction Wasp

What are the features to look for in a good hydration pack?

First off, you need to consider the basic features that would be good to look for in a competent hydration pack such as:

  • a sturdy and wear-and-tear resistant pack
  • BPA-free and non-toxic water bladder
  • pack size depending on your activity needs
  • water bladder capacity based on your hydration needs
  • water bladder spill-proof and leak-proof
  • economically priced
  • good warranty

There are other options to consider, but these are generally the most important and probably the only ones you’ll ever need.

It’s pretty basic that the pack itself is made of a good material, preferably rip stop nylon, which is what they use for most outdoor packs. The size itself can vary according to you: the most basic for those who only need to hydrate, a compact one for cyclists or runners, or a big one if you’re going hiking or camping.

What should not vary is the quality. It should look, feel and be sturdy, as it is the core of the hydration pack. It’s a lot harder to replace the pack than the water bladder, so keep that in mind.

The bladder should be made of a non-toxic and durable material, preferably puncture-proof for more safety. It should be placed conveniently within the pack, with no trouble of being displaced and can easily be removed for cleaning and refilling.

The capacity is up to you as well. You can go with 1.5L for a just-enough hydration route or go bigger with 2.0L to 3.0L for a guarantee that you will never go dry. The tube is also important; it should be easy to use and spill-proof. A cover/lid feature on the tube is also better, to protect your fluids from foreign objects.

How do I choose the best hydration pack for me?

You might notice that the title refers to not one hydration pack, but pluralized hydration packs. That’s because each product is unique in its own way, and they are favored by different specifics also unique to each person. There is no single best; there are only best ones for you.

Each of these products featured are chosen because of their economical prices, meaning that they give the best bang for buck in their price range. It also tells you what that pack would be perfect for; if you’re either a runner or a cyclist, a hiker or a camper, or maybe just a regular parent looking for the best pack for your kid for their next camping trip, there’s something for everyone.

Sports Imagery – Hydration Pack Premium Backpack Daypack with 3.0L (100oz) Water Bladder

Here is a great starter pack for everyone more worried about hydration than the pack itself. This pack from Sports Imagery is perfect for hikers or campers going the distance. The large 3.0L water bladder is more than enough for your hydration needs. There are three separate storage compartments and it is encased in premium rip stop nylon material, so you know it’s durable.

If you’re a hiker or camper with big storage needs, then this product would be great for you. It’s awesome for its value, and the pack is water resistant, so you can take it places where you’ll likely get wet. It’s also very resistant to wear and tear, and is meant to survive even the harshest conditions. The storage spaces are big enough for your valuables such as phones, wallet, keys, snacks, extra clothes and even a small laptop.

The water bladder itself is pretty thick at 5 mm so there’s no worrying about leaks. It’s made with non-toxic BPA-free materials, so no danger of poisoning. The large capacity is perfect for those looking for more hydration, and smartly placed behind the main compartment for easy storage and removal. It features a quick release tube and an auto shutoff valve, so you know you’re safe from spills and leaks.

The only problems reported for this pack are some factory defects for the pack or the bladder. However, it does come with a 100% lifetime replacement guarantee, so you can return yours if it has any defects. It’s also on the bulkier side, so forget this pack if you’re looking for something more compact. Other than that, the pack is perfect for its price.

Perfect for hikers, campers, people worried about hydration capacity. Not so perfect for: people looking for smaller packs like runners and cyclists; parents looking to buy these for their small children.

Read the full review

Crave Outdoors Hydration Backpack 1.5L Water Bladder Cycling Running Hiking Pack

More compact and space-friendly, this hydration pack is perfect if you’re looking for a size that’s not so big that it’s bulky or so small that you can’t fit anything in it. This hydration pack from Crave Outdoors is great for runners and cyclists, and awesome as well for your kid. The water bladder has a capacity of 1.5L, which is sufficient for most people, or even more than enough.

The main storage is mainly for the water bladder, though it has a great design with four extra pockets along the straps. It is manufactured inside a shell of rip stop nylon material so it’s very durable as well.

The main selling point of this pack is its nature of being a small yet surprisingly handy hydration pack. Made with the runner or cyclist in mind, it reduces the bulk by toning down the storage and the water bladder capacity, but in a way that will still be sufficient for users. The small frame doesn’t mean it skimped on quality though. It’s very durable and water resistant; great for everyday use. The four extra pockets at the front can fit your keys, your phone, your wallet and even a few snacks.

The 1.5L capacity water bladder is great at hydrating most users. The material used is completely BPA-free and non-toxic and the overall design is great for avoiding spills and leaks. It’s not that large and therefore less bulky, which is a plus for freer movement.

The only disadvantage of this pack would be if you were in the market for a bigger bladder and pack. Some defective units have been reported, though mostly isolated incidents. To counter these, the manufacturer has implemented a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee, which is great if you ever have concerns. Some people also complained that there was some chafing, since the straps are somewhat awkwardly positioned.

Perfect for people looking for a good mix of compactness and storage, cyclists, runners. Not so perfect for: fans of big storage like hikers and campers.

Read the full review

TETON Sports Trailrunner 2.0 Hydration Backpack

This is as basic and minimalist as it can get. The Trailrunner 2.0 breaks it down to the minimum and manages to come out with a great and super sleek-looking product. Beyond the compartment for the water bladder there is almost nothing in it, which should appeal to even those who feel encumbered by smaller packs.

This hydration pack is great for serious runners and cyclists who want to be bothered less but still hydrate more. Featuring a surprising 2.0L capacity water bladder, this only means that it is specifically designed to be a basic hydration pack – nothing flashy but certainly not to be ignored either. There is a small mesh pocket on the front which can fit your phone or your wallet and keys, but besides that, everything else is put into the effort of constructing an extremely sturdy pack. It’s made with high-grade 420D Double Line rip stop nylon material.

Being minimalist in both design and features is what makes this hydration pack extremely appealing. Made for the serious runners and cyclists, as well as hikers with serious adventures, there is almost no bulk because of its seriously lightweight design, which incorporates the least amount of space possible.

Toning down the features gave it an edge on the manufacturing materials, for it boasts one of the higher quality rip stop nylon materials made. The smallest compromise made is the deep mesh pocket on the front where you can put small belongings in, yet you’ll barely notice it.

Not surprisingly, it also allows for more space for the water bladder, coming in at a capacity of 2.0L. This guarantees that you will rarely ever go dry on one of your serious activities. It’s completely BPA-free, in addition to passing FDA standards with its food grade water bladder. The edges are also triple heat-sealed, which means spills or leaks are almost impossible. The bladder is protected inside the main compartment with Velcro for easy removal and cleaning.

The only problem with minimalism is already implied in the name: there’s a minimum of everything. With this product, you’re certain to lose storage space. The mesh pocket is unsafe for phones if you’re planning to get wet since the mesh is not water resistant.

There’s also a bit of a learning curve with the tube for the bladder, as some people were finding it hard to suck on it to draw out the fluids. There’s a limited lifetime warranty as well, which includes some fine print so a technicality may be a cause for you to lose out if you’re unlucky with the pack.

Perfect for the minimalist adventurer, runners, cyclists and some hikers. Not so perfect for: really big fans of storage, people who can’t be parted from their phones.

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Camden Gear Hydration Pack with 1.5L Backpack Water Bladder

A great product if you’re in the market for medium storage and just enough fluid capacity, this hydration pack from Camden Gear is as efficient as it is stylish. With just-sized-right dimensions and a solid manufacturing, it has everything in mind for the starter who needs a hydration pack. It comes with a 1.5L capacity water bladder, so you’ll be able to hydrate sufficiently with little worry of running dry.

This pack is great for runners and especially cyclists, who will love that ergonomically manufactured design. It has four pockets for your storage needs, including two that are conveniently placed on either waist belt for easier retrieval. The pack itself is made of rip stop nylon, so you know it’s extremely durable.

The best thing about this pack is its convenient design; it has its storage placed properly with the least possible trouble mind. Very appealing to cyclists who have their hands busy too on the handlebars to be reaching for the back pocket.

There is minimal bulk because of its design which evens out the storage across the body of the pack. The pack is manufactured in high quality rip stop nylon and even waterproofing on the main compartment. The two waist pockets are great for small valuables and snacks.

Like most high-quality packs, the water bladder is made with BPA-free non-toxic material. It is fully detachable for easier cleaning and refilling. There is also insulation provided for the compartment in the pack and the tube to keep your fluids optimally cooled.

Common disadvantages include a smaller pack, so no extra storage. The two waist pockets are not waterproof, so you might want to store your electronics elsewhere. The main storage can be packed when the water bladder is filled, so there is a smaller storage at the front. There are also some reports of a few product defects, but what’s great is you’re protected by a refund warranty behind every purchase.

Perfect for runners, cyclists, starters who want a proper hydration pack. Not so perfect for: people who need larger and better equipped packs.

Read the full review

TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Backpack

The big brother of the Trailrunner 2.0, this hydration pack from Teton Sports is fully-sized for all your outdoor needs. This pack is perfect for those who can spend a bit more for luxuries like great durability and additional storage space. It’s awesome for all hikers and campers in need of a bigger pack, that can provide the additional storage they need. It sports a 2.0L water bladder with mostly the same composition as its little brother, which is more than enough for most purposes.

There’s a grand total of six pockets, which should excite any storage enthusiast out there. For the main pack, it’s made with high-grade and high-quality 210D Honeycomb rip stop nylon material.

The product’s best feature: the more than sufficient storage space, while maintaining a great capacity for the water bladder. This hydration pack is perfect for serious campers with above average storage needs. It’s lined with a high-quality rip stop nylon material for supreme durability, and also features a weather guard for the main compartment which is more than enough to keep your belongings dry.

To take things even a notch further, the pack also includes a rain guard to protect its whole body whenever it pours. It has two more front pockets, with one even containing an organizer, and two mesh pockets at either side for easy retrieval of items such as snacks, your keys, wallet or even your phone.

The water bladder is the same as the built-in one from the Trailrunner 2.0, so it’s just as good. For most purposes, the capacity should be enough.

The bulk from having such a large pack might be the only bad thing about this pack. You’re getting six compartments after all, so that should come as no surprise. Avoid this at all costs if you think you don’t need that much space and would much prefer settling for a smaller and much more compact hydration pack.

Perfect for campers and hikers with serious storage needs, or more organized people. Not so perfect for: runners and cyclists as your movement might be hindered.

Read the full review

What Are Hydration Packs?

A truly revolutionary yet simple idea of combining the water bottle with the back pack, the hydration pack has become somewhat of a staple among outdoor enthusiasts and has seen use in military ventures. It takes the concept of hydration, using the minimum amount of effort, resulting in a design somewhat similar to a camel’s hump.

Today, a lot of hydration packs in varying types and sizes are readily available for consumer use. They provide constant hydration to the user even throughout the most rigorous activities.

Starting Out

Hydration packs started out as systems, with only the water bladder available and not built into a pack.

The first hydration systems were introduced to cyclists who require constant hydration during their activities. By 1990s, systems were being sold to hikers as well. Most commercial models have also seen use from western military personnel in places like southwest Asia.

The modern hydration pack today comprises a system of a water bladder (commonly known as the hydration system) in conjunction with an outdoor backpack, which makes it a product that fills the niche of two separate needs. These are mostly hands-free since they are integrated well into the pack.

Constitution

A hydration pack mainly consists of a water bladder and a useful backpack to carry it. The pack is usually made of rip stop nylon, a common material used for outdoor products. It can vary from the most basic type which only includes a compartment for the pack to the larger ones that have a lot of storage compartments.

The water bladder itself consists of the main bladder, made with non-toxic materials and placed with a convenient screw-top cover to keep it sealed. Usually the bladder is removable for easier cleaning and replacement in case of defects. It also has a light hose which conveys the liquid to the user, very much like a straw. Finally, at the end of the hose, there is a bite valve which starts and stops the flow of liquid in order to avoid spillage.

Sizes

Hydration pack sizes vary for different purposes. The range of the bladder’s water capacity can be as little as 50 ounces (1.5L) up to 400+ ounces (12L and beyond). The pack can be minimalist, with the goal being to add as little weight as possible, which makes it perfect for runners or cyclists. Others have complex and storage-friendly packs, which are more targeted for backpackers, hikers or campers. There are even sizes that can fit children and allow them to carry the pack with little difficulty.

Uses

Hydration packs see the most use from hiking and outdoor activities, where staying hydrated is paramount. More and more complex hydration packs, however, are being developed to specialize for  specific activities. For example, running hydration packs are generally the smallest and lightest to be more practical and less cumbersome results. The bladder sits lower on the back as well.

There are also specialized hydration packs for cycling, which generally hold more water while keeping the bulk to a minimum.

For military, hiking and trekking purposes, the hydration packs are usually much larger, ranging anywhere from ten to thirty liters up to as much as thirty-five to sixty-five liters.

In some of the more expensive models, the hydration bladders are even pressurized to allow the hose to spray water or move it to an inline filter before drinking.

Availability

There are a great number of hydration packs readily available for purchase, with prices ranging from cheap ($30-$40) to more expensive ($120-$150), all depending on the quality, capacity and the branding of the products. It’s important to be well-informed of the qualities you want before buying a hydration pack, because of how many are available right now. There are a lot of them that may seem cheap but, in reality, are plagued with defects so you end up wasting money.

A good tip would be to look for products with good reviews, and to look out for those with negative ones. There are a lot of outdoor enthusiasts out there who would be more than willing to provide their insight on good hydration packs, if you’re looking to be economical on your purchase. But if you have a bigger budget, it might not be the worst idea in the world to spend that on something branded, because, along with that, you’re sure to get quality equal to what you pay for.

Hydration Pack vs. Water Bottle: Which Is Better?

With the advent of the backpack-and-hydration-system-in-one pack, commonly known as the hydration pack, is the water bottle still viable as a hydration system for the outdoor person? This piece will weigh the pros and cons of each and hopefully, help you on your way to a decision on what will work better for you for your hydration during your various activities.

The Sports Water Bottle – Tried and Tested or Severely Outdated?

First off we have the good old water bottle. It can hold as little as half a liter to almost a liter, with some even going to a liter and a half. It’s nothing special really – today’s modern sports water bottles come in a cylindrical design commonly made of metal or plastic. Some are manufactured with insulation to ensure that the fluids stay cooler longer (or keep it hot, in the case of thermoses.)

The caps can be as simple as a twist-to-lock mechanism, or more complex ones have spouts or even filters. Fans of lemon water can even make their own, with bottles that come with built-in infusers to customize the water’s taste.

What’s not so great is the bulk commonly associated with a water bottle. If you’ve ever been on a run and found yourself needing hydration every now and then, it can be cumbersome to bring a water bottle with you, especially if you have nowhere to put it.
More often than not you end up having to leave it somewhere, and then only getting to hydrate after you’re done your activity. Under the right circumstances, it could be bothersome to even bring one, so you end up buying one while on the road instead.

What’s awesome about it, though, is that it has always been reliable under the right circumstances. If you’re bringing a proper pack with you, you might not even notice it compared to the rest of your stuff. Every modern bicycle has a water bottle holder built-in, and if you want a better one, it’s possible to buy one, too.

You can do no wrong under the right circumstances with a proper water bottle. It’s very easy to use and, if you have some way to store it, it’s sometimes a lot better than the alternative.

The Hydration Pack – Revolutionary or Unnecessary?

Next we have the hydration pack. It’s an item that’s been around for decades now, but is seeing a resurgence due to its usefulness as both a hydration system and as a backpack. It consists of a water bladder – this is what holds the fluid – within a compartment in the backpack itself. It has a tube and a mouth valve for conveniently hands-free use.
The capacity of the water bladder is significantly better than a common water bottle. The smallest hydration packs can carry up to 1.5L of fluids, while larger ones have a capacity of up to sixty-five liters. The most commonly used are around the 2.0L to 3.0L, which means a slim chance of running dry.

What’s bad about these products is that they can be a bit pricy. Some come cheap, but at the cost of having problems. The water bladders themselves are reported to have some sort of aftertaste to them, in some cases, while drinking through the tube can take some getting used to. The pack holding the bladder can be a bit of overkill in terms of space, as they’re mostly designed for hiking, camping and other more strenuous activities.

The good thing about them, though, is that you’re basically getting two items for one. You never need to worry about trying to stay hydrated while on an activity, because you can carry it anywhere and the pack itself is pretty darn useful for keeping your belongings. If your activity is something where you would likely bring along many things in addition to your hydration system, a hydration pack is superior in almost every way.

Conclusion

If you’re in the market to buy a hydration pack and need a reason not to, then a water bottle is a good one. It’s way cheaper and you can get one from a trusted manufacturer easily.

However, if your type of activity deals with longer distances and more hydration is needed, plus you’ll need a pack, then go with a hydration pack instead. It’s better in every single way, provided that you have the budget for it, so you can be sure that you’re really getting your money’s worth for it.

Mark McKnight
 

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