Buying Guide: Best Running & Cycling Hydration Packs For The Money (2018)

Whether you are into running, road cycling or something in between, one thing is certain – staying hydrated is essential. It can also be a bit of a pain though because when you plan on being out on a trail for the better part of a day, you need enough water that you’re not dehydrated, yet you also don’t want to be carry around a lot of extra weight in water.

For most people, a hydration pack makes the most sense. You have something that doesn’t slow you down since it has that little convenient drinking tube. And, often you end up being more hydrated than if you were having to reach into your pack for a bottle of water.

Rated: Best Hydration Packs for the Money (2017 - 2018)

PACKOUR RATING
Camden Gear Hydration Running Belt4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)
Mubasel Gear Hydration Pack with 70 oz 2L Bladder4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)
Adalid Gear Hydration Belt for Running4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)
Riskbek Hydration Pack with attachable Running Belt5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.04.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)
G4Free Sports Trail Runner Hydration Pack4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)
Nathan VaporAir Hydration Pack4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)
Ultimate Direction Reservoir4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)
Geigerrig Rig 500 Hydration Pack4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)
Fit Harmony Hydration Belt4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Hydration Pack Benefits

Hydration packs are extremely useful for runners, and for outdoor sports enthusiasts of all kinds. They are better for the very active person than your average water bottle, because you don’t have to stop to drink – you can keep right on moving. Unless you’re walking or biking slowly, stopping to drink is just annoying, not to mention a loss of needed momentum.

If you’re ripping down a mountain trail on a bike and you get thirsty, a hydration pack has got your back (often quite literally.) Additionally, a hydration pack holds more water on average than a water bottle. A water bottle typically holds a quart, while hydration packs often come in 2L – 3L capacities. The larger volume encourages you to drink more, and it also lasts you longer, if you’re out and busy all day. Despite the weight that the extra water can add, hydration packs are usually quite comfortable and stable to wear.

Of course, there are different kinds of hydration packs and the one that is best for you depends on your activity for the day. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, so just head over to the REI website here and check out their chart on hydration packs by activity.

The amount of water that you need to drink while being active is generally agreed upon to be about one liter for each hour that you’re active, but that doesn’t account for things like temperature level and the body differences from one person to the next. You should know when you’re starting to get thirsty and when you get that feeling, listen to it. Likewise, if you know that you normally don’t drink as much as your peers, then you’re probably safe to get one of the smaller hydration packs. It’s important to be smart about this because just like how not enough water is bad for your health, having too much water in a short period of time can actually result in death.

When you’re shopping for your hydration pack, it’s a good idea to remember that there are some designed just for women (if you’re female). Those models should be the ones that you check out first, if you’re a woman, so that you get the best gear for your body type.

Different Types of Hydration Packs: Common Features

There are different kinds of hydration packs for your purpose. Smaller packs are perfect for day hikes, as they are lightweight, and hold just enough water for a whole day. They usually have pockets to store anything else you want or need. Since packs that go on one’s back can be annoying for runners and cyclists, with all the jostling up and down, hydration packs that strap on your hip exist, as well as vests designed with hydration packs inside them. Vest-style hydration packs distribute the water weight in the front, which can be even more comfortable than wearing a hip pack. Hydration “packs” can be bought that are just the water reservoir with an attached hose only, and no pack (or ‘backpack.’) These can be used on their own, or installed in a hydration-compatible backpack.

What to Consider Before Buying

It all depends on what you are planning on using your hydration pack for, and how often you will use it. They aren’t overly expensive –  typically an average price $50-$100 for some of the basic models – but they definitely are better suited for some activities over others. For example, if you are a road cyclist focused on aerodynamics and speed, you might prefer a traditional old-fashioned water bottle. For long hikes, backpacking, rock climbing, trail-runners, racers, fitness walkers, snowboarding and skiing, and various types of cycling, running hydration packs are a solid investment.

Our Top Picks: Running Hydration Pack Reviews

Camden Gear Hydration Running Belt Review

Lightweight running belt features storage pocket large enough for most cell phones. Two 6 oz. BPA free water bottles are attached securely to the belt and four additional elastic straps are available to secure keys or other items. Adjustable velcro waist fits up to 47″. Black. Works for both men and women.

Pros: Affordable price

Cons: Too big for petite body frames

Mubasel Gear Hydration Pack with 70 oz 2L Bladder Review

Whether you spend your time running, hiking, biking, camping or climbing, this is one of the best hydration backpacks for you! With the Mubasel Gear Hydration Pack, you’ll enjoy all of the following amazing features:

  • No waterbottles needed! Just use the straw and you’re good to go. You can even add ice cubes to keep the water super cold. And, as long as the screw between the bladder and the straw is tightened, it will never leak!
  • It includes a 2L FDA-approved food grade hydration bladder.
  • It’s super lightweight, only weighing in at 0.77 pounds.
  • It’s got tons of room! It includes two spacious storage compartments to fit your clothes, keys, purses, phone and more. Plus, for more storage, the front mesh pockets stretch — so you can pack even more.
  • It’s versatile. You can even use it as a pillow if you need to rest.

Next time you’re exercising outside, make your workout the best it can be with this model from Musabel Gear!

Adalid Gear Hydration Belt for Running Review

Never let thirst diminish your sense of adventure. With this model from Adalid Gear, you’ll be able to run long distances and stay well hydrated out there.

Features:

  • Made from neoprene material. Makes the belt soft and lightweight, but it won’t bounce or chafe.
  • Two adjustable straps are made from strong nylon and feature a buckle clip. Allows the belt to fit waists from 29” to 40”.
  • Resistant against water and sweat. Perfect for runs, hikes and outings in any weather.
  • Zipper sealed pouch is perfect for storing keys, money or credit cards without any risk of scratching.
  • Reflectors on the front, sides and back are highly visible to ensure you are easy for drivers to see in low light.
  • 1-year warranty. No-hassle replacements.

So, if a belt-style model is what you are looking for, then consider this belt model from Adalid Gear.

Riskbek Hydration Pack with attachable Running Belt Review

This Riskbek model is the first hydration pack on the market with a waist belt. This innovative method of using this Riskbek model makes it an ideal accessory for the runner, walker, hiker, hunter, or general trail blazer. Versatile enough to fit any size–grown men to children-this pack is the perfect way to stay hydrated regardless of anything else. Easily ordered from Amazon.com for an affordable cost, you can expect your Riskbek gear to show up promptly at the destination of your choice as you are able to carry it safely using your waist belt to provide an easy, hands-free method of transport for your hydration packs!

Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 Review

The Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 is an exceptional vest made for protection from outdoor elements and fashioned for ultimate comfort. Designed by talented outdoor author and top runner Scott Jurek, the vest is intended to be worn by any sized wearer. It features inserts to enable it to mold to any shape, maximizing comfort of movement regardless of the intended activity. Affordably priced at Amazon.com, this vest is suitable for wear by anyone competing in the racing world and anywhere else that a rugged, handsome piece of outerwear is required. A quick visit to Amazon can have this exceptional vest on its way for delivery and in your hands. Make the call or mouse click now for ordering!

G4Free Sports Trail Runner Hydration Pack Review

Runners of all levels, say goodbye to clunky water bottles forever! Instead of using plastic water bottles that take up space, the G4Free Runner model gives you water any time through a straw. For an even colder drink, you can even add ice cubes!

This G4Free model also features:

  • Two zipper pockets to carry your wallet, phone, snacks, keys and more
  • Water-resistant nylon, so all of your belongings stay dry on those rainy days
  • Super durability, which means it lasts longer through your long hikes, bike rides and runs
  • Adjustable straps so it won’t bounce when you move

Plus, they company guarantees that you’ll love this model~ If you don’t, tell contact them and they will fix the problem immediately. Make your running go smoother than ever before with this G4Free model!

Nathan VaporAir Hydration Pack Review

Lightweight running vest with 2L bladder, two front bottle pockets, side mesh pocket for storage, and adjustable straps for best flexibility and comfort. For those all day runs, this electric blue pack has all the versatility you need in a minimum amount of space. Body mapped and features breathable material, the over the shoulder load lifters reduce body fatigue by balancing the water weight. Reflective material helps to keep you safe on night runs.

Pros: Flexible design conforms to most body types

Cons: Lack of insulation in bladder section

Ultimate Direction Reservoir Review

The Ultimate Direction Reservoir is an excellent carrying vessel for liquids. With its wide-mouth configuration and durable construction, this prime sports gear is the ideal item to accompany an outdoors enthusiast on any expedition into the great outdoors. Newly improved to prevent leakage, this indispensable gear provides secure capacity for needed liquids during any trip. Affordably priced at Amazon.com, this item can be ordered quickly for immediate delivery to enable timely inclusion with your next wilderness trip! Place your order for your Ultimate Direction Reservoir before your next scheduled camping trip or hike to be able to transport your liquids safely and conveniently!

Geigerrig Rig 500 Hydration Pack Review

The hydration a Geigerrig 500 Hydration Pack provides is refreshing and can be life-saving! Using one of these easy-to-use packs to meet your hydration needs while running will safely provide the access to refreshment that a runner like you requires, and will permit that individual to maximize outdoor time on the trail or pavement without being required to stop to meet hydration needs.

Compact, safe, and easily transported, the Geigerrig 500 model will allow worry-free outdoor runs for you. The savvy runners like you will take advantage of its readily accessible hydration capabilities whenever possible!

Available at Amazon.com, this convenient and affordable option will add comfort to any outing. Hydration is a necessity that no proficient outdoor lover can do without when planning a full day out in the natural world. Plan today to order a Geigerrig 500 model to take on the next outdoor run!

Fit Harmony Hydration Belt Review

This is a great hydrating option for runners and hikers everywhere. The Fit Harmony Belt has everything you need for those long runs and hikes. Check out its many unique features:

  • It comes with two 16-oz BPA-free aluminum water bottles that fit perfectly in the bottle holders. They’re always within perfect reach!
  • Enjoy the roomy center zip compartment! It’s perfect to stash your phone, credit cards, cash, keys and more.
  • The adjustable strap keeps the belt firmly in place on your waist.
  • The ergonomic fit stops all bouncing and chafing.
  • The padding keeps you comfortable throughout your entire run or hike.
  • The patented reflective trim makes it easy for drivers to spot you.
  • Enjoy a lifetime warranty! We’re so confident that the Fit Harmony Hydration Belt is the last hydration belt you’ll ever have to buy that if you don’t love it, you can always exchange it or get a total refund.

With the Fit Harmony belt, you’ll never go on a run or hike again without everything you need right at your fingertips!

Hydration Pack Use and Care Tips

Proper cleaning of your hydration pack is critical. If you use electrolyte powder or sugar in your pack, you’ll want to ensure to clean out your pack’s reservoir and hose with every use or every other use. Your pack can be cleaned less frequently if you avoid powders and sugars, and leaving the bladder either filled with water between uses, or stored empty inside a plastic bag in your freezer to prevent bacterial growth.

Single-compartment bladders that zip open on top are easiest to clean, because scrub brushes can easily fit into them, and you can trust a dishwasher to clean them fully (if they are okay to use in a dishwasher.) Otherwise, you’ll have to work a little harder to clean every bit of a multi-compartment bladder’s inside surface with a scrub brush, and you’ll want to flush the bladder out with warm water and an anti-bacterial additive multiple times. If you don’t buy a drying rack for your hydration pack, you can improvise with coat hangers or something similar.

The hose will always be difficult to clean, but it must be cleaned regularly and properly. Some hydration packs are sold with a custom long, skinny pipe-cleaner scrub brush to scrub out the hose.

Another consideration for taking care of your pack’s hose is ensuring the pack is made well enough to insulate the hose if you’re using the pack in freezing temperatures, so that the hose doesn’t freeze and become damaged.

top image credit: Dimid_86/Deposit Photos

Shawna Newman

Shawna currently lives in Las Vegas where she gets in lots of great hiking at Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park. When she has time, she visits National Parks in a quest to visit each one in the U.S. Shawna’s favorite outdoors activity is hiking and her favorite National Park (so far) is Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

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