Best Running Hydration Packs

Optimal hydration is essential for continued performance on the run. And while we love handhelds, there is no more of a convenient way to carry your hydration and running essentials than a hydration pack. Whether you are racing or setting out on an all day self supported adventure these are the best models we tested this year. They will help you keep tabs on your run hydration and gear without getting in the way of enjoying your run.

The North Face Flight Trail Vest

The Daily Driver

The North Face Flight Trail Vest is designed to make things easier – not to mention, more well-balanced. To achieve such a feat, the Flight Trail Vest features a stretch fit design, which provides a close to the body contoured fit that’s ideal for fast paced runs. The North Face Flight Trail Vest puts comfort at the forefront of its design, starting with its breathable, soft, and stretchy fabric construction. The use of this fabric in turn promotes full mobility and a barely-there fit and feel, while the fabric itself is quick-drying and moisture-wicking. The Flight Trail Vest is bladder-less, though it does come with two front soft flasks that are specifically built to be accessed quickly and easily. This vest is best suited for races or runs that are under the four hour mark or where aid stations are a-plenty. An included whistle and reflective detail enhance overall safety levels and a drove of extra pockets keep the necessities secure and close at hand, all without slowing you down.


  • 2 upper front chest hydration pockets – Designed to hold a 500ml soft flask
  • 2 upper front zipper pockets – Including one zipper pull safety whistle
  • 2 lower front dump pockets
  • 2 side zip pockets for phone
  • Upper back pocket to carry additional water bladder or clothing
  • Lower back horizontal slot Pocket – Great for holding an extra water bottle

For more information on the Flight Trail Vest and other TNF products visit       MSRP $150

Nathan Sports VaporZach 2.5L Race Vest

Light and Fast

The Nathan Sports VaporZach 2.5L Race Vest allows you to go minimalist on your trail run without skimping on hydration. This lightweight vest has you covered when you start to feel thirsty, with two 12oz ExoShot soft flasks with tube straws for convenient hydration that deliver  thirst quenching goodness without removing the flasks from the vest. The ultra-breathable construction of the VaporZach keeps you cool when your feet are pounding the dirt. Two straps secure the vest in place in front with adjustable clasps that enable any runner to dial in a comfortable fit. Small front lower pockets stash nutritional supplements and a larger top pocket in the back lets you shed a layer while the lower zippered pocket keeps your phone secured. If you like to move quickly through the trails and don’t want a heavy pack to drag you down, this is the one for you.


  • Includes two 12oz ExoShot soft flasks with tube straws for convenient hydration, allowing for easy sipping without removing flasks from the pockets
  • Two vertically adjustable sternum straps offer a secure and accurate fit
  • Dual front holster pockets for flasks
  • Front holster-style Velcro stash pockets for fast access to gels and nutrition
  • Accessible lower back/side stash pockets for a jacket, layers, or extra bottles
  • Upper back stash pocket for secure storage of a jacket or apparel
  • Rear zipper pocket secures a phone (fits an iPhone 8 Plus), keys, and cards
  • Reflective detailing on front and back
  • Top haul loop
  • Total weight with flasks: 7.2 oz / 204 g

For more information on the VaporZach and other Nathan products, visit     MSRP $124.95

Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 4.0

Ready for Any Adventure

High altitude weather is notoriously unpredictable, and one way to be prepared during those long trail runs is by setting out with the Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 4.0 on your back. The low-profile, form-fitting design offers Comfort Cinch technology consisting of two bungee cords that can be quickly pulled or loosened to adjust the fit of the vest for a snug, secure, and bounce-free fit that moves with you instead of against you. Its main compartment stows extra layers, snacks, and survival gear when you’re venturing into the alpine, and/or a hydration reservoir (not included) for long training runs in hot weather. A front water bottle pocket keeps hydration at your fingertips so you don’t have to slow down your pace to take a sip, external bungee straps secure a rain shell for when the skies suddenly open up. And in order to carry the necessary gear for more adventurous trail runs, UD added dual ice axe loops, trekking pole straps, and the large main back compartment can carry climbing gear for when the terrain gets vertical. Ultimate Direction’s scrutiny over every detail on the design of this vest will keep your hydration, gear and phone secured comfortably, without slowing you down so you can focus on those big adventures.


  • One included 500 mL / 17 oz soft Body Bottle™
  • Comfort Cinch™ technology allows for quick adjustments to balance your pack
  • Vertically adjustable sternum straps offer a customized fit
  • Wide lateral straps provide stability and easy fit-adjustments
  • Single front bottle holster with a bungee to secure
  • Multiple stash pockets up front for easy access to gels and nutrition
  • Large, rear reservoir-compatible pouch fits up to 2 L / 70 oz reservoir (not included)
  • Lower rear pouch for gear and essentials
  • Dual side zipper pockets for gels and other essentials
  • Redesigned trekking pole holders reduce bounce
  • Soft and flexible knit mono-mesh harness
  • Multiple phone compatible pockets
  • Emergency whistle included
  • 2 rear ice axe loops
  • Weight: 11 oz / 312 g

For more information on the Adventure Vest and other UD products, visit    MSRP $169.95

Raidlight Ultra Legend 12L

Carry It All

The Raidlight Ultra Legend 12L Hydration Pack will expand your horizons, by allowing you to comfortable carry everything needed from sun up till sun down. The Ultra Legend features a generous main compartment that accommodates a day’s worth of running essentials, while a myriad of shove-it and zippered storage options (17 pockets) in the front and on the sides provide quick and easy access to water, snacks, maps, or extra layers. Meanwhile, the lightweight hollow 3D padded fabric is both durable and breathable, assuring maximum comfort and performance, and the chest, side and shoulder pulls are adjustable to maintain a secure carry experience. The Ultra Legend has been intuitively designed for an active pace, keeping the load positioned higher on the back to enhance agility, while a load return system prevents overloading on the back, allowing for a better distribution of weight on the shoulders, helping to stabilize the load. The Ultra Legend 12L is the ultimate adventure bag that has perfectly balanced weight, functionality, features, and comfort so you can spend long, unsupported days in the mountains or on the trails.


  • Pole carrying system front or back with a hook.
  • Criss cross tightening system
  • 12L main compartment capacity
  • Compatible with the Ultra Front Pack
  • Hydration reservoir compatible
  • A front mesh pocket and a mesh pocket in the main compartment.
  • A zipped pocket with a key clip.
  • Two mesh pockets on the side, accessible without having to take off the bag.
  • A large zipped pocket at the bottom of the back
  • Two side zipped pockets with one in a stretch fabric
  • Two stretch fabric pockets on the straps
  • Two bottle holders on the straps
  • 4 pockets on the bottle holders
  • Insulated bladder pocket to help keep fluids cool
  • Securing system on the straps with elastic to prevent movement
  • Two chest straps
  • Integrated safety whistle
  • Elastic accessory holders
  • Specially designed GPS pocket
  • Hollow 3D mesh for breathability
  • Ripstop fabric for increased strength and durability

For more information on the Ultra Legend 12L and other Raidlight products, visit    MSRP $129.95

Mark Ranum: Mark is an outdoor adventure seeker, living in the beautiful state of Michigan. He loves trekking hundreds of miles through the wilderness, whether on two feet or two wheels, always looking for the next new trail or road to see where it will take him.
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