When picking out a hydration pack, one of the first things you'll want to think about is the size you need. If you're exercising at the gym or doing training runs, a smaller pack that holds around 2 liters of water will be sufficient. If you're planning a long distance race, on the other hand, you'll want a pack that holds closer to 3 liters. The best hydration packs for running will help keep you hydrated without adding unnecessary bulk.
Generally speaking, the amount of water runners should drink is about 5 to 12 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Erring conservatively, that means a 2-liter pack will last you about 1.5 hours. For most training sessions and short races, this will be more than enough. However, if you're planning anything longer than a 10K, you'll want a bigger pack (or just make sure there are plenty of water stations along the way).
Once you've figured out the size you need, you'll want to think about comfort. Look for features like back-padding and adjustable straps, and also make sure it isn't too heavy when empty. As for the bladder itself, it should be easy to clean to avoid bacteria growth. And lastly, it should be easy to use, with a leak-proof mouth piece that provides a steady stream of water.
I've picked out some of the best hydration packs for running and arranged them below according to their capacity, so you can easily find the one that's right for you.
1. The Best Small Hydration Pack
Capacity: 2 liters
What's great about it: If you want something simple and lightweight that doesn't have a bunch of bulky pockets, this U`Be hydration pack is perfect. Though it holds up to 2 liters of water, it has a low-profile design and only weighs around 13 ounces when empty. The fully leakproof bite valve has a quick disconnect tube, and the bladder is made of strong BPA-free material. Best of all, this pack features a rubber panel on the back to provide extra comfort for runners.
What fans say: "Very happy with this product! Great aesthetic and very durable. Have taken it out for about 12 miles worth of hiking (& running) thus far and it’s been nothing short of great."
2. The Best Mid-Sized Hydration Pack
Capacity: 2.5 liters
What's great about it: With a 2.5-liter capacity, this lightweight hydration pack is perfect for slightly longer runs. It has several pockets for storing cash or small items, but it isn't thick or bulky (in fact, the whole thing only weighs 23 ounces when empty). Made of abrasion-resistant, 1,000-denier polyester, the shoulder and chest straps adjust to prevent the pack from flopping around while you run. Meanwhile, the bladder is made of tough, BPA-free TPU with a leakproof bite valve and a wide screw-top for easy filling.
What fans say: "Love this bag. Great for the price, stays in place while running, and can surprisingly fit a decent amount of extra things in there. I use it to run to a nearby rock climbing gym, and it holds my climbing shoes, chalk bag, and phone/wallet/keys/etc."
3. The Best Large Hydration Pack
Capacity: 3 liters
What's great about it: With more than 700 reviews and a 4-star rating, this fan-favorite hydration pack makes a great pick for longer runs. The silicone mouthpiece features an easy shutoff valve, and the insulated tube is wrapped in smooth neoprene. On top of all of that, the pack's padded back panel makes it extra breathable, so you can get hot and sweaty and still have airflow circulating. The pack also features a handy headphone jack, so you can listen to music during long training sessions without getting your phone wet.
What fans say: "Hard to believe how well this pack [has] held up this year given the price. I have run 3 Spartan Supers and 2 Spartan Beasts this year with it and not a single problem. No holes, tears or even stitch popped. Lots of storage and strong bladder. Highly recommend."
Bonus: The Best Standalone Bladder
Capacity: 2 or 3 liters
What's great about it: For runners who already have a pack but need a good water reservoir to put inside it, this standalone water bladder is a fantastic option. It's designed with tough, abrasion-resistant TPU that's built to withstand the elements. In addition to being dishwasher safe, the reservoir is fully reversible, so you can turn it inside out for easy cleaning and reduce the risk of mold and bacteria.
What fans say: "The bottom line with HydraPak is that the closure is completely dependable. It's essentially impossible to assemble the bladder and fail to seal it correctly. There are no threads to get crossed, no O-ring to wear out. If your HydraPak hasn't been punctured, you can rely on it to hold water and not leak, and that's really the only thing that matters."
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