How to Choose the Best Hydration Pack

Whether you are hiking or going for a run, hydration is the key to staying safe and healthy for the duration of it. Water bottles can be heavy and cumbersome and since you need to stop every time you want a drink, they can be time-consuming as well. This is where a hydration pack really shines and why you need to take one with you on your journey. Now, if you are looking for this type of product, you are going to find that there are a lot of types out there. So, how are you going to make sure that you end up with the one that works best for you?

Picture Brand Rating
Picture Brand Rating
Osprey - ( Talon 44 )

Osprey Talon

6-44 L / 366-2685 CI

4.7

412 reviews
Osprey - ( Tempest 40 )

Osprey Tempest

6-40 L / 366-2441 CI

4.5

102 reviews
Gregory - ( Tempo 8 )

Gregory Tempo

3-8 L / 183-488 CI

5.0

6 reviews
Salomon - ( Trail 10 )

Salomon Trail

9-20 L / 549-1220 CI

4.8

216 reviews
Salomon - ( X Alp 23 )

Salomon X Alp

23 L / 1403 CI

4.9

15 reviews
Osprey - ( Radial 34 )

Osprey Radial

26-32 L / 1587-1953 CI

4.9

50 reviews
Osprey - ( Manta 28 )

Osprey Manta

20-34 L / 1220-2075 CI

4.6

73 reviews
Osprey - ( Raptor 14 )

Osprey Raptor

10-14 L / 610-854 CI

4.8

370 reviews
Osprey - ( Mira 34 )

Osprey Mira

18-32 L / 1098-1953 CI

4.6

66 reviews
Osprey - ( Viper 13 )

Osprey Viper

3-13 L / 183-793 CI

4.8

249 reviews
Osprey - ( Skimmer 30 )

Osprey Skimmer

16-28 L / 976-1709 CI

4.7

37 reviews
Osprey - ( Skarab 32 )

Osprey Skarab

18-30 L / 1098-1831 CI

4.7

28 reviews
Osprey - ( Raven 14 )

Osprey Raven

10-14 L / 610-854 CI

4.9

82 reviews
Osprey - ( Duro 6 )

Osprey Duro

2-6 L / 92-366 CI

4.7

3 reviews
Gregory - ( Juno 20 )

Gregory Juno

20-30 L / 1220-1831 CI

5.0

3 reviews
Osprey - ( Verve 9 )

Osprey Verve

3-9 L / 183-549 CI

4.7

23 reviews
Gregory - ( Citro 25 )

Gregory Citro

20-30 L / 1220-1831 CI

5.0

3 reviews
Gregory - ( Drift 14 )

Gregory Drift

6-14 L / 366-854 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Osprey - ( Dyna 1.5 )

Osprey Dyna

2-15 L / 92-915 CI

5.0

4 reviews
Fox - ( Portage  )

Fox Portage

21 L / 1251 CI
Osprey - ( Syncro 15 )

Osprey Syncro

2-13 L / 122-793 CI

4.7

611 reviews
Gregory - ( Pace 8 )

Gregory Pace

8 L / 488 CI

3.0

1 reviews
Deuter - ( Compact 2 )

Deuter Compact

2-10 L / 122-610 CI

4.7

14 reviews
Fox - ( Convoy  )

Fox Convoy

3 L / 183 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Gregory - ( Amasa 6 )

Gregory Amasa

6-14 L / 366-854 CI
Osprey - ( Zealot 15 )

Osprey Zealot

13 L / 793 CI

4.8

131 reviews
Camelbak - ( Pursuit 24 )

Camelbak Pursuit

21 L / 1281 CI

5.0

3 reviews
Camelbak - ( MULE 15 )

Camelbak MULE

2-15 L / 92-915 CI

4.8

102 reviews
Camelbak - ( Fourteener 20 )

Camelbak Fourteener

17-24 L / 1037-1464 CI

4.8

32 reviews
Camelbak - ( LUXE 14 )

Camelbak LUXE

14 L / 854 CI

5.0

21 reviews
Camelbak - ( Sequoia 18 )

Camelbak Sequoia

15-22 L / 915-1342 CI

4.7

35 reviews
Ultraspire - ( Alpha 3.0 )

Ultraspire Alpha

6 L / 340 CI

3.0

6 reviews
Patagonia - ( Fore Runner 10 )

Patagonia Fore Runner

10 L / 610 CI

4.8

8 reviews
Camelbak - ( Ultra 10 )

Camelbak Ultra

8 L / 488 CI

4.1

10 reviews
Camelbak - ( Circuit  )

Camelbak Circuit

5 L / 305 CI

4.2

5 reviews
Salomon - ( Agile 2 )

Salomon Agile

3 L / 183 CI

2.9

16 reviews
Salomon - ( Hydro 45 )

Salomon Hydro

1 L / 37 CI

4.6

99 reviews
Camelbak - ( Delaney 21 )

Camelbak Delaney

3.2

13 reviews
Osprey - ( Hydrajet 15 )

Osprey Hydrajet

15 L / 915 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Camelbak - ( Skeeter  )

Camelbak Skeeter

2 L / 92 CI

4.0

4 reviews
Camelbak - ( Kicker  )

Camelbak Kicker

2 L / 92 CI
Osprey - ( Moki 1.5 )

Osprey Moki

2 L / 92 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Camelbak - ( Scout  )

Camelbak Scout

11 L / 671 CI

5.0

2 reviews
Camelbak - ( SnoBlast  )

Camelbak SnoBlast

21 L / 1281 CI

4.3

9 reviews
Camelbak - ( Powderhound 12 )

Camelbak Powderhound

12 L / 732 CI
Camelbak - ( Zoid  )

Camelbak Zoid

3 L / 183 CI

5.0

2 reviews
Matador - ( HydroLite 8 )

Matador HydroLite

8 L / 488 CI
Camelbak - ( Arete 18 )

Camelbak Arete

17-20 L / 1007-1220 CI

4.2

19 reviews
Camelbak - ( Cloud Walker 18 )

Camelbak Cloud Walker

16 L / 976 CI

4.7

18 reviews
Camelbak - ( Coronado  )

Camelbak Coronado

15 L / 915 CI
Camelbak - ( HAWG  )

Camelbak HAWG

17 L / 1037 CI

4.3

11 reviews
Camelbak - ( KUDU 12 )

Camelbak KUDU

8-15 L / 488-915 CI

4.7

7 reviews
Camelbak - ( Lobo  )

Camelbak Lobo

6 L / 366 CI

4.7

272 reviews
Camelbak - ( Magic  )

Camelbak Magic

5 L / 305 CI

4.7

16 reviews
Camelbak - ( Octane  )

Camelbak Octane

16 L / 976 CI

4.7

7 reviews
Camelbak - ( Palos 4 )

Camelbak Palos

3 L / 153 CI

4.2

84 reviews
Camelbak - ( Quantico  )

Camelbak Quantico

23 L / 1403 CI

5.0

1 reviews
Camelbak - ( Solstice 10 )

Camelbak Solstice

7 L / 427 CI

5.0

12 reviews
Geigerrig - ( Rig 1200 )

Geigerrig Rig

20 L / 1220 CI

4.8

9 reviews
Platypus - ( Duthie 15 )

Platypus Duthie

10-15 L / 610-915 CI
Platypus - ( Siouxon 10 )

Platypus Siouxon

10 L / 610 CI

4.0

1 reviews
Camelbak - ( Rim Runner 22 )

Camelbak Rim Runner

19 L / 1159 CI

4.1

20 reviews
Deuter - ( Race EXP )

Deuter Race

12 L / 732 CI

4.7

142 reviews
Camelbak - ( Ambush  )

Camelbak Ambush

Camelbak - ( Bootlegger  )

Camelbak Bootlegger

Camelbak - ( Charm  )

Camelbak Charm

2 L / 92 CI

4.3

12 reviews
Camelbak - ( Classic  )

Camelbak Classic

2 L / 122 CI

4.6

203 reviews
Camelbak - ( Franconia 24 )

Camelbak Franconia

24 L / 1464 CI

4.7

3 reviews
Camelbak - ( Helena 20 )

Camelbak Helena

4.5

12 reviews
Camelbak - ( Hydrobak  )

Camelbak Hydrobak

2 L / 92 CI

4.5

108 reviews
Camelbak - ( Rogue  )

Camelbak Rogue

2 L / 122 CI

4.5

505 reviews
Camelbak - ( Skyline LR 10 )

Camelbak Skyline

4.3

12 reviews
Camelbak - ( Thermobak 3 )

Camelbak Thermobak

Dakine - ( Drafter 10 )

Dakine Drafter

4.0

2 reviews
Dakine - ( Session 8 )

Dakine Session

8 L / 488 CI

4.7

11 reviews
Dakine - ( Shuttle 6 )

Dakine Shuttle

6 L / 366 CI

4.4

7 reviews
High Sierra - ( Propel 70 )

High Sierra Propel

4.6

127 reviews
High Sierra - ( Wave 50 )

High Sierra Wave

3.9

54 reviews
Nathan - ( HPL  )

Nathan HPL

4.7

14 reviews
Nathan - ( Peak  )

Nathan Peak

4.9

10 reviews
Nathan - ( Trail Mix  )

Nathan Trail Mix

1 L / 31 CI

4.5

2 reviews
Platypus - ( B-line  )

Platypus B-line

8 L / 488 CI

3.0

1 reviews
Salomon - ( Skin 12 )

Salomon Skin

5-12 L / 305-732 CI

4.5

8 reviews
Salomon - ( Sense  )

Salomon Sense

8 L / 488 CI

5.0

7 reviews
CamelBak - ( Daystar 16 )

CamelBak Daystar

EVOC - ( FR 16 )

EVOC FR

4.6

192 reviews

Tips for Choosing a Hydration Pack (Buyers Guide)

Hydration packs come in all shapes and sizes, and some even have additional features. To decide whether or not a pack is right for you, you need to first understand what qualities are right for you and which ones are redundant. Here, we will take a look at the various aspects that make up the different hydration packs so that it will become clearer which one you should choose. The following is what you need to consider:

Lightweight and Full Hydration Packs

There are some packs that are just hydration packs and nothing more – these are lightweight packs. On occasion, these type of packs may have small pockets or D-rings where you can keep small items with you. The main focus of these packs is efficiency and low weight.

Full hydration packs, on the other hand, resemble small backpacks. This is because while their main function is to hold a hydration reservoir, they also offer storage. They are multi-purpose and have larger capacities to hold a greater number of items.

Deciding Between Lightweight and Full Hydration Packs

So, how to determine which one is better for you? Well, this all depends on the type of activity that you hope to do:

Running

For instance, most runners, particularly those who are short-distance or competitive runners will benefit from a lightweight pack. This is because it will keep the weight down and will let them take only the bare essentials with them on their run. On the other hand, marathon runners or long-distance athletes may require greater amounts of water. In this case, the full backpacks may come in handy. This is especially since certain full-size hydration packs also come with water bottle holders.

Cycling

With cycling, too, the type of hydration pack will be determined by the type of cycling. Those who are racing or performance-oriented will find that the smaller packs help to keep their weight. Nonetheless, if you are want to go exploring on your bicycle or are headed somewhere where water is scarce, the full packs make more sense.

Hiking and Camping

If you will only be out hiking for a couple of hours, a lightweight hydration pack with a large reservoir could be the only thing that you require. If the trek is any longer than that, however, you should consider upgrading to a full-size pack. The same logic can be applied to camping, especially since this type of pack can help to keep your burden to a minimum.

Best Hydration Packs

Reservoir Capacity

As you can imagine, one of the more important aspects of choosing a hydration pack is determining how large its reservoir is. The reservoir refers to the part of the pack that actually holds the water. Reservoirs tend to range from as little to 0.5 liters to upwards of 3 liters.

The size of the reservoir that you require will depend on two main things. First, just how long will your journey be? For instance, if you will be running for an hour or more, you will need to drink at least half a liter, each hour.

The other thing that you will need to factor in is the temperature and the client. The more water that you are liable to lose through sweating, the more you will need to drink to replace it. So, on a warm and sunny day, you can expect to lose more.

If are having trouble deciding on the reservoir size, just pick one that is about 3 liters. Then, when heading out on a short hike, fill it only halfway through. For longer journeys, top it off. This way, you are fully prepared, regardless.

Weight of the Reservoir

Since most people think in terms of liters when it comes to water and hydration pack reservoirs, few stop to think how much weight you will be carrying. Water has weight, so for every liter that you carry with you, you are lugging around a load weighing almost a kilo. You will need to keep this in mind as well when deciding on a reservoir as well as when you are filling it up.

Storage Capacity

If you do decide to opt for a full-size backpack, you will have to think about how much you want to carry with you. The smallest of these type of hydration backpacks can usually hold around 5 liters in capacity. The larger ones can accommodate over 20 liters.

If you expect your run or hike to last less than four hours, you should be able to get away with taking a pack with a 5 liter capacity. For those that are lasting up to a day, you may require anything between 6 liters and 20 liters. The larger packs are good options for those that need to carry gear on their running, climbing, or cycling trip.

If you are planning on staying overnight, you should look for packs that are able to take up to around 28 liters in volume capacity. You should know that you will need considerably more space than this if you want to go on a multi-day trip.

The Hydration System: Types of Valves

While there are numerous things to consider in a hydration system – i.e. the part of the hydration pack that brings the water to you, the valves are perhaps most important. There are a couple of different valves available, with some designs unique to their manufacturer:

Bite Valve

The bite valve is perhaps the most common type of valve available. Here, all you have to do is to bite down and the water will flow into your mouth. When you stop, the flow of water is sealed off. The benefit of this, of course, is that it is a hands-free way to get your water, especially while cycling.

Push/Pull Valves

Then there are the valves that have to be pulled out so that the flow of water can be resumed and pushed back in to stop it once more. With these, you typically have to use your hands to manage them. On the plus side, though, they do tend to prevent leaks a lot better.

When choosing which valve you prefer, there is one more thing to remember. This is the rate of the flow of water. Typically, the higher the rate of flow, the better. This way, you can get the water that you need in quick intervals and minimize the time of your breaks.

The Size of the Bladder Opening

The opening of the bladder is where the water can be filled in. Typically, you can either decide on a smaller opening or a wide opening. While this decision does depend on personal preference, you should know wider openings are often better. With wider openings, you are able to fit your hand inside the reservoir. As such, it makes it much easier to clean out your hydration packs. This can be quite tricky to manage with smaller openings. In fact, with the smaller openings, you usually need a specialized cleaning kit to get the job done.

Positioning of the Bladder on the Pack

Where the bladder will be positioned will be contingent upon what type of hydration pack you are using. More often than not, people prefer bladders that are in an easy to reach position. This way, you don’t have to take off the entire pack to have to refill the bladder. So, if you are short on time and want to incur as little hassle as possible, you should look for bladders that are in the front of the pack and are easily accessible.

The Fit of the Pack

With smaller hydration packs, the fit is not something that you have to be concerned with too much. However, if the pack capacity is upwards of 10 liters, then you will need to start considering how this pack will fit you when you wear it.

To ensure maximum comfort, the pack should sit between the base of your neck and topmost part of your hips. In this position, it will not interfere with your natural gait and your movement will not be restricted in any way. To ensure this, you should first measure the area of the base of your neck to your hips. Then, compare this with the height of the hydration pack that you want to buy.

The bigger hydration packs also come with hip belts. In this case, you will need to make certain that the belt can be adjusted so that it will comfortably sit just above your hips.

The Suspension System

Once more, this feature is more important with larger packs where you will be carrying a greater amount of weight. It is best if you carry the most amount of the load around your hips. Therefore, look for thick, padded and sturdy hip belts with bigger packs. This will reduce the amount of stress on your shoulders.

You will need to check that the load is evenly distributed between both of your shoulders. This way, the weight will not be press down on particular pressure points and cause you discomfort. For this effect, you will require wider shoulder straps. Padded straps increase the comfort factor as well.

Durability of the Bladder

One of the most important things that your bladder needs to do is to keep the water within its reservoir until you choose to drink it. Therefore, the bladder is going to need to be quite durable so that it will not be punctured easily. Some bladders are made from harder plastic which does add weight but makes it a lot harder to tear or break through.

If you want a lightweight bladder but still require durability, look for puncture proof options. This is particularly important if you are planning on carrying a lot of gear in your pack or will be walking across rough terrain.

These are all of the elements that you should consider when you want to choose a hydration pack for yourself. Once you have carefully examined the above features on a pack you want to buy, you will be able to tell whether or not it is what you need.


Last updated on November 14, 2017

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