Best Hydration Packs for Hiking, Running, Skiing and Biking in 2022

Best Hydration Packs for Hiking, Running, Skiing and Biking in 2022

If you like to be prepared on your adventures, but don’t need the carrying capacity of a day pack, grab yourself a hydration pack instead. These compact backpacks are specifically designed to carry a water bladder plus some essential items. The best hydration pack gives you instant access to water – no more faffing about with water bottles – and spreads the weight evenly across your back.

Of course, there are different types of hydration packs on the market. Most are lightweight, have a breathable harness system, and extra space for gear and food. One hydration pack should work well for most outdoor activities but certain designs are better suited to certain sports.

To help you choose the right pack for your adventuring need, we’ve put together this handy guide to the best hydration packs for hiking, running, skiing and biking.

Summary of the best hydration packs in 2022

FAQs with choosing the best hydration pack

Best hydration pack for hiking

Hydro Flask Journey Series 10 Hydration Pack

The ventilated back panel creates a gap between yourself and the bladder, further preventing heat transfer and sweat build-up. This couples with padded waist and shoulder straps. From the outside the pack is fairly plain, there’s a zippered pocket for keys and phone but no extra bells and whistles.

Gregory Nano H2O 18L Hydration Pack

For day hikes where only lightweight kit is needed, the Gregory Nano H20 is a competitively priced and reliable hydration pack. Its 18-litre capacity is plenty to carry water, snacks, and a mid or top layer. There’s also an external bottle sleeve and attachment point for carrying extra gear. Top and side zippered pockets give you a place to keep small items while an easy-pull drawcord provides quick access to the main compartment.

The pack comes with Gregory’s 3 litre 3D hydration pack. This fits inside the main compartment while the hose threads through straps on the shoulder and secures to the sternum strap.

Best hydration pack for running

CamelBak Octane Dart Hydration Pack

If all you need is 1.5 litres of water and a minimalist pack to carry it, then the Octane Dart Hydration Pack from CamelBak is the perfect option. The pack is ultra-lightweight and padded with comfortable 3D mesh that helps keep you cool. It’s also fitted with easy-access front-facing pockets. These stretch pockets in the harness allow you to store snacks and refuel on the fly. On the back of the pack is a zippered compartment large enough for essentials only. Plus, the front and back of the pack are fitted with reflective strips for extra safety on early morning or evening road runs.

A key feature of this running hydration pack is its water bladder. The pack comes with a 1.5 litre Crux Reservoir which features a wide opening and built-in handle for easy filling. Its On-Off valve prevents leaks while a self-sealing bite valve lets you sip with ease.

Geigerrig RIG 500 Hydration Pack

The rugged design and multiple attachment points make the Geigerrig one of the best hydration packs for trail running. Its 10-litre capacity also makes it a wise choice for long-distance runners, minimalist hikers and bikers. Multiple internal and external pockets keep your kit organized while compression straps minimise movement. Plus, the pack has a headphone port so you can listen to motivational music on the go!

Osprey Duro 15 Hydration Pack

The pack features Osprey’s trademark waist belt that wraps around the body. This is fitted with zippered pockets on each size which provide quick access to snacks or energy gels. Two more rear zippered pockets, large enough for a hat and gloves or wallet, are accessible without removing the pack. Plus, the harness, which resembles a running vest, has two stretch pockets for soft flasks, and a zippered phone pocket. Lower compression straps let you fit the pack more snugly on your waist while an adjustable and elasticated chest straps allow you to breathe normally.

Inside the main dual-zippered compartment there’s plenty of space for kit and there’s a separate zippered pocket for the 2.5-litre Hydraulics Reservoir.

Best hydration pack for mountain biking

Osprey Katari 3 Hydration Pack

As we expect from Osprey packs, the Katari 3 is made from durable fabric and features a comfortable harness system. Plus, a foam back panel with air-mesh and central air ventilation prevents sweat build up. So if you like to ride light or you tend to ride in hot climates where extra water is more useful than an extra layer, then the Katari 3 is a smart choice.

Patagonia Nine Trails 14L Hydration Pack

This pack delivers an excellent balance of comfort and ventilation. The back panel is made from a highly breathable mono-mesh while the foam waist and shoulder straps are perforated for extra airflow. The waist strap wraps securely around the torso, minimising bounce and distributing weight evenly, and the sternum strap is adjustable.

Platypus Tokul XC Minimalist Hydration Backpack

Lightweight, streamline, and very user-friendly, the Platypus Tokul XC is one of our favourite hydration packs for mountain biking. It features a RidgeAir foam back panel that provides comfort and ventilation whilst retaining the pack’s shape. There are four pockets inside the main compartment to keep your bike kit organised. Plus, on the outside, you can enjoy bike light attachment, reflective strips, and straps for helmet storage.

The pack is available in three sizes (5L, 8L, 12L) and comes with an EVO 3 litre water bladder. This fits snugly inside its own separate pocket with an H20 port and a magnetic hose fixture on the shoulder strap. The bladder’s wide opening and detachable hose make it super easy to refill as you can leave the hose threaded through your pack.

Best hydration pack for skiing and snowboarding

Osprey Kamber 16 Snow Pack

Another nifty feature is an insulated shoulder strap which prevents your water from freezing in the tube on sub-zero days. This, coupled with a scratch-free goggles pocket and glove-friendly zippers and buckles makes the Kamber 16 the best hydration pack for snowboarding and skiing on our list. We like the shape too. Its contoured EVA harness provides some ventilation. Plus, it’s slimline and doesn’t restrict arm movement while skiing or touring.

Its 16-litre capacity is perfect for carrying water, snacks, and an extra layer, but it’s too small to carry mountaineering kit. Fortunately, this 16-litre hydration pack is also available in larger capacities and Osprey offers a woman’s specific version, the Kresta 14.

What to look for in the best hydration packs for hiking, running skiing and biking

Types of hydration backpacks

The best hydration pack for hiking will have plenty of storage space for food, clothing, and other gear as well as a full water bladder. Hiking hydration packs tend to have more padded harness systems, making them comfortable to wear all day long.

Compact and close-fitting, the best hydration pack for running should be lightweight and streamline. A wide pack will have you bashing your elbows on each arm swing. Likewise, the bottom of the pack should finish at the top of the waist rather than sitting on the hips as a normal backpack would.

Because of this, running hydration packs tend to have a smaller gear capacity and more quick-access pockets on the front of the pack. Running packs also need a more secure harness system that wraps around the upper body and prevents bouncing.

These are designed to feel stable on the back and minimise wind resistance. The best hydration pack for mountain biking is low profile and compact but should still offer enough space for a top layer, puncture repair kit, and snacks. The waist strap should be minimal too so it doesn’t affect comfort while peddling. Some are also fitted with an external helmet and light attachments and reflective strips.

Skiing and snowboarding hydration packs have a similar design to hiking packs. Gear storage is important but they should also be streamlined. Key features to look for in the best hydration pack for skiing include glove-friendly zippers, helmet and equipment attachments, scratch-free goggle pockets, and insulation for the bladder’s tube.

Hydration pack features

Hydrations packs for running, biking, day hikes, and skiing usually range from 5 to 30 litres. 5-litre packs are tailored to runners and minimalist cyclists while 5 to 15-litre packs are best for a day cycling, distance running, or minimal hiking. Packs with a 15+ litre capacity are ideal for day hikes.

Work out how much space you need to carry your gear and pick a hydration pack with the right capacity for you.

As with a regular backpack, your hydration pack should match your torso size and sit comfortably on your back, hips and shoulders. The best hydration packs have multiple adjustment points so you can get the perfect fit. Some are available in two or more torso sizes or in a woman-specific or child-specific fit.

For more comfort in warm weather, we like hydration packs that have breathable materials, such as air-mesh, and moisture-wicking properties in the waist and shoulder straps. We also look for packs with ventilated back panels.

If you want to get outdoors in all weathers then you’ll need a hydration pack that withstands the elements. Look out for waterproof fabrics or materials with durable water repellent coatings (DWR). Alternatively, the pack might come with a lightweight waterproof cover.

Important features to look for in the best hydration bladder

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