What are running hydration vests for?
Simply put, a hydration vest – sometimes called a hydration pack or race vest – is an extremely lightweight backpack. It's designed with multiple pouches and pockets to carry everything you might need on a run, while at the same time being easily accessible.
Hydration vests come in different volumes and sizes, so there is one for every runner: whether you're commuting 5-10 km into work or undertaking an adventurous 100-miler on technical trails.
When should you wear a hydration vest for running?
In its purest sense: whenever there is a need to comfortably carry items essential to that day’s run, which won’t fit in your pockets easily or comfortably. As the name suggests, also on any run where you need a handy source of water.
The principal items you need will vary depending on the length and terrain of the run. A 6-15 mile run in an urban environment will involve some different items to a 2-4 hour or longer road or multi-terrain run that might take in exposed areas of a different character. Items may or may not include: water/fluid, snacks, phone, keys, hats/gloves, spare kit, headtorch etc. Remember: just because a route is flat or low level, doesn’t mean it might not be windy or it will not rain!
What to consider when choosing a hydration (race) vest
- How far are you running?
- Are you training or racing or both?
- What do you REALLY need to carry?
- Worth noting: it is like buying a pair of trail shoes. Just as no one shoe will work on every surface, no one pack is perfect for every run.
- Packs are usually rated by volume size: anything from 5 litres to 20 litres upwards. Do read small print carefully as the volume listed may not just be the size of the main pack but the total of main pack plus the individual pouches and pockets.
- A smaller volume pack maybe fine for a weekend training run, but you need a bigger one for an event with a lengthy mandatory kit list. So finding a compromise or ending up with a couple of bags to go with your pairs of road, trail and fell shoes could be the solution 🙂
Depending how much you need to carry, see also our running backpacks.
Best Vests for Women
Some of our staff love the new Women’s fit Salomon Advanced Skin 8 as it is very versatile. Light enough for essentials on a weekend training run bit with enough capacity to carry more for a longer day on the trails or in the hills when more kit is required.
That said, all Salomon vests – especially the Advanced Skin 5 & 12 Sets featured above – are truly unisex, and many women in our team actually prefer these over the women's-specific fit.
View all Women’s-Specific Hydration Vests »
What distance should you bring water on a run?
- This is a very individual question, which you will learn from your own experience.
- Running by its very nature teaches us to be self-reliant and listen to our bodies, and this applies to hydration too.
- There are always exceptions, but, unless the weather is totally tropical, experienced runners can usual manage an hour‘s run without the need to drink.
- Some can indeed manage 2 hours if they have adapted to that over the course of consistent training.
- Your own body is the best judge. Don’t over-think it but as your long run gets longer, just keep an eye on when you start to fade, which is often a good sign that your body needs to be refuelled. You should then be carrying something to top you up, before you reach that state.
Running: Your Guide to Hydration & Dehydration »
Photos courtesy of Salomon