Ever since the fitness boom hit the cultural landscape in the 1970s runners, bike riders, hikers and other outdoor types have fretted over a common problem: how to stay properly hydrated? Conventional wisdom says that if you’re thirsty you should stop and get something to drink. But stopping all the time and/or carrying bottles of water with you just isn’t practical. Enter the hydration backpack. The hydration backpack is an offshoot of the standard backpack but slimmer, more form fitting and with internal space dedicated to accommodating a large bladder for water. It’s a great idea that has revolutionized training for many folks. Below are the best hydration packs for 2019.
The Best Hydration Pack
Teton Sports hits the nail on the head with their 2 liter, ultra-sleek TrailRunner 2.0 hydration reservoir. It slips over your shoulders like a tailored jacket and stays out of your way throughout the course of your run, ride or hike. This is contemporary training kit at its best in that it empowers you to push through performance ceilings that may have seemed insurmountable. The backpack features typical Teton Sports quality throughout. With first rate stitching, highest quality Oxford fabric, impressive ergonomics, a BPA free bladder and, of course, the whole thing is beautifully balanced and stable, even on the gnarliest trail.
Hydration packs haven’t always been kind to runners. Some can be quite hard on the shoulders after a prolonged period of bounding along the track, trail or sidewalk. But not the Teton Sports TrailRunner 2.0. The shoulder straps here are some of the most comfortable you’ll find and a lot of care and attention obviously went into their design. The push-lock cushioned bite valve is also easy to use and the whole thing can be had for about half what we expected. A great product, a great value and our hands down Best Choice. This also makes a great fitness gift for your loved ones.
Shell fashioned from ripstop Oxford fabric.
Capacity 70 ounces (2 liters).
High quality bladder included.
Large bladder opening for easy cleaning.
Push lock cushioned bite value for drinking.
- BrandTETON Sports
- Weight14.4 ounces
Easily accommodates 2 liters of water as advertised.
The mouthpiece is well conceived and easy to use.
Refilling and re-placing the bladder is a hassle free experience.
The backpack itself is very light and comfortable.
Limited space for anything but water.
Mubasel Gear has been getting a lot of market traction lately with their line of outstanding hydration packs. This 2 liter water backpack is a prime example of what they do right. Mubasel Gear Hydration Backpack is built with your comfort and convenience in mind and is so much more than just a book bag you put a water bladder in. It sports the triangular dynamic that is quickly becoming the standard for such backpacks. Wide, comfortable shoulder straps grab the top of the hydration storage compartment firmly and that compartment tapers gently all the way to the bottom. This uber efficient, back-friendly shape does not require the added support (and weight) of a hip strap.
This hydration pack is seriously overbuilt and is able to handle 132 pounds (should you need it to transport your gold bars to the bank). At the same time it’s one of the lightest hydration vests around at just over 0.8 pounds. Just fill and install the bladder, flip it over your shoulders and you’re good to go for hours. This iteration of the backpack also features a wider opening on the bladder, which makes clean up a regular breeze, rather than the chore it used to be. While we’re not impressed by the dearth of reflective material everything else is spot on.
Sleek comfortable profile.
Includes 2 liter FDA approved bladder.
Additional storage for EDC.
Stretchable mesh pocket for rain gear etc.
Large opening facilitates easy cleaning.
- BrandMubasel Gear
- Weight15.2 ounces
We like the fact that you can slip ice cubes in to cool your drink.
The storage compartments are deceptive large.
The breathable backstop is among the best we tested.
We’d like to see more reflective material.
The Camden Gear Zeyu is an enigma wrapped in a hydration bladder. On the one hand it’s agreeably compact with a slightly smaller than average 1.5 liter bladder. On the other hand it features a pair of oversized waistband extensions that all but negate the advantage you got from the smaller, lighter water component. It’s the kind of conundrum that might normally cause us to give an item a pass. But in this case the things the Zeyu gets right are compelling enough to look past the design contradictions. For the most part.
We appreciate the fact that they’ve provided a couple of decent sized storage pockets on those waistband arms. But at the same time people typically seek out the smaller bladder because they’re trying to save weight. So cutting back on the weight of the water only to encourage the bringing along of more stuff seems more than a little counterproductive. But whatever. As we said the bag has other things going for it that merit consideration. Like the outstanding balance, the tough and attractive shell, the very comfortable shoulder straps (even when full) and the oversized zipper loops that make access a breeze. And hey, if you leave those large waistband pockets empty you’ll be able to fully enjoy the lighter weight.
1.5 liter bladder included.
Shell comprised of TPU and EVA materials.
Sipping hose is discrete and effective.
Cleverly situated waist pockets.
Affordable price point.
- BrandCamden Gear Zeyu
The compact size will be just right for lots of people.
The waist pockets are larger than you think they are.
Maybe the most ergonomically pleasing sip tube.
Easy to slip the bladder in and out.
The look is a bit overwrought.
Mubasel is back for an encore with their Insulated Hydration Backpack. This is a full 2 liter hydration backpack that also includes plenty of storage space for your everyday carry, and then some. It’s also a really handsome bag with plenty of standard backpack DNA which means when you’re not using it for your epic bike ride you can remove the water bladder and take it to work with you. Can’t say that about a lot of hydration packs.
The 2 liter bladder is particularly well constructed and designed to withstand the most extreme punishment. It’s also one of the few hydration bags that actually features a bit of insulation intended to keep your water nice and cool during the summer and prevent it from freezing in the winter. Of course, all that storage and insulation is going to add weight and at 1.6 pounds empty this is one of the heavier bags in the 2-liter class. But it also happens to be one of the most comfortable. Because Mubasel has not forgotten to add some padding through the hip area. All told it’s a nice balance of form and function. Just don’t get too carried away with how much you bring with you on your runs.
Lots of storage for other items.
Includes a 2 liter bladder.
Comfortable padded shoulder straps.
Hydration bladder is BPA free.
Thick, durable waist padding.
Available in 11 different colors.
- BrandMubasel Gear
- Weight1.6 pounds
It holds the bladder in a comfortable and stable manner.
Both the bladder and the pack in general are easy to clean.
More storage capacity than you’ll find on other hydration packs.
The mouthpiece could use a redesign.
It’s going to be too big for some.
Like most of the hydration packs on this list the Unigear Hydration Pack comes with a 2 liter hydration bladder. But that’s not a condemnation, it’s like saying that a lot of different cars have front wheel drive. The difference between good cars and bad ones lies in the execution, not in the menu of standard features. And it’s the same with hydration packs. The Unigear Hydration Backpack finds a place on our Best Hydration Pack list because it’s beautifully constructed from quality materials and is comfortable to wear for the longest runs, hikes or bike rides in any weather.
The 2 liter bladder is 100% BPA free and includes a wide screw cap that allows you to drop however many ice cubes you want into your beverage to keep it cool while you train (or just enjoy yourself). The designers are also aware that providing too much storage space for other things can be a mixed blessing and so they limit the number and size of the secondary spaces to just what’s necessary to carry your everyday stuff, like phone, keys and money. The air flow system also helps keep sweat off your back and the bladder from warming up too much.
70 ounce BPA free bladder included.
Splash resistant construction.
Numerous small pockets for EDC.
Large opening for easy cleaning.
Integrated top carry handle.
- Weight12.8 ounces
It’s among the most comfortable when the bladder is full.
Sits very flat against your back so as not to disrupt balance.
The ripstop shell can withstand taking hits from bushes and low branches.
The waistband could use an immediate upgrade.
Almost no reflective material for some reason.
The Miracol Hydration Backpack is not actually miraculous but it is an outstanding water pack for those who like to take more than a water bladder and phone with them when they hit the trail, track or road. There’s no doubt it’s handsome as all get out and its 2 liter bladder is well balanced, effective and stays where you put it inside the backpack. There’s also no doubt that, because it’s heavier than some of its contemporaries and it allows you to carry quite a bit of peripheral kit that it’s going to be too much for minimalists.
The Miracol Hydration Backpack is one of only a few that is insulated to help keep your liquids from reaching the boiling point on hot summer days, or freezing when the mercury plummets. What also separates the Miracol from the competition is the aforementioned storage capacity. It’s about as close as you’re going to get to a standard work backpack that also happens to carry 2 liters of water. There’s enough interior space to carry a tablet or small laptop, raingear, all your EDC, today’s newspaper, gloves, balaclava, extra socks, daily planner, power pack, GPS device and well, you get the picture.
Insulated main compartment.
Multiple storage options for EDC and more.
70 ounce (2 liter) bladder included.
Insulated sipping tube.
Available in 7 different colors.
- Weight 1.5 pounds
The breathable mesh padding on the back does a good job.
There’s lots of storage for other items including tech and clothes.
The thermal insulation does a reasonable job keeping the water cool.
The interior can become very damp from bladder sweat.
The competition can say what they want, nobody is touching CamelBak from a design perspective. They live in a world of their own making and we’re just lucky that they share a bit of it with us. Okay, that might be a bit overboard. However, it’s no exaggeration to say everyone else is playing for second when it comes to style in the hydration backpack universe. The HydroBak hydration reservoir is a good example of how the company melds form and function into one logical, indivisible whole.
The HydroBak water pack is aimed at cyclists but really, anyone who engages in long distance activities who needs to stay hydrated is going to benefit handsomely from having this slung over their shoulders. It’s a bit smaller than most with a 1.5 liter bladder and this is definitely one factor that allows the HydroBak to slip into that hollow between your shoulder blades so effortlessly. We’ll take the loss of a half-liter of water for the superior comfort every time. Bottom line is that you’re going to pay more for the CamelBak HydroBak, but you’re going to benefit from every extra penny spent.
50 ounce water bladder included.
Single zippered pocket for EDC items.
Delivers 20% more water per sip.
CamelBak Bladder is BPA free.
- Weight5.3 ounces
Ultra-sleek and ultra-lightweight at just over 5 ounces when empty.
Beautifully balanced even when the CamelBak bladder is full.
You can fill the bladder without removing it which is a major plus.
The top carry handle is of little use.
The Lobo is yet another design and style winner from CamelBak. But in this case they take their signature V-template and add a bit of storage space for those who need or want to take along some rain gear, tech or wintry extras like a balaclava or gloves. CamelBack Lobo Hydration Pack features the company’s leading edge water delivery system that provides 20% more water per sip than the competition, has a magnetic tube trap that keeps the tube properly situated for when you want it and external hooks for your bicycle or climbing helmet.
Another reason the Lobo pushes outward into space a bit is because it hosts the largest hydration bladder in its class. The CamelBak bladder holds a full 3 liters of water which is enough to keep you well hydrated for several hours even on the hottest days. So if you’re heading into the Grand Canyon for a day hike in July this is the hydration reservoir to have. What more is there to say? It’s extremely comfortable, comes in an array of attractive colors and can be refilled without removing the bladder. It’s also going to cost more than most others. But you knew that already.
External hook for bike/hiking helmet.
Provides up to 20% more water per sip.
Plenty of additional storage.
100 ounce water bladder.
Magnetic tube trap.
- Weight1.06 pounds
The 100 ounce bladder is among the largest in class.
That bladder can be filled without having to remove it from the backpack.
The pack exhibits typical CamelBak stability.
Seating the bladder after cleaning is sometimes a bit of a chore.
The last item on our list of best hydration packs is the Water Buffalo Hydration Backpack. This is not a hydration backpack that breaks any new ground or offers a dozen features you won’t find anywhere else. Instead it offers the same 70 ounce (2 liter) bladder capacity as most other hydration packs along with a decent amount of EDC, raingear and miscellaneous storage. So why does it make our list? Because it offers a lot of the same or similar features you’ll find in other running hydration packs costing 2 or 3 times as much. But even that would not be noteworthy if the quality were suspect. But it’s not.
Everything here (with the possible exception of the shoulder straps and the overall look) is right up there with the more expensive water packs. The ripstop nylon shell is tough as they come, the bladder is well considered, easy to clean and easy to install. There’s more reflective material than you’ll find on some more expensive hydropacks and the integrated emergency whistle is a thoughtful touch we’d like to see on every such hydration backpack. It’s the kind of pack that makes you question why other, similar products cost so much.
70 ounce (2 liter) bladder capacity.
Shell of durable ripstop nylon.
Reflective strips on the back.
Large storage pocket for EDC and more.
Integrated emergency whistle.
Easy to fill with any beverage.
Plenty of storage compartments to accommodate your EDC gear.
Light enough for just about any adult to use.
The build quality is pretty surprising for the price.
The shoulder straps could use a bit of work.