Best Hydration Packs & Vests for Running


Today, we’ll be looking at 6 of the best hydration packs for running.

When you’re heading out on a run, perhaps your mileage is increasing, you’re looking to spend a whole day on the trails, or you’re thinking about tackling your very first ultra, you’ll be thinking about how you’re going to carry water and other bits and bobs like a jacket, food, phone, keys, and  that kind of thing, you’re perhaps thinking:

How do I know which running vest to pick for what I need?

Well, today I’m going to be giving you a helping hand going through a number of different options for you ranging in size to help you pick the best hydration packs for running.


What is a hydration pack/vest

A hydration vest, a running vest hydration pack, or whatever you want to call it, basically gives you a means to carry a load of stuff with you while you’re out on a run.

Most of them will have options for carrying water like somewhere where you can stash a soft flask.

Some of them also come with a bladder pack in the back which then has a tube that comes through so that you can drink on the go without using your hands, as well. This is great for maintaining your form knowing that you’re not going to drop a bottle, etc.

So, it’s difficult to know exactly what size of pack you’re going to need depending on your running.


Pack Capacity

Starting off with the smallest option for you, perhaps strictly speaking this isn’t a running pack as it weren’t certainly not a hydration vest.

But if you’re considering options for where to put your phone, your keys, and perhaps a credit card to pick up a drink or pay for transport on your way home, then perhaps considering something like this FlipBelt.

Best Hydration Packs for Running



This FlipBelt sits around your waist. Basically, it doesn’t really bounce while you’re running. But you can use the little pockets inside to put things in like your phone.

It’s got a little tag inside as well that you can hook your keys onto so that they stay nice and secure because that’s always annoying if you think that they’re going to fall out of the pocket.

This is a great option to add on to if you’ve got pockets in your shorts but you want to carry a little bit extra. You can also fit in a soft flask in there.

There are different waist belts that are available as well that do have specific pockets designed to carry water bottles that do sit on your hips.

If you’re not sure about whether you need to take water out on your run, then check out this blog post about hydration tips for runners because that will give you an idea of the types of run that you’ll be needing to take water out with you.

Related: Running Against or With Traffic? Which is Safer?

Nathan Vapor Speedster


The next step up from a waist belt is one of the smaller racing vests. These are for if you’re going out for runs of probably under an hour and you want to take some water with you and you want some space to take some extra stuff, too.

This particular one is the Nathan Vapor Speedster vest. The capacity of this one is 2 liters.

If you’re going out on those shorter runs but you still want to take something with you to be able to carry your stuff, then look for something of around 5 liters and below.

This Speedster vest from Nathan comes with one soft flask which is just over 300 milliliters in capacity and then you’ve also got all these different pockets as well where you can stash some extra stuff. There is some space in the back, too.

Basically, this one is probably one of the smallest out there. So if you’re doing a race and you only want to carry minimal stuff with you for example, then this is a good option for that.

Again, if you’re going out for runs of maybe up to around 10k and you want to be able to carry some water with you, then consider a smaller Speedster vest like this one.

Camelback Circuit Vest


The next size up is this Camelbak Circuit vest. This has a total capacity of 5 liters. 3.5 liters is for carrying stuff and 1.5 liters is the capacity of the bladder which sits in the back.

The tube that comes over your shoulder is where you drink from. It comes with a little clip to keep it in place so it’s not bouncing around.

Then the mouthpiece has a bite valve on it to allow the water to come through as well as an on and off switch so that you can stop the water from leaking out while you’re running.

Weight Distribution

With the bladder on your back, it means that the weight is evenly distributed. You can sometimes get a bit of a sloshing noise, but there are tips and tricks for how to do that like biting the air out of it and leaving a bit of space in the reservoir so that it’s not entirely full up when you put it in to start with.

The thing with the Camelbak vest is not only have you got the water capacity for 1.5 liters on your back, but you have also got room in the front pockets to put additional soft flasks in.

So realistically, you could get two 500 mil bottles in the front pockets as well and have 2.5 liters of water on you. The two extra pockets come with some adjustable elasticated straps as well as which really fasten those water bottles in place.

There’s plenty of room to carry all your other stuff as well. If you’re going out for a longer day or the weather’s going to be changeable, you can put an extra jacket in, you can put your gels in, and there’s room for putting your phone in the pocket.

Again, this Camelback Circuit vest would be perfect if you’re going out for a slightly longer run and you’ve got plenty of different options there for how to carry water and stuff like that.

Salomon ADV Skin 8 Set


The next size up would be something like this Salomon vest. This one has a capacity of 8 liters. These vests with the bigger capacity means you have even more pockets.

This vest is going to be for if you’re going out for a longer explore on the trails, perhaps you’ve signed up for your first ultra and you need some extra space to carry all the different types of things.

With this Salomon vest, you’ve got elasticated crisscrosses that go across your front whereas the other two previously had clips one and two there.

You’ve got two soft flasks in this Salomon vest which come with the longer straws which are easy just to put your head to one side and take a sip.

I do find that sometimes I do get poked in the face a little bit with them.

Lots of storage

Then there’s loads of other pockets, as well with sneaky little pockets tucked inside, too. Down the side, there’s a zip pocket that you can easily reach. And then you’ve got the bigger pockets on the back, as well.

There is space for a bladder in the back and this vest in particular comes with a reflective pack that keeps your water a little bit cooler than the warm body temperature water that we do tend to get used to when we’re drinking out of soft flasks on the go.

There’s loads of storage in the back for things like a raincoat if you’re not sure if the weather’s going to turn, if you need to take navigational equipment, or perhaps you want to put a first aid kit in and that kind of thing, then there’s plenty of storage in this Salomon vest.

Personally, I really love the fit of this one, but as I mentioned before, it’s quite important, like with your running shoes, that you do try these on to make sure that they are the best fit for you because we are all different shapes and sizes and what works for one person may not especially work for somebody else.

Dacathlon Kalenji Trail Running Bag


Now we’re getting into the top-end of the running vest that we’ll be looking at when it comes to capacity.

This is Decathlon’s Kalenji is a 10-liter trail running pack. You’ve got a 1-liter reservoir in the back which has the tube attached to it that then secures via some elastic loops and from a clip on your shoulder, as well.

You’ve also got 4 pockets on the front, two of which can store a 500-ml flask each so that’s 2 liters worth of water.

Then you’ve got all the additional pockets. There are 10 pockets in total on this one. You’ve got 4 in the back and plenty of room to carry all of your stuff.

This kind of pack is something that you would use if you’re going to go and spend an entire day out on the trails or maybe if you’re entered into an ultra and you have a mandatory kit list.7


The other thing to mention about this is that you have also got the ability to attach poles to this vest, too.

So if you’re doing something using poles perhaps for going uphill, then you can attach your poles to this vest, which means that you can be totally hands-free when you’re not using the poles.

That is a consideration to think about if you are going to be using poles for your run or your race whether there’s somewhere that you can actually attach those poles and how they attach.


This Kalenji really doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere. You’ve got 3 straps that clip across your chest and they are all adjustable, as well.

This one has the most straps out of any of the most of the hydration vests that you can get for running.

Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta 5.0


This is the largest of the vests that we’re looking at in today’s post. This is the Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta 5.0 with a capacity of 16.5 liters.

You will find that there are vests out there that go all the way up to as much as 30 liters. So deciding on what size you need kind of depends on what kind of stuff you’re going to be carrying with you.

This is a great vest if you’re carrying your camera gear, a jacket just in case the weather turns, and some extra water, as well. Then you will still have tons and tons of spare room in the vest, too.

You have got room in the front for two 500-mm soft flasks. The Ultimate Direction vest comes with one of them and you can then buy extra ones.

Because there’s so much space in the back as well, you can consider adding in a reservoir or a bladder if you want to take extra water out with you.


Again, with this one, you can attach poles to it using the little pole loops if you’re doing something a little bit more gnarly.


You will find that with most of the adventure type vests, especially ones with the larger capacity, that they’ll come with a whistle on them, as well.

They’re not the loudest of whistles, but they are good if you do need to attract attention if something happens to you out on the trails, for example.

This vest comes with a secure pocket up on the front, which is where you can put your extra soft flask if you want.

It also gives you that extra bit of added security if you want to put your phone in and you don’t want it to bounce out.

It also comes with a pocket up on the top as well, which is elasticated and also zip-up.

One thing to note about this that I personally found is try not to put anything too heavy in it because it does bounce around while you’re running.

It’s a really lovely fit for this one though and all of the straps are again really adjustable. So this is a great option for you if you’re looking for a slightly larger capacity running vest.

Extra Tips

Having looked at all the different types of hydration packs that are out there, just a few other tips if you are looking to buy one.

Try Them Out

The one thing that I do when I first want to get a first hydration pack is to go into a shop and try a few on.

So, take your phone with you and see which pocket might fit your phone in because everyone’s phones are different sizes and because they’re getting bigger.

Also, try to work out where the pockets are in order to know how reachable everything is. If you’re racing, for example, you don’t want to have to waste time by stopping, taking your pack off, and getting stuff out.

So knowing where those pockets are and knowing what fits in them will really help you out.

Male vs Female

You will find that some brands do offer a male and female version. The women’s versions have slightly smaller shoulder straps and perhaps the adjustable straps as well will be a little bit smaller around the waist.

This is worth bearing in mind for ladies that the hydration vests will obviously go over our chest. So if you’ve got different sizes, different fits will be better for you than others. That’s why it’s really important to go and try the vest on if you can.

So the fit of a hydration vest should be pretty snug. You don’t want it bouncing around all over the place or causing any chafing.

I’ve certainly come a cropper with some chafing on my neck from one previously. So that’s something to look out for to make sure that it does sit really nicely but really snugly on you.

What is it for

The other thing to consider is exactly what your vest is going to be for.

So if you’re going to be in a race situation where you’ve got checkpoints along the way and you can fill up your water, then perhaps think about getting a hydration vest where you have bottles on the front rather than a bladder in the back.

That’s all about how quickly you can take your bottle out, fill it up, and get it back in and then get back out there. If you’ve got a reservoir in the back and you’ve got to stop, take it off, undo everything, and put the water in the reservoir, then that can slow you down.

So if you’re particularly keen on getting a time, for example, then perhaps consider getting a vest with bottles in the front.


One thing to mention about bladders and reservoirs is the cleaning side of things especially if you’re going to be putting electrolytes in or maybe like just sweet things that are going to make it sticky for example if you’re adding them to your water.

So to clean them out, just clean them like you would normally with some warm water. Actually, a lot of people swear by storing them in the freezer.

So once you’ve washed them out, put them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them next time. That way, they’ll be cold when you get them out of the freezer but it also stops any nasty mold growing inside them, which can happen quite quickly especially if you forget to clean them out.

So there you have it. These were some of the best hydration packs for running.

Are you looking to buy yourself a hydration vest?

Are there any packs in this article that have taken your fancy?

Or, maybe you’ve already got one that you absolutely swear by?

Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

About Eric Barber

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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