No matter what you like to do outside, proper hydration is essential. In the best-case scenario, not getting enough water during an outdoor workout will result in subpar performance. But if you’re miles into the wilderness without a drop to drink, the situation can quickly become dire. To avoid running dry, outdoor athletes should always use hydration packs.
There are many different types available, so choosing the right one for you and your sport takes some research. To get you started, we’ve rounded up six of the best hydration packs to match a range of different outdoor sports—running, hiking, mountain biking, and skiing.
Running: Nathan Sports VaporAir Hydration Backpack
Whether you’re pounding the pavement or hitting the trail, finding a breathable hydration pack that won’t weigh you down is key. At only 14 ounces, the VaporAir from Nathan Sports makes a great pick.
A super-breathable mesh fabric keeps your body cool and chafe-free during long jaunts, while the vest’s excellent weight distribution keeps the two-liter bladder from throwing you off balance. There’s also plenty of convenient storage on the VaporAir. Separate front mesh stash pockets are perfect for holding gels or snacks, a zippered front pocket can carry your smartphone, and two easy-access front bottle pockets provide additional hydration options. With this vest, you can really go the distance.
Running: Salomon ADV Skin 12
Like its name suggests, this pack was designed to fit like a second skin. Its breathable fabric hugs your back, shoulders, and chest to eliminate bouncing and chafing as you run. Integrated soft flasks located on the straps allow for hassle-free sips, while three open pockets and one zippered pocket offer easy-access stash spots for snacks and a phone. Additionally, the large internal pocket is compatible with a 1.5-liter bladder (sold separately), or you can use it to carry additional gear, like a jacket.[$160; salomon.com]
Hiking: Hydro Flask 14L Down Shift Hydration Pack
Hydro Flask’s water bottles get all the attention, but the company also makes some top-notch hydration packs, including the 14L Down Shift. It features an insulated two-liter reservoir and neoprene reservoir sleeve with a reflective lining to keep water cold for over four hours. An articulated back panel keeps both your back and the reservoir from retaining excess heat, while the padded shoulder and waist straps dial up the comfort. If warm weather hikes (or rides) are in your future, this will keep you cool.[$145; hydroflask.com]
Hiking: Gregory Inertia 20 H20
If ample storage capacity is a priority, it’s tough to find a better deal than the Gregory Inertia 20 H2O. With 20 liters of storage volume and a three-liter water capacity, you can bring all your gear and all the water you need.
The reinforced bottom panel adds durability, while the front and side mesh pockets provide ample space gear items. The trekking pole attachment with bungee closure system is a handy feature, as is the magnetic bite valve that easily attaches to the chest strap.[$90; gregorypacks.com]
Mountain Biking: Thule Vital 8L
The Thule Vital 8L pack is specifically designed for biking. Its lightweight, ventilated materials and lower center of gravity translate to reduced strain on the rider, and magnetic panels sewn onto the hydration hose ensure it’s always within easy reach. It’s also built with storage pockets on the waist belt, so you don’t have to stop and remove the pack to grab a mid-ride snack. A 2.5-liter reservoir handles the hydration, and there’s lots of additional storage in the pack’s main compartment, too.[$140; thule.com]
Skiing and Snowboarding: Osprey Kamber 22
Backcountry skiers and boarders need to be equipped for changing conditions, and this means carrying––and being able to quickly access––extra tools and gear in addition to hydration. This pack from Osprey keeps your backcountry kit together and comes with a long list of ski-specific features.
There’s a dedicated quick access pocket for essential gear like an avalanche probe and shovel, and straps on the outside of the pack create multiple options for carrying your skis or snowboard. The hydration pack slots into a back pocket and the hose routes through the shoulder harness to keep water from freezing. To top it off, the zippers are designed to be opened and closed using gloves (no cold hands here), and a goggle pocket lets you stow your eyewear without scratching it up.[$150; osprey.com]
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