Choosing the best hydration pack for running or hiking isn’t as simple as just grabbing one off the shelf. With all of the options available online and in stores it is easy to be overwhelmed, and just as easy to make a choice that you could later regret.
What I want to share with you here is some of the decision making steps I walk through before making a purchase like this. After all, whether you’re hiking the Himalaya or running a hard core endurance event across long distances, you want to make sure your equipment is going to serve you well.
Choosing the Best Hydration Pack for Running
The following are the key considerations I make when looking for a hydration pack, which may help you in making your choices. For me, any hydration pack needs to:
- have a sturdy design
- be made form durable materials
- be a comfortable configuration
- have a soft mouth piece
- hold a good capacity, and
- be easy to clean
So let’s dig deeper into what I look for specifically in this list.
There’s little more that can be frustrating when running with a hydration pack than the design proving to have flaws. Things like having the straps slacken off, or stitching and other parts fail. Looking for a reliable design that is able to stand up to the pressures of consistent movement and weight are key.
Cheap materials aren’t going to cut it when it comes to finding the best hydration pack for running or hiking. Look for materials that are neither flimsy, not too thick and cumbersome that they will defeat the purpose. You want to find light weight enough that your hydration pack is practical, but not too light weight.
The ability to fit your hydration pack comfortably to your body will depend on the design. If the straps are not able to be adjusted to meet your frame, then the configuration is likely to be uncomfortable.
It is not just the ability to adjust the straps and tension that matter. Also consider where things are placed on your hydration pack. A poorly positioned zip, Velcro tab, or buckle can be irritating, especially when running or hiking over a long distance.
Chest straps will help with movement, but there are considerations to make with the volume of water you’re carrying, in my opinion, which we will look at in more detail soon.
Soft mouth piece
The importance of a comfortable mouth piece can not be understated. Hard plastic isn’t a great idea for many reasons. Look for something that is not rigid. The only thing that should be rigid around this area is the structure of the valve used to control the flow of water, and any clips that may be in place for the hose, or the mouth piece cover (if you have one).
Many hydration packs sit around the 2 litre mark, which is about half a gallon. You will find there are larger and smaller volumes, but I find that 2 litres is comfortable for me. I’m able to top up when needed, and there’s less issue with the additional weight of more water than this.
Keep in mind that water has a 1:1 ratio, meaning that 1 litre of water is equal to 1 kilogram of weight. The thought of running with an 8kg to 10kg weight is not appealing to me. Just the strain that fluid momentum can place on the upper back, shoulders and lower back is enough to put me off.
Keep in mind that the use case for me here is more tilted towards running, so the weight and the impact of that weight moving is a factor that requires strategic consideration.
Easy to clean
Opting for an easy clan method makes choosing the best hydration pack for running so simple when you know you can easily take the bladder out, remove the hoses, and machine wash if needed is great. Make sure to consider the care instructions provided by the manufacturer before throwing your hydration pack in the wash.