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The 10 Best Hydration Vests for Hiking and Trail Running [2024]

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
Amar Hussain's image

Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

802 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Hiking and running in nature is an unparalleled experience, offering stamina-building activities with a beautiful view. However, dehydration can be a serious threat to your well-being when there is no water source nearby.

For hikers, hydration vests provide a better way of staying hydrated than water bottles. Thanks to their ease of carrying and a larger water capacity, you can continue to enjoy your exercise fully hydrated and with a high level of comfort.

Things To Consider With a Hydration Vest

Some of the most important aspects to look for in a hydration vest include water capacity, weight displacement, and accessibility.

Your comfort is crucial while wearing a hydration vest, and it is largely dependent on the water’s weight distribution. This can greatly affect your speed and comfort level. Using a hydration vest while running has unique considerations, which we will cover in this article.

Weight

Hydration Vest
Many hydration vests come without frames for a lighter weight. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Perhaps the most important factor in a hydration vest is its weight. Unfortunately, not all hikers can support heavy framed vests. Many options come without frames for a lighter weight.

Ease of carrying also has to do with how well the weight of the vest is balanced. An unbalanced vest can feel just like carrying a water bottle in your backpack.

Comfort

Hydration Vest Comfort
Sternum straps help to distribute the weight across the back and shoulders. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

An important aspect to consider in a hydration vest is how comfortable it is to wear. Carrying comfort depends on how well the vest’s weight is distributed through certain areas, like your back and shoulders.

Bottom Line: A well-balanced vest is back-friendly while hiking or running and won’t cause you any pain. This is especially important for long-distance runners.

Water Capacity

Hydration Pack Sizes
Choose a hydration vest that accommodates the amount of water you require. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

The best hydration vest depends on your specific needs. For instance, if you plan on running or hiking short distances only, you can get away with a lower-capacity hydration vest that can carry up to 1.5 liters.

On the other hand, large-capacity vests can support over 3 liters, and this makes all the difference on longer hikes or runs. You should be careful here, as the water capacity and the weight of the vest itself are 2 separate factors, so keep in mind the total weight of the vest before buying one.

Overall Usability

Hydration Vest Usability
Hydration vests can have pockets for clothes, tools, or food. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Each hiker knows their specific needs best while out on the trail. You might need additional room in your hydration vest for replacement clothes, tools, or food, so you don’t have to carry a backpack as well.

Take into consideration how the water is distributed in the vest. For instance, does it have specifically-designed bottle pockets on the outside, or does it include a water reservoir to keep the weight fixed for longer runs?

Hot Tip: If your adventure requires more volume, consider our guide to the best hydration backpacks (including CamelBak alternatives!).

The 10 Best Hydration Vests for Hiking and Running

Now that you are aware of the important factors to look for in a quality hydration vest, it’s time to explore some options. These vests were chosen for their lightweight designs, quality weight distribution, and capacity.

We’ve also taken into consideration some other useful factors that might benefit you while running, such as multi-directional airflow and multi-functional pockets on both the outside and the inside of these vests.

1. Lightweight Low-capacity Hydration Vest for Short Distances

Check on Walmart

CamelBak Circuit Run Vest With Hydration Bladder

The CamelBak Circuit Run Vest is one of the best options if you are looking for a hydration vest for shorter distances. It fits up to 1.5 liters of water in the bottle pockets up front, while the back pocket can store a bit more.

It’s lightweight, has 2 bottle pockets and 1 phone pocket at the front, and features a 3D micromesh to maximize airflow. The mesh will keep you cool, and the integrated tube trap keeps your bottles securely in place while running.

With the CamelBak Circuit Run Vest, you will be equipped to run with maximum comfort for shorter distances.

What We Like:

  • Lightweight micromesh hydration

What We Don’t Like:

  • Capacity might be insufficient for longer runs

2. Superior Running Hydration Vest for Women

Nathan Vaporhowe Hydration Pack

One of the best options for ladies, Nathan’s Vaporhowe vest is lightweight and comfortable. It fits 1.8 liters of water in the hydration bladder reservoir, and it only weighs 280 grams.

The hydration bladder is integrated into the back part of the vest in an hourglass shape designed to reduce sloshing. It also has multiple storage pockets in the front and back.

You can also adjust this vest to fit your frame using straps that can be tightened or loosened.

What We Like:

  • The adjustable-straps

What We Don’t Like:

  • It can’t be used with traditional water bottles

3. Hydration Vest for Day-long Hikes

Check on Walmart

TRIWONDER FBA Hydration Pack Backpack

If you are looking for a vest that will provide a day’s worth of water, the TRIWONDER hydration pack is your best bet. It’s designed for marathon runners and hikers, and its lightweight construction and high water capacity are the perfect combination for day-long trips.

The outstanding 5.5-liter capacity can be reduced according to your preference, making this a universal solution. It’s made of breathable nylon polyester and features 6 outside pockets to hold your phone and other equipment.

The total water capacity is achieved through a water bladder pocket on the back with a 2.5-liter capacity, 2 smaller bottles of 250-milliliter capacity, and 2 large pocket bottles that make up the rest.

What We Like:

  • Incredible capacity suitable for all-day hiking

What We Don’t Like:

  • It might be a bit complex with all the attachment mechanisms

Hot Tip: Before setting out on the trails, check out our guides to the best running shoes and the best hiking boots and shoes for men and women.

4. Lightweight Hydration Vest for Women

Check on Osprey

Osprey Dyna 1.5 Women’s Running Hydration Vest

One of the best hydration vests for female runners that don’t require any water bottles is the Osprey Dyna 1.5 vest. It should suffice for running shorter distances, and the lightweight mesh design provides breathability.

It comes with a 1.5-liter-capacity reservoir that fits into a reservoir sleeve. The design is great for distributing weight at the back. In addition, the zippered stretch mesh pockets will allow you easy access to food or your phone.

What We Like:

  • Extremely lightweight design

What We Don’t Like:

  • Doesn’t have the capacity for longer runs

5. HydrationVestPack for Hiking

Osprey Duro 6 Running Hydration Vest

The Osprey Duro 6 Running Hydration Vest is a unique blend of a hydration vest and a backpack. As a result, it has more than enough storage space for equipment such as your phone, a compass, or even compact replacement clothes.

The Duro 6 vest is like a smaller version of Osprey’s Duro 15 pack, and it fits 1.5 liters of water in the integrated bladder. The total capacity of this backpack-like vest is 6 liters, and it comes with loads of pockets as well.

The straps attach to your chest for maximum comfort. The outside pockets are also in the front for easy access.

What We Like:

  • Included a 1.5-liter reservoir with dual stretch pockets

What We Don’t Like:

  • Doesn’t come with zipper pockets for your phone

6. Women’s Hydration Vest With Improved Water Sip

CamelBak Women’s Circuit Run Vest

This lightweight vest comes with an integrated water bladder and a mechanism that results in 20% more water per sip. It only weighs 0.35 pounds and is designed for the female frame.

The mesh design allows for high airflow and reduced sweating. The integrated bladder contains up to 1.5 liters of water, which is just enough for a half-day hike.

What We Like:

  • Lightweight vest with airflow

What We Don’t Like:

  • Doesn’t support additional water bottles

7. Universal Running Backpack-style Vest

CamelBak Ultra Pro Running Hydration Vest

The CamelBak Ultra Pro running vest is an all-purpose hydration vest for men. It’s comfortable and weighs in at just 0.35 pounds, so it won’t slow your pace.

It has a back pocket that fits a 1.5-liter bladder and 2 outside pockets for additional bottles. With other features like an emergency whistle, micromesh material for airflow, adjustable straps, and a zipped pocket for your phone, this option is one of the best for hiking as well.

What We Like:

  • Adjustable straps and additional outside bottle pockets

What We Don’t Like:

  • Doesn’t include an integrated bladder

8. High-capacity Hydration Vest

Check on Salomon

Salomon Advance Skin 12 Set Running Hydration Vest

Hikers looking for a vest that holds enough water for the whole day — and then some — need to look no further. The Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set vest is designed for marathon running and hiking all day without another water supply nearby.

It’s made of nylon and elastane for maximum stretch and is lightweight on its own. However, the water capacity surpasses most other vests, with 12 total liters between the high-capacity bladder and 2 0.5-liter bottles in the front pockets.

This unisex vest also provides storage space for your phone, a whistle, a compass, spare clothes, and other necessities.

What We Like:

  • An impressive 12-liter total capacity

What We Don’t Like:

  • The front straps could be a bit more adjustable

9. Lightweight Running Vest for Men

Nathan Men’s Hydration Pack Running Vest

The Nathan men’s hydration pack is one of the best options for experienced runners that need a solid solution for short runs. Its lightweight design makes it feel like a second skin and it also reduces sweating to a minimum.

The weight is well-distributed for maximum comfort while running. It has some notable elements, such as its moisture-wicking mesh design and a waterproof zip pocket for your phone.

It provides a bounce-free adaptive fit for use by men and women. In terms of capacity, it has a back pocket that fits a 2-liter bladder and 2 outside bottle pockets.

What We Like:

  • Lightweight vest with high usability

What We Don’t Like:

  • Only comes in 1 color

10. Versatile Hydration Vest for Hiking

AONIJIE Hydration Vest Pack Backpack 5L Marathoner

The AONIJIE hydration vest is a versatile solution for hikers. Not only is it lightweight, but it’s also breathable, thanks to a specially-designed diamond honeycomb ventilation mesh.

The adjustable straps prevent the pack from bouncing and creates a perfect fit for any chest girth. Even better, there’s a total water capacity of 5 liters distributed between the back water bladder and front bottle pockets.

Moreover, if you wish to carry as many things as possible with you on your hikes, this is the go-to option. It has a pill container, cardholder, phone pouch, and several other pockets on the front for maximum usability.

What We Like:

  • Super-versatile option

What We Don’t Like:

  • Only fits a 5.5-inch phone

Final Thoughts

These options cover a wide range of needs for different types of runners and hikers. Whether you are looking for a lightweight option with just enough water capacity for short runs, or a heavy-duty hiking solution that fits more than 5 liters of water, there are hydration vests to suit your needs.

Along with a wide range of water capacity sizes, you can find vests that include phone pockets, additional water bottle pockets, and even integrated bladders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a hydration vest for running and hiking worth it?

Not only can you rely on a hydration vest to support a high capacity of water, but it can also partially replace your hiking backpack. Along with water bladders and bottles that fit into outside pockets, many include safe zipped pockets for your phone, other hiking equipment, or even spare clothes.

Which hydration vest is best for hiking?

Options like the CamelBak Circuit Run Vest with an integrated bladder should suffice for spending a few hours outside. On the other hand, if you plan on spending a whole day hiking, the Solomon Advanced Skin 12 Set is among one of the best.

Can hydration vests replace hiking backpacks?

In some cases, well-designed and high-capacity vests can fit more than just water bottles or bladders. However, you should be careful not to overweight the vest since most of them are made of soft materials and can’t support the weight that classic hiking backpacks do.

Which running hydration vest design is the best?

You can improve airflow and reduce sweating while running if you use air mesh vests. Not only do these let your back breathe while running, but the lightweight material improves your comfort.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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