Hydration Packs


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We featured the Black Diamond Distance pack in our long-term test of the best hydration vests. “What really made this pack stand out was its ability to carry nearly anything with extreme comfort,” wrote tester Peter Koch. “Trekking-pole sleeves on either side offer the most stable, secure carry of…

In a lineup of touring packs, this boot bag and small daypack didn't make the cut, but they're still well worth your attention

Riding kit is expensive. Here’s how to keep it looking, smelling, and performing its best.

The Daylite doesn’t come with a bladder, but there’s storage aplenty: 20 liters in the main compartment plus an exterior pocket. The sleeve in the main compartment can house a reservoir you buy separately, or it’ll accommodate a tablet or small laptop if you’re just using it for commuting. If…

Salomon got innovative with storage in this vest, giving you the standard front water-bottle pockets and multiple stash pockets for smaller items but also a kangaroo pocket that stretches around the sides. Everything is designed to be accessible without breaking your stride.

I've tried to carry water in every way imaginable. I think this piece of gear works best.

Logging miles in brutal conditions? Be sure and replace what you sweat out.

This collapsible bottle is one of our favorite pieces of yoga gear because of its versatility: it can be frozen or filled with hot water. We found it ideal for hikes and home workouts. When it’s empty, the bottle compresses into a small disc for easy storage.

In our roundup of fall running essentials, this pack was our tester’s favorite for long runs. “It fits comfortably, its straps and pockets minimize bounce, and at six liters there’s just enough storage for the necessities,” wrote Andy Cochrane. The pack also includes two soft flasks for on-the-go hydration.

Contributor Aaron Gulley tested a slew of bike-specific hydration packs and this one was among our top three favorites. The Skyline was the smallest pack in the test—with only seven liters of gear capacity and a three-liter hydration bladder—but still had enough space for tools, a sandwich, and a…

Putting away your equipment correctly will allow it to last for years to come.

Hydro Flask's mountain bike packs are designed to keep water cold for up to four hours

Step one is pretty damn simple: dry the thing

The last thing you want is to go for a drink and end up sipping dirty water

We gave this jacket a Gear of the Show award in 2018 because of its innovation in convenience. “686 built a water bladder into the powder skirt, with a tube that runs up the inside of the jacket, near the zipper, ending with a bite valve right at your…

Built for hot day hikes, the Aleia has a mesh panel that’s suspended off the pack’s back, to promote airflow and prevent sweat buildup. There’s no bladder included, but the Aleia has a dedicated sleeve to drop in a reservoir of your choice and a spacious top-loading compartment. Its 22-liter…

We can’t help but love the nine-liter Tokul. It’s loaded with smart details, like magnets to keep the hydration hose secured when you’re not using it, a front pocket big enough for a helmet, reflective hits for visibility, and a foam back panel with ventilation channels. The included three-liter reservoir—with…

The streamlined Hydrobak is designed to carry a 1.5-liter reservoir and not much else. But that simplicity is its selling point, making this pack your best option on hot days: it weighs next to nothing and has a mesh harness that’s super breathable and quick drying.

Platypus is known for its compressible water bottles, but the brand has been perfecting their line of hydration packs since 2013. The Tokul X.C. 8.0 is a minimalist pack with a 9-liter capacity and a 3-liter reservoir included.

The Nathan VaporHowe 12L vest is simple and lightweight, and features a 1.8-liter hydration bladder that doesn't slosh around on your back

Back in 2012, the Zealot made the cut as one of our favorite pieces of MTB gear. Not much about this classic pack has changed since—it still holds up. Testers found it easy to stow and retrieve a jacket in the outside pocket, while the ribbed…

Our gear editor praised Patagonia’s Nine Trails packs for their clean efficiency: “With a minimalist design and well-considered features, Patagonia has proven that when it comes to daypacks, simpler is better,” he writes. It’s available in both men’s and women’s sizes from 14 liters to 36 liters.

The Halo was designed for ultramarathons and all the extra gear they demand. The front bottle pockets keep water at the ready but also have lash points to holster trekking poles, while the pockets on the lower straps hold your phone, gels, or bars. The bladder-compatible Halo also has two…

Osprey blends running-vest performance with backpack capability in the Duro, which has four front pockets—two extra-large stretch-mesh ones for a phone and water, and two smaller ones for food. Six liters of space in the main compartment is enough for a jacket, headlamp, and other accessories, plus the included 1.5-liter…

The Ultra Pro 2in1 name is appropriate, since this model comes with a ten-liter pocket that completely detaches from the vest. Use the vest solo for fast, short runs, or attach the pocket for longer missions when you’ll need more food and gear. It comes with two long-straw flasks and…

The athleisure company is branching out from its mainstay apparel and yoga accessories

The Trail Mix 7 is built specifically to better fit around a woman’s bust. Compression straps that bring the load tighter to your back, reflective hits for 360-degree visibility, and seven liters of storage (in addition to the two-liter bladder) are icing on the cake.

A 15-liter backpack built on a running-vest chassis, the Distance is a hybrid hauler with dual front stretch pockets for snacks, a bladder sleeve, and dual side-compression straps that keep the load close. And its water-resistant, 210-denier nylon helps keep gear dry.

A peek at Hydro Flask’s Journey Series hydration pack, Mountainsmith’s Zerk 40L Fastpack, and OluKai's Hawai’iloa boot collection

First looks, analysis, and interviews, all delivered from our team at Winter OR

After years of making some of our favorite running hydration packs, Salomon is launching the Advanced Skin 8 Set

Our columnist Bryan Rogala walks through some easy steps to ensure a long healthy life for your hydration pack. 

With tips, hacks, and processes from the hydration pros

We put them through the wringer to find out which would come out on top

We torture-tested the new crop of MTB-specific packs. Here are the 3 that held up best to the abuse.

Nathan’s Zeal race vest packs a lot of hydration into one small, efficient must-have.

What’s the best way to haul water when running long distances?

There are dozens of hydration packs out there. Which ones are best for specific activities, such as mountain biking, running marathons, or a weekend hike?

Beat dehydration this summer with one of these great reservoirs: The Geigerrig Hydration Pack bladder, which comes standard in the brand's hiking and biking packs; the Platypus Big Zip SL, the most secure bladder we tested this season; or the Hydrapak Shape-Shift, which you can zip up in the middle to create a more dispersed load.

Outside reviews the best gear for the 2012 Summer Buyer's Guide, including the Arc'teryx Incendo.

Outside picks the essentials for March, including the Arc'teryx Motus Crew.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Salomon Quest 30 pack

The first mountain-bike-specific lumbar pack

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the CamelBak Charge 450 Pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Osprey Viper 4 Pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Hydrapak E-Lite Hydration Vest.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Camelbak Aventura.

July 16-24, Whistler, B.C.

Size, Price: 68 oz, $24; 96 oz, $26Flow Rate: 3*Funk Fighter?: Roll-top opening for easy cleaningFilter-Compatible?: YesValve Shutoff?: YesGotta Love: DoubleShot valve doubles the flowBummer: Dual rubber valves are slick, hard to biteSplat Test: Survived *Ratings: 1=Average, 3=Excellent…

Road A hydration shirt? Yes. This three-pocket cycling jersey has an integrated compartment that snugs a 72-ounce reservoir (included) to your back. Some testers were initially skeptical, but being able to carry more water—and not having to reach down for a drink—sold them. Works just as well off-road, too, though…

Size, Price: 70 oz, $28; 100 oz, $30Flow Rate: 3*Funk Figher?: Antimicrobial treatmentFilter-Compatible?: Yes, with $7 adapterValve Shutoff?: YesGotta Love: Angled mouthpiece puts bite valve where you need itBummer: Tricky to drySplat Test: Survived *Ratings: 1=Average, 3=Excellent…

If I bring my dog Pontouf on a long run, I saddle him with Ruff Wear’s light, slim SingleTrak pack, which carries a liter of water. ruffwear.com…

Aigle Shems – Midweight Jackets: Reviews   With a soft fleece interior and warm, durable merino wool/nylon exterior, this jacket combines our favorite fabrics in one versatile top. 1.9 lbs; aigleusa.com         Patagonia Pau – Footwear: Reviews (Terry Heffernan) The coolest mocs we’ve ever laid eyes…

I am an organization freak, so I find Zen when all of my gear has its own place, like in the multiple pockets of this compact 1,200-cubic-inch hydration pack, which holds three Nalgenes’ worth of water. ospreypacks.com…

Hydration packs don’t come with more features than this. On a day hike in Utah’s Owl Canyon, the Isis’s leakproof three-liter reservoir toted plenty of water, the main compartment stowed lunch and more, and the large exterior pocket and cinch cord held extra layers. Even fully loaded, the pack…

This super-low-profile pack holds 50 ounces of water and 150 cubic inches of tools, lunch, and doodads in two organizer pockets. camel­bak.com…

A quick-connect hose makes these reservoirs easy to refill (you can remove the reservoir without rethreading the hose and bite valve through the pack's hydration port). 48–100 ounces; nalgene-outdoor.com      …

When the slope rips out beneath you, your beacon will help friends find you, but how deep you’re buried will likely determine whether you survive. The BCA Float 30 (with an insulated hydration sleeve; shovel and probe pockets; and, new for this year, a diagonal-ski-carry system) deploys a 150-liter…

Size, Price: 64 oz, $23; 100 oz, $25Flow Rate: 2*Funk Figher?: Yes, with cleaning tablets, sold separatelyFilter-Compatible?: YesValve Shutoff?: YesGotta Love: Big Bore wide opening: Throw in the ice!Bummer: Rigid valve can be tough on teethSplat Test: Survived *Ratings: 1=Average, 3=Excellent…

Gaping openings make for fast, thorough cleaning. 70–100 ounces; deuterusa.com      …

The Squall seems spartan. It isn’t. Well, except for the hipbelt, which is simply unpadded webbing, but that’s all you really need. Plus what’s on the inside is equally important. Within this top-loading, 27-liter pack, everything has its place: There are sleeves for your probe, shovel handle, hydration bladder,…

Size, Price: 70 oz, $23Flow Rate: 2*Funk Fighter?: Zip top opening for easy cleaningFilter-Compatible?: Yes, with $4 adapterValve Shutoff?: NoGotta Love: Dump an ice try in the zip topBummer: Pre-hike test of zip seal is criticalSplat Test: Splatted *Ratings: 1=Average, 3=Excellent…

With four easy-access storage pockets, a water-resistant iPod pouch, and a three-liter reservoir guaranteed against punctures for life, this updated classic is a smart pack for long rides and hikes. 1.4 lbs; www.camelbak.com…

Tough Guy This is a stand-up pack—literally. Thanks in part to its extremely heavy-duty fabric (“Like Carhartts,” said one tester), the 29.5-liter Pit Boss stands up straight, on its own, even when empty. But the truly unique feature is the pack’s three interconnected zippers. Two close the lid over the…

Size, Price: 70 oz, $21; 105 oz, $22Flow Rate: 1*Funk Fighter?: Antimicrobial treatmentFilterCompatible?: NoValve Shutoff?: YesGotta Love: Saucepan-style handle makes for easy fillingBummer: Second-rate bite valve makes for low flowSplat Test: Survived *Ratings: 1=Average, 3=Excellent…

This featherweight back hugger stays in place during even the most jarring bob-and-weave trail running. Pack sparingly: There’s space for only energy bars, keys, and a light shell. The spongy back panel is soft but gets sweaty. Two-liter reservoir included. 12 oz; www.kelty.com…

Size, Price: 64 oz, $21Flow Rate: 3*Funk Fighter? NoFilter-Compatible?: YesValve Shutoff?: NoGotta Love: Hang loop for easy dryingBummer: Fills from bottom; bite valve requires big biteSplat Test: Survived *Ratings: 1=Average, 3=Excellent…

If you already have a hydration reservoir and just need a more versatile pack to put it in, go for the Razor and its interchangeable hipbelts. Use the minimalist strap for running with a light load; swap in the padded belt when you cram the pack full for a day…

Size, Price: 70 oz, $23; 100 oz, $25Flow Rate: 2*Funk Figher?: Turn inside-out for easy cleaningFilter-Compatible?: NoValve Shutoff?: YesGotta Love: Velcro roll top for easy access and a secure sealBummer: Locking mechanism is an accident waiting to happenSplat Test: Survived *Ratings: 1=Average,…

An aggressively arched suspension with mesh panel lets air cool your back. The pack includes a two-liter reservoir and stows cargo for a long ride. Best for biking. 1.5 lbs; www.deuterusa.com…

Size, Price: 68 oz, $23; 101 oz, $25Flow Rate: 3*Funk Fighter?: Antimicrobial coatingFilter-Compatible?: YesValve Shutoff?: Yes, via capGotta Love: Spring-loaded valve barely needs biting; hygienic capBummer: Valve cap bangs around when not in placeSplat Test: Splatted *Ratings: 1=Average, 3=Excellent…

Aerated foam backing, mesh shoulder straps, and a two-liter reservoir make this a good summer runner, but check the fit: Some testers found the straps set too far apart for their shoulders. 13 oz; www.thenorthface.com…

This fat-tire Shangri-La's got stunning scenery, challenging riding, plenty of beer and music—and you don't have to be an expert rider or endurance junkie. Here's everything you need to make the most of this weekend-long party, er, mountain-bike race.

1. Zoic‘s Black Market ($69; zoic.com) quickly became our go-to shorts. The reasons: plenty of pockets, a loose but not baggy fit, and, most important, an inner short with a super-comfy chamois. Mountain biking apparel MTB style 2. Thanks to its street-smart style and semi-fitted…

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