Any outdoor enthusiast is going to need water to sustain their activity. That’s where having the best hydration pack comes in. We’ve rounded up the 7 best options on the market, including pros and cons.
What’s The Best Hydration Pack?
Without water, you’re going to have to cut your activities short, and no one wants to carry around a bottle of water in their hand all day. It gets warm from holding it, it’s cumbersome and clumsy, and it interferes with our enjoyment.
There are so many hydration packs to choose from it gets difficult to figure out the best one for you and your outdoor sports and activities.
I put a whole bunch of them to the test, so let me share our top picks so you can focus on doing what you love, with convenient and hassle-free water on your back.
Our Top Picks
- Best overall: CamelBak Classic Hydration Pack, 85oz
- Best for easy refills: Osprey Syncro 12
- Best for lightweight: Gregory Nano 14L
- Best for cycling: CamelBak Skyline LR10
- Best for all-day use: Gregory Endo 15L
- Best for dry conditions: Teton Sports Oasis 1200
- Best for budget shoppers: Teton Sports TrailRunner 2.0
Why You Need A Hydration Pack
A hydration pack is essential for outdoor activities like biking, hiking, skiing, and even spectator events. Wherever you go, you need to stay hydrated. When you’re exerting yourself or exposed to the harshness of the elements, you will become even more dehydrated faster.
Best Hydration Packs: The Top 7 Picks
Here are our top seven list of hydration packs. Pretty much whatever you’re doing, you can find a hydration pack that meets your needs. And, there’s enough variety you can shop with a budget in mind as well.
1. CamelBak Classic
- Available in multiple colors
- Easy to drink from
- Simple control valve
- Small storage space
- Cap is easy to cross-thread
- Filling the reservoir isn’t as easy as on some other models
The classic design of this hydration pack features a convenient on-off lever on the drinking tube and a Crux reservoir, all contained within a lightweight, ventilated harness. The straps are wide enough to wear comfortably for hours without feeling them dig into your shoulders.
The reservoir holds 2.5 liters, or 85 ounces, of liquid. The harness has a small pouch at its bottom, suitable for storing a wallet or other small items.
This pack is very light and easy to carry so that the storage space won’t accommodate anything too big. But this isn’t a backpack. Instead, it’s a hydration pack.
And the CamelBak Classic excels at providing a reservoir of water that rides easily on your back, with a convenient drinking tube and comfortable ergonomics suitable for hunting, biking, hiking, running, or pretty much anything else.
Some users have trouble keeping the filling cap secured, leading to leaks. But, if you’re careful not to cross-thread it and you’re mindful of securing it, you will have a leak-free experience. I have been using a CamelBak with this same reservoir for many years, and it has never leaked.
2. Osprey Syncro 12
- Plenty of storage for sunglasses, tools, personals
- Ergonomic and comfortable
- Bicycle-centric attachments and design
- Suitable for many users
- Easy to fill reservoir
- Adjustable hipwings and waist strap
- Lacks zippers on side pockets
- Larger users may need longer straps
- Solid frame limits ability to look upwards
The Osprey Syncro 12 is probably the runner-up to the top model from CamelBak. It has a very comfortable harness featuring a mesh pocket, a zipper pocket, and a system for carrying a bike helmet and blinking light for visibility.
There’s even a high-visibility removable rain cover included. But this isn’t a hydration pack just for bikers.
The harness has side bolsters and a waist strap, that when wrapped around your torso, holds the pack comfortably on your hips, making it easy to wear for long periods, whether you’re on foot or pedaling.
It also has the same 2.5 liters/85 ounce capacity as the Classic from CamelBak, but the added storage and the extra creature comforts and convenient bicycle-rider-themed touches mean that it costs quite a bit more.
3. Gregory Nano 14L
- Simple design
- Convenient storage
- Removable hip belt
- Snug fit for hikers and joggers
- One size fits all might leave bigger users feeling cramped
- No hydration pack included
The Gregory Nano 14L harness only weighs half of a pound. That means it’s exceedingly lightweight, but it comes without a hydration bladder. So, you’ll need to buy one separately.
When you add in a bladder and fill it with water, the pack, of course, gets heavier. But, you can also utilize this pack without the hydration bladder on trips where you don’t need water on your back.
For instance, if you’re carrying a small cooler to the campsite, this pack can carry your other essential gear. It has front zippered pockets with a key hook so you can secure them easily.
And the top opens and closes via a drawstring, so access is easy, and securing the bag is convenient and fast. There are even twin side pockets for carrying a snack or even a small water bottle.
This is a great carrying pack that most users will love to have as a hiking companion due to its extreme portability and lightness. And if you want to add a bladder, it’s really easy to do so. It’s even still pretty affordable with that added expense.
4. CamelBak Skyline
- Lots of capacity for fluid
- Ample, well-thought-out storage
- Integrated compression of lumbar fluid reservoir
- Tool organizer included
- Helmet carrier
- Only two colors offered
The CamelBak Skyline LR10 is ideally suited for bicycle riders. It features a 3 liter/100-ounce capacity reservoir and ample storage space. In a nod toward keeping bike riders comfortable, the reservoir sits lower on the lumbar region instead of up higher on the back.
The pack is reflective for an added safety measure while out on the trails or the roadside. And in a further nod to bicyclists, there is a convenient helmet carrier and a separate roll-up tool organizer for essential items to perform potential repairs while you’re away from your base.
This pack weighs quite a bit more than some others, but it’s designed for carrying a lot of gear and plenty of water comfortably.
It’s also a bit pricey, but it’s well-designed, convenient to use, and from a leading vendor of hydration packs. And, it’s not just for cyclists! Anyone out on the trails or the slopes can find plenty of utility in this offering from CamelBak.
5. Gregory Endo 15
- Insane storage capacity
- Neatly organized
- Ample fluid capacity for all-day hydration
- Premium design, ergonomics, comfort, and construction
- Very pricey
- Pretty heavy
- Only two colors
The Gregory Endo 15 weighs in at just over two pounds. That’s pretty hefty for a hydration pack. But, it can carry three liters of fluid in the included bladder, and it has pretty much every bell and whistle you could desire.
Hip belts provide lateral stabilization and are adjustable vertically, making this pack suitable for a wide variety of body shapes and sizes. That same adjustability could see a user utilize this same pack for a variety of activities.
Sling it lower for trail riding, higher up for hiking, and more. It has a magnetic mount for the bite valve at the end of the drinking tube, so you can quickly stow and access it for drinks. When it comes to storage, this pack has it all.
It has a protected, padded foam pocket that limits damage from crashes or weather.
It also has a removable storage/tool pouch, a quick access external pocket, quick-access hip belt pockets, a sunglass storage area with scratch-free lining, and even an extra mesh pocket for anything else you might want to carry.
This pack is exceedingly well-organized and features a mount for a safety light and oversized zipper handles for convenient, comfortable access. If there’s a downside besides the fairly heavy weight, this hydration pack is very expensive.
But, if you are an avid cyclist, hiker, or skier who wants to be outdoors all day with plenty of water and everything else you need neatly stowed on your back, you don’t need to look beyond the Gregory Endo 15.
6. Teton Sports Oasis
- Lots of fluid and storage capacity
- Relatively inexpensive
- Lots of color choices
- Large 60” waist strap
- A bit heavy
- Not as ergonomic or comfortable as others
- Water bladder is hard to seal with slider system
- Some complaints of difficulty using bite valve
The Teton Sports Oasis 1200 not only has a full 3-liter capacity but it also has enough storage space to carry plenty of additional fluid and other supplies. The main storage compartment is cavernous enough that you could even carry a second hydration pack inside of it, with enough extra room for another bottle of water or two.
So, if you’re going to be operating in extremely arid environments, like a dessert, and you need ready access to plenty of water, the 1200 from Oasis is ideal.
When you loosen up the straps all the way, there is a lot of room. But remember, this isn’t a backpack. So even though it’s pretty large compared to other hydration packs, and it only weighs two pounds, you’re not going to fit two pairs of shoes and a laptop in it.
But, a small laptop and some essential carry items can easily fit inside, along with a full water bladder. And, this pack is even quite affordable.
7. Teton Trail Runner 2.0
- Adjustable for most frames
- Plenty of water capacity
- Multiple colors
- Suitable for rock climbers, runners, hikers, and more
- No reflective striping
- No premium features
- Chest strap may be uncomfortable for women
The Teton Trail Runner 2.0 should be well within most shoppers’ budgets. It’s quite affordable. But, it’s certainly not cheap. It has a two-liter hydration bladder, wide mesh-covered shoulder straps, and adjustments to make it suitable for almost anyone to wear for long periods.
It has a wide mesh pocket for storing snacks, gear, and essentials like your wallet and phone.
That pocket lacks protection from the elements, but the pack does come with a small bag for storing water-sensitive items in bad weather. It doesn’t have any reflective striping, so you may want to wear a reflective vest.
But, for most users who just need a drink and some convenient storage, this inexpensive hydration pack will do the trick. Keep in mind that the chest strap will tend to ride right across the nipple line, so some women may be very uncomfortable wearing this pack.
Finding the Best Hydration Pack for You
Keep your eye on a few features when purchasing a hydration pack.
The most significant factor in determining which hydration pack is best depends on how much fluid it can hold. For example, suppose you are an all-day adventurer, a heavy-sweater, or operating in very dry conditions.
In that case, you will likely sacrifice some extra weight for the added convenience of carrying more water. On the flip side, if you’re just taking a quick hike, you might want to carry much less fluid, with the added benefit of a lighter pack. Tailor your load to your typical usage.
For minimalists who just need a hydration source, having extra pockets, tool rolls, and other storage features might be undesirable in a hydration pack. They just want a no-frills pack to carry water and maybe a set of keys or their phone.
For others, they need a hydration pack that also acts as a bit of a backpack, carrying more than just the bare essentials. For me, I prefer to carry a very lightweight hydration pack with no extra pockets.
Then if I’m going on a longer hike, I carry my hydration pack and a full-size backpack for an extra ration of water and my other gear. You can get the best of both worlds by looking for a hydration pack with moderate storage capacity.
Some hydration packs feature design elements specific to certain activities. For instance, having a mount on your hydration pack for your helmet and a high-visibility reflective stripe is essential if you’re a cyclist.
Some hydration bladders use a class screw-on, threaded cap. Unfortunately, that means you have to unthread and rethread carefully to make sure you create a tight seal. Cross-threading the cap can easily ruin it and create leaks.
Other hydration packs use a slider system to fasten the top of the bladder. Some users don’t like that either, as it’s hard to grasp the slider. Whichever pack you choose, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions.
While the drinking tube on most hydration packs is almost always the same type of thing, the drink valve itself can vary. Some valves need to be bitten to open access to the internal straw.
Others have a physical valve to open and close and a mouthpiece to bite on for convenience. It doesn’t really matter which style you buy, so long as it works for you.
Hydration packs can be quite light. But when you fill them up with water, gear, and other essentials, the weight increases quickly. So don’t consider the pack’s dry weight alone. Consider how you will really use it, load it, and what it feels like on your back when filled to its fluid and storage capacity.
Make sure to buy a pack that fits your body and your style of use. If you ride a bike and need lots of lateral support, consider a pack with hip wings.
If you just go for quick hikes, you might not need all the bells and whistles. But if you’re a runner, you might need a pack that is quite snug to avoid having it bounce around on your back all day.
So, What Is the Best Hydration Pack?
Without a doubt, the CamelBak Classic Hydration Pack is the best overall. It is the right blend of features, capacity, and affordability for most users.
If you need more capacity, you need a bigger bag. But, if you’re looking for the goldilocks model that’s in the middle and just right, this is your hydration pack. Pick out your color and buy one today.