Best Hydration Vests & Packs for Running 2023

Buyers Guide | Fleet Feet

By The Fleet Feet Editors Updated on
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A hydration vest is one of our favorite pieces of gear for running a marathon or ultramarathon, but anyone can benefit from owning one. When access to water isn’t available, your trusty hydration pack will carry your H2O and gear comfortably while keeping your hands free.

Hydration for runners is essential during your long adventures and hard efforts if you want to perform your best and enjoy the day. That’s why when it comes to whetting your whistle on the move, endurance athletes love a good hydration vest. Though often used longer adventures, hydration vests also provide a great storage alternative even during short runs.

Whether you’re training to race a half, full or ultra-marathon, hitting the trail for an all-day hike or getting some cross-training in on the bike, our list of the best hydration vests and packs for running will keep you hydrated and unrestricted so you can move freely.

Quickly check out the Fleet Feet Editors tried and tested picks for the best hydration vests and packs for running, then keep scrolling for more guidance on how to choose the best running vest for you:

[This is part of our Best Running Accessories Guide 2023. Looking for more ways to carry your water during your run? Check out our best hydration belts and best running water bottles guides]

How To Choose the Best Hydration Pack for You

Getting the fit right is the most important part of finding the right hydration pack. The best hydration vests sit close to your body, are comfortable and have minimal movement while you’re running. It should fit and feel like an additional layer of clothing.

Running packs come with a variety of hydration options and storage capacities. Consider whether you prefer one with bottles in the front or a bladder in the back as well as if you’d like extra pockets to store your cell phone, nutrition, lip balm, keys, layers or even some trekking poles.

Pro tip: You can trim the tube connected to your hydration bladder to your desired length to keep it from bouncing. And if your water is sloshing around while you run, flip the bladder upside down and suck the extra air out through your tube.

If your route or distance between heavenly aid stations is short enough, you may opt to carry a handheld water bottle instead. Some of the best water bottles for running fit ergonomically in the palm of your hand and have storage to carry some running nutrition like energy gels or energy chews.

The best hydration packs for running help you run safely in the heat and give you easy access to everything you need so you can focus on the run ahead. Plus, you’ll find tons of uses for it even after you’ve logged your long run for the day — We’ve used our hydration vests for hiking, paddle boarding, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and long dog walks.

No matter how far or fast you’re going, quench your thirst with our top hydration packs in 2023.

Best Budget Hydration Pack: Nathan QuickStart 4L Race Vest

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Get the most out of your hydration pack without sweating the price. The Nathan QuickStart 4L Race Vest is not only lightweight, it allows you to carry a 1.5L water bladder and offers enough storage for essentials like your phone, fuel, safety equipment and more. It's great for beginners and even better for your wallet.

Best High Volume Hydration Pack: Nathan TrailMix 12L Race Pack

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Tackle day-long adventures with confidence in the best high-volume hydration pack. The Nathan TrailMix 12L Race Pack is lightweight and offers heavy-duty hydration storage. The back compartment fits a 2L water bladder, while two front chest pockets each store 22oz flasks. Front and rear stretch pockets provide roomy storage and quick access to essentials like food and phone. Plus, a bladder hose sternum attachment makes getting to your water easy, so you can focus on having fun in the great outdoors.

Best Minimalist Hydration Pack: Amphipod PureRun Minimalist 24 Hydration Vest

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Sometimes, less is more. The Amphipod PureRun Minimalist 24 Hydration Vest delivers heavy-duty hydration in a lightweight package. Two chest pockets each store 12 oz water bottles that are designed to conform with the curves of your body to eliminate bulk. A back zippered compartment comfortably fits a 2L bladder. The lightweight mesh construction is no-nonsense with a lateral stabilization system and customizable fit to eliminate bouncing on the run.

Best Hydration Pack for Racing: Nathan VaporHowe and Nathan VaporKrar 4L Insulated Pack

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Designed in collaboration with both male and female athletes, the Nathan VaporKrar and VaporHowe 4L Race Vest is ready for top speeds. The form-fitting, sweat-wicking vest is constructed to hug your body while eliminating bouncing and chafing. Front chest pockets fit two 12 oz soft flasks with strap tubes so you can easily sip on the go. Lower and upper back stash pockets let you carry the bare essentials like an extra bottle, safety gear or fuel.

Best Hydration Pack for Women: Nathan VaporAiress 2.0 7L Hydration Pack

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The Nathan VaporAiress 2.0 7L Hydration Pack is body-mapped and designed specifically for the female form. This women’s hydration vest has an Adaptive-Fit™ Adjustable Sizing System that gives all body types a personalized fit. Breathable, chafe-free materials and two adjustment points let you alter the fit of the waist and bust separately for maximum comfort during your runs, walks, hikes and races.

It comes with a 2L bladder for water or you can use the front shoulder pockets to fit bottles and flasks up to 22oz. When the weather becomes unpredictable, an extra 7 liters of storage lets you stash nutrition, extra layers and other essentials.

How We Picked the Best Hydration Vests and Packs

With more than 45 years of experience, Fleet Feet is the expert in running. What makes an ideal running vest or pack for a runner comes down to your personal experience, goals, preferences and style. At Fleet Feet, we have been helping runners pick out the right gear for decades and want to pass that knowledge onto you.

We use a combination of real-life use, quality of materials, seasonal trends and top-seller lists to pick out the best hydration packs to run with. With all that in mind, we pick gear that has lived up to our personal (and professional) expectations, and we think they will live up to yours as well.

Standing Behind Our Picks

We picked the best hydration packs based on what we think will work for the most people in most situations.

If you buy any gear from us and you don’t love the way it looks, fits or performs, bring them back within 60 days for a full refund. That’s our Happy Fit Guarantee.

Plus, we offer free shipping on all orders over $99 on fleetfeet.com, and we’ll match a lower price from a qualifying retailer.