If you’re an outdoor enthusiast like myself and you’ve stumbled your way through this article it means you’ve decided start enjoying your activities without feeling thirsty and buy yourself a new hydration pack.
Hydration Packs are a complete life-changer especially for hikers, cyclers, and runners who spend most of their time outdoors. Planning your hikes will no longer involve scanning for the nearest source of water with this great product because thankfully Hydration packs have become an essential item for all the outdoor activists.
But with the many available brands with different shapes, sizes and features the main question – which I’m here to help answer for you- is how do you choose the best hydration pack to fit your needs?
Before shopping for your hydration pack, you’ll need to decide what exactly will you be needing it for and how you’ll most likely be using it. Is it for general use or will you be needing it for a more athletic purpose be it hiking, cycling, or running?
Hydration Pack capacity
I’m sure that you like to walk around with as little weight as you can without having to give up any of the essential gear needed for your trip. It’s better to look for a pack that will help you carry as much water as you need and also include enough space for gear and equipment while keeping in mind that water isn’t as light as you’d think.
Hydration pack measurements and fit
You’ll need a pack that comfortably fits your body for a relaxed light adventure. The two main measurements you need to take care of is the right length according to your torso and the grip of the pack around your waist if it contains a hip belt (which I recommend it should).
One of the things that make a good hydration pack is ventilation. The soaky feeling of your back and shoulders aren’t pleasant and for that most of the top-notch packs are made with more open fabrics for better breathability.
Best 4 Liter Hydration Pack
Hydration packs are relatively new to the market and thus shopping for the perfect pack for you is going to be a bit exciting and confusing at the same time, so there are many things to consider and compare when buying a hydration pack. I’ve managed to select our top recommendations for the best, budget-friendly 4L hydration packs that are good for all the different outdoor activities.
Outbound Dash Hydration Pack, 4-L
This hydration pack is great if you’re a multi-sport activist and like to combine cycling, hiking, running, camping and climbing. It’s a heavy-duty backpack made of strong polyester and holds up to 1.5L of water while saving up enough space to carry your accessories and gear around. It has good back ventilation and distributes the weight perfectly making it a good option for whichever sport or activity you’ll end up doing
- Reflective accents
- Padded mesh fabric back for ventilation and coolness
- Front pockets
- Adjustable waist and shoulder straps
- Keeps water cool
- Has great space for keeping your gear and accessories
- No complaints have been shared
High Sierra HydraHike 4L Hydration Pack
The High Sierra Hydrahike is a reasonably priced all-day hydration pack. There’s nothing too fancy about it but it does the job well. Although many have argued that it doesn’t have enough space and might not even be a full 4 liter in volume. Nevertheless, it’s a good option for short hikes and runs.
It’s very light and easy to use and it would’ve been even better if they added some extra pockets to carry more gear.
- Rear access bladder compartment
- Reflection accents
- Adjustable waist belt and shoulder strap
- Exterior pockets
- Helmet holder
- 4 liters capacity
- 540 gm weight
- Good price
- Light and easy to use
- Smaller than advertised
- More pockets need to be added
Scott Trail RC TR’ 4L Backpack Caviar Black/Sulphur Yellow
This Scott Trail vest is light in weight making it easy to carry and perfectly fits any piece of clothing with a minimum amount of friction. It’s great if you’re a multi-sport activist and like to combine cycling, hiking, running, camping and climbing. The vest holds up to 4 liters of water with extra space for flasks and could carry up to another extra liter, all this while saving up enough space to carry your accessories and gear. The material used is super light, breathable and stretchy for the utmost comfort
- 230 gm
- Safety whistle
- Stretchable extra pockets
- 2 extra flasks
- Adjustable fitting
- bottles are placed on the shoulder strap for easy and quick access
- clips which hold the straw to prevent it from hitting your face while running
- lots of pockets
- The soft flasks on the chest are a little small (250ml)
- Need easier access to some of the pockets
Osprey Viper 4-Litre Hydration Pack
The Osprey Viper hydration pack has been commonly used by mountain bikers mainly because it’s comfortable, easy to use and have a lot of biking applications. It’s light in weight and has a huge storing room to carry out all your gear and equipment easily.
One of the great features about this pack is the supply hose which is attached with magnets for easy usage. The bite valve is also great giving you the right amount of water flaw needed.
- 4 Liters gear capacity
- 425 gm in weight
- 2-liter reservoir
- Cell phone pocket
- Magnet attached supply hose
- Many pockets
- Pocket for cell phone on the shoulder strap
- Rare helmet holder
- Mouthpiece magnet
- more storage space needed
Nathan QuickStart 4L Race Vest
A highly functional vest for all you running fans like myself! It has everything you need from a hydration vest, a 1.5-liter bladder, a safe pocket for your phone, space to carry your gear around. It comes at a reasonable price and has all the features any runner or athlete would want.
The only downside to the vest, in my opinion, is the loose straps. It doesn’t loosen up enough for it to fall off but yet again it’s a little distracting while running. Everything else makes up for this small flaw, the easy bladder access, the comfortable and lightweight, and the number of pockets in it.
What would’ve made this vest even greater is if it had reflection strips or accents for safety
- Adjustable front and side straps
- Water-resistant front pocket for cell phones
- easily and accessible bladder
- great waterproof pocket space for cellphone
- space in the back large enough to hold a light jacket
- Straps loosen up while running
- The hose is sometimes hard to get out
ROSWHEEL 4L Sport Hydration Backpack Red
This lightweight bag is great for a cycling trip for its breathable materials, 2L bladder, and pockets. It also works perfectly well for hiking, camping, and climbing.
- Fixed water straw clip
- Breathable back
- Hanging mesh pockets
- Survival whistle
- Night reflective material
- Reasonably priced
- Some have complained from leakages
Frequently asked questions
To make shopping for a hydration pack a little bit easier and for you to get familiar with what you should be looking for, I’ve gathered some of the most commonly asked questions that information you should know before you hit the store.
How to clean your hydration bladder?
Keeping your hydration pack bladder clean is important for your health. Cleaning your hydration pack should be done regularly especially if you fill it with juice or anything other than water.
You should let the bladder dry completely after every use and this is usually done by handing it open. Usually drying the bladder is sufficient if you only use fresh water, but if you’d like to add an extra touch, you can always use cleaning tablets or even lime juice to stop bacteria from forming.
Another effective cleaning method is adding some baking soda (around two spoons) to hot water and fill the reservoir with it. Shake the bladder well while pinching the straw.
Is the plastic used in the bladder safe?
All of the hydration packs and bladders in the market are free of BPA, BPS, and BPF. Usually, most companies test their bladders to ensure that no harmful chemicals will affect the liquids used in the reservoirs.
Why should I replace my water bottle with a hydration pack?
The hydration pack provides easy access to water and allows you to drink without having to reach out for a bottle of water. Medically its highly advised to stay hydrated when playing sport and sipping out of straw just makes keep yourself hydrated much easier.
The hydration packs also systemize the rhythm of your sip instead of gulping a lot of water at once which prevents gaging reflexes.
Can I get replacement parts for my pack?
Most of the top names in hydration packs provided spare parts and can be sold online through their customer service.
Can packs be used as checked luggage on an airplane?
With certain precautions, you can safely check in your hydration pack into an airplane. The most important thing is to protect all the straps and belts from getting stuck in the luggage machine at the airport. Needless to say, that the bladder should be emptied for all liquids to prevent any security issues with the airlines.
Can I put something other than water in the hydration bladder?
It isn’t recommended to use any other liquid. Adding other liquid may tamper with the life of the bladder and it can also make cleaning the bladder a bit harder.
If you want to add something other than water, make sure that your bladder is tough and up to the task. Also, bear in mind that your whole cleaning routine will have to change and a proper wash will be needed to help with the life span of your hydration pack.
How should I store my hydration bladder?
The first and most important step is to completely empty the bladder from the liquid, rinse it well and let it completely dry out.
A little drying trick is to pack it inside your freezer. This will prevent any bacteria from growing and will help dry off the bladder.
How much water do I need to carry?
There’s no definite answer to this question. It really depends on you. If you tend to get thirsty a lot the 3-liter capacity bladder is the right choice for you. If you don’t need that much water and aren’t usually that thirsty then there’s no reason for you to carry all the extra weight! In that case, a 1.5L bladder will be the most convenient option for you.
What should I do if my bladder started leaking?
A leaking bladder is a valid concern and may happen to anyone during your trip. To prevent this from happening always make sure that the things you pack with you don’t have sharp and pointy edges and make sure to regularly check your bladder before your trip.
In case a leakage does happen, it’s always wise to be prepared and carry a spare bottle or two of water.
Even though our need for hydration packs might vary, nearly all of the packs I’ve listed for you are great for multiple purposes and sports. My number one pick, I’ve personally been using it for years now, is the Osprey Viper 4-Litre Hydration Pack. this pack is – in my humble opinion- the most comfortable, functional and long-lasting packs I’ve come to use. They are great for cycling, camping, running, biking, hiking…you name it!
Being a thirsty hiker, I love how water is easily accessed and how comfortable the pack is. It’s extremely practical and has a reservoir that’s designed to minimize liquid movement so that the pack is balanced while you move. It also has great storage capacity I need to hold all my important items and gear with me wherever I go.