During long hikes, it’s always convenient to have a sufficient water supply without the hassle of having to carry a huge water bottle on you. This is where hydration packs come in play. Below we’ve listed the 6 best hydration packs for hiking on the market today to help you find the best hydration pack for you to stay hydrated without ever needing to carry any bulky water bottles.
Unigear Tactical Hydration Pack Backpack 900D with 2.5L Bladder for Hiking, Biking, Running, Walking and Climbing
This military-grade pack is one made to last; made out of rugged 900D ripstop polyester, the pack is thick and durable at a mere weight of 1.3 lbs. It has a sleek and compact design that features multi interior pockets and 2 small exterior pockets for stashing away quick-access items.
The whole pack is resistant to tearing and abrasion due to its strong built. And to finish off this military-inspired pack, a Molle webbing system is found at the front of the pack so you can easily attach more items to your pack without worrying about storage space.
The air-mesh padded straps are highly customizable that you can adjust them to fit kids as well as adults.
As for the bladder, the pack comes with a replaceable 2.5-liter reservoir that has a wide enough cap for adding ice. The tube comes with a bite valve to eliminate dripping and the reservoir manages to keep water fairly cool for the duration of your hike.
- The pack is adjustable to fit kids as well as adults
- Includes a Molle webbing system at the front of the pack to attach extra belongings
- Made out of thick and highly durable materials
- The bladder valve tends to leak
Known for their functional backpacking gear, the Osprey Raptor 10 has an Atilon foam frame sheet that provides both, comfort and full free range of motion. To add to their stabilizing technology, they’ve included a stabilizing hip belt with side pockets for quick access items.
The pack has side compression straps that evenly distribute the load of your pack making your hike as comfortable as possible. These straps can also be used to attach more accessories on the outside of the pack for extra external storage. This along with Osprey’s external lid lock for attaching your bike helmet and an additional quick light attachment makes this pack for the adventurous ones.
The Raptor has a total of 8 pockets including the one used for their 3-liter bladder; 4 interior pockets; 3 slip-ins and one zippered, and 4 exterior pockets including the ones found on either side of the hip belt and a mesh stretch pocket at the very front of the pack.
To add even further to the interior storage space, the pack has a floating top where the pack can expand and provide more interior space for a jacket or snacks.
- The pack is expandable and can offer extra storage space when needed
- Side compression straps double as gear carry straps and can be used to attach your belongings
- The pack includes 8 storage pockets
- The water reservoir tends to give off an after-taste
Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack with 2L BPA Free Bladder – Keeps Liquid Cool up to 4 Hours – for Running, Hiking, Cycling, Camping
This thermally insulated pack can keep your reservoir cool for up to 4 hours and is 100% leak-proof meaning that you never have to worry about it getting wet whether from internal reasons like the dewiness of your cold water bladder or from external reasons.
The pack can hold a 2-liter bladder and comes with an extendable bite valve tube that makes the tube so much easier to reach and use.
It has 3 storage pockets including one large interior compartments and a stretchy mesh pocket at the front of the pack for stashing away extra items. It also has a stabilizing waist belt that bears the load of the bag on your waist instead of on your shoulders to keep you comfortable. And to keep the pack from bouncing around, it includes adjustable and stretchy shoulder straps that ensure a snug fit no matter your size.
- Thermal insulation will help keep your water cool up to 5 hours
- Has an extendable tube making it easier to reach
- 100% leak-proof
- This pack may be uncomfortable for larger people
Specializing in hydration packs, CamelBak is definitely leading the market. The Fourteener comes with a 3-liter bladder that has a Crux system installed where you receive 20% more water per sip. The tube has an on/off lever that shuts the water supply off completely and makes it leak-proof so that you don’t have to worry about dripping no matter where you leave your bag.
The Fourteener also sits on your back comfortably regardless of the weight you’re carrying thanks to their fully articulated suspension system; the upper pads provide extra comfort while the lower pads provide even load distribution along the waist belt.
It includes an exterior stretchy pocket where you can place quick-access items without a hassle and another 2 stretchy side pockets for easy access. The main storage compartment is spacious and can fit a few items that you may want to take on your hike.
- Crux water system delivers 20% more water per sip
- Includes a trekking pole attachment loop that can be used to attach other accessories as well
- Has a leak-proof valve cap
- Like most CamelBaks, the Fourteener is more pricey than most other brands
This pack features Nathan’s iconic featherweight vest as a strap mechanism and it is brilliant! The 3-way propulsion harness on the straps ensures the pack is secured on your torso and is not moving while you are. This is because the straps are designed to move independently for added stability. So their strapping mechanism lessens the up and down and the side to side movement of the pack while you hike.
This extremely light pack is 90% made out of nylon and 10% made out of polyester, making it durable regardless of its weight.
It features multi pockets including zippered a front pocket made especially for storing your phone. It also features a compartment where you can store the included 2-liter water bladder. The tube connected to the bladder is made to resist kinks so you never have to worry about your water supply being cut off or the tube getting damaged.
- Very lightweight, making it perfect for long hikes
- 3-way propulsion harness secures the pack on your back for a bounce-free hike
- The bladder’s tube is made to be kink-free
- The straps on this pack are wide and may cause chaffing on narrow shoulders
Like the previous Osprey model, the Synchro also features Osprey’s advanced backpacking functional technologies. For instance, it features Osprey’s Airspeed suspension system which is usually fitted on bags that bear heavier loads but is fitted on the Synchro to ensure maximum comfort during your hike.
It also features a Lightwire back frame that provides sufficient ventilation to your back area and prevents sweating during movement. The bio-stretch shoulder harness and hip belt also add to the pack’s stability and comfort during use.
This pack is made especially for minimalists so it offers minimal fluff and straight-to-the-point functionality. This is especially prominent if you notice the design implemented into the storage space of the pack where the zipper goes down the sides to provide full front access to the main compartment of the pack. It also has a scratch free and heat-embossed top slash pocket perfectly suited to store your phone as well as a compartment to store the included 2-liter reservoir.
- Features Osprey’s Airspeed suspension system
- Provides front zippered access to the main compartment making it easier to see all the contents of your bag at once
- Lightwire back frame offers a cool and comfortable fit
- storage compartments lack interior organizers and may cause frustration trying to fish for your items
What you should consider when buying a hydration pack for hiking
Here are some of the things you should personally consider before buying your hydration pack:
Depending on the length of your hike and whether or not it’s a multiple-day hike, you would be packing less or more accordingly, so that means that you also need to consider what size pack you need. For multiple day hikes or single day hikes where you will need to bring more than just a few items or snacks, you should look into larger packs; usually something over 30 liters in capacity.
If however, you don’t really intend on packing so much with you, a pack less with less than 30 liters of storage space will do just fine. Even a 10-liter pack would do depending on how minimally you pack.
This depends more on your hiking trail; here you should consider the distance between each water stop and the next. On some hiking trails, there will not be any water stops for refilling, so the reservoir you’re carrying should provide enough water to keep you hydrated through the whole hike and back.
This also depends on how much you drink and whether or not you might need extra hydration if you’re doing any physical exercises in the process. Water bladders usually range from a mere 0.5 liters to 3.5 liters or maybe more.
Ventilation and Insulation
By ventilation, I mean the breathability of the pack and whether or not the straps permeate air. Buying a pack with a breathable mesh back panel and straps might be necessary if you expect to exert lots of effort on your hike and you don’t want to be bothered by a sweaty back.
Insulation, however, is more about the water bladder. If you’re hiking somewhere where you expect the weather to be warm, you might want to consider a pack with adequate insulation so that it can keep your water cool all through the hike and not have it affected by the heat.
What Makes a Good Hydration Pack?
There are definitely some features that make or break a hydration pack, here are the most important ones in relation to hiking:
Hiking packs are expected to stay intact through tough terrains and unpredictable weather. Most packs are now being made out of well-bearing polyester and some are made out of ripstop or reinforced nylon to maintain a lightweight while also providing agility and toughness.
The zippers and pockets should also be of high quality so as they do not rip or break during use. That is especially true for the pocket where your water reservoir is to be stored. You pack should provide a durable space for your reservoir in order to help maintain its integrity and not interfere with the drinking process and quality.
Speaking of water reservoirs, a proper hydration pack will provide some sort of leak-proofing. This might be in the form of waterproof interiors where you can place your reservoir and if it happens that the reservoir itself leaks, the water will not affect the rest of the pack.
Another form of proofing can be through the drinking tube itself where some brands now provide on and off levers and valve covers that provide protection for the mouthpiece while stopping the tube from leaking.
Proper hiking packs are designed to maintain their comfort whether worn for 5 minutes or 5 hours. The best packs have padded straps and harnesses along with belts to stabilize and distribute its load evenly on your torso.
CamelBaks definitely lead the hydration pack category; however, another more affordable option of the same quality would be the Nathan HPL pack. These would serve really well for light hikers. If however, you want to be bringing more stuff with you, whether layers of clothing or gear, the Osprey Raptor 10 is the got to.