Best Hydration Pack for Hiking: Top Picks in 2021

Best Hydration Packs for Hiking
Image by Whitney Lewis / Canva

Whether you’re hiking the Appalachian trail on an overnight trip, running a marathon, or spending the day wandering the paths of a national park, your body is going to need water. But bringing water bottles with you can get complicated. Enter hydration packs, backpacks with built-in water reservoirs, and extensive tubing for you to drink from. But what’s the best hydration pack? We did the research for you and came up with this list of the top seven hydration packs.

Our Top Picks: Best Hydration Pack for Hiking

Pressed for time? Here’s an overview:

  • Best Overall: CamelBak M.U.L.EWith a narrow-gauge design, breathable mesh paneling, plentiful insulation, and plenty of additional storage space, the CamelBak M.U.L.E. is everything a good hydration pack should be.
  • Best Eco-Friendly: Water DogWhen it comes to protecting the wilderness you’re planning to explore, why not try a hydration pack that’s made of 100% recycled materials?
  • Best Budget: TETON Sports Oasis 1100At under $50, this hydration pack brings all the features you need at a fraction of the cost.
  • Best for Day Hiking: Osprey Skarab 18For a day on the trails, look no further than the storage-forward, comfortable Osprey Skarab!
  • Best for Trail Running: TETON Sports TrailRunning 2.0It’s lightweight, it’s compact, and it won’t bounce on your back — need we say more?
  • Best for Backpacking: Osprey Manta 34The Manta 34 offers the storage capacity of a multi-day backpack with the convenience of a hydration pack, so you can spend as many days in the great outdoors as your heart desires. 
  • Best for Mountain Biking: Thule VitalIf biking’s your game, then Thule’s Vital hydration pack, with its low center of gravity and innovative auto-retracting bite valve, is the name!

1. CamelBak Mule

The best hydration pack for hiking overall

CamelBak Mule

Brand: CamelBak | Hydro Capacity: 3 Liters | Weight: 1.9 Pounds | Storage: Yes | Price: 💰💰💰💰

This mil-spec hydration pack is definitely worth its salt when it comes to hiking. With a specially-crafted, narrow-gauge design, this pack is comfortable to wear and won’t restrict your movements. There’s enough space to hold 3 liters of water along with all the snacks you could need for your excursion, at a weight that won’t break your back. CamelBak’s reservoir and tube system delivers 25% more water with each sip than other pack designs. This means you can get the hydration you need in less time and with less effort, leaving all your energy for the trail.

  • Well-insulated and keeps water cold all day long
  • Incredibly versatile — suited to hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and even kayaking!
  • “Air director” breathable mesh paneling on the back reduces sweat build-up and enhances comfort

  • Straps are very thin
  • Definitely on the higher end of the pricing scale

2. Ecogear Recycled Plastic Water Dog

The most eco-friendly hydration pack for hiking

Ecogear Recycled Plastic Water Dog 2L

Brand: Ecogear | Hydro Capacity: 2 Liters | Weight: 1.7 Pounds | Storage: Yes | Price: 💰💰

No matter what you want a hydration pack for, chances are, it’s something outdoors, so it follows that you’d want to protect the environment that you’re planning on enjoying. Enter the Water Dog, Ecogear’s 100% recycled plastic hydration pack. This eco-friendly bag is made entirely from recycled materials by a company dedicated to sustainable practices and ethical business operations. Enjoy all the essential features you’re looking for in a hydration pack with the peace of mind that comes from recycling.

  • Air mesh padded back and shoulder straps for breathability 
  • Insulated water bladder pouch to keep water cool all day long
  • Sternum and waist strap for more even weight distribution and better support

  • May be too small to carry on longer hikes
  • Some reviewers noted that the bladder was not adequately tightened upon arrival and will leak unless you ensure everything is sealed properly

3. TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack

The best hydration pack for hiking on a budget

TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack

Brand: TETON | Hydro Capacity: 2 Liter | Weight: 2 Pounds | Storage: Yes | Price: 💰

Hydration packs don’t have to break the bank to get the job done, and no one proves this better than TETON’s Sports Oasis 1100. At under $50 and with five different color options to choose from, you won’t want for function or style with this 5-star hydration pack. Adjustable straps ensure the pack can be comfortably fitted to men, women, and youth alike. Additionally, the foam stabilizer and mesh covering keeps everything breathable for all-day wear. With 18 liters of total storage, you can bring anything and everything your heart desires along for the ride.

  • Straps are highly adjustable
  • Durable construction lasts for years of use
  • Tons of additional storage in multiple pockets and sections for easy organization

  • The mouthpiece of the tube can be challenging to draw from until you get the hang of it
  • Some users reported a funny taste from the water bladder, but a few washes seemed to fix this

4. Osprey Skarab 18

The best hydration pack for day hiking

Osprey Skarab 18

Brand: Osprey | Hydro Capacity: 2.5 Liters | Weight: 1.5 Pounds | Storage: Yes | Price: 💰💰💰

Whether you’re a hard-core hiker looking for something more laid-back, or are a casual hiker who likes to spend the occasional day out on the trails, the Osprey Skarab 18 hydration pack is here to fulfill all your hydration needs.

This BPA-free backpack offers a 2.5-liter reservoir, which is half a liter more than the average hydration pack so that you can go a little longer. The wide-mouth main compartment opens bucket-style for easy access to the rest of the pack’s storage, so you don’t have to struggle to pull out your afternoon snack. Both the sternum strap and hip belt are adjustable for the best fit. The hip belt is removable if you’d rather not wear it. As a bonus, the sternum strap features a magnetic attachment point for the bite valve, so your water supply is always close at hand.

  • Lifetime warranty from Osprey
  • Comfortable to wear all day long
  • Lightweight, compact design is perfect for hiking

  • Size of the pack is too small for more than a single-day hike (hence “the best hydration pack for day hiking”)
  • One reviewer noted the magnetic attachment for the bite valve wasn’t as strong as it could be, and their bite valve occasionally fell down

5. TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0

The best hydration pack for trail running

TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0

Brand: TETON | Hydro Capacity: 2 Liters | Weight: 0.9 Pounds | Storage: Yes | Price: 💰

TETON makes our list again with their TrailRunner 2.0. This incredibly lightweight hydration pack is a no-nonsense sort of bag, designed to hold 2 liters of water and not much else. The slimline design sits flush against your back, while the adjustable shoulder, sternum, and waist straps ensure there’s no annoying bouncing around. Both shoulder straps can hold the cushioned bite valve, so you can have it ready on whichever side you prefer. Plus, choose from five different color options!

  • Adjustable straps make it easy to get a custom fit
  • Unbelievable price for a high-quality, durable hydration pack
  • Small exterior net compartment holds necessities like phone, keys, and wallet

  • The bite valve may take some trial-and-error before you find the best way to bite to draw water easily
  • Some reviewers disliked that the exterior storage compartment is mesh and easily allows onlookers to see valuables

6. Osprey Manta 34 Hiking Hydration Backpack

The best hydration pack for backpacking

Osprey Manta 34 Men's Hiking Hydration Backpack

Brand: Osprey | Hydro Capacity: 2.5 Liters | Weight: 3.5 Pounds | Storage: Yes | Price: 💰💰💰💰

When it comes to multi-day adventures where you need to carry your clothes, food, water, shelter, and sleeping bag on your back, look no further than the Osprey Manta 34. This multi-compartment pack is designed for easy organization, with a dedicated hydration compartment for its 2.5-liter reservoir. Dual easy-access storage compartments wrap around the waist for necessities literally at your fingertips. The shoulder, sternum, and waist straps are highly adjustable for optimal support and comfort. The mesh, breathable padding on both the back panel and shoulder straps helps keep you cool and dry no matter how hard the going gets. 

  • Adjustable straps and frame ensure comfortable fit
  • Multiple storage compartments for easy organization
  • Adjustable back suspension keeps weight off your back for more breathable wear

  • One of the more expensive hydration packs on our list
  • Some reviewers had difficulty accessing the wrap-around hip compartments while wearing the pack

7. Thule Vital Hydration Pack

The best hydration pack for mountain biking

Thule Vital Hydration Pack

Brand: Thule | Hydro Capacity: 1.75 Liters | Weight: 0.9 Pounds | Storage: Yes | Price: 💰💰

Mountain bikers and cyclers, rejoice! Thule’s Vital hydration pack is an innovative, lightweight, aerodynamic backpack designed to keep water within easy reach without impacting your performance.

The pack’s low center of gravity sits closer to the small of your back than your shoulders, giving you more control over your movement and balance. Other packs have only a sternum and waist strap. The Vital incorporates an additional mid-strap designed to keep the bag flush against your back. This strap prevents bouncing, as well as more evenly distributing weight and pressure. The mesh shoulder straps and upper back section keep everything breathable and airy so that you can focus on the mountain trails rather than the sweat trails.

Thule’s unique magnetic ReTrakt hose return system means you can drop the bite valve from your mouth and it will reliably return to its position on your shoulder strap without any additional direction.

  • Incredibly lightweight and comfortable to wear
  • Magnetic ReTrakt hose system so the bite valve is always within reach
  • Specifically designed for bikers with a low center of gravity and additional mid-waist strap

  • Most reviewers noted that the jersey side pockets aren’t as easy to access while biking as advertised
  • Some reviewers felt the included water bladder was of lesser quality than the pack itself, though they solved this by purchasing an additional bladder of their choice

What to Look for in the Best Hydration Packs for Hiking

Closeup of One of the Best Hydration Packs for Hiking
Image by Canva Photos

Now that you’ve got an idea of the best hydration packs on the market, here are a few things you may want to keep in mind to ensure you find the absolute best hydration pack for your needs:

Intended Use 

What are you going to use your hydration pack for? If you’re going to be hiking, you’ll probably want an all-in-one pack that you can keep all your supplies in along with your water. You’ll also want something as lightweight as possible. If you’re camping, then you’ll only really need your hydration pack to hold your water, and maybe some snacks, since you’ll have a home base to hold all your other important necessities. If you’re a runner, a cyclist, or even a triathlete, you’ll need a light, aerodynamic hydration pack designed for comfort and speed.

Reservoir Size 

The reservoir size directly corresponds to the amount of water you can bring with you. The volume of water you need will depend on what activity you’re planning on doing, how long you’ll be doing it for, what weather you’re expecting to be doing it in, and your own body’s specific needs

Cargo Size

Are you looking to carry anything else other than just water (like snacks, equipment, or clothes)? If so, you’ll need to find a hydration pack that has suitable additional cargo space. A tactical hydration pack is going to have a lot more storage and places for equipment. Check how many pockets or compartments it has and whether it can fit the things you need. The best hydration pack with storage will have the water kept separately to protect your goods.

Weight

Consider how much your hydration pack will weigh, both when it’s full and empty. If you’re running or hiking, the last thing you want is a hefty pack weighing you down. It will only make you tired and slow. 

Straps and Belts

Some hydration packs have straps and belts that clip together across your waist or chest. These keep the pack in position while you’re traveling, making it easier and more comfortable to use. They also help more evenly distribute the weight of the water to avoid over-burdening your shoulders. The best hydration pack for trail running and hiking will have these attachments, so you’ll barely notice the pack while you’re running.

Insulation 

Is the temperature of your water important to you? If you’re going to be using your hydration pack in particularly hot or cold weather conditions, you might want to choose one with insulation.

Our Process

For this guide on hydration packs, our team spent 3 hours researching the most popular options from over 10 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about sixty user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each pack. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top hydration packs on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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Further Reading

Best Hiking Shorts
The 6 Best Hiking Shorts
Best Water Shoes for Hiking
The 7 Best Water Shoes for Hiking
Best Climbing Shoes
The 9 Best Climbing Shoes for Men & Women
Woman Wearing the Best Hiking Socks
Best Hiking Socks: Protect & Insulate
Best Hiking Boots for Women
The Best Hiking Boots for Women
Best Climbing Harnesses
The 7 Best Climbing Harnesses