How to Choose a Running Hydration Pack – What’s Best For Your Running

How to Choose a Running Hydration Pack

With so many different hydration packs on offer nowadays it can be difficult to decide which one is best for you. Whether you’re hitting the trails for your long run or just out for a long period of time, especially the time it takes to do an ultra or trail marathon, the most important thing you need to do is stay hydrated.

Fail to do so and it can be a game-changer for you, ending your race, run or day very quickly. The easiest solution for whatever you are doing is to consider the right hydration pack. 

You should be looking for something that fits well and can carry decent amounts of liquid for you to be out for long periods of time.  They also take away the issue of trying to carry bottles by hand, as this can become a bit of irritation over time.

For more background information on hydration packs please check the information below that will hopefully help you in choosing your pack.

How to Choose your Hydration Pack

Choosing the right Hydration Pack is super important and should not be overlooked if you want to have the best experience when using it.

It needs to be right for the task and needs to be comfortable if you’re going to be wearing it for long periods. With that in mind, here are a few things you should consider.


It doesn’t matter who you are, you will want to travel as light as possible so you don’t fatigue through unnecessary weight you are carrying. This is especially important when you are running the trails.

A long run over the trails has its impact on the body, so the last thing you want to be worrying about is lugging a heavy pack around. Being light makes it a lot easier on the body overall, and of course the lighter the weight you have to carry, the easier your run will be. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the pack will lighten as you drink right?

Of course, with the pack being lightweight, we still need to ensure that the quality of the material and overall durability is best in class. After all, there’s no point in being light if the pack falls to bits after a few runs right?

The only consideration, in reality, is that there is a fine balance between lightness and durability. Obviously the most durable of materials are generally the heavier ones.

Comfort and Fit

A hydration pack or vest is no different than buying an item of running clothing. We want it to be as comfortable as possible. The last thing you want is to be out for hours on the trails with an uncomfortable pack – this would be really irritating.

You need a pack that’s going to fit right without something that’s going to bounce around whilst you run.

We also need to ensure that there isn’t movement in areas that may cause rubbing and irritation – Over the period of a long ultra or run, something that is causing you issues and making areas of the body sore is one of the last things you need to worry about.

This is why the overall fit and quality of the material is so essential.


I hope this goes without saying, but it is vitally important that the materials are breathable on your pack. If not there are a number of issues that may arise.

The first one being the fact that you will sweat, you could get cold and it also increases the chances of skin irritation due to rubbing.

The worst-case with sweating is that the kit you are carrying, such as base-layers or spare kit may also get wet which would not be beneficial at all during a race.


Depending on the usage of the pack will determine the size you will require. When we talk about the size we are considering a couple of things here.

What is the volume of liquid you intend to carry?

Hydration packs can either have a bladder (or reservoir), bottles or both. The bladders come in sizes ranging from 1 litre to 3+ litres.

If you’re out for the long haul you might want to consider a larger bladder or a combination of that with bottles. Remember, there generally aren’t water taps out on the trails so consider what you need before you leave. However, during a race, there will be aid stations, so the need to carry a lot of liquid may be less important.

The other consideration with the size is what else do you want to carry? If you’re running an Ultra you might need to carry a waterproof, nutrition, spare kit. A lot of races will have a mandatory kit list you need to carry.

You might also be on a self-supported Ultra, in which case you need to carry all of your kits with you.

With these variables, it’s important to understand the task you have in mind prior to the purchase of your hydration pack. There are some great packs with loads of room, yet are still very lightweight. The Salomon Adv Skin 12 Set is being sold at a very reasonable price on Amazon right now. It’s currently my go-to pack for long runs and races and covers what I need in terms of comfort, durability, and space. 


As you will have seen, there are so many choices of hydration packs to choose from nowadays, but choosing the right one is important to meet your requirements.

If you are planning on long runs and serious ultra-marathons then, without a doubt, the Salomon Adv Skin 12 should be your go-to pack. You don’t want to stretch to that budget then the Nathan or Ultimate Direction would be great choices too.

If you’re doing shorter runs and want to keep the budget lower, then I would suggest the CamelBak for your needs. This is a very popular pack with great reviews.

I hope this article has gone some way to help you choose the right running hydration pack for you and gave you an insight into the best packs around today and maybe gave you some great ideas for your next purchase.


Hey! Mark here. Welcome to my blog. At the age of 47 I was a 212lb unhealthy mess. At the age of 50, I had run an 86 mile trail ultramarathon and converted to a Plant-Based Diet. I had turned my life around in 3 years. This blog is set up for those of you who want to make that change and I'm here to help.

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