The 12 Best Hydration Packs

May 1, 2020

Category: Gear

Heading out to the trail for a quick jaunt often calls for adequate preparation, but when it comes to spending hours, or even days outdoors, you’ll need to step up your game when it comes to the gear that you decide to bring along for the ride. Naturally, that means that you’ll need to find a way to tote your much-needed sustenance without all of the heavy, cumbersome containers and water bottles associated with smaller outings.

That’s where the contemporary hydration pack comes in. These purpose-built peripherals are a surefire way to remain healthy and nourished while you’re on the trail, providing quick sips of refreshing liquids whenever you deem them necessary. And the best part? They even contain secure areas for your other EDC items, including tools, food, first-aid kits, or clothing. Since they’ll be replacing your larger backpacks, it’s also worth noting that each variant has placed an emphasis on ruggedized design, offering protection and stability to everything that you have packed inside. Below, we’ve outlined a few of our favorites from around the industry and elaborated on what makes each so special.

SHARKMOUTH Tactical MOLLE 900D Hydration Pack

If you’re an avid outdoor enthusiast or sportsman, SHARKMOUTH’s Tactical MOLLE 900D Hydration Pack is a suitable option for just about any excursion. It was built to provide adequate support and hydration to athletes like cyclists, kayakers, snowboarders, runners, and skiers, while still emphasizing a need for lightweight, form-fitting functionality. A breathable mesh pad and insulated compartment help to keep both you and your beverage cool during those long-winded outings, while a modest interior storage area provides the perfect location for a water bladder, iPad, or lunch box. Better yet, there are even two small front-zip pockets to stow your important peripherals, including car keys, multitools, first-aid kits, and sunscreen.

Capacity: 15 Liter
Hydration Bladder Size: 2 Liter
Exterior Material: Tear-Resistant Polyester

Purchase: $31

MARCHWAY Tactical Molle Hydration Pack Backpack

Like the first option on our list, the MARCHWAY Tactical Molle Hydration Pack Backpack was built with adaptability in mind. It features a unique Molle architecture that can allow for the attachment and utilization of various utilitarian items, ensuring that you’ll be prepared for anything if you pack out accordingly. The MARCHWAY Hydration Pack is constructed with a durable 1000D water repellent nylon fabric and emphasizes comfortable ergonomics through its various shoulder, chest, and waist straps. These, paired with padded contact points, alleviate fatigue caused by ill-fitting packs that bounce and shift as you explore. Of course, there’s also the main pocket for your three-liter water reservoir, and two front storage areas for multitools, smart devices, or keys.

Capacity: NA
Hydration Bladder Size: 3 Liter
Exterior Material: Water-Repellant Nylon

Purchase: $38

TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack

TETON Sports’ Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack is a formidable offering that boasts one of the larger carrying capacities on our list. Thanks to its 1,100 cubic-inch interior, it can hold a variety of off-grid goods, including backup essentials, first-aid items, and anything else you might need to complete your journey. Built as a suitable companion for day- or night-long hydration, this well-designed hydration pack features a two-liter hydration reservoir, an adjustable architecture, and a notched foam stabilizer for additional reinforcement and comfort. But if you’re worried that it can’t take a beating, never fear — it can stand up to whatever the trailhead decides to throw at you, thanks to its 6000 PU honeycomb ripstop construction.

Capacity: 18 Liter
Hydration Bladder Size: 2 Liter
Exterior Material: Honeycomb Ripstop

Purchase: $40

CamelBak Classic 85oz Hydration Pack

If you’re a veteran of the on-trail hydration backpack industry, you’ll recognize CamelBak’s Classic 85oz with ease. This iconic model has paved the way for many of the genre’s contemporary models, while still remaining true to the company’s minimalist design philosophy. This adept pack features a breathable air mesh back panel to promote cool, comfortable use while on the trail, and complements its small stature with various reflective accents for heightened visibility during the later (or earlier) hours of the day. Aside from its lightweight persona, the Classic 85oz also boasts a secure zip pocket for essential storage, a ventilated mesh harness, and the company’s Crux system, which offers 20% more water per sip over its non-Crux counterparts.

Capacity: NA
Hydration Bladder Size: 2.5 Liter
Exterior Material: Nylon

Purchase: $48

Gregory Nano 18 H2O Hydration Pack

The Gregory Nano 18 H2O Hydration Pack is a strict departure from the traditional construction principles of other on-trail packs. It boasts a proprietary three-liter, 3D QuickDry reservoir architecture, as well as an integrated drying hanger to keep things moisture-free throughout your journey. To keep its pack in place, a dedicated hydration pocket has been gifted with the company’s SpeedClip attachment system, allowing wearers to remove and reinsert the reservoir at the drop of a dime. This, paired with a magnetic sternum strap that allows for one-handed buckling, a contoured shoulder harness for dependable hydration routing, and a removable webbing hip belt, makes the Nano 18 one of the most technologically advanced offerings in the genre. But don’t worry, it’s still got the quality-of-life features that you’ve come to know and love, including reflective exterior attachment loops, a zippered pocket, and key clip, and a suite of custom, comfort-grip zipper pulls for added measure.

Capacity: 18 Liter
Hydration Bladder Size: 3 Liter
Exterior Material: Nylon

Purchase: $56

REI Co-op Trail Hydro 20L Hydration Pack

REI’s very own Trail Hydro 20L Hydration Pack is a great mid-range offering for trail enthusiasts everywhere, thanks to its dependable construction, lightweight demeanor, and trusted performance. It features an interesting hard-sided Quickload pocket that helps to secure and protect your reservoir as you make your way through the wilderness, complementing its abrasion-resistant, BPA- and PVC-free construction. Radiofrequency welded seams have been introduced for enhanced reinforcement throughout the pack, which is nice, considering it also boasts a large, 20-liter gear capacity. To carry all of that extra weight, the Trail Hydro utilizes a comfort-focused sternum strap, padded shoulders, and a removable hip belt, allowing you to adapt the pack to your body type. Inside, a selection of soft and zippered-mesh pockets provide adequate storage areas for your on-trail essentials.

Capacity: 20 Liter
Hydration Bladder Size: 2 Liter
Exterior Material: Nylon/Recycled Nylon

Purchase: $90

ALPS Mountaineering Hydro Trail 17 Pack

ALPS Mountaineering’s Hydro Trail 17 Pack is a sleek, purpose-built back accessory that takes outdoor trekking to an entirely new level. It was built to accommodate and store your trekking poles when not in use, and even includes a rain cover for those moments when vertical traversal might get a bit too soggy. Aside from protecting your three-liter water reservoir and gear, the Hydro Trail also features a handful of different organizational pockets to make accessibility easier than ever, including a front organizer, stretch storage, and side compression straps to help stabilize everything after you’ve packed it in. To round things out, a suspended mesh back panel has been introduced to provide inherent cooling and ventilation.

Capacity: 17 Liter
Hydration Bladder Size: 3 Liter
Exterior Material: Nylon/Mesh

Purchase: $97

Patagonia Nine Trails 14L Hydration Pack

Patagonia’s approach to outdoor gear has made the company one of the industry’s most trusted outfits, and when it comes down to something as simple as a back-worn water reservoir, its reputation still stands. The Nine Trails 14L Hydration Pack, for example, boasts a full-access architecture that can store your water source, your gear, and your tools, while still being able to separate each item for easy access. Inside, a two-liter HydraPak reservoir offers the perfect middle ground between heavier variants and quick-trip models, meaning that you’ll strike a balance between fatigue-inducing weight and capability. As per the brand’s commitment to dependability and quality, the Nine Trails boasts a lightweight CORDURA ripstop nylon construction, polyurethane coating, mono mesh, and a durable water repellent finish, helping to keep your gear protected and safe from sudden downpours.

Capacity: 14 Liter
Hydration Bladder Size: 2 Liter
Exterior Material: CORDURA Ripstop Nylon

Purchase: $104

Platypus Duthie AM Utility Hydration Backpack

Platypus’ Duthie AM Utility Hydration Backpack was built as a streamlined solution for avid trail-goers, providing a large, three-liter Big Zip EVO reservoir, a lightweight wireframe, and a versatile FloatAir back panel that removes the pack from your body to promote adequate airflow and moisture control. Inside, a bespoke reservoir suspension system ensures that the capsule is held in place as you shift your body while riding, hiking, kayaking, or approaching any other high-movement activity. Depending on your preference, you’ll be able to route your drinking tube through the left or right shoulder strap, while utilizing various webbing loops to carry additional gear or accessories that might serve to enhance your journey.

Capacity: 15 Liter
Hydration Bladder Size: 3 Liter
Exterior Material: Nylon

Purchase: $113

Hydro Flask Journey Series 10 Hydration Pack

The Hydro Flask Journey Series 10 features an insulated, HydraPak IsoBound 3L, sweatproof reservoir and an articulated back panel for adequate heat shed and moisture control. Unlike other packs, this means that your fluid of choice will remain cold and refreshing for over four hours, providing adequate hydration as you take on longer hikes. Inside, a neoprene internal sleeve and reflective materials help to dissuade the transmission of heat from your body, aiding in overall temperature control. Aside from the pack’s larger three-liter reservoir capacity, you’ll find that its 10-liter storage area is more than enough for you important pieces of gear — all of which remain immediately accessible via the Journey Series’ perimeter zipper and front pocket stashes.

Capacity: 10 Liter
Hydration Bladder Size: 3 Liter
Exterior Material: Polyester/Thermoplastic Poly

Purchase: $115

Osprey Packs Syncro 12 Bike Hydration Pack

While the vast majority of the packs on our list were created for on-foot traversal, Osprey’s Syncro 12 Bike Hydration Pack was created for — you guessed it — two-wheeled use. However, that doesn’t make it any less appealing when it comes to capable utilization, thanks to its Osprey Hydraulics 2.5-liter reservoir, AirSpeed back panel, and a magnetic sternum strap that allows for quick access to your pack’s individual bite valve. Aside from helping to promote the release of heat, the Syncro 12 was also built to provide exclusive improvements for cyclists who regular the rough, rugged trails, introducing bespoke aspects like a LidLock helmet attachment, a bike-specific harness system, and a removable, high-visibility rain cover that’s been contracted to keep your gear dry during those soggy ascents.

Capacity: 12 Liter
Hydration Bladder Size: 2.5 Liter
Exterior Material: Honeycomb Nylon

Purchase: $130

Salomon XA 25 Hydration Pack

Salomon’s XA 25 Hydration Pack rounds out our list as one of the most technical offerings we’ve found. Staying true to the company’s expeditionary roots, this well-designed pack features an aesthetically-pleasing rolltop construction, taped, weather-resistant fabrics, and a hybrid architecture that calls upon twin chest straps, widened shoulder straps, and a proprietary Sensifit system for enhanced adaptability in key movement areas. As a result, the pack will remain secure and snug as you take on the trail. It’s been reinforced with a variety of interesting characteristics, including a high-density structure, extra stitching, and a lack of penetrable zippers, providing wearers with a waterproof compartment area that can protect your gear and keep it safe from inclement weather.

Capacity: 25 Liter
Hydration Bladder Size: 1 Liter (Compatible)
Exterior Material: Polyamide/Polyethylene

Purchase: $190

How to Clean A Hydration Pack

While water is the element that gives life, it can also be dangerous if some of that life is bacteria. To ensure you’re not drinking up anything that might make you sick, you’ll want to read up on our guide outlining how to clean a hydration pack.

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