How to Choose the Best Running Hydration Pack
Adequate fluid intake is crucial to every run. Having enough access to water while running offsets the chances of dehydration, and ultimately optimizes your performance. When it comes to long-haul endurance workouts, carrying bulky water bottles is not the most advisable route. The catalyst to powering through challenging, heart-pumping runs is finding the best hydration pack. Whether you’re a casual runner, a trail runner, or an ultra-runner, being equipped with a hydration pack that suits you is essential.
A good hydration pack depends on a multitude of factors — and we’ve narrowed down the list of qualities to consider so you make the right choice.
Not all hydration packs accommodate all body frames and sizes. Some lean towards the masculine build, while others are better suited to a woman’s frame. It is important to look into a pack’s ability to properly adapt to your body type prior to purchasing it. If you can’t try it on before buying it, check if the dimensions match your body’s measurements.
High-quality hydration packs tend to utilize self-adjustable fabrics that conform to the contours of the body. The material is commonly made of an elastic mesh that is designed to make the pack fit like a snug garment. For a more secure fit, adjustable straps that cinch down easily can do the trick. With a close-fitting running pack, the contents of your gear are kept from bouncing around as you sprint through a lane or run up a hill.
Comfort comes hand in hand with a fit. A hydration pack with a glove-like fit makes it ideal for long duration running. A comfy pack is predominantly contingent on the type of material, construction, and dimensions. Well-engineered packs employ lightweight materials and a sleek style of construction that is intended to provide stability and comfort.
Some hydration packs are built with soft, light padding in the shoulder straps and the back panel to ease the weight of the load. Perforation and wicking materials equally enhance comfort, as they improve ventilation and breathability by keeping the back cool amidst elevated temperatures and humidity.
A hydration pack that can withstand wear and tear speaks volumes of its quality. Additionally, the use of water-resistant fabrics is a good measure of a pack’s durability. High-quality waterproof coating lets you brave through heavy rain without worrying about ruining the fabric of your pack or compromising your valuables inside. Solid craftsmanship also plays a part in this, as well-constructed hydration packs boast stability and versatility even under rough conditions and repeated use.
Substantial storage capacity comes convenient in navigating through long, intensive runs. Aside from holding enough fluids, a sufficient pack should be able to hold a room for carrying all your essentials — nutrition, extra layers of clothing, first aid kit, cellphone, wallet, keys, gels, and other supplementary outdoor gear. Having multiple compartments within the gear can be a huge plus. Not only will you be able to carry all of your tools, but you’ll also be able to categorize them according to their size and function.
This is the heart of your hydration pack, so to speak. The size of the reservoir be a priority in your decision-making process. The appropriate size is likely to depend upon the distance and timespan of your workout. An ultra-runner would obviously need a larger reservoir compared to a commuter. The general metric is to allocate one liter (or 33 ounces) of water for every hour to be spent on running.
The average reservoir size ranges between one to three liters. Ideally, we recommend only carrying what you need so you can keep your pack light and decrease any potential intrusiveness. Also, check whether the bladder is FDA-compliant and BPA-free to ensure that the product conforms to safety standards. (However, we guarantee that all the products we review meet these standards.)
The bite valve and the drinking tube are also features to consider. The right bite valve, typically made of silicone, hinges on its ability to quickly release water while avoiding any leaks. Some have an easy on-off switch, while others feature a ‘bite-to-drink’ system. Most drinking tubes are made of polyurethane to keep them kink-free and durable. Some sip tubes go over the shoulder, while others are designed to run under the arm. The choice between the two routes is mostly a matter of personal preference.
The price, of course, is an equally decisive factor. Regardless of your tendency to save or splurge, considering the price of what you’re getting is the wise approach. There are different hydration packs that run the gamut from low to high-end. It is important to note that more expensive packs do not always boast better quality and/or a better set of features. However, taking the cheap route almost always has its own drawbacks. The rule of thumb here is to choose the one that would give you more bang for the buck.
We hope you found this guide helpful! Make sure to check out our product reviews and test them against the criteria in the article so you can be certain that you’re choosing to the most suitable hydration pack for your needs.