Do you find that you don’t want to stop hiking or riding to pull out your water bottle?
We understand how it is.
When spending hours in any activity, staying hydrated is important so that you can keep going.
A hydration pack will make drinking convenient no matter your activity.
Now get ready.
Because you're about to discover the best hydration pack for your adventures.
Hydro Pack Buyers Guide
Table of Contents
- 1 Comparing the Packs
- 2 Reviewing the Hydration Backpacks for 2020
- 2.1 1) Camelbak Ambush Tactical Hydration Backpack - Best for hiking
- 2.2 2) Osprey Raptor 10 - Best overall hydration pack
- 2.3 3) Platypus Duthie A.M. 10.0 - Best for mountain biking
- 2.4 4) Fox Head Portage Hydration Pack - Best value for the money
- 2.5 5) Source Outdoor Dune 1.5L - Best for running
- 2.6 6) Osprey Packs Manta AG 28 - Best hydration daypack
- 3 WINNER of the Best Hydration Pack Review
- 4 More Helpful Info
Comparing the Packs
Reviewing the Hydration Backpacks for 2020
We have taken a close look at six top rated options in our search for the best-in-class. Keep reading to discover these as well as our pick for best pack.
1) Camelbak Ambush Tactical Hydration Backpack - Best for hiking
The Camelbak Ambush Tactical Hydration Backpack is made of lightweight durable 500D Ripstop Cordura fabric and includes a 3 Liter reservoir.
Pockets are available on the outside of the pack (both on the top and the bottom) offering plenty of storage for items like your keys and phone.
Offering a wider platform and shorter torso length, this portable water backpack has the Mil Spec Antidote Reservoir which includes the CamelBak Quick Link Exit Port and QL HydroLock Bite Valve Adaptor, which ensure it can adapt to a variety of situations. Side release shoulder straps make it easy to get this pack off quickly.
- There is no need to remove the reservoir from the pack when wanting to refill it; this hydro pack offers external fill access
- With several drink tube exit ports, the drink tube can be routed over your shoulder or under your arm
- The shoulder straps of this water carrier are not padded, which can cause discomfort, particularly when be used for extended periods of time
2) Osprey Raptor 10 - Best overall hydration pack
The Osprey Raptor 10 is made of 210D Nylon Double Diamond Ripstop, includes a 3 liter reservoir and provides multiple pockets for storage and organization.
Side compression straps will stabilize your load, while cross functional compression straps also work as external straps for carrying gear. This hydro pack includes a lid lock helmet carry system which will provide a place to secure your helmet when you take a break from riding.
A blinker light attachment is located near the base of the pack’s front panel; this enables you to use a Quick light attachment so that you have more visibility in the dark. This hydration backpack includes a roll out tool pouch that is easy to access and can be removed, allowing you to store and organize the tools you may need during your journey.
- The Raptor 10 by Osprey includes a BioStretch harness and hipbelt which will ensure your comfort when connecting the pack to your body
- The reservoir includes baffles that are designed to minimize liquid movement, increasing the stability of the pack at high speeds
- This option includes numerous pockets (3 interior slip, 1 interior that zips and 4 exterior) as well as a tool pouch, offering you plenty of room to store what you need during your ride or hike
- The hose is attached to the reservoir; you might prefer that the hose can be detached as it makes it easier to clean
3) Platypus Duthie A.M. 10.0 - Best for mountain biking
While there is much discussion regarding Osprey vs Camelback when considering the best brand of hydration pack, there are other contending brands. Check out The Platypus Duthie A.M. 10.0; it comes with the Platypus 3L BigZip hydration reservoir that includes magnetic hose retention along with various options for routing the hose.
A long-track sternum strap helps it fit people of a variety of sizes, and the FloatAir Back panel and ergonomic shoulder straps ensure your comfort through the day. This pack by Platypus offers a carry system for pads and full-face helmets and includes a fleece-lined pocket for glasses. A rainfly is integrated and the pack includes a commuter light loop. A Smart hydration pocket offers easy access to the reservoir and includes suspension hooks that hold the reservoir in place during the bumpiest of rides.
- The FloatAir back panel is made of highly breathable mesh over a lightweight wire frame and is designed to optimize cooling airflow
- A variety of pockets provide you plenty of places to store things like snacks, a repair kit, a cell phone and keys
- It can be hard to drink out of the hose at first as you have to bite it just right; but with time practice it should not be an issue
4) Fox Head Portage Hydration Pack - Best value for the money
Offering a 3 Liter Hydrapak reservoir, the Fox Head Portage has been developed for performance on the bike trail.
With an EVA molded back panel with airflow channel, the pack provides comfort, support and ventilation without the extra weight. The shoulder straps are lightweight mesh to promote breathability and airflow. A strap across the sternum ensures stability for trail running or biking on rough terrain and a waist belt includes pockets so that it offers not only stability, but easy-to-access storage.
This pack includes a stretch mesh helmet holder so that you can secure your helmet to it when you are not riding. The large main storage compartment offers you the room to pack what you need for longer outdoor adventures. There is also a separate compartment for tool storage as well as a fleece lined pocket for your sunglasses.
- The slide top large opening of the reservoir makes it easy to fill with water as well as clean; the 45 angle Bite Surge Valve High flow includes a twist shut off
- The features offered promote airflow and ventilation so that you won't overheat
- This is a large pack; while it is great for storage of items other than fluids, it may be larger and heavier than you need
5) Source Outdoor Dune 1.5L - Best for running
The Source Outdoor Dune 1.5 L Train Run Hydration Pack carries a smaller amount of water, making it a lighter option for those looking to stay hydrated on the trails for an hour or two.
Source Outdoors’ X-Fit adjustable shoulder strap system ensures a customized fit without hindering body movement during your activity. The shoulder straps are contoured to encourage airflow and a hip belt will allow you to secure and balance the Dune against your body. A sternum strap will provide additional stability.
The pack is made of lightweight 7D nylon riptop as well as open 3D air-mesh. Storage is plentiful with the proprietary Storganizer, which includes multiple internal pockets, hip pockets, an elastic mesh compartment and an LED tab holder. The reservoir compartment is insulated so your water remains cool.
- The cut-out center of the reservoir will minimize sloshing of fluids, particularly helpful when looking to move quickly across the trails
- Magnets hold the hose in place, ensuring it is always where you expect it to be
- Able to carry 1.5 liters of fluid, this water backpack by the Source Outdoor is good for short to medium length activities; for longer adventures a larger reservoir will be needed
6) Osprey Packs Manta AG 28 - Best hydration daypack
The Osprey Packs Manta AG 28 includes an Anti-Gravity (AG) suspension system that combines a LightWire frame, mesh backpanel, BioStretch shoulder harness and AG hipbelt which work together to distribute weight so that you are comfortable for short and long walks. Dual upper and lower compression straps will stabilize your load while providing opportunities for additional storage.
The main compartment of the hydro pack can enter through a front zip panel. Numerous pockets are also a part of the pack so you can easily find what you need, including a scratch-free zippered pocket for your sunglasses. Osprey offers the stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment which allows you to attach your trekking poles to your pack when you are not using them. A 2.5 Liter reservoir with the magnetic sternum strap bit valve (which offers instant access to water) is included.
- A removable rain cover is integrated into the pack, offering protection for your pack and the gear inside from poor weather conditions
- A helmet attachment loop is included so that it can be secured when not being used
- The hip belt may not be an ideal fit for those with a very long torso
WINNER of the Best Hydration Pack Review
The Osprey Raptor 10
We love that this Raptor hydro pack by Osprey provides the stability you seek when traversing the trails with side compression and cross functional compression straps. These will secure this water backpack in place while you ride or run over rocky terrain. The Biostretch harness and hipbelt will ensure your comfort during hours on the trails.
The lid lock helmet carry system provides you a place to attach your helmet when you are done riding or taking a break. The roll out tool pouch is the perfect place to store your necessary tools so that you have what you need to solve any issues with your bike. There are numerous storage pockets so that you have a place for your gear and can keep it organized.
This hydro pack includes a lid lock helmet carry system which will provide a place to secure your helmet when you take a break from riding. A blinker light attachment is located near the base of the pack’s front panel; this enables you to use a Quick light attachment for more visibility in the dark.
All of this and more leads to the Osprey Raptor being our top choice for the best hydration pack.
More Helpful Info
What are Hydration Packs?
Hydration packs are backpacks meant for carrying and easily delivering water to the person wearing it. These portable water carriers allow you quick and ongoing access to water; since you don’t have to stop and dig through your backpack for a drink, you tend to drink more often and remain well hydrated when using one.
If you are like me and prefer not to stop often, one of these portable hiking backpacks will let you keep moving. Hydration backpacks will include a reservoir (also sometimes called a bladder); these are available in 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5 and 3 liters. The reservoir will have a sip tube, that fluid will run through and a bite valve, which will allow you to access the water.
Types of Hydration Packs
Certain types of hydration backpacks work best for certain sports as they are designed with features that suit that activity.
Let’s say you are looking for a pack for mountain biking. Look for a pack that is able to be stabilized so that you can be comfortable when riding up and down on rocky terrain.
A pack made specifically for mountain biking will often include straps around your chest and waist. Many will also include a place where you can attach your helmet before or after your ride.
For trail runners and hikers, look into water backpacks that are low in weight and small in size. Packs for trail running will focus on being lightweight as well as stable.
As with a pack for mountain biking, stability is important so that when you are bounding up and down the trail your water carrier is not bouncing along with you. These packs likely won’t hold much more than your water, keys and a snack.
These hydro packs are essentially for carrying water; they include a reservoir and most also include small pockets where you can store your keys, cell phone and a snack. While lightweight packs are not designed as all-purpose daypacks, they offer comfort and stability, making them a good choice for trail running and hiking.
Full Size Packs
Packs that are considered “full size” are daypacks that integrate hydration, offering a reservoir. These packs vary in size, so that you can choose which best meets your needs. If you would like, you can often fit a larger reservoir in the pack than what it comes with..
Both lightweight and full size packs offer appealing features for comfort, ease of drinking, stability and ability to attach your equipment.
The weight of your pack will change as you drink water; for comfort the pack should be made for minimal variance in fit as the weight of the pack decreases.
Portable water carriers can cause heat to be trapped against your body. This is because in some packs the reservoir will take the place of a frame. This will increase your core temperature, as well as heat up your water. Some packs are designed to dissipate heat, keeping you cooler.
Other features designed with comfort in mind are contoured shoulder straps, comfortable waist straps and packs in different lengths to fit various torso sizes.
Ease of Drinking
Depending on the reservoir and its bite valve, it can take a moderate amount of tooth pressure on the bite valve to get a sip of water out; others will require minimal pressure so that you can easily consume water. Made of silicone or silicone based materials, some bite valves will twist open and closed or have a switch.
The set-up and stability of the drinking hose is also key; look for one that is easy to access and does not require a complicated arrangement. The reservoir should come with a tube clip so that you can clip the hose for stability and easy accessibility.
Whether trekking, running or taking on the obstacles of a spartan race, stability is important. If your pack is bouncing up and down it will be uncomfortable and possibly painful. Waist belts and chest straps should help with stability, though depending on the pack they may slide up and down.
Smaller packs are typically more stable; a waist belt is helpful if you plan to carry a lot in your pack. It will help evenly distribute the weight you are carrying.
Ease of Cleaning
There are cleaning kits available, but they can cost the same or even more as expensive as the original hydration bladder and are totally unnecessary. Reservoirs with larger openings are typically easier to clean, and it's something you can do without a special kit. When the bite valve and tube are able to be taken apart, cleaning is more effective. For a quick lesson on how to clean the reservoir in your hydration backpack, check out the video below.
Ability to Attach Equipment
Updated 2/9/2020 - Some packs offer systems to help carry your equipment when it is not in use; for example, your bike helmet or trekking poles can be attached to the pack when they are not needed, keeping your hands free.