Best Hydration Packs: Water When you Need it on the Go

Don’t run out of water when you’re hiking or riding with a hydration pack

TheDrive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

Whether you’re hiking through the mountains or taking a bike ride across town, you need to stay hydrated. A hydration pack is a smart way to bring enough water to get you through your journey without weighing you down. We’ve broken down the top hydration packs to save you the hassle when you head to an outdoor gear store. 

  • Best Overall
    CamelBak Cloud Walker 18 Hydration Pack
    Summary
    Summary

    A premium hydration pack from a brand that’s synonymous with sturdy outdoor gear. This multi-functional pack features a generous 2.5-liter reservoir and plenty of space for essentials.

    Pros
    Pros

    A breathable mesh back makes this ideal for long hikes. Additional exterior loops allow you to attach gear and keep it within easy reach. You’ll also like that this pack’s crux delivers 20 percent more water per sip.

    Cons
    Cons

    The reservoir may leak after minimal use. This leakage can also be caused by difficulties with securely sealing the reservoir. Also, the shoulder straps may cause chaffing and uncomfortably dig into your back.

  • Best Value
    CamelBak Classic Hydration Pack
    Summary
    Summary

    A nimble and budget-friendly hydration pack with a 2.5-liter reservoir. Added features like reflective strips and an easy flowing bite valve make this a must-have pack.

    Pros
    Pros

    This CamelBack hydration pack features a breathable mesh back to keep you comfortable on long hikes. And the high-flow drinking tube also features an on and off valve to prevent leaks.

    Cons
    Cons

    Sometimes the filling hole can leak, defeating the purpose of the reservoir. Also, the poor cap design may cause it to fall off or not screw back on properly.

  • Honorable Mention
    FREEMOVE Hydration Pack Backpack with 2L Water Bladder 
    Summary
    Summary

    A hydration pack with a two-liter water reservoir. Perfect for full days of hiking or hitting the trails. It also features a detachable drinking tube.

    Pros
    Pros

    This hydration pack is designed to do more than just carry your water. You’ll appreciate all the additional pockets, elastic and detachable pouches to help you stay organized while on the go. 

    Cons
    Cons

    The removable water bladder may start leaking quickly. And occasionally the cap on the spout may not fasten securely, which can also cause it to leak.

Tips

  • Carrying water is the most critical feature for a hydration pack, but comfort should be a top priority, too. You don’t want to carry something long distances if the straps rub uncomfortably or you constantly have to stop to adjust the load. 
  • Look for hydration packs that feature breathable materials. Whether they’re designed to support air flow or feature moisture-wicking capabilities, these types of features will keep you comfortable when wearing a pack for extended periods of time. 
  • Always consider your intended activity and pick your hydration pack accordingly. A hydration pack that’s designed for cycling will be designed differently than one meant for hiking, running, or for use in cold weather activities. 

FAQs

Q: I’m trying to stay as light as possible, so what should I look for in a hydration pack?

A: If you’re trying to stay mobile, opt for hydration packs that can do more than just carry water. Whether it’s just a day hike or a multi-day adventure, packs that can also hold gear can help minimize the total amount of bags that you need to bring.

Q: Should I pick a hydration pack with a frame or without one?

A: If you only need to carry a few items, such as water, light snacks, and SPF, then you don’t need a pack with a built-in frame. But if you’re planning on carrying a substantial amount of gear, you should look at packs with frames to help provide critical support. 

Q: Which is better: shoulder straps or no straps?

A: There’s a case to be made for both. If you can find a hydration pack with an anatomic cut, it will be very comfortable for long wear. However, the most comfortable hydration packs tend to be lumbar packs with no straps.

Final Thoughts

If you’re planning on hitting the trails hard this season, you’re going to need something that can stand up to the test. Go for our best overall pick, the CamelBak Cloud Walker 18 Hydration Pack.

If you’re an occasional hiker or just prefer to be economical, you can’t go wrong with our best value selection, the CamelBak Classic Hydration Pack