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Best Overall: Osprey Escapist 32 Daypack at Amazon "The pack won’t shift or move as you do, so your load will stay sturdy and structured on whatever terrain you are conquering."
Best Men's: Osprey Raptor 10 at Amazon "The pack is extremely comfortable with a ventilated back panel and shoulder straps."
Best Women's: Platypus Siouxon Women's Hydration Pack at Amazon "The main compartment has smaller organizational pockets for tools, headlamps and everything else you need to bring."
Best for Running: Nathan HPL 020 Vest at Amazon "The vest weighs just 14.6 ounces and holds six liters of storage, including a two-liter bladder."
Best Lightweight: CamelBack Classic Hydration Pack at Amazon "Features include a mesh harness and back panel to stay cool and sweat free."
Best for Insulation: CamelBack Zoid Ski Hydration Pack at Amazon "Slim enough to fit comfortably on your back while riding the chair."
Best for the Backcountry: Dakine Heli Pro Backpack at Amazon "A polyester, 20-liter pack that can carry a snowboard vertically or skis both A-frame carry or dual-diagonal."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Osprey Escapist 32 Daypack
A top seller for Osprey, the 210-denier nylon Escapist 32-liter daypack is best used for hiking or biking with an external hydration sleeve for easy refills. With the BioStretch harness and hipbelt, the pack won’t shift or move as you do, so your load will stay sturdy and structured on whatever terrain you are conquering. Features include an external non-scratch pocket for sunglasses, a helmet and blinker light attachment, a front organization pocket, a stretchy mesh front pocket to stash coats when shedding layers, an integrated rain cover and a harness pocket to hold your phone. The pack feels best when loaded with 15 to 31 pounds of weight and is 20 x 13 x 12 inches (for a medium/large size). Colors include black, red, and bright blue.
Best Men’s: Osprey Raptor 10
Ideal for day hikes or mountain biking, the Osprey Raptor is a 10-liter pack made from a durably 210-denier nylon. The pack has a lid-lock attachment for helmets, as well as a blinker light attachment, plus a removable rollout tool pouch for bike tools or your hiking necessities that need to be easily accessed. Overall, the pack is extremely comfortable with a ventilated back panel and shoulder straps, plus a sturdy structure with an internal sleeve for a three-liter bladder. The pack has side compression straps, as well as external gear carrying straps for extra layers or trekking poles. Colors available include black, blue and red. The pack’s dimensions are 20 x 9 x 7 inches.
Best Women’s: Platypus Siouxon Women's Hydration Pack
Made specifically for women, the Platypus Siouxon Hydration pack is filled with compartments and clips to hold everything you need for a mountain bike ride or a day hike. Even though the pack is only 10 liters, it still uses a lightweight wire frame to provide plenty of structure and ventilation. It holds a three-liter bladder in place with reservoir suspension hooks and has a front stash pocket that can hold a helmet or jackets and snacks. The main compartment has smaller organizational pockets for tools, headlamps and everything else you need to bring—the pack might appear small, but can really hold everything needed for a long hike. Other features include an integrated rainfly, waist belt pockets for chapstick and granola bars, and a fleece-lined pocket for your sunglasses. The pack is 17 x 9 x 7 inches and is available in black, teal and plum.
Best for Running: Nathan HPL 020 Vest
On a long run or your next race day, a bouncing hip belt can hinder your performance. With the Nathan HPL 020 Vest, runners get a lightweight vest that will stay put throughout the entire run because of the stabilizing harness. The vest weighs just 14.6 ounces and holds six liters of storage, including a two-liter bladder. There are two front stretch mesh pockets and two zippered pockets on the back of the pack to hold fuel, keys and your phone.
Best Lightweight: CamelBak Classic Hydration Pack
On a short hike, you don't want to carry a bunch of extra weight, but you don’t want to get dehydrated either. With the CamelBak Classic, hikers can carry two liters of water and still have space for a layer, snacks and a small first aid kit. Features include a mesh harness and back panel to stay cool and sweat free, as well as a handle on the bladder for easy refills. The pack weighs 14 ounces, and is 15 x 8.5 x 4.5 inches. Color options include black, bright blue, yellow and red.
Best for Insulation: CamelBak Zoid Ski Hydration Pack
If you are looking to carry some water for a fresh powder day or a snowshoe hike, the CamelBak Zoid Ski Hydration Pack is perfect. The two-liter pack is slim enough to fit comfortably on your back while riding the chair and doesn’t have any external straps that could get caught on trees. The drinking tube is insulated and zips into the shoulder harness, so you’ll still be able to sip when temperatures dip below freezing. Also on the pack are two small pockets to store your keys, phone and a sandwich. The pack is 17 x 8.5 x 3 inches and comes in black, red and blue.
Best for the Backcountry: Dakine Heli Pro Backpack
When hitting the backcountry, skiers and snowboarders need plenty of water as they skin up, but also need the storage to hold all of their gear and tools, plus a pack that can carry their skis or board. With the Dakine Heli Pro Backpack, backcountry pursuits are comfortable and sturdy with a polyester, 20-liter pack that can carry a snowboard vertically or skis both A-frame carry or dual-diagonal. Features include a fleece-lined pocket for goggles, a separate pocket for snow tools and shovel, plus a sternum strap with an attached rescue whistle. The bladder fits in the back panel/laptop sleeve. The pack is 21 x 12 x 8 inches. Colors include burnt rose, black, purple and gray.
What to Look for in a Hydration Pack
Size You don’t want to carry more water than you need (it’s heavy!) and you also don’t want to carry less. Without a full water bladder, the pack might not fit how it ought to. Look for a pack that holds the right amount of water for your needs.
Activity Go for a pack that fits the activity you’re doing. Running, for example, requires a different pack than the one you’ll use for hiking because a bouncing hip belt is no fun for your gait. Likewise, on the trail, you’ll need more water—a weight that’s offset by a hip belt.
Cost Keep an eye on the price tag when choosing your hydration pack. It might be worth it to pay a bit more for features that you like, and it’s definitely worth it to pay more to find one that fits your body (chafing or tugging during any activity is never fun).