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Quench Your Thirst While Training with the Best Running Hydration Vests

Don't let your mouth (or performance) dry up mid-route; keep water handy with these impressive accessories.

collage of three hydration packs
Camelbak, Salomon, Nathan

No matter your pace, distance or discipline, running can be intense. All that movement and mileage can leave you plenty thirsty, especially when taking your strides under clear skies and sunshine. But unlike toting your water bottle from station to station in the confines of a training center, carrying water with you from starting line to finish line can require a little more planning.

To fill this vital need along your routes, running hydration vests can be a great accessory. These wearable packs can allow you to carry liters of water as well as other essentials, all while keeping your hands free. The best silhouettes also keep your gear and fuel close to your frame, eliminating any compromises to comfort or unwanted sloshing as you stride through your sessions.

A number of brands offer running hydration vest profiles, each with their own perks, capacities and unique stylings across a range of price points. To help you kick dehydration to the curb this season, we've run down the best silhouettes for a slew of running needs and purposes.

A Quick Note on Mid-Run Hydration

Staying well hydrated is one of the most important aspects to consider when training. After all, water is one of the keys to sustaining life, so keeping your frame fueled properly should always be top of mind. But how much water should you be ingesting as you pace along your chosen pathways?

To determine how much water you should be bringing with you on a run, consider how long you intend to train. A good rule of thumb is to pack 5–10 fluid ounces for every 15–20 minutes you plan to be on the road or trail. For example, a 60-minute jaunt should require anywhere between 15–40 fl. oz. — roughly 0.4–1.2 liters. When in the throws of a run, drink to thirst, but for longer excursions, make sure you're taking a sip at those 15–20-minute increments to keep your body as fueled and ready as possible for the miles ahead.

How We Tested

To get the full pour on the best running hydration vests available today, I took to my normal routes and trailways with a number of the below picks strapped across my back and frame (one at a time, naturally). Distances and paces were changed periodically to let each pack showcase its strengths and weaknesses in terms of comfort, security and (of course) hydration capabilities.

I also carried a number of essentials with these vests, ranging from my smartphone and wallet to rain jackets, extra socks, a running hat and more to get a good scope of each silhouette's packing prowess. While fit was not a major issue for me in these test runs, I did tighten and expand each vest to their full capacities as well to note how adjustable each profile would be for other body types.

collage of running hydration vests
Ben Emminger

Now, let's raise our bottles and reservoirs as we get into the best hydration vests for a wide array of running needs.

Our Top Picks

Salomon Sense Pro 10


Salomon Sense Pro 10


  • Multiple storage pockets for a number of running essentials

  • Can feel the hard base of the flasks through the vests at times
  • Weight: 5.82 oz.
  • Hydration: Soft Flasks (2)
  • Volume: 10L

    Thanks to a sleek, lightweight frame that easily adjusts to accommodate your layered tops, the Sense Pro 10 is a fantastic option for on-the-run hydration. I appreciated the ample storage capabilities across this profile, and the included zippers also help shore up the pockets and keep everything well-secured.

    In terms of housing hydration, I enjoyed the simplicity of the two 500mL Speed soft flasks that sit across the chest. If you’re taking on longer routes, I also had no issues toting a third flask in the back pass-through pocket. These vessels gave plenty of flow for refueling purposes and the hard base made sliding them into position a breeze. I did feel this hard component poking through the vest and into my chest at times, especially when the front pockets were well packed, but it wasn’t too uncomfortable to write off this otherwise fantastic vest option.

    Nathan Pinnacle 12L


    Nathan Pinnacle 12L


    • Tapered back panels help wick away moisture, preventing unwanted chafing

    • Magnetic hose clasp is only available on the righthand side
    • Weight: 12.5 oz. (with reservoir)
    • Hydration: 1.6L Reservoir
    • Storage Capacity: 12L

      If you’re looking for comfort, look no further than this vest option from Nathan Sports. The Pinnacle 12L showcases an updated silhouette that sits longer in the back to help disperse weight easier when loaded down. This was a welcome feature on some lengthy trail runs that would’ve otherwise left my back in desperate need of a cold plunge or massage session. Plus, the tapered back panels also create a chimney wicking effect, according to the brand, which helps wick moisture up and out of your setup to help lessen chafing and blister development.

      The 1.6L hourglass bladder included with the Pinnacle 12 was also easy to fill and I had no issues with sloshing or jostling, even when my terrain became more technical. I do wish, though, that Nathan would offer two magnetic hose clasps at each side of this hydration vest. This feature kept the hose and nozzle out of the way in training, but it’s only available on the righthand size with no way to move it over. I understand this may not be an issue for some, but as someone that typically keeps their reservoir hose on their left side, it took some getting used to.

      Camelbak Trail Run Vest

      Camelbak Trail Run Vest

      Camelbak Trail Run Vest


      • Easy front and side adjustments allow for a truly personalized fit

      • Just one zippered front pocket
      • Weight: 8 oz.
      • Hydration: Soft Flask (2)
      • Storage Capacity: 6L

        While this Camelbak doesn’t feature the brand’s traditional reservoir hydration style (don’t fret, it’s still capable of housing one), I still appreciate this Trail Run Vest for it’s simple features and affordable price point. The 3D Vent Mesh construction allows for a good bit of airflow, perfect for those hot days where mid-run hydration is a must. Additionally, the 6L storage capacity is just the right amount to house my essentials without feeling like I’m underutilizing the storage components of the vest itself. There is one lone front zippered pocket, however, so it’s best to save this compartment for gear you need to keep secured.

        Adjusting the Trail Run Vest is also plenty approachable thanks to its quick toggle clasps along the chest and sides. This is both a nice touch and a necessity, as this Camelbak profile only comes in one size, so the room for adjustment is needed to fit a slew of body types and comfort levels.

        Nathan VaporAir Lite 4L


        Nathan VaporAir Lite 4L


        • Hook and loop panels at the lumbar allow for even more fine-tuned fits

        • More gear-enthused athletes may feel handcuffed by the 4L storage space
        • Weight: 11.49 oz. (with reservoir)
        • Hydration: 2L Reservoir
        • Storage Capacity: 4L

          The VaporAir Lite from Nathan keeps things, well, light through its well-executed mesh straps at the shoulders and sides. This helped me keep that cool, breathable fit on a number of runs while also eliminating any unwanted baggage or heft. Additionally, this hydration vest features hook and loop adjustments along the inside of the profile, which made finding that ideal sternum fit plenty approachable. There’s also an added zest of comfort at the seams, which feel uber soft to the touch and eliminate any chances of rough rubbing when out and about.

          While there are "lighter" hydration vests listed in this roundup, the VaporAir Lite earns this title due to its overall weight while housing a full reservoir. Other silhouettes may feel lighter on the body, but fail to provide as much hydration capacity. Think of this Nathan profile as the perfect package for athletes wanting light equipment and plenty to drink along the way.

          Unfortunately, though, to keep that featherweight aesthetic, this hydration vest is only available in 4L profiles. While this was enough room for me to carry my essentials, I could see where more gear-focused athletes may want more storage. Given these space limitations, this may be best for shorter treks where you won’t need an extra rain jacket, trekking poles or other long-distance essentials.

          Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance 3L Vest


          Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance 3L Vest


          • Low profile construction keeps the pack and your essentials close to the body for less jostling during activity

          • Not as many pockets and storage options as others in this guide
          • Weight: 6.2 oz.
          • Hydration: Soft Flask (2)
          • Storage Capacity: 3L

            If you’re brand-new to training with a hydration vest, odds are you won’t need the technical storage and performance-based builds of other profiles quite yet. To get your feet (and mouth) wet with this setup, I recommend the Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance 3L Vest. I appreciated its close-to-body fit, which kept both soft flasks and all stored essentials close to my frame. Plus, the simple adjustment cords across the chest are easy to engage and alter with just the pull of a bungee.

            The 200-denier micro mesh body was also a pleasant surprise during runs, as the fabric allowed for efficient ventilation while also standing up to the dirt and grime faced on some less-than-ideal tramways. Is this the most expansive hydration vest out there? No. Can it get the job done? Absolutely.

            Black Diamond Distance 4


            Black Diamond Distance 4


            • Quick-drying material does a good job of keeping your physique sweat-free

            • Limited size range may not fitter larger or more petite athletes
            • Weight: 7 oz.
            • Hydration: Soft Flask (2)
            • Storage Capacity: 4L

              For your normal workouts and routes, you’ll want a vest that’s lightweight with enough storage for essentials while still being able to stand up to daily wear. Across multiple training sessions and distances, I was thoroughly pleased with the Distance 4 from Black Diamond. As I began to sweat at the end of my runs, I never worried about compromised fits thanks to the material’s quick-drying nature. Additionally, the two-flask setup sat nicely within reach for quick replenishment. The Distance 4 is also available in brighter colorways that ramp up your visibility, perfect for when your afternoon jogs pace later into the evenings.

              It should be noted, though, that this Black Diamond silhouette comes in just three sizes ranging from small to large. While most athletes should be able to fit within this range, larger or smaller individuals may find the restricted sizing too loose or constricting for effective use. It would be nice if the brand utilized “extra” sizes in future offerings, but for now, the selection is somewhat limited.

              Salomon ADV Skin 12


              Salomon ADV Skin 12


              • Large back pocket is barely noticeable when not in use

              • Can run warm on particularly hot outings
              • Weight: 10.34 oz.
              • Hydration: Soft Flask (2)
              • Storage Capacity: 12L

                When getting your miles in through the hills and valleys, you’re at the mercy of what you packed on your person, and there’s slim chance your route will pass a nearby convenience store or bodega if you’re looking to soothe your parched frame. To keep your adventurous discipline full of fuel, I recommend the ADV Skin 12 from Salomon. This vest silhouette features two soft flask bottles at the chest and also comes equipped with an insulated sleeve to keep your bladder nice and chilled if you’re more of the reservoir enthusiast. I also felt this vest fit nicely against the chest and kept the nozzles in-place for quick, on-the-go sips during training.

                There’s also plenty of storage space across this larger profile, including an expansive back pocket that can house anything from a warming blanket, to spare jacket, extra flasks and more. Also, when not in use, this compartment stays close to the body so there’s no parachute effect during your runs. I do recommend opting for a lighter colorway when it comes to the ADV Skin 12, though. I wore this accessory on a few clear, hot days and did notice an unpredicted uptick in body heat with the all black silhouette.

                The North Face Summit Series Race Day Vest 8


                The North Face Summit Series Race Day Vest 8


                • Bounce-free design keeps everything compact and ready for the starting line

                • Size chart can be confusing with less concise guidance
                • Weight: 7 oz.
                • Hydration: Soft Flask (2)
                • Storage Capacity: 8L

                  Have an upcoming marathon or 5k, yet don’t want to fuss with those flimsy cups at the hydration tables along the course? Keep your own beverages at the ready with this sleek, lightweight profile from The North Face. I appreciate how minimalist this Summit Series Run Race Day Vest is across its silhouette, giving off that lightweight, fast vibe you desire when aiming for the finish line. Plus, the included soft flasks sit within reach for easy sipping, which can make for less time at the water table and more time chasing down PRs.

                  There is a bit of a guessing game, however, when it comes to sizing this hydration vest correctly. The included size guide gives measurements for the hip belt, adjustable torso and fixed torso, all in relation to a different size range than what the vest comes in. This does little in confirming which option to choose at purchase, especially if you’re in-between sizes normally. Athletes have stated this vest can run large, so it may be best to size down at least one size in order to get a secure, body-hugging fit.

                  Other Good Options

                  Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 6.0


                  Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 6.0


                  • Breathable mesh is strong enough to tackle even the most demanding sessions

                  • Less front storage options than others on this list
                  • Weight: 8.11 oz.
                  • Hydration: Soft Flask (2)
                  • Storage Capacity: 10.3L

                    Because of their purpose of housing life-sustaining hydration, running vests need to be able to withstand the normal wear and tear associated with training. Well, the Ultra Vest 6.0 from Ultimate Direction can take all that abuse and then some thanks to a durable silicone coating that helps keep the entire profile sturdy, comfortable and downright tough. Despite this stronger physique, this hydration vest is still lightweight and offers breathability in key zones to eliminate moisture pooling during movement. I also appreciate the ample storage space, making this a great option for longer treks or multi-day excursions.

                    All these storage benefits are kept in the rear, though, as the front compartments include just two side pouches and one zippered pocket for your smartphone. As a result, you may need to keep some essentials in other areas, which may call for a quick stop and unpacking when out and about.

                    Satisfy Justice Cordura 5L


                    Satisfy Justice Cordura 5L


                    • 5L storage volume grants just the right amount of space for essentials

                    • Not compatible with bladders
                    • Weight: N/A
                    • Hydration: Soft Flask (2)
                    • Storage Capacity: 5L

                      If there’s one brand that can turn a running hydration vest into a piece of high fashion, it’s Satisfy. For this Justice Cordura 5L silhouette, the brand utilizes Justice Multi-Stretch Tech-Silk, sleek text prints, aesthetically-pleasing adjustable cords and more to create a vest that’s practical, comfortable and plenty posh. I appreciate the included eight pockets across this frame that make filling the 5L capacity more feasible, and the included 500mL Hydro Flask bottles provide plenty of fuel for even the toughest runs.

                      Of course, there’s some drawbacks to this stylish profile, namely in its exclusive hydration style. Unlike other vests opting for a flask setup, there’s no room to opt for a hose and reservoir if you’re a bigger fan of the back-kept bladder. It’s a surprising emittance, especially since this is one of, if not the, most expensive running hydration vest you’re likely to find on the market. Oh well, I guess it costs a pretty penny to look this good, and when you take to the trails and roadways with this vest option, you’re sure to see a boost in not just performance but street cred as well.

                      Nathan Limitless 6L Sling


                      Nathan Limitless 6 Liter Sling


                      • Large side zippers provide easy access to the reservoir and main storage pocket

                      • Can still experience some jostling and bounce, despite the secondary strap
                      • Weight: 9 0z. (with flask)
                      • Hydration: 25 oz. Flask and Hose
                      • Storage Capacity: 6L

                        As much as I love the convenience and performance notes of running hydration vests, admittedly, the training-ready silhouettes don’t translate well to normal wear. Enter the Limitless Run Sling 6L from Nathan. This crossbody bag looks more like a compact messenger bag than a vest, yet still houses a convenient 25-ounce flask for efficient sipping when strolling through your day. I’ve taken this on a few walks and active recovery sessions and found the storage features and stylings translate well to less intense endeavors.

                        As far as running with this run sling, though, that modality leaves a little to be desired. Because of the more pronounced back pocket, you can experience a good bit of bounce and jostling during typical run paces, especially when packed full. Nathan does try and combat this with an included secondary strap, but even when engaged I still felt a constant tapping across my back during landings and takeoffs. I’d save this silhouette for those non-training days where you still want to hit the trails and routes, but just for a quick stroll with less emphasis on time or breaking a sweat.

                        What to Look for in a Hydration Vest

                        Hydration Method

                        One of the first things of note when choosing a worthwhile hydration vest is which style of water storage you'd prefer. Reservoirs or bladders sit in-between the shoulder blades and utilize a hose system to allow for hands-free sipping when on the go. Flasks or bottles, on the other hand, often feature smaller capacities and sit at the front of the vest.

                        In comparison to one another, reservoirs are capable of holding more water, making them great for longer training sessions, but the added liquid can lead to added weight across the frame. Bottles are simpler to fill pre-run, but limit your drinking stock, and thus, your ability to remain well-hydrated through longer runs. There's no right or wrong answer with either option, so it's best to take your personal preference and training needs into consideration when deciding on one or the other.

                        Storage Capacities

                        In addition to housing your training-focused fuel, running hydration vests can also be worthwhile vessels for keeping your gear well-secured from your first mile to your last. This is accomplished through spacious compartments and well-executed pockets, but some silhouettes are more expansive and accommodating than others. Be sure to look for a profile that's capable of housing all your required gear in a comfortable fashion.

                        Pockets and Organization

                        Speaking of storage, it helps to look for a hydration vest that includes a variety of pocket profiles, i.e., builds that include a zipper or cinched opening that allows for heightened gear security. Oftentimes, you'll be storing your phone, keys, wallet or other must-haves in these compartments for quicker access when out and about, and the last thing you'll want to realize post-run is that your phone took a tumble out of its storage a few miles back. While some silhouettes feature multiple zippered pockets for added convenience, it's recommended that your chosen hydration vest houses at least one ultra-secure compartment for these needs.


                        There's no sense in training with equipment that's ill-fitting or uncomfortable, and hydration vests definitely follow this notion. When looking for a proper hydration setup, be on the lookout for profiles featuring some form of breathable material along the back panels and shoulders. This can help keep sweat pools from forming at these contact areas, eliminating any chances of irritating chafing or blisters.

                        A lightweight silhouette is also desirable from a comfort perspective, as this can help keep the load more manageable across your upper body regardless of your day's intended mileage. Yes, your legs are bound to be sore post-run, but that's no excuse to let your body also get in on the shared aches and pains.

                        Lastly, running hydration vests are designed to provide a close-to-body, snug fit to eliminate any jostling or sloshing through your running gait. This tightness can be taken too far, though, if you have an ill-fitting profile. Make sure your vest of choice offers some form adjustability at the chest and sides, giving you the chance to fine-tune your setup for a feel that's nonintrusive yet efficient at the same time.

                        Additional Features

                        When it comes to additional features, they all depend on your typical running environment and practice. If you frequently take to the hills and mountains for multi-mile treks, it may be wise to opt for a profile featuring storage capacity for trekking poles. Take your miles in the late afternoons or evenings? Try and find a silhouette with reflective notes for heightened visibility. These add-ons aren't necessary for the average user, though, so it's fine to forgo these features if your training style doesn't demand their presence.

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