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The 4 Best Hydration Packs of 2018

The key to peak performance is hydration.

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You set out on your big long run in advance of marathon training season in your tried and true sneakers, most comfortable shorts and trusty fitness tracker. The first six miles pass in the blink of an eye, and then all of a sudden it’s been an hour, and you’re parched. You begin to look for a water fountain along the way, and soon another mile passes without any water in sight. It’s about time for you to try out that fancy energy food you purchased, so you figure that will make the water issue disappear. As soon as it hits your taste buds, you realize what a mistake that was. It’s sticky, and it feels like you’re trying to chew a caramel and talk at the same time. You frantically start looking for the nearest convenience store to purchase a bottle of water, run to it and proceed to down the entire 16-ounce bottle of water. While a taste of normalcy returns to your tongue, now that you’ve stopped, the rest of your body starts to rebel; you know you’ll be sore tomorrow. You already can feel your muscles begin to cramp up.

If you start running with a hydration pack now, you’re pretty much eliminating the risk of any of the above from happening to you. While it’s not a guarantee, these four packs are sure to improve your long runs exponentially.

Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0

When ultrarunner Scott Jurek puts his name on something, you know it’s been tested and thoroughly used. The Appalachian Trail FKT (fastest known time) record holder crushed 50 miles a day to beat the record. Ultimate Direction created this vest in partnership with him, making sure to include enough pockets for snacks and plenty of water. The pockets are phone compatible, so you can stop and take photos, and if you’re hitting the trails, the on-the-go trekking pole holders are a unique addition.

Buy Now: $62+

Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack

Recommended by running groups everywhere, this Salomon vest was a favorite of ours when we took to the trails in the Northeast Kingdom. Whether we were riding mountain bikes or running through the back hills — and paths — of our temporary headquarters, this running vest did its job beautifully. The slim-cut eliminates any bulkiness, and the quick-drying fabric is critical for hot weather days. While the straps look confusing, they’re simple to tighten. Combine all of that with a 1.5-liter bladder, and two soft flasks (16 ounces each) and your hydration needs are complete.

Buy Now: $105+

Nathan VaporAir Hydration Pack

This vest is comfortable and roomy with five liters of storage and breathable shoulder straps. It rides high on your back so you don’t have to worry about bounce or chafing. The vest is lightweight and spotted with pockets so that you can fit your phone, water bottles, credit cards and keys in individual spaces.

Buy Now: $75+

CamelBak Octane 10

Camelbak is to water storage what peanut butter is to jelly. The two go hand in hand and work together very nicely. This neon green backpack has a stuff sack pocket perfect for storing a rain jacket in the event of any summer storms. The straps compress and hug your body to eliminate any roughness. And, there’s a space to hold trekking poles in case you decide to go hiking instead of trail running.

Buy Now: $100

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