Going into the woods for a quick hike or bike ride requires little preparation in terms of gear, but if you plan on spending hours outdoors, you need to adequately prepare yourself and your gear. You’ll need a way to carry your gear on the trail without bringing everything you own. Water bottles, food rations and survival gear can be heavy and take up unnecessary space in your bag.
Hydration packs are the answer to keeping yourself safe, healthy and hydrated when on the trail or working outside in the heat. The best hydration packs not only transport liquids, but also have secure pockets and compartments that can house essential items such as first-aid kids, food, EDC gear, extra clothes and more. In fact, a good hydration pack can ultimately replace a large, bulky hiking pack for shorter excursions.
Keep in mind, if you’re planning on replacing your hiking backpack with a hydration pack, you need to choose one that’s tough, rugged and has enough space for your essential EDC gear. We’ve taken the guesswork out of choosing the best hydration pack for outdoor excursions by testing and reviewing a sample of products currently on the market.
Here are the Best Hydration Packs You Can Buy
Best Overall Hydration Pack
SharkMouth Tactical MOLLE 900D Hydration Pack – 2 Liters
The SharkMouth Tactical 900D is one of the best hydration packs for hiking, camping, backpacking, biking and hunting due to the construction, features and craftsmanship that goes into making each unit. The SharkMouth is lightweight and easy to take on a quick hiking trip or for working in the yard. The compact design makes you forget you’re wearing it, but you also have enough room to carry a 2L water bladder plus extra gear such as food, supplies and an iPad or other electronic device.
This hydration pack is insulated and will keep your liquids cool for up to 4 hours. The bladder stays in place with two tapes on top of the unit to ensure it doesn’t sway side to side while hiking or running. There’s nothing worse than gear that won’t stay in place when you need it to. Leakproof, taste-free and odorless is the name of the game when choosing the best hydration pack. Outdoor enthusiasts take the SharkMouth tactical hydration pack hiking, running, camping, hunting, skiing, cycling and other short outdoor trips where you need hydration.
This hydration pack has one main pocket that is insulated and can hold a 2L water reservoir, plus 2 front pockets to store extra gear. The integrated MOLLE system gives you quick access to gear that you use often while hiking.
Best Tactical Hydration Pack
Source Razor 3L Low Profile Hydration Pack with Molle
The Source Razor Hydration Pack is loaded with tons of features that will make your outdoor excursion even better. If you use backpacking gear, body armor or even a military vest, this is a great little hydration pack that works well with your other gear. It’s super slim and fits nicely under rucks and you can use this hydration pack in tight spots. The Source Razor is not your ordinary hydration pack, but you can still use it for everyday use such as hiking, backpacking or camping.
One thing we especially like about this hydration pack is that you can easily attach it to a vest with the Molle system. It has more of a tactical hydration pack feel than other brands we tested and you can ride in a vehicle easier with this pack than other leading brands. It has a specific design that allows you to integrate with Molle ballistic vests, body armor and load bearing equipment. You get 6 rows of Molle that makes attaching to equipment easier, plus a velcro top for easy access to refill the bladder. The bag is insulated and keeps your liquid cool and refreshing. Not only is this hydration pack easy to use and refill, it’s also airtight and won’t leak on your gear.
The bladder itself holds up to 3 liters or 100 ounces of liquid and is specially designed to be integrated with a ballistic vest. Overall, we highly recommend this MOLLE hydration pack to those who want a tactical hydration pack that can be integrated into their other gear. Not everyone wants a hiking hydration pack because they have other gear they wear and this is the perfect addition to any gear bag.
Best Hiking Hydration Pack
CamelBak Rogue Hydration Pack 85oz
CamelBak has been making some of the best hiking hydration packs for years. The Rogue hydration pack is sleek and holds up to 2.5L that can be refilled fast with the flap on the front of the bag. It also gives you two external pockets for easy access to small items such as your phone, snacks, car keys or a shirt.
You get 20% more liquid per sip with the Crux which is important if you don’t have time to slow down. You no longer have to skip taking a quick sip when you want to make up time with the easy to use mouthpiece. It has a magnetic tube trap to secure and keep your straw where you need it. Searching for water in your pack can take time off your trip, but now you don’t have to slow down even a step to stay hydrated.
The CamelBak Rogue hydration pack even has a nice overflow storage compartment that’s stretchy and can fit a few small items or an extra layer when it gets warm. This hydration pack won’t make you sweat as it has a mesh backing and designed with lightweight materials for a perfect fit. This pack comes in multiple colors and configurations. We recommend the CamelBak Rogue because it comes from a reputable company that knows how to make the best hydration packs on the market.
Best Biking Hydration Pack
Osprey Packs Raptor 10 Hydration Backpack
While most hydration packs on this list were designed for walking, the Osprey Packs Raptor 10 was designed for biking. This doesn’t mean you can’t still use it while on foot, it just means that it was made for biking on rough trails and has comfort features. It holds up to 2.5L in the reservoir and has a magnetic sternum strap bite valve attachment so you can always find it and bite down for a sip of refreshing water. It even has an attachment for a bike helmet.
The Osprey Raptor hydration pack has a little extra room for extra gear and a roll-up tool pouch to help you organize your bike tools is included with the bag. It also has a blinker light attachment so people can see you when crossing the road. Most bike trails cross over roadways eventually and it’s good to have reflective patches and blinkers just in case.
Keep in mind, it may take a few uses to get rid of the original plastic taste that these sometimes get when you first use them. This is normal and usually goes away after 3 or more uses. We like this hydration pack by Osprey due to the fit, comfort and extras you get with it.
Most Versatile Hydration Pack
Marchway Tactical Molle Hydration Pack
The Marchway Tactical Molle Hydration Pack ensures that you will be prepared for anything by proving an adaptable pack that lets you customize your gear. The compact design fits nicely and doesn’t weigh you down so you can hit the trails as hard as you want. The 3 straps are adjustable and makes running easier while the mesh backing keeps you from overheating. This is one of the most comfortable hydration packs you will find. Made heavy duty 1000 Denier nylon, this bag is water repellent which means it can handle splashes and occasional rain. The buckles are tough and rugged and won’t break on the trail and the webbing is military grade and will last.
The Marchway hydration pack can store 3L of liquids to keep you hydrated while on the move and a 360 degree rotatable mouthpiece so you can bite and go. This is one of the easiest hydration packs to drink from and is perfect for hiking, camping, mountaineering, snowboarding, skiing, kayaking, canoeing and biking. The main pocket holds the 3L water reservoir and you can store extra gear in the 2 front pockets. Also, the MOLLE system gives you even more space to attach gear. Overall, this is one of the best hydration packs for day hikes and other outdoor activities.
Best Mountain Biking Hydration Pack
M.U.L.E. Mountain Biking Hydration Pack
The M.U.L.E. hydration pack is perfect for mountain biking and other adventurous outdoor activities. Specifically designed for comfort and stability, the M.U.L.E. hydration pack has tons of features. We like the stability belt as it helps keep your bag in place. Trails can be rough, so it’s important to keep your gear secured. It also has an adjustable sternum strap to give you the best fit possible. Everyone is made different, so it’s nearly impossible to design a hydration pack that fits everyone perfectly. This bag comes about as close to a perfect fit as you can get. The ventilated harness gives you extra breathability and it has a secure phone pocket so you don’t have items jostling around in your pant pockets. If you live in a warm climate, you will appreciate the air director back panel that channels the air flow to keep you from overheating or sweating through your shirt.
Benefits of Using Hydration Packs
There are multiple benefits to carrying a hydration pack on your next outdoor adventure.
Easy Way to Carry Water
You need a lot of water during outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, sports and biking. Carrying multiple water bottles can take up essential room in your pack and isn’t the best way to transport water. Plus, water bottles often end up on the trail. Hydration packs offer an easy and efficient way to keep you hydrated without searching through your bag. Essentially, hydration packs allow you to keep moving while you drink water versus stopping every hour to grab a water bottle.
Replace Large, Bulky Hiking Packs
You don’t always need a large hiking pack, especially for day trips or short excursions. The main thing you need while hiking is water and it doesn’t make sense to strap on a huge pack just to carry a few water bottles. The best hydration packs not only carry a few liters of water, but also have enough pockets and compartments to stash extra gear and food. You can usually replace your big, bulky hiking bag with a smaller and more efficient hydration pack. You don’t need to carry a ton of gear with you all the time and hydration packs allow you to carry the essentials when you’re on the trail for a few hours.
Perfect for Mountain Biking
You normally don’t need a lot of gear when mountain biking. However, you need water and plenty of it. Mountain biking hydration packs allow you to carry plenty of water and a few bike tools. They’re also designed specifically for mountain biking and fit snug whereas a larger backpack may move around while you pedal rough trails.
Better for the Environment
We all need water when working or playing outside. Water bottles are easily dropped on trails by mistake. Hydration packs cut down on the amount of disposable plastic that enters the outdoors.