Whether you’re hitting the trails on your mountain bike or hiking up a storm out in the woods, staying hydrated hands-free is pretty key, so we’ve rounded up a list of the best hydration packs to help make it happen.
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You’ll start to see a few of the same names pop up, namely sipping superstars Osprey and Camelbak, and that’s with good reason, but be sure not to dismiss the lesser-known outdoor brands. The main thing that matters when choosing a hydration pack is whether it suits your needs for cargo, budget, fluid capacity and comfort.
If you’re going far afield, a pack with a decent capacity for snacks and other outdoorsy accoutrements is a must, as is a large bladder (the pack, that is, not you). If you’re sticking to your home patch, you can afford to go for a smaller model.
Either way, we’ve listed all the relevant specs alongside our picks to help you find the best one for your particular adventuring habits.
The best hydration pack is easy to fill and handle, comfy to wear, and fulfil the duties of a regular day sack – and what luck, the Osprey Raptor 14 does it all.
With its semi-rigid water reservoir, zip-around compartment, over-shoulder guide and magnetised sternum strap, reviewers found this the easiest reservoir system to remove, fill and use of any they’d tested.
Add to that good-sized accessible pockets, great ventilation and surprising features like an integrated tool wrap and work mat concealed in the bottom of the pack, and you have our best bag all round.
The Camelbak Mule LR really has your...well, back. A twist on the original Mule, this newer incarnation is specifically engineered to support and cushion the back without getting hot and sticky, thanks to a lumbar design that’s said to offer more stability during hard downhills and stay breathable at the same time.
Even if you load it up, the low centre of gravity and slim profile means it doesn’t get in the way, which is pretty good going when helmet hooks, tool roll, and more pockets than we can mention all feature.
When you’re racing towards your personal best, you need all the help you can get, so go for a super lightweight bag that won’t hold you back. This Evoc CC 10-litre backpack may be just the ticket, with its super slender profile, minimal weight, and excellent back ventilation courtesy of the Air Pad system.
It packs in more than you’d suspect though, with a swing-opening tool compartment (for when that sprint inevitably ends in disaster), and superbly adjustable shoulder straps.
If your trips vary wildly from nipping to the corner shop to Tour de France levels of exertion, you might have a hard time knowing whether to go for a bigger or smaller pack.
This Deuter Compact backpack offers the best of both worlds for the indecisive. It’s not over-large or overbearing for short day trips, but when the time comes you can extend the main compartment for extra capacity, and adorn yourself with accessories thanks to the bike pump sleeve, light tube loops, helmet flaps and more.
While we’re sure not all backpacks are designed to be aggressively masculine, it can sometimes feel that way when regular daysacks dig in where we’d really rather they didn’t.
This women’s hydration pack, by contrast, is designed specifically for two-wheeling ladies, with comfortable, well-fitting chest straps and BioStretch hip belt and harness.
Its asymmetric zip means easy access to the bladder for refills, and a magnetised strap and bite valve mean the hose won’t go a-wandering, so you can concentrate on beating your PB. Cheeringly, a women specific fit doesn’t mean a choice of pink or pink, either. Wins all round.
At a mere 190 grams, the Camelbak Classic is absurdly light. While certainly one for shorter, less demanding rides, it does the job perfectly thanks to a series of haste-making features like external fill (courtesy of a quick-release flap) and a single small zip pocket to keep valuables within easy reach, plus a super duper lightweight mesh construction that won’t slow you down.
Should you need a bit more capacity, you can always look to the included overflow storage bungee to lash on the essentials.