A hydration pack can be an athlete's best friend. If you exercise for more than an hour, exercise in hot conditions or in locations with limited access to refills or drinking fountains, a large capacity hydration pack can ensure you stay properly hydrated no matter where your workout takes you.
Hydration packs are perfect for mountain bikers, hikers, runners, skiers, backpackers, cyclists, walkers or anyone who needs plenty of water on the go. Here are a few top picks in hydration packs and water carriers for athletes.
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Camelbak was the first hydration pack system I ever used. It was a simple large capacity bladder that fit into an insulated sleeve with some small arm straps. It worked, but wasn't too fancy. Today, Camelbak has a line of hydration pack systems in more sizes, colors and sport-specific models than I can count.
I prefer the M.U.L.E. or Day Star for most of my activities, but with so many options, this could change any day.
The Nathan Race Hydration Vest is the ideal hydration system for endurance or adventure racers who need water on the run (two-liter capacity), but want a few easily accessible pockets for energy food, sunglasses, maps, keys or cash. Larger zippered back pockets carry hats & gloves, an extra layer of clothing or other gear.
The North Face has a reputation for designing serious outdoor and mountaineering gear and their hydration packs don't disappoint. The Enduro Boa Backpack is perfect for those doing a lot of trail running or scrambling over tough terrain. It has an internal tightening system to restrain the water bladder as you drink, and it fits closely with a comfortable chest strap and a dial you can turn to cinch the pack down for a great, close fit that won't bounce around like the standard backpack style of hydration pack.
Osprey is known for making great backpacks, and their Osprey Hydraulics hydration packs are made with the same high standards. The packs are designed with the athlete in mind and come in small to large capacity.
The Verve and Raptor designs are sleek, close-fitting, packs made of mountain biking, trail running or day hiking. It has a simple bungee lacing system on the front, a small fabric pocket for sunglasses, and a two-liter water reservoir.
The Mantra style is a large capacity pack designed to carry more gear and more water.
Fuel Belt made the runner's hydration belt famous and the newer version is lighter and more comfortable. The belt fits easily with a Velcro strap and is ventilated for comfort and breathability. Four 8 oz bottles are evenly distributed so you can carry water or sports drinks in any combination. A small detachable race pocket holds your ID, energy gels, cash, keys, or the like.
The Dakine Nomad is designed for cyclists but it works perfectly well for day hikes as well. A large capacity, big reservoir opening is easy to fill and close, and best of all, clean.
The manufacture description of features includes: "Dakine Nomad Pack has room to carry extra layers as well as straps to efficiently carry your xc helmet and armor. A padded MP3 pocket allows you to rock your jams with out crushing your music player. The molded back straps keep you comfortable riding all day and the 100oz/3L reservoir allows you to drink on the go and stay hydrated. The fleece pockets protect your lenses when your sunglasses are not in use."