Top Packs for Hydration – Guide & Comparison
If you’re searching for the best hydration pack for your outdoor adventures but there are too many options out there, and you fear you won’t be able to make the right choice, we’re here to help. We’ve looked at plenty of models and chose the ones that had a sturdy construction, an adequate hydration system, as well as other features that make them excellent for bike riders of all kinds. The first model that caught our attention is the CamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Biking Hydration Pack. Coming from a brand that needs no introduction, this pack has a 100-ounce bladder so you get enough water for an entire day, 540 cubic inches of extra storage space for other essentials, a ventilated back design, as well as 5 exterior pockets for easy access. In case this product is out of stock, you might also want to consider the Vibrelli Hydration Pack & 2L Hydration Water Bladder as a second choice.
This is the improved design of the already-legendary M.U.L.E. It has a large capacity, with a 100-ounce bladder and 540 cubic inches of extra space so you can take tools, clothes, food, and other things you might need for a ride.
The Crux bladder cap is sometimes difficult to seal, which can cause leaks if not tightened correctly.
If you’re looking for a hydration pack from a reputable brand, that gives you all the storage space you need while staying lightweight and comfortable, this is it. It can carry plenty of water and many other items.
With this model, you can take plenty of water on your rides but also pack other things such as repair tools, spare tubes, snacks, mobile phones, etc. The materials it is made of are sturdy. The high-flow bite valve is easy to use.
The hose clip might swivel during a ride and you’ll need to re-adjust it. The waist strap is a bit short.
This hydration backpack from Vibrelli is well-made and it comes at a more than reasonable price. You can put up to 67 ounces of water and it won’t taste bad, and you also get pockets to take other items with you.
Also To Consider
It is made of durable materials such as 900D polyester and comes with many exterior but also interior pockets. The bladder is made of BPA-free EVA material so water won’t taste funny. The bladder can hold 67 ounces of water.
The bite valve might let some air get in, in which case you’ll need to close it about halfway.
With this lightweight model, you get to carry enough water for most one-day trips and you can also take lots of other essential items with you. The tactical design includes the MOLLE system and plenty of pockets.
10 Best Hydration Packs (Updated Reviews) in 2020
Finding an affordable hydration pack that has a sturdy construction, an adequate hydration system, enough storage space, and that’s also comfortable might be tough nowadays. The good part is that you won’t have to read loads of hydration pack reviews to make the right choice, as we’ve gathered the most popular models below. So take a look and pick your favorite!
- 1. CamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Biking Hydration Pack
- 2. Vibrelli Hydration Pack & 2L Hydration Water Bladder
- 3. SHARKMOUTH Tactical MOLLE Hydration Pack
- 4. CamelBak HydroBak Hydration Pack 50 oz
- 5. Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack
- 6. G4Free Military Hydration Pack with 3L Upgraded Bladder
- 7. CamelBak Chase Hydration Bike Vest 50 oz
- 8. Osprey Packs Raptor 14 Men’s Bike Hydration Backpack
- 9. Osprey Packs Raven 10 Women’s Bike Hydration Backpack
- 10. CamelBak Chase Women’s Bike Hydration Vest
- Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. CamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Biking Hydration Pack
This backpack is built like a tank, and even though it’s quite narrow and light, and it has sufficient storage space to pack enough water, clothes, snacks, and other items you might need for a day’s worth of riding. The pack comes with a 100-ounce bladder that should offer you plenty of water for the entire day.
Besides the actual hydration pack, you also get 540 cubic inches of storage space for extra gear and accessories. It uses the CRUX Reservoir with Quicklink System which makes it super-easy to drink while riding and stay hydrated.
Thanks to the Air Director Back Panel, you get adequate ventilation for the back, while the waist belt ensures that the pack stays well even when riding on bumpy trails. There’s a magnetic tube trap to prevent it from sliding, and you get 5 exterior pockets to keep everything neat and organized and have quick access to anything you need.
You’re looking at one of the most popular hydration packs among mountain bikers, and not only: the CamelBak M.U.L.E.
This backpack is small and lightweight yet it has enough storage space to allow you to carry 100 ounces of water plus food, extra clothes, and maybe even an ultra-lightweight sleeping bag.
The shoulder straps and waist strap ensure that it fits properly and stays on your bike even when riding aggressively off-road.
The Air DirectorBack Panel will provide ventilation for your back and save you from over-sweating.
While the design of the new bladder is quite nice, the sealing cap isn’t the greatest invention and it tends to leak if the cap isn’t tightened properly.
The angle of the tube from the pack to the mouthpiece is around 45 degrees, which means that you have to turn your head slightly to drink. The old 90-degree tube design was better.Buy from Amazon.com for ($159.99)
2. Vibrelli Hydration Pack & 2L Hydration Water Bladder
If you want to get a hydration backpack but aren’t willing to spend top dollars for one, then this model from Vibrelli is definitely a good choice. It is made with 420D Ripstop Fabric, which is resistant to tears and general wear. It weighs just 14oz so it’s incredibly light and comfortable to wear even for prolonged periods of time.
The bladder is made of medical-grade materials which means that the water won’t have a strange taste. It is also free of PVC or BPA so there are no worries there either. The large screwing cap at the top ensures a leak-free experience even when you’re riding on bumpy trails.
You’ll have easy access to water thanks to the high-flow bite valve so you can drink easily while riding. This backpack also comes with some pockets on the exterior as well as interior to help you store and organize other essentials.
The bladder can hold 67 ounces of water which should be enough for half a day’s worth of riding or even more if the weather isn’t too hot.
The bladder is made from medical-grade materials so that water won’t have a plasticky or funny taste.
The backpack is made with 420D Ripstop Fabric and mesh for extra durability as well as ventilation.
The backpack itself weighs just 14 ounces so it’s very light.
The straps are quite wide so they’re comfortable to wear and you also get waist and chest straps for extra safety.
The waist strap might be a bit too short for large or overweight people.
The position of the bite valve is a bit too far away and the hose clip swivels so you’ll have to check on it and adjust it from time to time to be able to clip the hose in.Buy from Amazon.com for ($23.98)
3. SHARKMOUTH Tactical MOLLE Hydration Pack
It only weighs 26 ounces but you can carry a lot of things in it. It is made with 900D polyester that’s strong and has SBS heavy-duty zippers that won’t get damaged in time. There’s enough padding on the straps and back of the pack so you’ll stay comfortable during the entire ride.
The product comes with a 67-ounce bladder that is made of FDA-approved EVA material that’s free of BPA. The tube is insulated by a neoprene cover for extra protection and temperature control. The screw-cap has a large handle so it’s easy to tighten it. The water hose clip rotates at 360 degrees so you can attach the hose at the desired angle.
There are several pockets, included in the exterior where you can store all sorts of things like food, phone, wallet, tools, towels, etc. The MOLLE system allows you to attach tactical gear and have quick access to it anytime.
The bladder can hold 67 ounces of water or other beverages and it is BPA-free. Thanks to the screw-cap with a large handle, you can easily open and close it and ensure a tight seal.
This hydration pack surely deserves its name, given all the pockets and features it comes with, and especially the MOLLE system that allows you to attach tactical gear and have access to it in a jiffy.
The mouthpiece is made of soft silicone so you won’t hurt your teeth every time you’re trying to take a sip. You just need to pull the switch to ON and you can start drinking.
It is made of 900D polyester and so it’s quite durable, yet it only weighs 26 ounces.
With the bite valve opened all the way, you might get a lot of air with the water, so you’d probably have to leave it maybe just half or less than half open to prevent air bubbles but still get enough water flow.Buy from Amazon.com for ($34.99)
4. CamelBak HydroBak Hydration Pack 50 oz
This backpack is tiny but it offers you space to put a 50-ounce bladder and also one zippered pocket where you can store your mobile phone, keys, and other small items. The Crux reservoir should offer enough water for a couple of hours of riding so it should suit most bikers who aren’t riding the entire day.
The bladder is easy to fill and load into the backpack, and you can get more water with each sip, which can only be a good thing, especially when riding in the scorching sun. This model is simple yet effective, and its minimal design will please quite a few riders.
The problem is that this backpack really is minuscule so it might be a bit too small for people looking to take more things with them on their rides. The good part is that it is incredibly light, as it weighs just 5 ounces.
You get a backpack that can store 50 ounces of water so a decent quantity for a few hours of riding. There is also a zippered pocket where you can store a mobile phone, keys, your wallet, etc.
This backpack is simple yet effective and the fact that it weighs just 5 ounces is kind of amazing.
The back panel ensures that you can wear it while feeling comfortable even when riding for hours.
The bladder is easy to fill and thanks to the new Crux design, you get 20 percent more water per sip.
The cap might screw awkwardly at times and you need to make sure that you tighten it properly as otherwise, you’ll get water all over your back and have none left to drink.
Even though it is very small, it might still slide up when descending on steep hills as it doesn’t have a waist strap. Fortunately, there’s a chest strap that you can use.Buy from Amazon.com for ($31.31)
5. Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack
In case you’re trying to get a hydration backpack for cycling but you don’t want to spend a ridiculous amount of money for a tiny model, then this one is just what you need. It has a versatile design, with plenty of pockets to store all kinds of stuff, and also comes with a bladder that can hold up to 70 ounces of water or another beverage.
The bladder compartment is insulated and advertised to be able to keep the water cool for up to 4 hours, which can be quite handy on those hot summer days. You get 3 compartments where you can store clothes, mini tools, a puncture kit, your mobile phone, keys, wallet, snacks, and many other things you might need.
The shoulder straps are comfortable and you also get waist and chest straps to properly secure the backpack. The hose clip ensures that the hose won’t swivel or get snagged in thick vegetation.
The bladder has a large opening which allows for easy filling and cleaning while the screw cap has a large handle so you should have no problems tightening it for a proper seal.
The bladder is made of BPA-free materials while the valve gives you a proper water flow so you can drink enough with each sip and not lose focus on the ride.
You get two comfortable shoulder straps but also a chest and a waist strap to prevent the backpack from sliding and ensure you ride comfortably.
The clip holding the hose is there to ensure that it stays in place.
The place where the tube connects to the bladder might leak, in which case you might want to contact the seller for a replacement.
While the bag offers ample storage, it might be a bit too big for small people or those looking for something tiny for a couple of hours’ worth of riding.Buy from Amazon.com for ($35.99)
6. G4Free Military Hydration Pack with 3L Upgraded Bladder
This is a military-style hydration pack that will help you take plenty of water on your rides but also other essential equipment to ensure you’re covered for any situation. It is made of tough materials that make this unit durable, and there are two front pockets as well as MOLLE webbing that enables you to attach various items if you need to.
The bladder can hold 3L or 100 fluid ounces which should suffice for most rides unless we’re talking about spending an entire day under the scorching summer heat. The opening is large for easy filling and cleaning and the large cap can be tightened effortlessly for a secure seal and zero leaks.
The back is cushioned so you stay comfortable for an entire day, and you also get a waist strap and a chest strap so that the backpack doesn’t slide when leaning on descents.
This backpack offers decent quality and features without having to pay crazy prices for one coming from reputable brands.
The model is made of strong materials and looks like it can take a beating. There is also a chest strap and a waist strap to ensure you can wear it safely even on rugged terrain.
The bladder can carry 100 fluid ounces of water so plenty for a few hours or even more of riding. The wide opening allows easy filling while the large screw cap offers a proper seal.
There are two exterior pockets where you can store mini tools, a phone and wallet, and other things, while the MOLLE webbing on the exterior allows you to hang various tools, energy bars, etc.
Due to packaging errors, there is a chance that you might receive a backpack with the hose bent, which will most likely cause leaks. If that is the case, the company states that it offers replacements.Buy from Amazon.com for ($32.99)
7. CamelBak Chase Hydration Bike Vest 50 oz
The Chase model from CamelBak is a minimalist hydration vest that gives you just enough space to take water and some essentials with you for awesome riding adventures. It does not compromise quality or comfort, and it comes with 3D mesh vents for proper airflow so your back and shoulders won’t be full of sweat as soon as you start riding.
The bladder has a capacity of 50 fluid ounces so it should be enough for a couple of hours of riding or even more in cool weather. There are two pockets with zippers in the back where you can put your mobile phone, keys, and perhaps a mini tool, as well as two lateral mesh pockets.
The vest also comes with a few pockets in the front, as well as quite a few loops so you can hang all sorts of stuff, as long as they don’t hinder you while you’re riding.
This backpack vest looks quite weird but it can actually fit quite a few items, thanks to the zippered and mesh pockets both in front and in the back. In the front, there are several loops where you could hang more stuff.
This pack has 3D mesh vents which should help you cool down a bit in hot weather.
The bladder can carry 50 ounces of water or another beverage, which is quite decent for riders that aren’t that long.
The hydration system allows you to get more water with each sip.
While it is lightweight and has a minimalist design, it probably won’t suffice for rides that are longer than a few hours as the space is quite limited and you don’t want to hang stuff all over.
Given that it covers quite a bit of the back and chest, you might overheat when cranking up the power, especially in hot and humid weather.Buy from Amazon.com for ($75)
8. Osprey Packs Raptor 14 Men’s Bike Hydration Backpack
In case you’re looking for a high-quality hydration backpack and don’t mind paying top dollar for one, then the Raptor 14 for men is just the right thing. This model surely doesn’t compromise when it comes to comfort and practicality. It has a solid design and it looks like it can take a lot of use and abuse on the trail.
The unit comes with a 2.5-liter or 85-ounce reservoir that you can easily fill with water or your favorite beverage. Thanks to the contouring AirScape backpanel, you will feel comfortable even during extended rides. The sternum strap magnet helps keep the mouthpiece close so you can take a sip anytime you want.
The removable roll-out pouch helps you organize tools so you can have easy access to them in case you need to make small adjustments, fix a flat tire, etc. You get quite a few pockets so you can take with you all the things you’ll need for the ride.
This backpack can help you carry 85 ounces of water which is enough for a few hours of riding on wild trails.
The AirScape backpanel ensures that you can wear it comfortably while the straps eliminate wobbling and sliding so that it doesn’t hinder you on steep descents.
There’s a roll-out pouch where you can store and organize a few tools but there are several other pockets, too, where you can place essential items.
The sternum strap magnet ensures that the mouthpiece is easily accessible anytime.
You get zippered mesh hip pockets as well so you can store energy bars, snacks, or other small items.
Given the small size of the backpack, the price might seem a bit too high for some people.
The bladder doesn’t come with any thermal insulation so you might get to drink warmer water than you’d like in some cases.Buy from Amazon.com for ($150)
9. Osprey Packs Raven 10 Women’s Bike Hydration Backpack
Coming from a brand that definitely needs no introduction, this backpack gives you enough storage space without weighing you down, thanks to its lightweight construction. With the Osprey Hydraulics LT 2.5L (85-ounce) reservoir, you get plenty of water for a few hours’ worth of riding.
The AirScape backpanel and bike-friendly harness shape ensure increased comfort even for longer rides. The back is covered with mesh material and thanks to the extra-deep ridged foam, you won’t feel the weight of the backpack even if you’re carrying more stuff than you should.
The removable roll-up tool pouch enables you to pack essential repair kits and tools and keep them organized so you can access any of them quickly. The scratch-free zippered slash pocket is perfect for storing sunglasses, a wallet, mobile phone, and other similar items. There’s also the main bike tool organization compartment where you can keep the most important ones.
This is a pack that is suited for women and not only. It has a stylish design and is made of resistant materials that should offer it a long life.
It comes with an 85-ounce bladder which makes it ideal for rides that last no more than a few hours.
The main compartment can help you organize all your tools and so does the roll-out pocket where you can store mini tools to have them at hand if you need to make adjustments or fix a flat tire.
The sternum strap magnet keeps the hose with the mouthpiece easily accessible so getting a sip anytime you want is possible.
There’s also a LidLock helmet attachment that helps you secure your protective item when you’re not using it.
Given that you’re buying a backpack that isn’t exactly large, the price might seem a bit high. However, the quality of the materials and craftsmanship and the features should justify the price.Buy from Amazon.com for ($139.95)
10. CamelBak Chase Women’s Bike Hydration Vest
You can pack lighter and also ride faster while still having the essential things on you to make the ride enjoyable and safe, thanks to the Chase women’s bike hydration vest from CamelBak. It is great for minimalist riders and not only, due to its simple yet effective design.
The reservoir can hold up to 50 ounces of water and the new Crux system ensures a higher water flow so you can drink more with every sip and not lose focus while you’re on the trail. This vest fits the bladder in the back, where you will also find two zippered pockets that you can use to put the most important things such as your mobile phone, wallet, keys, and the like.
There are also two lateral mesh pockets and the front of the vest also features pockets, some with zippers and some mesh ones, where you can store all sorts of things.
This vest may be small but the variety of both mesh and zippered pockets make it quite versatile, so you can take a few tools and other important items with you for the ride.
The bladder gives you 50 ounces of water so you can ride carefree for several hours and stay properly hydrated. The new hydration system allows you to take more water with every sip.
The loops allow you to get creative and attach other things. Just make sure that they do not hinder you while riding.
The 3D micro mesh on the back and straps ensure proper ventilation so you don’t over-sweat when riding in hot weather.
There’s even an elastic pump loop that keeps it within reach so you can adjust tire pressure or fix a flat in no time.
It is not really that large, and the adjustment points, especially those in the front, do not feel very comfortable for women with large busts.Buy from Amazon.com for ($99.98)
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
If you’re looking for the best hydration pack for mountain biking, then reading the following guide could help you make an informed decision, as you’ll find what the main criteria are for choosing an adequate model for this two-wheeled sport.
Bladder capacity and design
Since we’re talking about mountain bike hydration pack models, the most important aspect to consider when buying one is the size of the bladder/reservoir. These generally tend to range from about 50 fluid ounces to 100 fluid ounces. A small hydration pack with a 50-ounce bladder should offer you enough water for a couple of hours on the trail.
If you’re riding for longer periods, you’ll either have to get a larger pack, make sure you can refill on the way, or at least take one or two extra water bottles of water that you can keep on the bike.
The best mountain bike hydration pack for a day-long ride should have at least a 100-ounce bladder, although you’ll rarely find larger sizes than that. If we’re talking about riding on hot summer days, you should plan to refill the bladder halfway through the ride, or follow the advice above and pack one or two extra bottles of water if you don’t think you’ll find any along the way.
The connection between the hose and the bladder should be leak-free, and you should also make sure that the cap/lid seals properly. There have been quite a few complaints regarding screw-caps that are hard to tighten properly and people with wet backs and no water to drink while on the trail.
The hose should attach to a clip on one of the front parts of the shoulder straps, and the mouthpiece should be made of soft rubber. There should also be an On switch so you don’t risk getting wet and losing precious water.
Backpack vs. vest
When it comes to the main hydration packs, these are usually either backpacks or vests. The vest, which is quite a common type when it comes to women’s hydration pack models, actually looks like a sort of backpack, but really small, and with wide shoulder straps that usually have plenty of pockets.
The backpack models are just small backpacks that have the main compartment being occupied by the hydration reservoir. These may come with plenty of pockets or just one or two small compartments.
Comfort and pockets
If you’re going for the best MTB hydration pack, you want to make sure that it will stay on your back without sliding or wobbling even when you’re descending on crazy slopes or jumping over rock gardens.
This means that it is supposed to have two shoulder straps that can be properly adjusted, but also a chest strap and a waist strap to ensure it won’t slide on your neck or head, especially when jumping and downhill riding.
A cushioned back with possibly panels or ventilated mesh is also a must, as you want to stay comfortable. Make sure that you read a hydration pack review or two of the model you’re about to purchase to make sure that the back has decent ventilation as you don’t want to get soaking wet from sweat in the first hour you start riding.
As for the compartments and pockets, make sure they’re enough if you’re planning to take more than a bladder of water and a couple of things with you. If you want to take puncture kits, mini tools, extra clothes, food, and other items, you’ll want sizable pockets to make sure everything fits. The more pockets there are, the better.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much water can a hydration pack carry?
This depends on the particular model, but generally, bladders/reservoirs usually have a capacity of 50 to 100 fluid ounces. For short rides of up to 3 hours or so, maybe more in cold weather, a 50-ounce bladder should be enough, but there are also backpacks with 70-85-ounce bladders.
However, for cold weather, you’ll probably want a higher total capacity to carry extra clothes, especially for the rainy season, protein bars, gloves, extra socks, and the like, so you’ll need a bigger pack, even if the actual reservoir is small.
For longer trips and those summer rides, you will need a higher capacity, and preferably a 100-ounce bladder. In hot weather, you sweat, you dehydrate quite fast, and even 100 ounces would not be enough for a normal person. For these kinds of trips, you’ll want to make sure you can refill the bladder or take one or two extra water bottles that you can put on the bike.
Q: How do hydration packs actually work?
Hydration packs are uncomplicated little gizmos that help you stay hydrated, whether you’re slaying forest trails, riding on picturesque country roads, or downhill riding the steepest slopes you could think of. These are either backpacks or vests, for cycling, at least, and they have a bladder or reservoir that is fitted in the main compartment.
Capacity for the bladders range, and so does the total capacity of the backpack. The bladder is connected to tubing that then usually ends in a bite valve. This may have an ON switch that allows you to sip water when you need to but that avoids leaks when you aren’t drinking, which is pretty sensible.
The tubing gets out of the pack through a special tubing hole, and it is usually attached to a clipping clamp or a magnetic clamp on one of the straps, so you can detach it and drink from it using just one hand.
Q: How much does a hydration pack cost?
Prices range widely when it comes to hydration packs, so the real question is ‘how much are you willing to spend?’. The sky’s the limit, so to speak, when it comes to these little things, so you’re probably better off looking for a model that has all the features you need and none of the ones you don’t, as the popular commercial saying goes.
You can expect a cheap hydration pack to sell for somewhere around 20 or 30 bucks. Some of these are poorly made, some have a decent construction and features, but don’t expect any of them to come from a reputable brand. Most are Chinese brands, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Hydration packs from well-known brands, such as Osprey and CamelBak, can easily cost well over a hundred dollars, with some models costing even 150. If you can afford them, these are awesome, but if you go for a Chinese brand as mentioned above, and make sure to check it beforehand, chances are you won’t regret it.