Ranking The 10 Best Hydration Packs of 2021

Matt Lewis
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What Belongs in a Hydration Pack?

There are many considerations to keep in mind when you are deciding which hydration pack is going to be the best day pack for you. In order to make good choices, you have to understand a little bit about the features that are available and how they can be combined for optimal performance.

Without a good understanding of your needs and wants, you could wind up with a pack that isn’t going to work well for you, or even worse, won’t work at all.

If you’re an avid outdoors person who is constantly in the wilderness, a day pack is one of the items that you absolutely have to have. In fact, it is also wise to have multiple day packs as they aren’t strong enough to hold elaborate survival kits.

However, for most people, a day pack is occasionally used for things like carrying a lunch and other light necessities. That means that you don’t have to carry a ton of stuff.

You can read our complete guide to Backpacking on a Budget.

NameCategoryProduct
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Bike Hydration PackBest OverallCamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Bike Hydration Pack
Barbarians Tactical Hydration Pack Water BackpackBudget PickBarbarians Tactical Hydration Pack Water Backpack
CamelBak Fourteener 24 Hydration PackUpgrade PickCamelBak Fourteener 24 Hydration Pack

1. CamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Bike Hydration Pack

Our rating: 9 / 10

CamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Bike Hydration Pack

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Pros:

  • Comfortable and 100% leakproof materials
  • Well-padded straps and back panel
  • Integrated safety whistle
  • Large capacity (3L)
  • Affordable, although it seems well-designed and durable
  • Mountain biking specific

Cons:

  • No carry handle
  • Not suitable for bike touring (especially if you carry tools and other supplies on your person instead of on the bike itself)

Camelbak is a big name in the hydration pack world, and in particular, if you like mountain biking. Not only is it the number one brand in hydration packs for athletes, it is actually a dedicated maker of packs for the sport.

Air channels in the back panel encourage airflow and the bladder compartment is insulated to keep your drink cool, even if you're riding a fair distance. The bladder itself comes with a quick-connect system so that you can swap it out with ease.

The M.U.L.E. actually has a few different removable bags, which allows you to change your hydration needs depending on how long you're going to be on the bike. The integrated carrier for the bladder does also have a webbing so that you can attach a CamelBak brand pocket, should you want to.

2. Deuter Compact EXP 12 Biking Backpack

Our rating: 9 / 10

Deuter Compact EXP 12 Biking Backpack

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Pros:

  • Comes in seven different colors
  • Hydration system is easy to use and doesn’t require a drinking tube hole to be drilled to the side of your pack
  • Compatible with a water bladder, or two as it also includes a 1-liter bottle sleeve
  • Available at four sizes: Small, Medium, Large and X-Large
  • Price range is just right

Cons:

  • You’ll want to take it to a cobbler to get the hip belt adjusted
  • We wish that the front pocket was deeper
  • It lacks pockets for your phone, keys and wallet

The Exp 12 is Deuter’s most popular backpack and for good reason. It’s loaded with amazing features at an affordable price. This is the backpack that I travel with and it has not only held up to all of the abuse that I have thrown at it, but it’s also been able to handle the punishment that my wife has given it!

It’s a great choice for those of you that want a backpack for expeditions, but not one that is going to carry climbing gear. This bag is great for day-trips, bike rides or anything that doesn’t require you to carry heavy gear for long periods of time.

3. CamelBak Fourteener 24 Hydration Pack

Our rating: 9 / 10

CamelBak Fourteener 24 Hydration Pack

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Pros:

  • Quality construction
  • Great design for multiple uses, not just hiking
  • Can be worn over both shoulders or continuously around the waist
  • Includes two water bottles, one on each shoulder
  • Waist and sternum strap with a high-quality belt from Arc’teryx
  • Main compartment is large enough to hold a light jacket
  • Comfortable shoulder straps and a sturdy waist belt
  • Quality zippers and hose connections

Cons:

  • A little awkward to drink from the shoulder bottles and the hose if they’re full
  • Pushing the hose back into the backpack without spilling water is difficult
  • The waistbelt and shoulder straps (together) are fractionally bigger than expected
  • The lack of air in the pack makes it saggy when empty, and the material is wrinkled and not flat at its best
  • The pack is long from the top of the pack to the bottom

This hydration pack has some serious features, but what’s most attractive is it’s from the world leader in outdoor hydration packs, CamelBak.

4. Nathan Fireball Race Vest

Our rating: 8 / 10

Nathan Fireball Race Vest

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Pros:

  • Lightweight design
  • Sleek and stylish
  • Perfect for short distances and summer jogs
  • Hand-held pocket for your water bottle
  • Easy to clean
  • Ideal for a day trip or long distance runs
  • Breathable mesh and shoulder pads ensure moisture doesn’t become trapped

If you’re looking for a pack that’s “made for the road”, the Fireball is an ideal choice. It’s on the higher end of pricing spectrum, but runners can expect a durable product, with excellent breathability and comfort.

The 3L hydration reservoir is included. But if you want the best hydration pack, you’ll want to upgrade to the Flambeau.

The pack also features a handy extra pocket to store a 500ml water bottle and the mesh shoulder pads make for a comfortable fit.

5. Barbarians Tactical Hydration Pack Water Backpack

Our rating: 8 / 10

Barbarians Tactical Hydration Pack Water Backpack

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Pros:

  • Bladder fits nicely into the side pouch
  • Rear straps to hold extra equipment
  • Lightweight, yet durable
  • Several bungee-like straps
  • Easy to adjust
  • Plenty of pockets for storage
  • Chest strap provides great support

Cons:

  • The bladder is a bit restrictive and difficult to replace
  • The straps aren’t perfectly matched in color

This product has just about everything you need for your next adventure. It is very compact and can be adjusted without hassle. The bladder is small enough that you will not feel it against you while hiking and yet not too big so that you are afraid it will just fall out.

The bladder is secured using a Velcro strap which is hidden under the hanger strap. This adds a nice touch of security to your H2O.

For a backpack of its size, it has a large capacity and is extremely adjustable. It straps in all the correct places and won’t move around.

6. CamelBak Arete 18 Hydration Backpack

Our rating: 8 / 10

CamelBak Arete 18 Hydration Backpack

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Pros:

  • Waterproof rating of 600mm
  • A high capacity of 50 liters
  • A detachable reservoir for easy cleaning
  • Lightweight and ergonomic design
  • Two mesh water bottle holders

Cons:

  • Price is considerably higher than alternatives
  • Low water capacity of 18 liters
  • The top pocket is not well sealed, so the bladder may leak out
  • The shoulder straps were rather uncomfortable
  • Construction is not as strong as with other CamelBaks

The CamelBak Arete has a 50-ounce reservoir that is large enough to keep you hydrated throughout the entire trail, but it’s noticeably smaller than some of the other packs that we tested.

This pack has a low water capacity but it is the most price competitive of all the options on today’s market.

The CamelBak is comfortable but lacks water resistant capabilities.

7. Osprey Packs Viper 9 Hydration Pack

Our rating: 7 / 10

Osprey Packs Viper 9 Hydration Pack

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Pros:

  • Fits perfectly to your body
  • Has room enough to carry all of your stuff
  • Long lasting design that should last for years
  • Great choice for longer expeditions
  • Main compartment can hold items in place

You may want to consider this product if you are not looking for a pack that’s extremely compact. The Viper 9 is sophisticated and large enough to accommodate all the gear that you need for a long day on the trail.

The user can choose to attach the water reservoir onto the front or the back of the bag. The hose can be routed anywhere through any of the many straps attached to the bag. It is also easy use and replace the hose.

The Viper 9 comes with a zippered pocket on the front and an organizational panel. Smaller items can be stowed in the zippered pocket and larger items can be placed in the organization panel. This makes it easy to get to items that you need.

8. Osprey Raptor 10 Hydration

Our rating: 7 / 10

Osprey Raptor 10 Hydration

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Pros:

  • Available in two sizes
  • Lightweight
  • Can carry 2L or 3L of water
  • Comes with numerous pockets and pouches
  • Its ergonomic design makes it very comfortable to wear
  • The Hydration Engine is a big plus

No matter what adventure lies ahead, you’ll always be ready thanks to the Osprey Raptor 10 hydration pack.

No matter what you’re up to, Osprey packs your hydration reservoir into a handy pocket. Allowing you to carry the water you need to make it through your toughest days.

The biggest perk of this hydration pack is its bite valve design.

9. CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. Kids Hydration Backpack

Our rating: 6 / 10

CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. Kids Hydration Backpack

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Pros:

  • Easy to fit a small amount of snacks in there and a few toys for your little adventurers
  • Fits little kids wonderfully. Not bulky and clumsy
  • Has fun colors and a fun, easy to use design
  • Easy to adjust the straps and make a perfect fit for your child
  • 50 oz. capacity for a healthy amount of water for several hours worth of play
  • Wide mouth is easy to fill and clean
  • Cleaning is simple, just a little soap and water
  • Fits kids from age 3 all the way to age 10

Cons:

  • Can be a little difficult to dry I’ve found
  • We’ve found the plastic latch to be a little problematic (but this part is easy to replace)
  • Occasionally some of the plastic parts tend to break after a few good seasons; keep a few extra handy

The above are the best hydration backpacks of the year as dictated by the CamelBak brand. This makes it our editor's choice for The best hydration backpacks in 2020. This is not a small hydration pack, but for kids looking for fun this CamelBak is up to the task.

10. Platypus Duthie A.M. 15.0 Hydration Pack

Our rating: 6 / 10

Platypus Duthie A.M. 15.0 Hydration Pack

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Pros:

  • Three liters of water storage
  • Choice of smaller 3L or larger 4L carrying capacity
  • Made from lightweight-yet-durable nylon
  • Wider shoulder straps for a more comfortable fit
  • Hydration bladder is made of BPA-free material
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Includes a 1.5 liter wide-mouth water bladder

The Platypus Hydration Duthie A.M. hydration pack is aimed at those looking for an all-around trail and backpacking pack. This is one of the few hydration systems that comes in an appealing green color. It’s coated with a slick, durable nylon pack that works great when wet.

It’s also very durable. The buckles, compression straps, and suspension system are all robustly designed.

This hydration pack comes with a very reliable and convenient 3-liter bladder system. BPA-free plastic is used to make the system. It’s very easy to clean. The 3-liter system is easy to fill up and easy to drink from.

11. MIRACOL Hydration Backpack

Our rating: 5 / 10

MIRACOL Hydration Backpack

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Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Holds a lot of water
  • Unique and smart design
  • Includes all necessary accessories
  • Water stays at the right temperature
  • The main compartment is easy to adjust and offers a good deal of space
  • Durable design
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Has a lot of handy pockets and space
  • You can choose from an array of colors and styles

Cons:

  • It’s a little pricey
  • Doesn’t fit a lot of water

Once you’ve experienced the convenience and comfort that comes with using the MiraCool Hydration Backpack, you’ll never want to go back to your old hydration pack.

It has a two-liter capacity to allow you to bring plenty of water with you wherever you choose to keep yourself hydrated. It also has well-designed storage areas to hold food, personal items, and other important items.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which hydration pack is the best?

Choosing a hydration pack comes down to four simple features: Fit, capacity, materials, and comfort.

What is the best CamelBak?

The best CamelBak is all dependent on you and your needs.

If you need a hydration pack that you can use for running or light weight hiking, the all-new Crux is a top-of-the-line product worth investing in. With Crux you can conveniently carry up to 70 ounces of your own fluids. Crux will allow you to carry your beverages, keys, and valuables at your fingertips.

What if you need something a little stronger, something that will hold your lunch, wares, or electronics?

CamelBak Octane is one of the most durable packs on the market today. Octane was designed to be able to hold up to 60 liters of cargo. Every inch of Octane is capable of being customized to fit your needs. Octane packs also come in a wide variety of colors to fit any taste, while maintaining a professional and sleek design.

What's the best hydration bladder?

It has a roll-top closure that will cover the drinking tube when it is not in use. This will help in keeping out dirt and water.

It comes with two 1-quart bladders and they can be used together to store 2 quarts of fluid which is more than needed for a single person in a single event.

How do I choose a hydration bladder?

If you like to stay hydrated while you're on the go, it's smart to keep some proper hydration equipment at home. Yet the selection of hydration bladders can be daunting. We've sifted through dozens of options to find the best 10.

When choosing any hydration reservoir, it's always a good idea to go with a reliable manufacturer. Consider reaching out to the manufacturer to learn about the quality of their bladders and how they manufacture their equipment.

When it comes to the two types of hydration systems you can buy, there's a lot to think about. But the most important thing to remember is the reservoir's purpose. In order to make the most informed decision about your next hydration reservoir purchase, it's a good idea to ask yourself two important questions:

What will I use this reservoir for? Is it for backpacking? Jogging and running? Traveling?

Conclusion

Looking for a hydration pack doesn’t always have to be a tedious process when there are many products you can consider. The best way to narrow your search down is to first, decide on how much you’re willing to spend, then pick the style that best suits your need. We hope that we have helped you pick the best hydration pack that meets your budget and performance needs.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Bike Hydration PackBest OverallCamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Bike Hydration Pack
Barbarians Tactical Hydration Pack Water BackpackBudget PickBarbarians Tactical Hydration Pack Water Backpack
CamelBak Fourteener 24 Hydration PackUpgrade PickCamelBak Fourteener 24 Hydration Pack