Finding the right hydration system for you can be a bit of a dating game: Between handheld bottles, belts, and vests, there are plenty of options—but depending on how, when, and where you run, finding the one that works best for you can take some trial and error.
How to Choose the Right Hydration System for You
Picking the right hydration system is a personal preference, but it’s best to think about the type of run you generally do or are planning on doing. If trail runs are your jam, a bigger pack could be the solution, whereas shorter runs call for a handheld bottle. Of course, if you are a runner who hits up different trails and terrain, you might want a few options handy. Here is a rundown of the three main tops:
- Pros: Distributes weight across shoulders, can carry a lot more than just water, and usually has larger reservoirs, often two, with the option of holding two types of liquid.
- Cons: More straps mean more areas of irritation, a larger bag can create more heat against your body, and reservoirs are harder to clean.
- Pros: Keeps arms free, can hold more water but won’t put pressure on your back, and convenient for securing other essentials like money, keys, and lip balm.
- Cons: Smaller with limited space for other essentials, bouncing can become an annoyance and not as effortless or breezy to get a sip.
- Pros: Soft styles shrink as you drink, easily tucks away, and most have straps reducing the need for a continuous grip.
- Cons: Might be annoying to hold, smaller holding less water, and can affect your arms pumping.
The 14 Best Hydration Systems of 2021
Here are our favorite picks, organized by category.
Salomon Sense Pro 5 | $160
Trail runners and marathoners will appreciate this upgraded vest now even more comfortable with no friction points and allowing for even faster access to all the pouches and pockets. Specifically made for a woman, with more stretch in the chest, lower pockets, and mesh for sweat release.
The North Face Flight Race Day Vest 8 | $139
A minimal, lightweight trail-running vest will comfortably carry your gear while you log in miles. Constructed by nylon created by a special yarn, the result is a vest that is not only breathable but durable. Quick leash system retracts water bottle smoothly, preventing any slowdown. Enhanced visibility with 360 degrees of reflection. Secure-zip cell phone pocket, a much-needed feather these days. Specially customized water bottles included and bladder compatible.
Outdoor Products Knox 2L Hydration Pack | $30
Fun camo print-covered slim pack will help you stay hydrated on the go whether you are on a run, hike, or bike ride. Breathable mesh straps will keep pressure off your shoulders while you are sipping water from the 2-liter reservoir. Zip pockets will keep any additional good secure like, a power bar, credit cards, or phone.
Black Diamond Distance 4 Hydration Vest | $149.95
Engineered for ultras and other adventures where the speed is clutch, this vest is made of premium material. Stitch-less edge taping and side stretch panels deliver superior comfort, weight reduction, and security. With plenty of pockets for storage and two soft flasks included for easy drinking access, every detail considered on this lightweight vest.
Lululemon Enlite Hydraffinity Vest | $178
This stylish vest combines the convenience of run-ready hydration with the support of a high-performance bra. Guided by the same research that created the brand’s popular Enlite Bra, it features a back pocket that holds a 1.5L reservoir, as well as three-dimensional cups and taped seams to create a secure and comfortable fit that reduces bounce and chafing.
Salomon Advanced Skin 8 | $145
Made specifically to fit a woman’s body, this vest comes with two 500ml Hydrapak soft flasks that sit comfortably beneath (and slightly to the side of) your chest; a new lacing system eliminates pressure on your girls when the vest is synched down, keeping you feeling balanced and comfortable no matter how many miles you’re tackling.
Hydration Belts and Waist Packs
Camelbak Ultra Belt| $55
This sleek belt is made of a flexible, breathable mesh; it stores a 17-ounce soft hydration flask that molds to the shape of your body, while an extra stretch pocket keeps gels, money, and keys safely tucked away.
Nathan Hydration Insulated Running Belt | $55.61
The brand’s best-selling belt just got an impressive update—now featuring two 10-oz insulated flasks to keep the water cooler, longer, while keeping the same comfy, bounce-free waist position and zip pocket (that fits an iPhone 7 Plus!) from the previous model.
PYFK Running Belt Hydration Waist Pack | $18.99
If you have a tried and true or perhaps lucky water bottle, this belt can fit any up to 27 ounces. Holder designed to reduce shaking while running. Personalized fit around your waist with adjustable belt and straps, and has inner and outer pockets and an earphone outlet for those who haven’t gone wireless yet. Reflective points will ensure you are seen during dawn and dusk runs.
AiRunTech Upgraded No Bounce Hydration Belt | $17.95
Friction-free fit and anti-slip technology create a lovely, inobtrusive run experience. Innovated angled water bottle holder keeps weight off your hip, contouring the curves of your body and diminishing bouncing. Holds most water bottles, evenly distributing weight around your body. Stretch pockets that will fit your iPhone plus and any other needs. Great for biking, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and any other outdoor activity.
Nathan Quicksqueeze Lite 12oz Insulated Handheld| $24.99
Ergonomically shaped to fit all hands, this bottle makes it effortless to grab a quick sip of water. Feather-light and with an adjustable, secure, slip-proof strap that allows you to hold this grip free. A flat bottom creates a solid base for filling this bottle. Double-wall construction will keep fluids cooler longer.
Osprey Dyna Handheld with Soft Flask | $30
For hydrating on the go, this new handheld fits comfortably in your palm (you’ll probably forget you’re even carrying it), but the insulated soft flask ensures your water won’t warm up as you do.
Hydrapak Skyflask Speed 350ml | $22
Short runs, travel runs, as a spare bottle on longer outings—this one comes with us everywhere. After taking feedback from the running community, their new and improved flask now has a comfortable adjustable hand strap. The soft bottle conforms to your hand and shrinks as you drink, reducing water movement on the run—plus it’s; then super easy to crumple up and stash away in a waistband or pack.
Amphipod Hydraform Flash Hydrostrobe Minimalist 12oz | $29
Handhelds are a perfect hydration system when you’re heading out for a quick 30- or 45- minute run. This one is especially clutch if you’re heading out at dawn or dusk. The patented ergonomic bottle design fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, with a soft and adjustable hand strap to reduce hand fatigue. Integrated LED lights in the sleeve turn on with the click of a button for added visibility on the road or trail in low-light hours.