As your running distance increases, so does your need for hydration. That’s why many runners turn to hydration packs (otherwise known as endurance packs) and hydration vests to keep water close at hand, without the need to grip onto a bottle while they’re racking up miles.
Hydration packs typically look like a slim backpack, while a strap-on vest clips in on top of your clothing. Both options have built-in pockets for storing water bottles and/or a skinny spigot hose that makes it easy to sip directly from a reservoir on your back, plus space for storing snacks, added layers, and any other essentials.
For long-distance situations, many come in a lightweight ripstop material, too, and crucially for runners, have adjustable sizing to ensure a bounce-free, chafe-free fit. They’re a favorite of hikers who want to stay hydrated on wilderness treks for many of the same reasons, and can come in handy in a variety of situations when you’re not going to be close to a water source, especially as people are avoiding public water fountains due to COVID-19 concerns.
With so many choices, though, it can be hard to know where to start, so we tapped marathoners and ultramarathoners who pound the pavement and the trails regularly for their recommendations on hydration solutions. Here, some of the best hydration packs and vests for your next run.
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