7 Best Hydration packs of 2020 (Review)
To an outdoor enthusiast a hydration pack can be a total game-changer out on the trail. Where most hikers and bikers were once inundated with carrying heavy hydration flasks and bottles–hydration packs have proved a lightweight means to hydration and extra storage. Whether you hike, bike, climb, or backpack, there are two key types of hydration packs to choose from: the backpack and the waist pack. From there, you’ll find many sub-categories of packs that exist to suit specific needs. For the purposes of this review, we’re going to confine ourselves to just reviewing the best hydration packs on the market. We’ll leave the specifics for another time. If you’re looking for a great all-purpose hydration pack that will suit nearly any of your outdoor needs, these reviews can work as a handy guide.
Best Hydration Packs of 2020
1. TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack
With an 18-liter leakproof bladder in tow, users of the TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack can enjoy a full day in the great outdoors without fear of running dry. Thanks to comfortable thick padding on the back panel, chest, and shoulder straps, the backpack is easy to wear for long stretches of time and won’t cause any discomfort. What are the pros and cons of the Teton Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration pack?
- Can be adjusted to fit all frames
- Lightweight comfortable design
- Sturdy kink-free zip tube
- Generously sized main pocket
- Leakproof bladder and rain-fly store
- Zippers can be problematic
- It can be difficult to pull water through the hose
Overall, the Teton Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack is a solid choice for anyone looking for a budget-friendly hydration pack that performs. This is a pack that is deceptively capacious but thoroughly durable. It includes features that tend to be reserved for more expensive hydration packs. For example, the sewn-in rain fly stored within a velcro pocket can protect all of your belongings in the event of rain. That’s a feature most budget-friendly hydration packs lack. This is absolutely a pack to consider if lightweight hydration and adjustability are keen on your radar.
2. Camelbak M.U.L.E Hydration Pack
The always popular Camelbak M.U.L.E. hydration pack is a hyper-compact, lightweight day pack that contains a generous 3-liter water reservoir. It is a great choice for hiking, biking, or travel. This hydration pack is truly a workhorse. Though originally billed for mountain biking, it is suited for any type of adventure due to the storage capacity, light frame, and way it hugs your body while traveling at high speeds. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
- 100-oz low ride reservoir
- Super comfortable adjustable frame
- Ample storage pockets
- Detachable hose and bite valve lock
- Easy-to-fill bladder
- Tough and durable
- Upper strap buckles can be difficult to close
- Can be hot on the back
Camelbak’s M.U.L.E hydration pack has existed since 1996 for good reason. It is a true workhorse that will stand up to any outdoor endeavor. Supremely comfortable and easy-to-wear, this pack has one of the best reservoirs and valves in the business. It makes organizing a diverse amount of gear hassle-free and easy to do. Available in a variety of sizes and colors, there is a model to suit any user. If you’re looking for a solid and reliable pack that will stand the test of time, this Camelbak could be a top choice for you.
3. Osprey Katari Hydration
If you’re seeking a low-profile and lightweight hydration pack that won’t get in the way, the Osprey Katari might be the pack for you. This is a light, close-to-the bodypack that’s perfect for quick adventures. Though these packs are small they are offered at competitive prices, making them tempting for those who don’t need much in the way of storage or capacity. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
- Available in 7 and 3-liter sizes
- Also available in an extra small 1.5-liter size
- Small and compact
- Ultra-lightweight and comfortable to wear thanks to mesh padding
- Affordable and budget-friendly
- Available in several colors and sizes
- Lacks storage space
- Does not have as many features as pricier models
Not every outdoor adventurer requires a massive or bulky hydration pack. That’s where the Osprey Katari Hydration pack shines. Lightweight and comfortable, the pack fits close to the body for easy and seamless wear. If you’re looking for a minimalistic hydration pack that’s just roomy enough to carry the essentials, then the Katari could work for you. This is a stable pack with contoured comfort, removable wedding hipbelt, and a functional magnetic bite valve and external hydration sleeve. If you’re not someone going on long hikes or bike-rides, this could be the perfect starter pack for you.
4. Osprey Skarab 18 Hydration Pack
Day Hikers rejoice! The Osprey Skarab 18 hydration pack might be one of the best all-purpose day-hiking packs available on the market today. This pack is a durable, affordable and ultra-comfortable pack that doesn’t rely on an upscale suspension system for stability. With an easy to use a 2.5-liter hydration system, this pack is small enough to take on short hikes or large enough for that day’s long trek on the trail. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
- Doubles as a hiking daypack due to ample storage.
- 5-liter easy-to-clean hydration system
- Lightweight and easy-to-carry on long treks
- Comfortable sturdy frame with plenty of padding
- Dedicated hydration bladder sleeve
- Great value for the money
- Limited organizational pockets
- Poor ventilation properties
The Osprey Skarab 18 Hydration Pack is a reliable and all-around top performer with a super high volume hydration pack. It has you covered on a hike, bike ride or kayak trip. With daypack size capacity and a sturdy yet comfortable frame, this is a solid pack for general use. Unlike similar models, the Skarab has a dedicated hydration bladder sleeve which makes the bladder easy to fill and even easier to clean. This is a strong performer that ticks most boxes for outdoor enthusiasts.
5. Patagonia Nine Trails Pack 14L
Outdoor brand Patagonia has earned its sterling reputation for good reason. The Patagonia Nine Trails Pack 14L further proves their commitment to churning out quality products that work. Available in two different sizes (S/M and LG/XL), the 14-Liter reservoir is a great fit for anyone looking to comfortably carry all of their essentials for a full-day or riding, hiking, or climbing. Unlike comparable models, the pack has ample storage compartments to keep everything organized and easy to access. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
- Very low profile
- Several sizes available to suit taller and shorter wearers
- Ample compartments for storage
- Breathable back panel design
- Hip pockets for easy access to gear
- 2-Liter hydration bladder
- DWR treated outer and inner liner
- Very short cord connecting the hydration bladder and cover
- Needs a system for securing loose strap ends
Overall, the Patagonia Nine Trails Pack 14L is an excellent option for avid hikers and bikers. With multiple sizes and adjustment options, the pack can accommodate those with longer or shorter torsos for added comfort. Two main storage compartments and a variety of additional storage space provide just enough room to keep gear organized in one place. Comfort padded straps provide a customized fit and keep the pack from sliding around when moving. Though a bit pricier than other hydration packs, the Nine Trails is a comfortable and low-profile pack that grants the ability to carry everything you need without making you feel restricted in any way.
6. Camelbak Cloud Walker 18 Hydration Pack
The Camelbak Cloud Walker 18 Hydration Pack is an excellent entry-level pack perfect for those who don’t take their outdoor adventures too seriously. It is a compact hydration daypack that works best for new hikers, travelers, or those who commute on a bike or on foot. Unlike similar models, this is a panel loading pack with a unique zipper entrance to the main compartment and a private compartment for the 2.5-liter reservoir. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
- Very lightweight and easy-to-wear
- External water sleeve
- Versatile uses
- Many attachment elements
- Generously padded and comfortable
- Great price
- No external frame
- Lack of hip belt for easy access to gear
- No front pocket or rain cover
The Camelbak Cloud Walker 18 Hydration Pack isn’t chock full of bells and whistles, but it does get the job done. If you’re someone who wants a simple hydration pack but doesn’t need much in the way of storage or stability, this pack will work for you. The included reservoir and external water sleeve, make this a simple and reliable hydration pack that’s listed at a budget-friendly price. Though it may not be ideal for long backpacking or long mountain bike rides, it is versatile and perfect for occasional outdoor adventures, travel, and city use.
7. Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack with 2L BPA Free Bladder
Looking for a hydration pack that holds ample water without leaking on your journey? Then take a look at the Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack. This pack can hold a generous 70 oz of water, making it a great companion for a day hike or a long bike ride. Adjustable comfort padded straps mean that this pack can be fitted to a wide range of sizes, as well as male and female frames. With an added chest strap, this pack can also absorb any bouncing and balance issues, making for a more comfortable hike. Let’s glance at the pros and cons below.
- 2-Liter BPA free hydration bladder
- Thermally insulated bladder for cold drinks up to 4-hours
- Includes 3-large storage compartments for gear
- Leak Proof design guaranteed to keep your pack dry
- Lightweight breathable design with comfortable shoulder straps
- Ability to adjust the pack to suit different frames
- Lacks a lifetime guarantee as similar hydration packs do
- Does not include a rain cover or hip pack
If budget and quality are a concern, the Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack is an excellent choice. Coming in at a mere $30, this pack has the adjustability and storage nearly any hiker or biker can appreciate. Even more, the bite valve that connects to the water reservoir is also adjustable. That means you can change the length to one that suits you better. The reservoir is also very easy to clean and even easier to fill. You’ll never have to fight to fill your hydration pack again. Another unique feature is the insulated reservoir which can keep your drink cool for up to 4 hours. Additionally, you’ll find plenty of storage space for food, electronics, and maps.
Much like any hiking or biking gear, finding the right hydration pack for you is a highly personal decision. We’ve laid out the pros and cons, now it is up to you to find a hydration pack that suits your needs. If you crave simplicity, go with something like the Osprey Katari Hydration Pack. If you need a pack that will stand up to backpacking or a long outdoor journey, you may want to give the Patagonia 9 Trails A Go. Whatever choice you make, stay hydrated out on the trail and know that any hydration pack is better than no hydration pack!