Which Hydration Pack is Right For You?

Everyone has some sort of routine before they arrive at a trailhead for some quality #trailtime. It usually involves checking the weather, adding/removing layers and packing along some snacks and water. The weather is pretty self-explanatory and the layering is a little different for every person, but what about how you pack along food + water? How do you do it?

There are a few ways to carry nutrition and hydration with you on a hike or trail run. This post is going to touch on all the options...then you can decide which is best for you on any given day!

Trail running hydration

The Handheld Water Bottle
If you're headed out for a short trail run on a cool day you may not need any water at all, but I like to be prepared for "what if" situations. Like, what if I space out and miss a turn that makes my 3 miler into a 6 miler? Or, what if I trip on the trail and have to hike back rather than run back turning my one hour trail run into a two hour suffer fest? Will I be prepared?

Well, if I take along a small handheld full of water and packed with a few HoneyStinger chews I'll be ready for random mishaps on the trail! Handhelds come in a variety of sizes and can carry up to 24+ ounces of water! Most also have a storage pouch for keys + ID + snacks!

The Waist Pack
Not a fan of holding anything in your hand while you run? Would you rather have your hands available to snap photos while hiking? Maybe a waist pack is right for you! It's like an upgraded fanny pack, but much, much cooler...I promise!

One great thing about waist packs is the variety of options you have! You can have 2-4 small bottles or one large bottle and they all come with at least one pocket to stash your keys + ID + food! Waist packs are great for someone who wants to keep their hands free and doesn't need the space offered up by a traditional hydration backpack. Plus, the storage pouches are easily accessible as you hike/run...no need to stop and take a pack off!

Trail runners

The Hydration Backpack
While the full backpack is rarely necessary on a trail run or short hike you may really like to room available in a hydration pack. If you're going to be out on the trail long enough to need extra food or want to pack along a rain jacket or warm layers for dicey weather a hydration pack can come in really handy.


Specifically designated hydration packs are designed to ride smoothly on your back when hiking quickly or trail running. When adjusted properly they do not bounce or rub and the added storage space can be extremely useful.

Another great perk of a hydration pack is the versatility. You usually have the option to carry water bottle on the front straps or in a hydration bladder in the pack. You'll also have pockets on the front straps that will give you easy access to food while the back pocket can hold extra layers + food.

Now that you have a quick overview of the various types of hydration systems...what do you prefer? Do you have a specific brand or model you'd recommend? What's the most interesting set up you've seen out on the trails?
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