Advertising Disclosure

Skin Research Institute has a financial connection to products sold via links on our website such as our top choices.


6 great hydration packs to take with you on the hiking trail

A hydration packs is a kind of backpack that holds a water reservoir, or bladder. Hydration packs allow you to carry more water than water bottles do. They make drinking while hiking or jogging easy and efficient. There are many different types of hydration packs. And while most all of them have a few main things in common, some have extra features that set them apart. We found six of the best hydration packs on the market today. Any one of these hydration packs should serve you well on your next hike.

When shopping for a hydration pack, consider that while many packs are unisex, men and women carry weight differently. Knowing this, many companies offer styles designed specifically for either men or women. You may want to factor this in when deciding which is the right pack for you.


The Camelbak Franconia LR 24 is especially good for longer day hikes and even overnight treks. While most packs have an oblong reservoir, the Franconia has a Crux lumbar reservoir, which allows you to keep water weight low and close to your back. This design offers more stability which is helpful when on difficult terrain. An aluminum frame offers added support, keeping the weight off of your shoulders. Another feature is that the drinking tube unclips from the reservoir making it easier to refill. Note that this pack does not offer adjustable torso length. And while the metal frame helps with stability and weight distribution, it does add to the overall weight of the pack.


The HydroFlask Hydration Pack is a daypack with a few unique features. Aside from a separate reservoir compartment and plenty of room for extras, it also has the Cold Flow system. This is an insulation system that keeps your water cold for up to four hours. Both the reservoir itself and the sleeve that holds it are insulated. That’s a feature many other packs don’t offer. And the harness system on this pack keeps it off your back, eliminating any heat transfer to the water. Lastly, the backpack itself is of a waterproof fabric resistant to punctures and tears. On the downside, the hip belt isn’t padded. That can make it slightly less comfortable. It also doesn’t have pockets to allow access to essentials without removing the pack.


The Osprey Skarab is a popular daypack option that features an adjustable waist belt with zippered pockets that allow you to keep necessities at the ready. This pack also uses AirScape suspension and back panel that work together to provide excellent ventilation. That’s good if you want to keep your back dry even on the hottest days. It also has loop attachments for trekking poles and two internal baffles keep water from sloshing around as you navigate varied terrain. This pack does not offer a ton of external pockets for storage, so you’ll have to remove it to access your gear.


The Gregory Citro 36 H2O has features that make it a great option for long hikes where storage and ventilation are a must. This pack boasts a large, 3-liter water reservoir and a lot of space to carry extra clothes and food. It also features a Drylock Magnetic Bite Valve so you won’t lose water to dripping. Its hip belt accommodates a heavier load so you can comfortably enjoy your hike. And its VaporSpan ventilated suspension is made with moisture-wicking mesh so your clothes will stay dry. Lastly, it has an integrated drying hangar on its water reservoir, making the bladder easy to hang dry after washing. One drawback to this pack is that it does not have many easy-to-access front pockets. And the water reservoir, while it has its own compartment, takes up quite a bit of room in the pack overall when filled.


The Patagonia Nine Trails Waist Pack lets you to hit the trail hands-free but without having to carry a backpack. The main compartment is large enough for an extra layer and other hiking essentials. The padded waist belt and breathable back panel provide all-day comfort. This waist pack also has two stretch side pockets that let you carry extra water bottles. That is, if you think the 1.5-liter reservoir included with the pack isn’t enough. A waist pack doesn’t offer the weight distribution as a backpack, but it allows for easy access, because you’re not fully strapped in.


The Osprey Manta builds on Osprey’s classics and adds a few unique features. The Manta has slightly more storage capacity that typical hydration packs for longer hikes. But what really sets it apart is its AirSpeed suspension system that offers top-rate ventilation. Its adjustable torso design allows for a more tailored fit and more even load distribution for added comfort. And its stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment allows you to attach your poles without removing your pack. This pack also comes with a built-in raincover, so you’ll be able to keep your goods dry if you get caught in weather. Here again, the main drawback is that all of the features that set it apart from other hydration packs tend to land it on the slightly heavier side.