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The Best CamelBak Hydration Packs for Outdoor Sports

They say that necessity is the mother of invention — that was certainly the case in 1989 when CamelBak’s founder Michael Eidson invented “hands-free hydration.”

Competing in the “Hotter’N Hell 100,” Eidson needed to protect himself from dehydration on a 100-mile cycle ride in the hot Texas sun where water refill options were scarce. So, he cobbled together medical tubing and an IV bag full of H2O with a tube sock for a holder and a clothespin for a clamp, stuffed it in his bike jersey, and a new sports hydration solution was born.

With much better materials than clothespins, tube socks, and IV bags, and more than 25 years as the industry leader in backpack hydration systems under its belt, CamelBak’s products can be counted on for quality, durability, and optimal functionality.

What Should Your Hydration Pack Have?

At its most basic, a hydration pack is a water reservoir or “bladder” and a tube with a bite valve that runs to your mouth, all carried in a backpack, vest, or waist pack. It’s the way that CamelBak handles these details that makes their packs so great:

  • Size and Capacity: How much water you will need to carry depends on your activity and other factors. Try CamelBak’s hydration calculator to determine your ideal level of hydration. Hydration packs come in several sizes, the largest holding 2.5 to 3 liters. It’s important to remember that carrying more water means carrying more weight. You can choose a pack that holds a smaller amount, or you always have the option of not filling your water reservoir to capacity. You may only need a pack that carries your water, or you may need additional storage space for food and extra clothing.
  • Comfort and Fit: Pay close attention to the length of the pack and the fit around your torso. You don’t want the pack to bounce, and you want the weight of it to stay balanced and centered. Straps should allow for airflow while you move. Pack materials should be sturdy, lightweight, and breathable.
  • Extra Features: Look for bonuses like multiple pockets, reflective materials for low-light safety, and stowing options to keep essentials like your phone handy. Some packs have specialized options to carry activity-specific gear like trekking poles or bike tire repair kits.

Here are some great CamelBak choices for specific outdoor activities:

Best for Running: Camelback Circuit Running Hydration Pack

This 1.5-L hydration capacity CamelBak Circuit Running Hydration Vest is a very comfortable running pack made from reflective, super lightweight, and highly breathable material. There’s a zippered pocket for your phone, five exterior pockets for running essentials, and 3 L of space for extra gear.

Best for Runners

CamelBak Circuit Vest 50oz, Nautical Blue/Black, One Size

This 1.5-L capacity vest is a very comfortable running pack made from reflective, lightweight, and breathable material.

Best for Biking: CamelBak K.U.D.U. Protector 10 Hydration Pack

This 3-L hydration pack has a compact, low profile, so it’s stable on your back and minimizes wind resistance. With a 9-L gear capacity, the loadbearing waistbelt with cargo pockets is designed so that it doesn’t interfere with your pedaling. It comes with removable protector inserts—flexible back panels that absorb 94 percent of impact shock to protect your back if you fall.

Best for Bikers

CamelBak K.U.D.U. Protector 10 100 oz., Red Orange/Charcoal, M/L

This 3-L pack has a compact, low profile, so it's stable on your back and minimizes wind resistance.

Best for Hiking: CamelBak Octane 10 Hydration Pack

This hydration pack comes with the CamelBak 2L Crux water reservoir, which delivers 20 percent more water per sip with an on/off lever that makes it easy to prevent leaks. The straps and back are lightly padded mesh, so it breathes well. It has a trekking pole attachment and a stretch overflow pocket for easy access to your rain jacket or additional clothing. Fit more snacks, sunscreen, or jackets with the 8-L gear capacity.

Best for Hikers

CamelBak Octane 10 70 oz Hydration Pack, Black/Atomic Blue

This hydration pack has a 2-L water capacity and an 8-L gear capacity with a trekking pole attachment.

Best for Skiing: CamelBak Thermobak Hydration Pack

This 3-L water reservoir CamelBak is an excellent choice for people who don’t really need storage space, but want a good amount of water they can easily access. The minimal, lightweight design can be worn under a ski jacket, and the insulated tube and bite valve cover make it a great pack to keep your water from freezing in low temperatures.

Best for Skiing

CamelBak Thermobak 2l Efp 2.0l 71000 Hydration Pack, 70 oz, Black

This minimal, lightweight hydration pack carries 3 L of water and keeps it from freezing in low temperatures.

Lisa Walenceus Lisa Walenceus
Lisa Walenceus has 20 years of research and writing experience as an educator, news reporter, and freelancer. She writes to learn and digs deep to find how things work. Read Full Bio »

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