A leisurely read

The Best Hydration Packs for Day Hikers for 2023

Stay hydrated and healthy during your hikes with a well-designed hydration pack!

During a hike or performing any other outdoor activities, the need for hydration arises at odd moments and more frequently than usual—this is where a hydration backpack becomes a must-have.

Hydration packs provide you with a large (1.5-3L) water reservoir and easy access to water through a drinking tube. Reducing the stress of going through your bag to pull out or put in your water bottle when you are thirsty.

While you can find plenty of hydration backpacks on the market, there are a few factors to look for when shopping for the best hydration backpack for day hiking. You’ll want to consider the size you need, the type of strap, and the design. We have put all this into consideration and provided you with the best hydration packs for day hikers in the market!

How We Picked

  • Size

    For hydration packs, the size and weight go hand in hand. The hydration pack you get should depend on your needs and your intended use. Here we suggest packs with 11 to 30-liter storage capacity.

  • Comfortable

    Hydration packs can become quite heavy when they are filled with gear, water, and snacks. To help reduce the pain and stress, a comfortable hydration pack is important.

  • Easy to fill and clean

    Hydration packs are notoriously very difficult to clean because of their exposure to microorganisms and dirt of all sorts. Finding a model with easy access to aid cleaning is important.

  • Price

    Great quality is always worth the investment. That is why we looked for hydration packs with great value for a great price. This way you are sure you are getting a worthy buy!

Our Top Picks

Best Pick

Osprey Skalab

Best men's hydration pack for day hiking!

You will love the load of awesome features included in this pack. It has a wide-mouth bucket-style main compartment for easy access to unpack, refill, and clean.
It also has a front shove-it pocket for fast and easy storage. It has dual-zippered large side-panel pockets, and hip belt pockets for keeping your extra valuables and snacks at arm's reach.

Buy Now for $175.00

This hydration pack also has dual upper and lower side straps for better fastening.

Runner Up

Osprey Skimmer

Best women's hydration pack for day hiking!

The osprey skimmer hydration pack also has dual upper and lower side straps for better fastening, ice ax loops, trekking pole loops for extra hiking gear attachments, and daisy chain attachment points. With its very thoughtful features, you will find this hydration pack versatile for different terrain, weather, and hiking distances!

Buy Now for $112.84

It has dual-zippered, large side-panel pockets, and hip-belt pockets for keeping your extra valuables and snacks at arm's reach

Most cost-effective

Gregory Nano 18

Lightweight, value-packed affordable hydration pack!

The small size of the nano 18 makes it the perfect lightweight pick for hikers and even runners with its sternum strap and hip belt. Plus with its mesh side pockets, you get extra space for storing a hydration flask (or two). The design, features, and style of this make it a rugged, affordable hydration backpack with an ultra-minimalistic feel.

Buy Now for $59.95

This hydration pack also has a comfortable design with its breathable back panel for ventilation.

Almost made the cut

Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Pack

Budget-buy hydration pack for hiking beginners!

This pick boasts large storage by providing three big storage compartments for necessities like water, snacks, jacket, camera, first-aid kits, maps, brochures, etc. all without a problem. Plus its red leak-proof design guarantees dry movement.

Buy Now

It has an amazing two-liter leak-proof bladder and is available in over 13 colors, including orange, blue, and purple.

Everything We Recommend

Best Pick

Osprey Skalab

Best men's hydration pack for day hiking!

$175.00

Buy Now

Runner Up

Osprey Skimmer

Best women's hydration pack for day hiking!

$112.84

Buy Now

Most cost-effective

Gregory Nano 18

Lightweight, value-packed affordable hydration pack!

$59.95

Buy Now

Almost made the cut

Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Pack

Budget-buy hydration pack for hiking beginners!

Buy Now

Who This Is For

This review is for you that want a water reservoir with bigger storage to take on your hikes. It is also for you looking for a backpack to accommodate all your basic hiking gear, water bladder, and snacks, for a better filing experience. This review is perfect for timing beginners and enthusiasts that are looking for the best hydration pack to keep hydrated and motivated throughout the hike!

Hydration packs vs water bottles
While going for a hike, jog, or any outdoor activities keeping hydrated is always a good thing. And the truth is both hydration packs and water bottles do a good job in that field. However, depending on the distance and your water consumption you might find one better than the other.

Hydration packs are backpacks optimized to have an included water bladder to store and access more water easily through a drinking tube. Imagine a big bottle with a straw or hose in this case that is what water bladders are. And when they are attached to a bag you have a hydration backpack. While you might need to retrieve a water bottle from your backpack first or pull it out of the backpack’s side pocket while walking, it’s quite difficult to put it back in without stopping and taking the backpack off.

Because of the hassle of bringing out water bottles and putting them back, hikers also tend to drink more at a time. So instead of drinking when they feel the need, they might postpone or not drink water at all. With a hydration system, hikers can take small sips of water throughout the hike. This way they are always hydrated and it doesn’t cause a splashing sensation in the stomach that happens when you haven’t taken water for a while.

Of course, water bottles have their advantages like being easier to clean, easier to store, and more leak or puncture-proof than hydration packs.

Hydration packs need to be cleaned properly all the time to prevent mold growth in the water bladder. They also need to be stored away from sharp objects to prevent leakage.
However, when it comes to the amount of water each of these water reservoirs can hold, hydration packs take it home with a capacity range of 1.5-3L. While water bottles have a 1L capacity.

Going for any of them (hydration backpack water bottle) is good, remember the aim is to be hydrated. However, if you would be hiking a long distance and would need more water for your journey then a hydration pack is a better option. If it’s not a long walk and you are going with a friend that can easily help remove or put back your water bottle then water bottles are great.

Is it worth splurging on?
Yes, hydration packs are worth the investment! Trekking, trail running, jogging and hiking are all hydration-demanding work, whether in the cooler or hotter season.

Good hydration packs serve as both storage for your hiking essentials and a hydration system. Some models have snug-fitting vests with small pockets for soft bottles and/or a pocket for a hydration bladder, plus pockets for energy gels and that extra waterproof jacket. And as you know already, they provide easier access to the water you need during your run than a water bottle can provide.

If you take part in long-distance trail activities hydration packs are a must-have and a worthy investment! Of course, finding the best hydration pack to suit you is still very important, depending on your size and water needs. But that is what this guide is for so keep reading!

Why You Should Trust Us

To find the best hydration pack for a day hike, we examined backpacks from brands with guaranteed performance, great user reviews, and compared quality across different prices. We looked for a hydration pack ideal for a day of hiking considering your budget, needs, and specifications (size, comfort, and design).

Plus…We want to be a small part of the reason why you enjoy a healthy, well-hydrated hike with your friends!

 

How We Picked

Size
The size of the hydration backpack you get is dependent on your personal need (water consumption, water capacity, and storage) and your intended use (where you would be hiking, and added gear you would carry along). While some people might suggest you go for a backpack bigger than your foreseen need, it’s important to remember you are going to be carrying this backpack and it might become more of a problem than an assist if you don’t get the right size. Generally, hydration packs range from five liters to over 50 liters. Our research suggests hydration packs with 11 – 30-liter storage are a good bet for day hiking.

Design/style
Designs are very important in hydration packs as a good design could make drinking, refilling, and cleaning easier and more convenient.

Some design features to look out for are the bite valve shutoff, clips, and wide-mouth.
Bite Valve shutoffs are the controls for your water supply to drink or stop the flow of water. Different brands have different designs however most bite valves are fairly easy to use.
Clips are an add-on to the shoulder strap to keep your tube positioned for easy access. This feature is not general, however, most brands optimize the backpack to hand the type close enough to your mouth.

Wide-mouth openings on the water bladder are simply the ability for the mouth of the bladder to expand allowing your hands to fit inside the reservoir for easy cleaning. They also help make refilling your water bladder easier.

Comfortable to carry
Hydration packs could be quite heavy when they are filled with gear, water, and snacks. To help reduce the pain and stress a comfortable hydration pack is important. Here we look for lightweight hydration packs that have breathable materials and balance the weight of the load well to increase comfort.

Easy to fill and clean
Hydration packs are notoriously very difficult to clean cause of their exposure to microorganisms and dirt of all sorts. They also have a high chance of growing mold if they don’t dry well or are not stored well. While you would need proper cleaning tools to ensure it is well-cleaned we have found that models with wide mouths are simpler to wash and air-dry and refill.

Price
Hydration packs, like most sporting gear, are readily available but at different price points based on their capacity, and functions. Great quality is always worth the investment when it comes to a hydration backpack you’ll use for a long time. That is why we considered trusted brands and looked for hydration packs with great value for a great price. This way you are sure you are getting a worthy buy!

Type of material
Some materials are better than others and the type of material is very important as it’s related to the quality of the build you get. Here we looked for nylon, polyester, vinyl, or mesh fabrics, because they are breathable materials, feel lightweight, and won’t get soggy in the rain. They are strong and they dry fast too.

Type of belt
The right fit of hydration packs exists in several forms, including backpacks, vests, belts, and waist bags. Each of these forms is used for different outdoor activities. For hiking, the best backpack is one that has a sturdy strap at the shoulder and sternum for a good snug fit.

Leakproof
Most leakage issues with hydration packs happen at the joints (reservoir-tube joint and tube-mouthpiece joint) and bite valves. While this is prone to happen with time, however, a good leak-proof material would go a long way in giving a long-lasting value before you change the worn-out part.

Our Picks For You

Best Pick - Osprey Skalab

Best Pick

Osprey Skalab

Best men's hydration pack for day hiking!

You will love the load of awesome features included in this pack. It has a wide-mouth bucket-style main compartment for easy access to unpack, refill, and clean.
It also has a front shove-it pocket for fast and easy storage. It has dual-zippered large side-panel pockets, and hip belt pockets for keeping your extra valuables and snacks at arm's reach.

Buy Now for $175.00

Who it is for

Get the Osprey Skarab if you are looking for a hydration backpack designed for people with a bigger build. This hydration pack is commonly referred to as the best hiking backpack for men because of its big size. While the slightly smaller version, the Osprey Skimmer, is said to be specifically designed for women. However, one thing is clear: the manufacturer cares about the comfort of the user, how well the bag fits, and the added designs to make carrying easier.

Why it is great

The Osprey Skarab Hydration packs come in different sizes as well as include an Osprey hydration bladder. So you can be sure to get your perfect size for a day hike. It also comes with a 2.5L water bladder that is easy to fill and drink from. You find any size you get very spacious for snacks and other valuable you might have.

Potential flaws

The only issue we found with this pack is that it lacks an integrated rain cover for its price, however, you can get a cover separately for your hike.

Other features

You will love the load of awesome features included in this pack. It has a wide-mouth bucket-style main compartment for easy access, refill, and cleaning. It also has a front shove-it pocket for fast and easy storage. It has dual-zippered large side-panel pockets, and hip belt pockets for keeping your extra valuables and snacks at arm's reach.

The Osprey Skarab hydration pack also has dual upper and lower side straps for better fastening, ice ax loops, trekking pole loops for extra hiking gear attachments, and daisy chain attachment points. With these very thoughtful features, you will find this hydration backpack a brilliant addition to your hiking must-have!

Product specifications

Male hydration pack with dimensions of 21.1 x 10.7 x 2.1 inches and weighs ‎1.72 pounds.
Comes with a 2.5L water reservoir.

Runner Up - Osprey Skimmer

Runner Up

Osprey Skimmer

Best women's hydration pack for day hiking!

The osprey skimmer hydration pack also has dual upper and lower side straps for better fastening, ice ax loops, trekking pole loops for extra hiking gear attachments, and daisy chain attachment points. With its very thoughtful features, you will find this hydration pack versatile for different terrain, weather, and hiking distances!

Buy Now for $112.84

Who it is for

It should be no surprise that the next best thing to the Osprey Skarab is its women's version Osprey Skimmer. The Osprey brand has chosen to optimize both of these packs to suit their users the best way by making these hydration packs a gender-specific fit.

So if you like the first pick you would love this even more. Women-specific hiking backpacks are constructed with a different style of hip belts and sternum straps— they often have a slightly smaller torso length. And like her brother, the Osprey Skimmer 28 also comes with a 2.5-liter Osprey hydration bladder.

Why it is great

It has an adjustable sternum strap with a magnetic bite-valve attachment to keep your water as accessible as possible. Just like our first pick, if you want a different size of the Osprey skimmer you have the option to go for the 20, or 16-liter version of this hydration backpack. With Osprey Skimmer and Skarab, you are certain that you would get a comfortable spacious backpack for your day hike!

Potential flaws

Following in the footsteps of our first pick, you also don't get an included rain cover with this pick for its price. However, you still get all the Osprey great features.

Other features

You will love the load of awesome features included in this pack. It has a wide-mouth, bucket-style main compartment for easy access to unpack, refill, and clean. It also has a front shove-it pocket for fast and easy storage. It has dual-zippered large side-panel pockets, and hip belt pockets for keeping your extra valuables and snacks at arm's reach.

The Osprey Skimmer hydration pack also has dual upper and lower side straps for better fastening, ice ax loops, trekking pole loops for extra hiking gear attachments, and daisy chain attachment points. With its very thoughtful features, you will find this hydration pack versatile for different terrain, weather, and hiking distances!

Product specifications

Female hydration pack with dimensions of ‎19 x 12.5 x 4 inches and Weighs ‎1.68 pounds.
Comes with a 2.5L water reservoir.

Most cost-effective - Gregory Nano 18

Most cost-effective

Gregory Nano 18

Lightweight, value-packed affordable hydration pack!

The small size of the nano 18 makes it the perfect lightweight pick for hikers and even runners with its sternum strap and hip belt. Plus with its mesh side pockets, you get extra space for storing a hydration flask (or two). The design, features, and style of this make it a rugged, affordable hydration backpack with an ultra-minimalistic feel.

Buy Now for $59.95

Who it is for

Get the Gregory Nano 18 if you are looking for a powerful, lightweight backpack for on-the-go hydration. Available in over seven gorgeous designs — the Nano 18 is the best hiking companion for extensive comfort and space for all your hiking gear. The first catchy thing you would notice with this backpack is the reflective webbing loops to keep you visible in the dark—a feature most backpacks don't have.

Why it is great

Asides from being optimized for water bladder addition the Gregory Nano 18’s reservoir compartment doubles as a tablet pouch when you don’t have a water bladder inside. This hydration pack also has a comfortable design with its breathable back panel for ventilation, and the front zippered pocket provided easy access to any extra valuables.

Potential flaws

This hydration backpack doesn't come with a reservoir bladder, but you can get one and attach it easily.

Other features

The small size of the nano 18 makes it the perfect lightweight pick for hikers and even runners with its sternum strap and hip belt. Plus with its mesh side pockets, you get extra space for storing a hydration flask (or two). The design, features, and style of this make it a rugged, affordable hydration backpack with an ultra-minimalistic feel.

Product specifications

Unisex hydration pack with dimensions of 19 x 11.7 x 2 inches weights 1 pound.

Almost made the cut - Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Pack

Almost made the cut

Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Pack

Budget-buy hydration pack for hiking beginners!

This pick boasts large storage by providing three big storage compartments for necessities like water, snacks, jacket, camera, first-aid kits, maps, brochures, etc. all without a problem. Plus its red leak-proof design guarantees dry movement.

Buy Now

Who it is for

Get the Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Pack if you are looking for a cheaper lightweight option with a large water bladder for outdoor excursions. As the name suggests this pick has an insulated compartment to help keep your water cool for hours of activity even under the sun.

Why it is great

It has an amazing 2-liter leak-proof bladder and is available in over 13 colors, including orange, blue, and purple. This pick comes with excellent recommendations from experienced users and reviews. At a very budget-friendly price, this pick competes well with higher prized backpacks.

Potential flaws

For its price, you shouldn't expect the added toys and unique comfortable designs the higher-end models provide, but this pick still stands as a good choice if you are just starting out with hydration backpacks.

Other features

This pick boasts large storage by providing three big storage compartments for necessities like water, snacks, a jacket, a camera, first-aid kits, maps, brochures, etc. all without a problem. Plus its red leak-proof design guarantees dry movement.

Product specifications

Unisex hydration pack with dimensions of ‎17 x 10.5 x 2.5 inches and weighs ‎1.6 pounds. Comes with a 2L water reservoir.

Care and maintenance

You should always keep your hydration pack well cared for if extending the lifespan of your bladder and tube is important to you. Manufacturers recommend a guide to effectively clean your hydration pack.

First, you get your cleaning reagents like baking soda or bleach, then mix them with hot water, then fill the system. Next, you soak and drain, then scrub and rinse. And finally, allow to air dry or use a piece of cloth to clean first.

When not in use it is advised to store in a freezer to prevent the growth of molds and other microorganisms. Always check your pack before leaving home for leakages. And if you find any form of leakage, do not take it out for a while until it is fixed.