The Beginner’s Guide To Hydration Running Vests

Running vests have exploded in popularity over the past few years, especially in the trail running world.

However, choosing the right one can be tricky thanks to the variety of products available on the market.

All in all, the best running hydration vest for you will depend on notable features, comfort, style, and budget.

Would you like to learn more? Then keep on reading.

Here’s a list of the main things to keep in mind when choosing a hydration running vest.

What Is Hydration Running Vest?

Thanks to the hydration vest, you can easily carry water—and other running essentials—without having to stop and taking a water bottle whenever you want to drink. This ensures that you’re well-hydrated without having to slow down.

These running hydration vests are designed to help the runner carry everything needed while also preventing movement of the pack and its “cargo” while running.

Not all hydration vests are designed for runners.  In fact, there are other vests specifically made for dirt biking, mountain hiking, kayaking, etc.

Sure, some of these hydration packs may work while running, but you’re better off with one specifically designed for runners.

Running hydration vests are usually made with lighter-weight materials that help wick sweat and keep your body comfortable and dry. They also tend to be less bulky and smaller to help keep the weight down.

What’s more?

A good running vest features straps specifically designed to help reduce movement and bouncing of the pack while logging the miles.

Here’s the good news.

Over the past few years, there’s been a surge in the popularity of running vests. This not only means more options for the buyer, but the vests are also more functional and comfortable than ever before.

Your running hydration vest choice will on three main elements: fluid capacity, pack capacity, and fit.

There are also a few extra features to consider, and you can find more about them below.

Fluid Capacity Vs. Pack Capacity

Fluid capacity, as the name implies, refers to the amount of water—or other liquids—a pack can carry using its included carrying containers.

This can range from 20 ounces to two-liter and is carried in many ways: bottles, reservoirs, or both.

On the other hand, pack capacity refers to the amount of cargo you can carry with you. On long runs, you might need to take with you nutrition products, jackets, phones, gels, sunglasses, a headlamp, pepper spray, etc.

So What’ The Rule?

Your running vest capacity choices depend on your running distance and time—as in, how many miles you plan to log in and for how long.

The more miles, the more liquid, food, and extra “gear” you’ll need.

As a rule, your hydration pack should have enough space to carry water, food, and an extra layer of clothing.

How much space you’ll need will depend on your total time running as well as your training needs. I’d recommend that your take with you more than you think you’ll need but as little as possible. Be a minimalist but don’t forgo the essentials.

Here are a few recommendations based on the size of the vest and the length of your runs.

  • Runs lasting One Hour Or Less – No need for hydration vest unless you really have to.
  • Runs for 1-2 hoursYou’ll need about two liters of space
  • Runs for 2-3 hours—You’ll need a vest with a capacity between two and four liters
  • Runs over 3 hours—You’ll want a vest with a capacity between four to ten liters.
  • Ultra runs—shoot for at least eight liters up to the largest capacity that suits your personal needs.
Young happy fit sport girl relaxing on the embankment or in the park against the background of the stadium after training or workout. Healthy lifestyle concept

Get The Proper Fit

Fit is key when choosing a running vest. Get it wrong, and the vest might chafe and rub, causing discomfort, skin irritation, and soreness.

Like any other piece of gear, the fit of the hydration pack depends on you, and you may find it worth your time to compare a few options before you choose your ideal pack.

Some running vests are designed in universal sizing, which can be manually customized to suit your body shape.

As a rule, a proper hydration vest should hug your body snugly without restricting breathing or arm movement.  In fact, it should fit snug when the pack is loaded with gear, allowing for no bouncing around when running.

You should also avoid having any space between the straps and your shoulder, which encourages bouncing.

If you’re a woman, consider getting a vest with adjustable chest and torso straps. This helps tailor the fit above or below your chest.


Pockets are more practical as they allow you to better organize your gear.

A running vest that features pockets for your cell phone, keys, sunglasses, etc., is your best option.

If the vest features plenty of stash pockets, it’s up to you to choose what to put in them

Pole Holders

Plan to run with trekking poles? Look for a running vest that features a specific spot for securing them.

Keep in mind that you can also use a pole quiver that attaches to some bags.


There you have it. If you’re looking to buy a running vest then today’s post has you covered. Make sure to be well educated before you decide to make any purchase.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime thank you for dropping by.

Keep training strong.

David D.