The market is full of hydration packs for marathon use. This is both a good thing and a bad thing.
The good news is that you have plenty of hydration packs to choose from. This affords you the liberty of choice.
But at the same time, it can get quite confusing, what with so many options available for you.
How to Choose the Best Hydration Packs for Marathon
It can take an entire article (or two) to fully discuss what factors go into choosing the best hydration packs for marathon use. However, to sum it all up, you need to consider two different factors: the straps and the capacity.
Most if not all hydration packs come with shoulder, chest, and waist straps.
Each of the straps must have enough padding and be wide enough to distribute weight properly across your body.
The thinner the straps are, the more likely they’ll break, or rub your body and cause irritation. It’s also important that the straps are adjustable, especially for female runners.
Capacity is also another factor.
For marathons, you’ll want to go the minimal route and simply make sure that the pack has enough room for fluids, snacks, and carry gels.
|CamelBak Delaney Hydration Waistpack, Black||Prime||Buy Now|
|CamelBak Circuit Vest 50oz, Graphite/Sulphur Spring, One Size||Prime||Buy Now|
|Ultimate Direction FKT Trail Running Hydration Vest, Flash, Small/Medium||Prime||Buy Now|
|Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 5 Set Black/Racing Red MD||Prime||Buy Now|
|Osprey Packs Duro 6 Running Hydration Vest, Alpine Black, Medium/Large||Prime||Buy Now|
What are the Best Hydration Packs for Marathon Use?
Below are some options you can consider for your next marathon.
1. Camelbak Delaney Hydration Waistpack
Hydration packs aren’t always vests. In fact, many swear by how much better waist packs are, especially ones that are well-designed.
A good example of that is the Camelbak Delaney Hydration Waistpack.
Lightweight and secure, this waistpack boasts the advantage that comes inherently with using a waistpack. But it comes with much more storage options than other products. It is easy to adjust and is pretty much a perfect fit for anyone.
Not to mention, it comes with Camelback’s very own “Podium Chill” water bottle, which many runners have praised for its twist-to-close valve that’s very effective at preventing spills even when running at high speeds and how its insulation effectively keeps water cold for hours.
Because the Delaney is specifically designed for the Podium Chill water bottle, it has enough storage options for other stuff as well.
This includes phones, money, identification cards, and carry gels, or pretty much anything you need to get you through a marathon.
While many would still recommend vests for marathons, the Delaney is a no-brainer of a choice for those looking for something more compact without compromising carrying options.
- Comes with “Podium Chill” water bottle
- Lightweight and compact
- Plenty of pockets and storage options
- Backed by a lifetime guarantee
- Larger phones may not fit in phone pockets
2. CamelBak Circuit
The CamelBack Circuit is a bang-for-the-buck product that’s sold for a relatively affordable price without really shortchanging buyers much.
The Circuit comes with a water capacity up to 2.5 liters, a secure phone pocket, and various other storage options. In fact, unless you’re really looking for something specific, like larger snack storage options, or a more form-fitting fabric, the Circuit should be more than enough for your marathon needs.
In addition to its sufficient storage options, the Circuit is lightweight and is made out of a 3D micro-mesh material for an ideal mix of comfort and breathability.
While the Circuit is not a luxury product by any means, it’s not half-bad either.
If you’re used to luxuries, then we’ll definitely recommend something else that’s more appropriate for your needs. But keep in mind that such hydration packs will be more expensive.
However, if you’re not that choosy, the Circuit is great for marathons and shorter runs alike.
- 3D micro-mesh material for breathability and comfort
- Multiple storage options
- The straps will occasionally loosen in the middle of a long run
3. Ultimate Direction FKT
The Ultimate Direction FKT was built for hardcore runners and marathoners who want something that will take them to the distance.
Mind you, when we’re speaking of distance, we’re not just talking about a day-long marathon. We’re talking about marathons that will take days to finish, if not more, because really, the FKT has more than enough storage options for such endeavors.
With an 18-liter storage capacity, the FKT has far more pockets than most would ever need. Not to mention, it’s designed to have storage options all over the vest.
This means that, even when full, weight distribution will not be a problem. This is especially true if you pack accordingly and properly.
Fit options are also not a problem with the FKT and it comes with wide shoulder straps.
Surprisingly enough though, the FKT only comes with one bottle. Although that’s enough for an all-day pack, we don’t really think that one bottle will make it through another day.
- Storage options for days, literally
- Comfortable and snug fit
- Accessible storage
- Big and bulky
4. Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra 5 Set
The Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra 5 Set is what happens when a minimalistic design approach meets function.
Where most minimalist-style hydration packs for marathon use often compromise storage, the Ultra 5 does not. You can access your hydration needs at the front without really much trouble, and you have tons of pockets at your disposal for any and all of your other racing and marathon essentials.
To further discuss it in detail, users have access to two front pockets for hydration, three zip pockets on the chest and sides, as well as three stretch pockets at the back.
Every purchase of the Ultra 5 also comes with two 17-ounce flasks each, and they come with small zipcords that you can tie around the bottle head to hold them securely, especially once they run out of water.
Salomon’s very unique skin design is put to good use with the Ultra 5.
The mesh and elastic design allow the Ultra 5 to be lightweight, chafe-free, and breathable all at the same time. Its weight is particularly noteworthy, or to be more accurate, the lack thereof.
For marathons when you need to carry more than just water, the Ultra 5 is an excellent choice.
- Minimal weight and feel
- Comes with two 17-ounce flasks
- Tons of storage options
- Sizing can run big
5. Osprey Duro 6 Hydration Pack
The Osprey Duro 6 Hydration Pack is designed differently from other hydration packs for marathon. Instead of making full use of the front pockets, Osprey is actually encouraging users, by design, to use the rears, as it comes with a 1.5-liter reservoir found at the back of the vest.
This interesting design choice might seem unusual but it does make sense.
Osprey also made a good decision to add the “QuickConnect” sternum magnet to the hydration pipe. This makes it easy to access the pipe while running.
While Osprey does indeed encourage users to use the rear storage of the Duro 6, that doesn’t mean that the front is useless. In fact, it still has stretchable mesh compression pockets and a vertical zipper stash pocket at the front.
It also comes with dual, extra-large stretchable mesh pockets and stretchable mesh harness pockets for other items, like water bottles, food, and lightweight essentials.
Moving on, the rear storage really is where the Duro 6 shines the most.
The dual-zippered panel makes it easy to access your things even when you’re on the move, while the compression straps ensure that your bag remains secure even as you try to rummage through your stuff while on the go.
As an added bonus, the Duro 6 comes with a place to store your trekking poles in.
- No-bounce design
- Capable of holding up to 1.5 liters of water
- Hydration reservoir
- Limited design options
6. Nathan HPL 020
The Nathan HPL 020 is one of the best hydration packs for marathon use as far as bladders go.
The HPL 020 comes with a three-way adjustable hardness that helps minimize the discomfort and bouncy feeling that’s usually commonly associated with packed hydration packs.
Also, even when the pack is full and hugging your body tightly, the breathable mesh straps and pouches ensure breathability while also not compromising storage options.
Of course, the star of the show here is the bladder. In fact, it takes up most of the space of the HPL 020. But it’s all worth it, especially since it comes with an additional zipper pocket for storage.
With 269 cubic inches of overall storage capacity with the bladder (366 cubic inches without it), the HPL 020 has A LOT of space.
Unfortunately, Nathan made quite a bit of a design dud by featuring far too many zippers, bungees, and adjustable straps.
Although HPL 020 does come with mechanisms that minimize flopping, they can and will still flop around, especially when you’re on the go.
- Relatively lightweight (14.6 ounces) without the bladder
- Three-way harness
- Removable hydration pack
- No custom sizes
- Notable flopping of the straps and bungees
7. Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 4.0
Just in case you need a hydration pack for marathons AND longer distances, you might want to invest in something like the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 4.0.
The Ultra Vest comes with two 0.5-liter soft body flasks, 6 total pockets, including a front stretchable mesh storage pocket that’s fit for any and all racing essentials, like your phones and snacks.
The 4.0 version also uses the “Comfort Cinch” technology for a more comfortable and adjustable fit. In addition to this, the 4.0 is much lighter (as much as 20%) than previous versions without necessarily sacrificing the comfort and functionality that made its predecessors so popular among runners.
As an added bonus, the 4.0 has a light adjustable T-hook waist and sternum straps, as well as a redesigned trekking pole holder.
- Can be used for multiple purposes
- Numerous storage options to choose from
- Customized fit for men and women
- Accessibility can be an issue
- Bouncy feels when running
Do You Really Need Hydration Packs for Marathon?
Yes. It always helps to have hydration packs than to NOT have them. In fact, some marathons require runners to wear hydration packs, especially the longer marathons.
The reason for this is simple: the pack ensures that the runners have enough food and water to last them for hours. Even though there are aid stations at certain points of the marathon, they’re spaced far apart from each other.
Not to mention, having a hydration pack prepares runners for any and all eventualities, like a sudden change in weather.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Hydration Packs
When choosing hydration packs for marathon use, you’ll want to consider the following factors:
This is the most important factor. Storage is often measured in liters and it determines just how much water, food, and other extra stuff that you can carry with you while wearing the vest.
For marathons, you’ll want something with at least five liters of storage capacity. However, if the marathon is a bit longer and can last for six hours or so, ten or so liters is more ideal so you have extra storage space for emergencies and potential changes in weather while in the middle of the race.
2. Bottles vs reservoir
Most packs come with their own bottles that fits quite nicely on the back or on the front. Some also have reservoirs, while others have both.
Compared to a reservoir, bottles are much easier to refill, but reservoirs are much easier to use. This is because most come with a form of straw that you can sip from while on the go. Reservoirs can also hold far more water than bottles can.
3. Fit and sizing
Ideally, you’ll want a hydration pack that doesn’t shift or move around during the race.
Take a close look at the sizing guidelines of the manufacturer to find the right fit for you. Also, you might want to avoid one-size-fits-all packs if possible.
This is because they’re not built with each specific gender in mind. On the other hand, a pack that’s built separately for men and women will offer a much more snug and comfortable fit that’s more appropriate for your gender and use.
4. Additional features
More pockets, built-in whistles, reflectorized coloring, breathability, adjustable straps, as well as pole keeper storage options, are some of the features that you’ll find in a variety of hydration packs for a marathon and other runs.
You’ll want to choose one that has the features that you need and will probably need in future runs.
Hydration packs are more of a “niche” category than general. This means that each pack sold on the market caters to a specific set of runners with particular needs and requirements in mind.
We made sure to put that into consideration when we rounded up the best hydration packs for marathon use.
With that said, if you’re looking for something that you’ll need to get you through multiple marathons, regardless of the length of the run, then you’ve come to the right place. This is because all of the gear that we recommended will take you to the finish line and more.