5 Hydration Packs for OCR

Interested in doing longer trail runs, races, and OCRs? You’ll be wanting a hydration pack that’s comfortable, adjustable, and ideally carries a few things of fuel for you. Fortunately and unfortunately there are so many different packs out there, you can find your perfect fit but it may take some research. Here are 5 hydration packs you’ll see on the obstacle course with pros/cons to help narrow your search!

Make: Salomon

Model: S-LAB Advanced Skin Lab Hydro 5L

Price point: $160

Wearer: Chris @Socal_Spartan

Areas it Wins

  • Lightweight. At about 9oz this pack is one of the lightest on the market, especially for the amount of liquid it can carry.

  • Refilling. The water bottles are easily exchangeable during long races and convenient to drink on the move. Little bouncing with this style of fit.

Areas of Improvement

  • Storage zipper on the overtime become hard to zip up. (I typically just leave them unzipped now.)

  • When the water bottles are no longer full, they tend to start sliding out so watch out for them!

Make: Nathan

Model: VaporAir Race Vest, 2L (Women’s model is the Vapor Airess)

Price point: $115

Wearer: David @captdavy25

Areas it Wins

  • Easy Access. I was pleased by how accessible the water bladder was! The pack has an open pouch to slide it in and the bladder itself folds over on top with a slide-on clamp. These two features combine to make for a quick refill if needed.

  • Quick Drink. The magnetic latch near the top of the chest strap makes for easy access to nozzle and a quick drink. I wondered if it would get knocked off easily, but had no issue.

  • Snug Fit. My size was in the gray zone of S/M and L/XL, so I opted for the S/M. I may try the L/XL size as the vest straps are tighter against my chest and armpits than I would like, but the snug fit did prevent shucking or swinging of the pack while running.

  • Pockets Out the Wazoo. There are two main pouches for any additional bottles with 6 additional pockets and pouches on the front and side of the pack. The zippered pocket by the chest and “pill” pocket ensures keys or other small items are secure. There is also a larger, zip-up compartment and tie-down straps on the back for any larger gear you may want to carry.

Areas of Improvement

  • “Zippered phone pouch” doesn’t fit iPhone 6. I used one of the larger pouches designed for bottles, but you may have to throw the phone in the back if you’re using both pouches.

  • Waist is mesh, rather than adjustable straps. This could be a good thing for those who feel that straps are uncomfortable or would prefer the extra side pockets, but is something to consider if you like being able to choose how snug or loose the vest sits.

Make: UltrAspire

Model: Alpha 2.0

Price point: $100

Wearer: Kristy @kristy5959

Areas it Wins

  • Front closures. It has 2 bungee cords that hook in the front instead of clasps or buttons, which makes it fit all sizes of ladies, whether you are extra blessed in the chest area or are slightly under average. Feels more comfortable to breathe when running, man or woman.

  • Bladder. The closure created quite a seal so liquid doesn’t leak out. It also has measurements printed on it so you can monitor your intake.

  • Mesh. The lightweight mesh the pack is made out of dries quickly, helpful during wet races or rainy runs.

Areas of Improvement

  • It originally had pockets on the front; but because I run races that have mud obstacles it turned into a problem. They easily filled up with mud and didn’t drain well.

  • I don’t like the way the mouth piece of the bladder hooks to the pack itself. It has a small hook that holds it in place, but when you’re running it easily pops out. I would prefer more of a clasp that opened and closed, rather than the U-shaped holder.

Make: Geigerrig

Model: Rig Guardian 2L

Price point: $113

Wearer: Chris @spartan_champagne17

Areas it Wins

  • Reservoir Pressure. The reservoir is air pressured, so even when the water supply is low, you always have a steady stream when needed.

  • Rock plate. The hard exterior plate (shown in picture) means this thing can take a beating.

Areas of Improvement

  • Gets snagged during crawling obstacles, although that could just be because of my size. It gets snagged during crawling obstacles, so I usually have to take the pack off and carry it separately (shown in picture).

  • The hard plastic plates that are inserted into the pack cause quite a bit of charring/skin irritation on my lower back during long distance events from the constant friction of running.

  • Takes a bit to reload when the reservoir is empty. You have to unbuckle the outer shell, untangle tubes, take our reservoir, refill, and repeat in reverse (assuming you don’t have to remove the outer shell completely to fit the reservoir).

  • Doesn’t have room to hold more than 1-2 gels/nut butters.

Make: Camelbak

Model: Marathoner 2L

Price point: $140

Wearer: Anna @Plant_powered_anna

Areas it Wins

  • Pockets. It has drawstring (4) and zipper (2) pockets that fit everything I could need. The back pocket (on top of the bladder) fits a thin jacket or change of socks easily as well.

  • Adjustable Straps. There are two front straps that can be tightened/loosened as well as adjusted up and down on the shoulder straps. This is great since men and women are (ahem) built differently so we want those sitting in different locations.

  • Sizing. One size means not needing to guess when ordering. It has so many areas of adjustment, you don’t need to fear the “OS” label here.

Areas of Improvement

  • Stingy cap doesn’t allow for a large flow of water through the tube. This may be more of an issue with my need to chug copious amounts of water, but I would prefer greater access.

  • The bladder closure can be a tad finicky at times. Not always, but if you don’t make sure to get a super snug seal, leakage is unpleasant.

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My Journey of Fitness and Fueling

Fitness Instructor, triathlete, OCRer, backpacker, yogini, and vegan foodie to keep me energetic.

© 2020 by Plant Powered Anna.