Best Hydration Vest for Runners Who Want To Achieve More!
We have previously talked about hydration packs and running backpacks for both amateur and advanced performance runners, but today we are going to explore an option that’s a cross between the two: hydration vests.
You may be one of those people who just don’t like running with a backpack, no matter how comfortable and well-designed it might be. Or, you may have become quite used to running with a hydration pack, but want to take your performance to new levels. If either of these apply to you then you should definitely keep reading and pick one of the highly-recommended products below.
What Is A Hydration Vest?
In our article on hydration packs we mentioned that a sub-type of these packs are hydration vests, or what some call race vests, or even race skins. When you first unpack your vest, you will notice that they look quite simple in design in that they really look just like a vest.
You wear it over your t-shirt and fill it with your favored replenishing liquid; a simple tube allows you draw out fluids with ease. What you will find particularly great about these vests is that they distribute the weight evenly across your shoulder, back and chest, which makes it a brilliant accessory.
The Salomon S/LAB series is the prototypical race vest. You’ll notice it has less storage than a regular backpack, and will usually be on the order of 30% lighter due to elastic mesh fabrics. In addition, they almost always have some type of quickdraw shoulder storage for bottles or gels that can easily be accessed during a race.
Who Is A Hydration Vest Best Suited For?
Conventionally these types of packs have been used in two main situations:
- Races, such as marathons, ultra-marathons, or triathlons
- Hot weather environments when breathability and lightweight are the primary factors
In a long-distance race, you want to have fluids easily available when you need them. While all organized races will provide you with water stops along the way, it is a much better approach to be able to take a sit at intervals that suit you and not the race organizers.
In very hot climates, even short runs will require that you have enough water to avoid dehydration. If you are used to bringing a bottle or water pack with you on a regular run then you should not miss out on the experience of comfortable weight distribution and the ability to carry more than you have before. Better hydration will result in better running performance, so make sure you do not miss out on this opportunity.
Which Brands Are The Best?
Unlike the running belt market, which has been blown wide open to hundreds of new brands in the last few years, a minority of manufacturers still dominate the hydration vests.
We typically stick to the following 5 brands:
- Ultimate Direction
There are other players in the market (you’ll notice we mention one below), but these are the tried and tested ones that will ensure that you get the best quality.
While you may not be fixated on brands it is important that you do not buy a product that has not been confirmed through real life testing results from other amateur and performance athletes. To help you with this process we have narrowed available products down to the above brands by doing extensive analysis of customer reviews on Amazon and other popular online retailers.
Top 10 Hydration Vests
Vests are a bit trickier than bladder packs or running backpacks, in the sense that the quality needs to be a lot higher in order to achieve durability and perfect weight distribution. Because of this, they tend to be a bit more expensive, but once you have tried one you will wonder how you coped without one for so long.
The absolute best option. If you’re a serious runner competing on a regular basis, or just have some extra cash to spend on some accessories, then definitely go with a Salomon vest or skin. Their S/LAB technology is top of the line and tested by elite athletes in ultra-marathons.
The Innov-8 Ultra 5 Race Vest, which isn’t on our list, is also a high-quality pack (with a higher price tag) that you may want to check out. Professional ultra-runners tend to opt for this brand as the company has designed them with direct design input from these very demanding athletes.
Tried and true. For most people the Nathan HPL 020 or the Nathan Fireball Vest are going to be the best choice. They are one of the most long lasting brands on the market that still manage affordable prices. If you have never used a hydration vest before and do not want to splash out on a top of the range model, then these products will be a great option for you. Just head over to Amazon and get yours delivered in time for you next run and just see how much of a difference it makes.
New to the game. Ultimate Direction and UltrAspire vests are some of the newer players. They’ve been around long enough to establish a good identity in the running world, but not quite as long as Nathan. Ultimate Direction tends to try more unconventional setups like their Mountain Vest for extreme trail running or their stripped-down marathon vest. These innovative designs have been very well received by your fellow runners and may suit you down to the ground.
Regardless of which model you choose, we’re pretty confident you’ll de happy with any of the ones in the table above. Prices at Amazon are always competitive and if you are one of the many Prime customers you can have your vest filled and strapped on for your next run.
As always, be sure to leave us a comment below if you feel like we’ve left any off the list.