When it comes to hydration vests, runners have a variety of options to choose from depending on distance needs, fit and how much water you’ll be carrying. We recently checked out some of the newest vests –which hold between two- and 9.5-liter bladders—that are slated to drop next year. From female-specific designs to packs with extra-roomy storage and ultraunner centric, here’s a look at four hydration vests coming in 2019.
Camelbak Ultra Pro Vest – Price TBD
Among those we tested, Camelbak’s Ultra Pro Vest won praise for its contoured fit and customization options. Its stretch materials not only conformed to our torso, but had just enough give to ease the weight of its contents on downhills. Perhaps its best features though are the chest straps flex that can be positioned in several different heights for a more dialed fit, as well as the shoulder straps don’t rub against the neck.
The Ultra Pro has plenty of easy-to-reach pockets, including a zippered one in the front and the side stretch pockets. The lower back pocket is one big pouch which can swallow some items and shift weight. We were pleasantly surprised the mesh materials stayed quiet during runs, but found that, like other vests worn in the Pacific Northwest, sweat and condensation build up in the back and can start soaking inside contents.
Ultimate Direction Halo Vest – $170
Ultimate Direction’s Halo Vest has the largest capacity of the group, but you’d never guess it from looking at it. The Halo is a departure from the brand’s lineup, aimed at ultrarunners. Prioritizing weight savings over capacity, this vest eschews buckles for hook-and-cord closures and holds 9.5 liters.
There’s plenty of customization, and after a few runs, we got the fit dialed in. But this vest will take some time adjusting to since its Spartan design requires some strategizing to get the most benefit out of it. The pack rides higher up the back than any vest we’ve run in, so it’s easy to reach into the main storage pocket on the move.
Latching the loops to secure chest straps on the run can be tricky (the clasps are small), as is snapping the flask pockets shut. The rear storage pockets are held secure by a shared elastic strap and use small Velcro patches to keep them shut. Plus, the breathable mesh back and straps make this great for warm training runs.
Osprey Dyna 6 – $170
We found this mid-sized Osprey Dyna 6 Pack to be best for shorter distances and didn’t bounce or twist with a light load stored in the back. That comfort was stretched thin during longer runs that required stashing a rain jacket and extra shirt; though this was alleviated some by strapping the rain shell on the outside under the small mesh section.
Large pockets on the front secure the soft flasks and a phone. Its smaller, stretchy pockets worked well during runs, but once the pack was off, things could easily fall out. The flask pockets were easy to unsnap, but became a two-handed challenge to snap back while running. Likewise, the vest’s strap buckles require a few attempts or a quick stop-and-look.
We enjoyed the zippered sections on the back for keeping items separate and organized. However, the full-length zippered front pocket was hard to access while running, making it too easy for things to fall out.
Salomon ADV Skin 8 Set – $145
We weren’t able to get in a run with this one, but the early look and buzz over Salomon‘s women’s specific-design made it worth inclusion. The eight-liter ADV skin is shaped to keep pressure off the breasts when cinched down and keep loads from jostling on the move. The two 500 ml soft flasks have a unique shape and straw included that lets you keep the flasks secured while drinking. Its volume is similar to other vests in this roundup, with plenty of pockets for easy, secure storage. There’s also an extra reflective loop for a lamp for night runs.