13 Hydration Solutions For Trail & Road Runners

The large variety of hydration products available today makes finding a solution that suits your individual needs more feasible than ever. We looked at some of the best on the market…

By Ryan Scott and Linda Doke, Photographs by James Garaghty |

01/ Salomon 20L S-Lab ADV Skin Peak R3 499

Salomon 20L S-Lab ADV Skin Peak

This is the largest pack in our review. Its most prominent feature is the zip in the middle of the bag, running from top to bottom rather than from side to side across the top. Nick Boyd, who tested the pack in Namibia, said: “Easy access to the main section makes a ton of difference when a heavy run has made my brain dead and my hands clumsy.” A removable internal section and mesh construction create a cavity between the pack and your back, and contribute to a more aerated pack – which is useful in the hot, desert conditions you’ll encounter in places such as Namibia. A capacity of 20 litres is adequate storage space for a sleeping bag and food. An extra pair of shoes can be hooked into the bungee cords on the side panels. 500ml soft bottles fit into the straps (Note: bottles are sold separately.)

02/ UltrAspire C2 Cup R105

ultraspire hydration

The C2 Cup sends a message that you are environmentally aware and that you care. It’s responsible, portable, collapsible, clean and kind to the earth. It weighs just 18g, contains 236ml, and collapses to fit snugly in your pocket when you run.

03/ UltraSpire Collapsible Bottle R380

UltraSpire Collapsible Bottle

This 500-millilitre-capacity soft bottle can either be combined with other gear-carrying equipment, or you can carry it in your hand on shorter outings. It works best in the front pocket of a pack. Tester Kenton Templeton commented: “The tube slides easily via the infusion valve, and can be trimmed to optimal length.”

04/ Fuelbelt HydraFuel handheld bottle, R350

Fuelbelt HydraFuel handheld bottle

This 295ml handheld bottle is lightweight, and designed with four gel-pack loops to store on-the-go nutrition. The ergonomic comfort grip has reflective strips, and an adjustable strap and grip-free thumb hole to ensure a secure fit.

05/ UltrAspire Momentum, R1 600

UltrAspire Momentum

The UltrAspire Momentum 2018 is a versatile, super-stripped-down 5-litre race pack with the capacity to hold all your essentials. It has hydration pockets in the back, a mesh storage pocket in the front for your race apparel or rain jacket, and plenty of easy-access pockets in the front for your cell phone, nutrition and other items you need to grab on the go.

06/ Deuter Hydration Insulator R199

This simple yet ingenious device helps you to avoid the most bitter of disappointments: water freezing in your pipe and/or nozzle. Remember, the water in these particular parts of your drinking system is more susceptible to cold temperatures, and once it’s frozen, it’ll probably stay that way for the duration of your run. The sleeve simply fits over the exposed pipe and nozzle, keeping the cold out.

07/ Cape Storm Sprint Belt R349

Cape Storm Sprint Belt

Waist belts are not as simple as they look. This single-bottle carrier is designed to sit on one hip, making reaching downwards across the chest and accessing the bottle easier. There is enough padding to prevent uncomfortable contact with your hips, and the buckle is strong and can be adjusted easily. Testers noticed that when the bottle is more than half empty, the belt should be tightened. It has a useful pocket for keys, a phone, or a protein bar.

08/ Water Purification Tablets R45

Water Purification Tablets

If your running takes you to places where you may only have murky, muddy water available, just one of these tablets per litre will ensure it’s drinkable. In extreme conditions – where the water looks contaminated, or could cause typhoid, dysentery, cholera, bilharzia or E. coli – two tablets are prescribed. But at that stage, you’ll probably need a satellite phone to call for help more than you’ll need water-purification tablets!

09/ Polar Platinum Water Bottle R250

Polar Platinum Water Bottle

Post-race recovery drinks or treats often sit in the car and spoil in the heat while you’re out doing the hard work. Insulation inside this plastic bottle keeps the liquid temperature low, so your pre-race preparation won’t be in vain. No BPA contaminants. 700ml capacity.

10/ Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set R3 499

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set

The neatest little pack we’ve ever tested. It doesn’t include a reservoir; instead, liquids are carried solely in two 500-millilitre soft bottles (sold separately, R349), which can be easily inserted into the pouches on the shoulder straps, and accessed quickly on the run. The pack moulds to the shape of your body, so choosing the correct size is essential. I tested the pack in summer conditions in the Alps. It fitted like a second skin, and could be worn without a top underneath it. It’s really soft, and feels more like a top than a pack. Two chest straps ensure lock-down, which means the pack doesn’t bounce around, even when it’s full.

11/ K-Way 2L Hydration Reservoir R350

K-Way 2L Hydration Reservoir

There are a number of packs that can accommodate this hydration bladder/reservoir – which means you could save yourself having to buy a brand-new pack, when all you really need is to carry more water. Volumes vary, so make sure you match up your choices wisely. Attention to detail comes in the form of a magnetic bite valve, which keeps the mouthpiece in place. The rubber is PVC- and BPA-free, and it’s anti-microbially treated. The tube is 99cm long.

12/ CamelBak Cleaning Brush Kit R630

CamelBak Cleaning Brush Kit

Don’t wait until you can see a build-up of dirt; make sure you clean your water carrier and its tubes every second or third time you use it. If you don’t take care of your pack, it can cause stomach bugs. This pack contains a specially-angled handle for the larger brush, and a fine pipe-cleaner-sized scraper for the tube. Remember to clean the brushes, too!

13/ Camelbak Reservoir Dryer R260

Camelbak Reservoir Dryer

Drying your liquid carrier after you’ve rinsed it out can be frustrating. But this clever dryer assister folds in on itself when inserted, and then expands and separates the walls of the carrier, allowing the pack to dry effectively. It won’t stick together, which prevents damp spots. As with brushes, rinse to keep clean every time.

*Prices were correct at time of publishing.

READ MORE ON: gear health hydration hydration packs