How to Choose a Running Hydration Vest

Running by with vests full of pockets and a few drinking spouts is a common sight these days. These running hydration vests have grown fairly popular since they enable carrying water, food, an additional layer, and other requirements for longer runs—which often last one to two hours or longer—easy and comfortable.

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Here’s a quick summary of the most important characteristics to look for in a new hydration vest; read on for more details.

Four Steps to Choose the Right Running Hydration Vest

Decide on a capacity: Check to see if the running vest has adequate space (measured in liters) to accommodate extra clothing, food, and water. For runs lasting one to two hours, most runners need about two liters of space. For two- to three-hour runs, you should utilize a vest with a capacity of two to six liters. For runs lasting three to six hours, go for a vest that has a capacity of four to twelve liters. For runs lasting six hours or more, you should also bring at least six liters, or as much as the utmost capacity that will meet your demands.

Choose a reservoir and/or bottles: Most vests come pre-assembled with water bottles that go into the front of the vest or a hydration reservoir that slips into a back sleeve. Sipping from a reservoir while on the go can be more convenient and typically hold more water than refilling bottles, even if it could be quicker and simpler to do so.

Verify the fit of your running hydration vest. This will stop the vest from adjusting while you’re jogging. Follow the sizing guidelines provided by the manufacturer for the best fit.

Look for further features: Verify that the vest has an integrated whistle, trekking pole keepers, easy-to-access compartments, breathability, and reflectivity.

Capacity of Gear for Racing Hydration Vests:

Running hydration vests come in a variety of sizes, from around two liters to twelve liters or more. The amount of gear you want to pack, which is primarily based on how long you want to run, will dictate how much room you need.

For shorter runs (less than an hour), many runners carry something other than a vest to hold water, a house key, and occasionally an energy gel. Two such products are a small waist pack and a portable water bottle. But, if your runs take an hour or more, you should absolutely bring a little bit extra, such a map, a cap, gloves, a lamp, additional food and water, and a first aid kit. This is when wearing a hydration running vest makes sense for a lot of runners.

To find the ideal gear capacity for you, start by referring to the chart below and taking into account the average duration of your runs. (Keep in mind that your exact requirement for a vest may vary according on the weather, kind of run, and personal preferences.)

Comparing Water Bottles and Reservoirs When Using Hydration Vests

Choosing a hydration running vest requires you to decide how you want to carry your water. Most vests are made to retain water in one of two ways: either in water bottles that stow on the front or in hydration reservoirs that slip into sleeves on the rear of the vest. Whichever you decide on will mostly rely on your preferences. Some runners, for instance, like to drink from a reservoir tube and don’t mind carrying more weight in their backs, while others just find the feeling of having more water on their backs uncomfortable.

How to Choose the Right Size for a Hydration Running Vest

A running hydration vest should fit properly and move with you; a vest that is too tight might cause excruciating chafing while you’re jogging. To ensure that the vest fits correctly, try these few techniques:

According to the size guidelines provided by the manufacturer: Hydration running vest manufacturers usually provide exact size guidelines on their websites to help you get the ideal fit. They sometimes include measurements of the breast, sternum, and/or ribs, as well as a chart that shows the suitable vest size depending on those measurements. If you closely follow these guidelines, you should have a good chance of finding a vest that fits you well (note that fit specifications vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so make sure to read the instructions for the particular vest you’re interested in).

Choose a tighter fit: The idea behind tight fitting running vests is to limit range of motion when running. An overly big vest has the potential to slide around, which may be annoying and uncomfortable, especially if it chafes badly (see more about avoiding chafing). As you try the vest on, check for excess fabric where it wraps over your shoulders or under your arms. If it’s loose there, you might want to try a lower size. If the vest feels tight or unpleasant when you take a deep breath, like you might when puffing and huffing along a trail, it can be too small. Collaborate with a sales expert to load the vest with weight in order to have the most accurate fit feel when trying it on at a REI store.

Make adjustments possible: Pay attention to any straps on the vest that can be moved, including the ones that cross your chest or lay below your arms. When the vest is on and ready to wear, these straps should be approximately in the middle of their adjustment range. If they are either extreme, you could be wearing the wrong size.

Women-specific vests: Many women find it advantageous to select a vest designed with them in mind. Hydration packs for runners that are designed for women are often shorter overall, with narrower shoulders and more room in the breast.

Additional Features for Wearing Hydration Vests

Running hydration vests come with a lot of features that can make them more comfortable and convenient. Consider the following factors while choosing a running hydration vest:

Pockets: Most vests come with many of pockets to hold frequently used items like phones, gels, and additional layers. Examine the locations of the pockets to ensure that they are conveniently accessible. Ideally, reaching for an energy gel or grabbing a jacket shouldn’t require you to stop moving. Additionally consider the pocket closures. Zippers keep valuables from flying out of your pockets when you trip over them, but they’re usually a little trickier to get in and out of than a flexible pocket.

Reflectivity: Many vests come with reflectivity built in to increase your visibility when running at night to incoming cars or other runners using headlamps.

Breathability: While most vests are somewhat breathable, you might want to specifically look for this characteristic if you frequently become overheated. Take particular note of the straps that surround the front and the mesh materials on the rear panel that improve ventilation.

Emergency whistle: Some vests have a whistle attached to a chest strap. This might be a really helpful emergency tool to have if you ever need to let someone know where you are.

Trekking pole keepers: If you like to use trekking poles on the trails, you might want to think about donning a vest that has a designated spot for securing them.

How to Pick a Hydration Vest for Running

These days, it’s not unusual to see runners speeding by with vests full of pockets and a few drinking spouts. Because they make it easy and comfortable to carry water, food, an extra layer, and other necessities for longer runs (usually lasting one to two hours or more), these running hydration vests have become quite popular.

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Here’s a brief rundown of the key features you should consider if you’re shopping for a new hydration vest; continue reading for more information.

A Guide to Selecting a Running Hydration Vest: Four Steps

Select a capacity: Verify that the running vest has enough capacity (measured in liters) to hold items such as additional clothes, food, and water. Most runners require roughly two liters of room for one- to two-hour runs. You should use a vest that can hold two to six liters for runs that last two to three hours. Choose a vest that can hold four to twelve liters for runs that last three to six hours. Additionally, you should have at least six liters—or as much as the maximum capacity that will suit your needs—for runs that last six hours or longer.

Select a reservoir and/or bottles: The majority of vests are pre-assembled with either a hydration reservoir that slides into a rear sleeve or water bottles that tuck into the vest’s front. While refilling bottles might be quicker and easier, sipping from a reservoir while on the go can be easier and usually store more water.

Make sure your running hydration vest fits properly. This will prevent the vest from moving around while you’re running. For the ideal fit, adhere to the manufacturer’s size recommendations.

Seek out other features: Check the vest for breathability, reflectivity, trekking pole keepers, convenient pockets, and an integrated whistle.

Gear Capacity for Running Hydration Vests:

There are several different sizes of running hydration vests, ranging from around two liters to over twelve liters or more. The amount of space required is determined by the amount of gear you want to bring, which is mostly determined by the length of time you anticipate to run.

Many runners use something other than a vest for short runs, say less than an hour, to carry some water, a home key, and sometimes an energy gel. Examples of these items are a portable water bottle and a tiny waist pack. However, if your runs are lasting an hour or more, you should definitely pack a little bit more, such as extra food and drink, as well as a cap, gloves, torch, phone, first aid kit, and map. For many runners, this is the moment at which wearing a hydration running vest makes sense.

Use the table below as a starting point and consider how long your runs usually last to determine the best gear capacity for you. (Remember that factors like temperature, kind of run, and personal taste might affect just how much of a vest you need.)

Using Hydration Vests: Comparing Reservoirs and Water Bottles

Making a decision about how you want to carry your water is crucial when selecting a hydration running vest. The majority of vests are designed to hold water in one of two ways: either in hydration reservoirs that slide into sleeves on the back of the vest, or in water bottles that stow on the front. Whichever you select will depend in part on personal choice. For example, some runners love to drink from a reservoir tube and aren’t concerned by the weight in back, while others just don’t like the sensation of the extra water weight on their backs.

How to Select the Appropriate Hydration Running Vest Size

It’s important to get a running hydration vest that fits appropriately and moves with you; a vest that is too tight might chafe painfully when you’re running. Here are a few methods to make sure the vest fits properly:

As per the manufacturer’s size instructions: To assist you get the perfect fit, hydration running vest manufacturers frequently offer precise size standards on their websites. Examples of body measures they frequently include are bust, sternum, and/or ribcage circumferences, along with a chart that indicates the appropriate vest size based on those dimensions. You should have a decent chance of finding a vest that fits you well if you strictly adhere to these criteria (keep in mind that fit requirements differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, so be sure to check the directions for the specific vest you’re interested in).

Select a snug fit: The purpose of running vests is to restrict mobility during running by fitting snugly. A vest that is too large may slide around, which may be bothersome and uncomfortable, particularly if it chafes painfully (see more about preventing chafing). Look for extra fabric where the vest wraps under your arms or around the shoulders as you try it on. You might want to try a smaller size if it’s loose there. When you inhale deeply, like you would when puffing and huffing up a path, if the vest feels constricting or uncomfortable, it may be too small. To obtain the most realistic feel for fit while testing the vest on at a REI shop, work with a sales professional to load the vest with weight.

Allow for adjustment: Take note of any straps on the vest that may be adjusted, such as those that span your chest or rest beneath your arms. These straps should be roughly in the center of their adjustment range when the vest is on and ready to wear. You may be wearing the incorrect size if they are at either extreme.

Women-specific vests: Choosing a vest made specifically for women is beneficial to many women. Women’s running hydration packs are usually made shorter overall, with more space in the bust and narrower shoulders.

Extra Capabilities for Running Hydration Vests

Numerous features are available for running hydration vests, which can increase their comfort and convenience. When selecting a running hydration vest, have the following things in mind:

Pockets: The majority of vests include many pockets to store regularly used goods like extra layers, gels, and phones. Make sure the pockets are easily accessible by looking at their placement. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to stop moving in order to reach an energy gel or grab a jacket. Think about the pocket closures as well. Important stuff won’t fly out of your pockets when you stumble on the path thanks to zippers, but they’re typically a little more difficult to get in and out of than a flexible pocket.

Reflectivity: A lot of vests have reflectivity built in to make you more visible to other runners using headlamps or to oncoming vehicles while you run at night.

Breathability: Although most vests have a fair level of breathability, if you tend to run overheated, you may want to explicitly check for this feature. Pay special attention to the mesh fabrics that enhance ventilation on the back panel and the straps that encircle the front.

Emergency whistle: On a sternum strap, some vests come with a whistle. If you ever need to let someone know where you are, this may be a very useful emergency tool to have.

Trekking pole keepers: If you enjoy using trekking poles on the trails, you may want to consider wearing a vest with a specific place for keeping them fastened.