Updated April 2017
There are some new products for Spring 2017. We add in a new award winner for the budget conscious and add in a number of new comparison tools to help you find the right product for your needs.
Best Overall Hydration Pack
Osprey Raptor 10
The Osprey Raptor 10
was the dominant winner in our tests because it's so well-rounded. Other packs scored higher in some metrics, but they made a tradeoff for overall greatness. Not so with the Raptor. It scores high for everything: storage, stability, and overall usability. Every one of our testers said it was their favorite.
Best on a Tight Budget
With a street price of $27, the WACOOL 2L
is so much less expensive than the competition; we had to try it out. While it is not the most refined pack and has some annoying quirks, it's a great value for anyone on a tight budget or who doesn't expect to use their hydration pack more than a few times a year. It's relatively light, easy to use, easy to fill and has a bite valve cover, something few other hydration packs have. The storage is generous for a pack this light.
Best Bang for the Buck
We find the CamelBak Classic
, a variation on the original popular hydration system, is still one of the best values out there. It retails for $55 but can usually be found for $40 on sale because it is carried stocked by many retailers. Considering the reservoir itself retails for $30, this a good way to get a reservoir to use with your other backpacks and still have the option of a light and fast CamelBak.
Best Mountain Biking Technical Pack
EVOC FR Team Lite
When the going got rough, the EVOC FR Team Lite
was our best friend
on or off the bike. With its built-in spine protector, low-profile design, and bomber stability, the FR Team Lite is the way to go. Though it lost major points for its storage and lack of included hydration bladder, the FR Team Lite is the go-to choice for lapping the bike park, charging techy lines, or light and fast enduro races. If this sounds like you, we'd also encourage you to check out the next size up, the EVOC FR Team Enduro, which sports the same design but with more storage.
Top Pick for Hot Weather
Deuter Compact Air EXP 10
We would be amiss to not somehow award the Deuter Air EXP 10
for its fantastic chimney-like heat dispersion. Though all of the packs boast some revolutionary hot weather antidote, the Air system without a doubt did the best job in making your back feel free. With a few inches of separation from the pack itself, not only did we sweat less, therefore, needing less water, we also had cooler water! If the only thing on your list is day hiking desert canyons in the summer, this could be the difference between making your goals or not.