3 Best Camelbaks for Running (Tested)


Imagine you’re running minding your own business. The weather was cool enough for a nice run when you left home and all’s right with the world.

Gradually you begin to feel warm, no problem, you think and after a quick sip from your water bottle you sprint onwards. A few miles later, the weather gets warmer, you’re out of water and you feel weak. Your only sensible choice: abort the run and get water quickly.

In such situations, a Camelbak would have come in handy.

The 3 Best CamelBaks For Running

1. CamelBak Circuit Vest

2. CamelBak M.U.L.E.

3. CamelBak Ultra 4

Our Top Pick: Circuit Vest by CamelBak.

Why are CamelBaks Good for Runners?

Should I be using a Camelbak especially when you consider the price as they mostly retail for between $50 and $150. There are a number of benefits you can derive so don’t be quick to scoff at the idea.

  • One of the main reasons to buy a hydration pack over a backpack for instance, is they come better streamlined than your typical backpack. They are comfortable and specifically designed to fit closely and distribute the weight on your back and waist.
  • Stability. If there’s one thing that irritates me when I run, it’s keeping any accessories I'm carrying in rhythm with the up-and-down bouncing motion of running. The best CamelBaks for runners will stay in place and have pockets for handy items like your phone, mints and keys.
  • For runs that extend into hours, especially in warm weather, CamelBaks are ideal as they will hold more water. Some are even designed with a vacuum feature that prevents water from sloshing around while you run.

Which CamelBak is the Best for Running? As an avid runner you want a portable and handy water/hydration pack you carry on your back while running. Camelbaks were designed to help keep runners hydrated especially on long runs. We breakdown the features and come up with the three best

Review of the 3 Best CamelBaks For Running

CamelBak Circuit Vest

CamelBak Circuit Vest 50oz, Graphite/Sulphur Spring, One Size

The Circuit is  specifically designed for runners that want highly functional but Minimalist storage features. It was redesigned in 2019 to be lighter, hold more water, a newer 3D mesh to allow higher air flow and with a phone pocket that fits most newer phones. 

I like that it has the reflective straps on it for my morning runs and it's super light while being very comfortable. 

CamelBak Circuit Vest 50oz, Graphite/Sulphur Spring, One Size


Carries enough fluids for long runs with adequate easy to reach pockets. Very stable with no bouncing or chaffing.


Water reservoir tends to make a sloshing sound, women may struggle with getting the straps comfortably across the chest area.

The M.U.L.E is one of the other popular Camelbaks for runners. 

The M.U.L.E.’s shoulder, side and back panels sit well on the body and are comfortable enough for extended wear. It features good shoulder support and the straps run in a way that give stability to the entire pack.

CamelBak as a brand does well with its water delivery and this model is no exception. You get high flow with minimum effort. The bladder comes with a side opening making it easy to fill even in shallow sinks.

Very lightweight, durable construction convenient enough for long runs considering the numerous pockets and items it can carry. There are three zippered pockets plus an external sleeve for stuffing objects as large as a jacket.  

M.U.L.E. Mountain Biking Hydration Pack - Easy Refilling Hydration Backpack - Magnetic Tube Trap - 100 oz., Black


Good storage, decent stability, lightweight construction.


Poor hip belt design, hard to clean bladder.

The CamelBak Ultra 4 is another popular choice among runners and features the characteristic well made, sleek and stylish look of the other CamelBak models. It also features the Quicklink bladder system, typical of all CamelBaks and carries 2 liters of fluid. Runners will enjoy the refined hose setup on this model as it rests well on the shoulder without flapping about.

CamelBak 2016 Ultra 4 Hydration Vest, Electric Blue/Poseidon
54 Reviews
CamelBak 2016 Ultra 4 Hydration Vest, Electric Blue/Poseidon
  • Our most versatile Vest features expandable storage to accommodate gear for varying conditions and distances
  • Antidote reservoir features: Quick Link system, easy open/close cap, lightweight fill port, Dryer arms, center baffling and low-profile design
  • Features adjustable harness with cargo pockets, expandable cargo compartment, sweat-proof phone pocket, external fill, reflectivity

The major difference with this model is that it’s smaller in size with minimal room for clothing storage. There are no side pockets, however, the front chest pockets are roomy enough for items like a phone, keys, light nibbles and other small objects. It also features a key clip in the back pouch

The construction is comfortable with highly adjustable Velcro shoulder straps and easy to adjust side straps. Note that you can’t adjust the straps on the go, you have to take it off, adjust before wearing it back. Check the pricing on Amazon here.


Affordable price, big roomy pockets, easy to adjust, good hose attachment system.


Bladder is tricky to fill. The pack is smaller than other models, lacking in storage capacity.

Overall, Camelbak offers a wide choice for hydration packs and you can pick depending on your priority: storage space, liquid capacity, ease of handling etc. Remember that it’s important to stay hydrated always.

For example, CamelBak recommends you drink 1 liter of water for every hour of activity. They have an online calculator that can help you understand your own water requirements, you can check that out here.

How to Choose A CamelBak For Running

Note that though manufacturers would try to sell you the idea that their hydration pack is multipurpose and can be used for any kind of sport, certain designs work better with a particular sport.

Factors to consider when choosing a Camelbak for running include:


Obviously bigger is not necessarily better unless you like to run with so much cargo and gear. I find that for runs I don’t need that much storage space. I’d rather keep a larger pack for a long, leisurely hike and not a run. Also, the smaller the Camelbak, the more stable on your back and less the likelihood of bouncing around.

If I can get in my keys, mobile phone and maybe a jacket, I am good to hit the road.


Your hydration pack will need to cleaned at intervals and trust me, you will hate yourself if you bought one that is really complicated to clean out. If you are a runner that drinks plain water, no problem, you can go longer without deep cleaning. Just leave it to dry properly. But if you like to take energy drinks or electrolyte mix, ensure you clean after every use.

If you’re too lazy to be bothered with regular cleaning, just stick to water. You could also store the emptied bladder in a plastic bag and keep in the freezer. Note that you will still have to clean it at some point though.

Some Camelbaks are dishwasher safe and the ones that zip open from the top are much easier to clean. You can just unzip them all the way, flip them inside out and leave to dry.

You can also use extra bottles with your pack. Here’s a video from showing you how to clean external bottles.

Caring for the Bladders and Hose:

Camelbaks come in single or multiple compartment bladders. The single compartment type are hard to dry but easier to clean as you can easily get a brush into it and scrub away.

Multiple compartment bladders are harder to clean and your best option would be to flush it out with rounds of warm water containing a bacteria killing additive. When you are done, be sure to flush out the additive properly with more clean water.

There’s no easy way to say this but cleaning the drinking hose is always a pain. Just like with bladders, the process gets more complicated if you drink any liquid except plain water (sugar drinks, electrolyte powder etc.)

Some brands like Osprey and Camelbak come with a specially designed, long slim brush that gets into the tube. Just remember to scrub with warm soapy water and flush the hose often.

There are specially designed hydration packs for women and children too if you have need for it. This works well for a family run.

Use in Fridgid Weather:

No matter the model, the hose will freeze if not insulated against freezing conditions. You can get add-ons like insulated sip tubes, insulated reservoirs, insulated reservoir covers and bite valve covers. These add-ons are useful but will slightly increase the bulkiness of your pack.

CamelBak vs. Traditional water bottle

Pros of using a Camelbak compared to a water bottle.

  • It allows runners to drink on the go i.e. with a bottle, you would need to come to come to a complete stop or slow down before sipping. A Camelbak will allow you to drink by sucking on the hose without missing a stride. Camelbak also has bottles that are significantly more durable than most plastic bottles.
  • They encourage you to stay hydrated and drink at a stable pace as you are not afraid of running out of water. You can expect a liquid holding capacity of about 2 to 3 liters. On the other hand, most water bottles come in a maximum of 1-liter sizes.
  • Some runners drink electrolyte, energy drinks etc. as well as water while running and unless you want to look like a preschooler (which I’m guessing you don’t), you probably will not want to carry too many water bottles at a time.
  • I just had to add that they look way cooler than using water bottles anyway.

Cons of using a Camelbak compared to a water bottle.

  • Camelbaks are heavier to carry around, though the weight will not affect your run.
  • It’s easier to clean your typical water bottle than a hydration pack reservoir.
  • They are more expensive than water bottles.

What is a CamelBak ?

If you’re an avid runner, you may have come across the word “CamelBak’ at some point. If you haven’t: yes it’s something to do with your back, no it’s not a new species of Camel and no it won’t make you look like one either.

It’s a portable and handy water, or liquid, reservoir also called a hydration pack you carry on your back while running. They were designed to help keep runners hydrated especially on long runs.

The danger of de-hydration is real can turn life threatening if you are lost or unable to get to water on time. 

WebMD discusses the seriousness of dehydration in adults and some signs you should watch out for in this article. To help you, we put together a hydrating strategies for you to keep you safe and hydrated.

According to Forbes, many athletes have died over the years from careless cases of dehydration that should have been handled better,

Since we realize the seriousness of the matter and know only the best will do for you, here’s why we think you should get a hydration pack soon, and our review of the three best CamelBaks for running.


Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Me.

Last update on 2023-01-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API