• June 14, 2024

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.