The Best Women’s Hydration Packs for Ultra Running and Trail Marathons

Running hydration packs come in a variety of volume options, which means you can buy anything from super lightweight race vests designed to carry a couple of essentials and one water bottle, through to larger volume hydration packs capable of stowing everything you need for a mountain ultramarathon where you’ll be out on the trails all day… and possibly through the night.

This post focuses on the best women’s hydration packs for ultrarunning and trail marathons. That is, packs that are suitable for those long training days, days out in challenging conditions (whether that means very hot, wet or cold) and mountain trail races for everything from trail marathon distance and up.

If you’re researching women’s hydration packs for running shorter distances or carrying smaller amounts of gear with you, then you may also find our post on the ‘best women’s hydration vests for trail running‘ useful – that post focuses on smaller volume, all-round hydration vests that are best suited to runs of up to around 3-4 hours long – any longer than that and, in my experience, you’ll want a larger pack to carry more water, food and emergency survival gear such as a first aid kit.

In the hydration pack feature descriptions I’ve included some key information for each hydration pack to make the comparison on those features clearer – namely, the overall carrying volume, whether it comes with a bladder or water bottles, the stated weight, and the size options the race vest is available in.

What makes a women’s hydration pack suitable for ultra running?

In order for a women’s hydration pack to make this list as one of the best women’s hydration packs for ultra running and trail marathons, it needs to have a volume of 8 litres (around 2 US gallons) or more. Where available, the larger volume 12 litre packs are often a popular choice, as they offer more versatility for only a marginal increase in weight and cost compared to 7-8 litre options.

The primary reason we consider the larger volume packs to be the most suitable for ultra running and long trail runs such as trail marathons and long training runs is that for many ultramarathon races you will need to carry more gear with you than for shorter races and run durations.

The mandatory gear lists for certain races, and in particular the bigger mountain races, can be lengthy, and require that you carry a minimum amount of food, water emergency survival essentials and other items you may not want to take, but need to in case the weather turns (we’ve had to carry gloves, two hats, long-sleeved tops and waterproof pants for certain ultra and trail marathon races in Europe!).

Other features we look for in a hydration pack for ultra marathons and trail marathon distances include:

  • Plenty of space for water storage with minimal sloshing
  • Selection of pockets, including zippered and easy-access front pockets and secure rear pockets for spare gear
  • Compression straps to hold the pack contents snugly and stop gear from moving around
  • Straps or bungee cords allowing quick-access storage for items such as waterproof jackets and hats
  • Capability for carrying poles is a plus if you’re going to be taking poles on your trail runs

The Best Women’s Hydration Packs for Ultra Running and Trail Marathons

With the above in mind, read on for our list of the best women’s hydration packs for ultra running and trail marathons. The links below will take you directly to where you can buy the vests – or read on for more details on each vest and why they made it on to this list:

  1. Ultimate Direction Mountain Vesta 5.0
  2. Nathan VaporHowe 2.0
  3. Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set
  4. Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set

1. Ultimate Direction Mountain Vesta 5.0 (12.7 Litre)

Ultimate Direction Mountain Vesta 5 Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running Trail and Kale

Ultimate Direction’s Mountain Vesta 5.0 is specifically designed for women to take on long mountain days and epic adventures.

This women’s hydration pack has a lightweight 4-way stretch fabric construction, features the lightest stated weight of all the women’s hydration packs in this list.

The Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running and Trail Marathons 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
The Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running and Trail Marathons 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
The Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running and Trail Marathons 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
REI sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running

The storage is well thought-through, with zip-up pockets at the front and rear, and the bottom front pockets extend around the side of the vest, making use of that space to provide additional storage.

Ultimate Direction Mountain Vesta 5 2 Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running Trail and Kale

The Mountain Vesta also features an external adjustable bungee on the rear, which can be used to compress the contents of the hydration pack as well as secure items such as waterproof jackets for quick access if you get caught in a rainstorm.

For bonus points the Mountain Vesta, like any good mountain-focused hydration pack, has specific loops for securing folded trail running poles on the front of the vest (similar to the Salomon option, below).

  • Volume: 12.7 litre
  • Includes: 2x 500ml soft flask water bottles
  • Stated weight: 11.5 oz
  • Size options: M/L, S/M, XS/S

Recommended US online stores for the Mountain Vesta 5.0:

Recommended UK online stores for the Mountain Vesta 5.0:

amazon.co.uk Amazon.co.uk £124.49
2 new from £124.49
See Deal
Last Amazon price update was: 21st April 2021 1:00 am

If you’re wondering what the difference is between the Ultimate Direction Mountain Vest and the Ultra Vesta (which is featured on our best all-rounder women’s hydration vests list), then it largely comes down to capacity – at 12.7 litres, the Mountain Vesta offers a larger capacity than the Ultra Vesta, which can hold 10.3 litres.

Depending on your preference when it comes to the pocket layouts and how much volume you really need, the Ultra Vesta could also be a good choice for your long trail and ultra races, although as mentioned above, I would normally choose the larger capacity to give me more storage options for when I need to take more with me (for example, when running in the mountains and more remote places).


2. Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set (8 litre) [EDITOR’S CHOICE]

Salomon sense ultra 8 set best women's hydration packs for ultra running trail and kale new

Our top Salomon pick, while this is marketed as a unisex pack, it is a popular choice for women for comfort and its outstanding features.

The S-Lab Sense Ultra hydration packs are different from the other Salomon packs – S-Lab being their premium range of gear that is typically developed with, tested by, and used by their pro sponsored ultra running athletes.

Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running
Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running
Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running
Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running

The fabric used in the Sense Ultra 8 Set is exceptionally stretchy, breathable and light, as well as being adjustable – so it really fits like a second skin and stretches to accommodate the gear you put in it.

Salomon sense ultra 8 set 2 best women's hydration packs for ultra running trail and kale

This hydration pack is almost half the weight of most of the other vests on this list! I’m talking crazy-light – all 6oz of it. The lighter weight will make a big difference over long distances.

The Sense Ultra 8 Set has a good weight balance with large pockets on the front and back, plus side pockets, and is intended for you to carry your hydration in the form of two soft flask water bottles in the front pockets, which are included.

  • Volume: 8 litre plus optional additional ‘quiver’ for carrying poles
  • Includes: 2x 500ml soft flasks
  • Weight: 6oz
  • Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL (note these are unisex sizes)

Recommended US online stores for the S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set:

Recommended UK online stores for the S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set:


3. Nathan VaporHowe 2.0 (12 litre)

Nathan VaporHowe 2 Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running Trail and Kale

The Nathan VaporHowe 2.0 is a popular women’s hydration pack for long distance trail runs and ultramarathons which has a form-fitting, women’s specific fit, made from soft material, making it comfortable to wear for many hours at a time.

This hydration pack features an insulated water bladder, which is designed to keep the water cool for longer, and a selection of easy-access pockets at the front of the vest, including a zip-up pocket for your phone.

Rather than external bungees and straps, the VaporHowe 2.0 has internal compression system to keep the load snug against your back.

While the lack of bungees means fewer outside-access storage options and no specific pole storage capability, it’s a sleek profile and may be for you if you have long hair that tends to get caught on bungees and straps on the back of your pack – nobody wants that in the middle of a trail marathon race!

  • Volume: 12 litre
  • Includes: 1.6 litre hydration bladder
  • Stated weight: 14 oz/392 g
  • Size options: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL

Recommended US online stores for the Nathan VaporHowe 2.0:

NOT IN THE US? If you can’t find these products in your country (e.g. you’re in the UK or Europe) this ‘MY US’ international package service (which we have used) can receive your US shopping and send it to you! You’ll save 20% on shipping on your first shipment – click here to learn more and get the discount.

SPEAKING OF RACING: If you’re training (or thinking of training) for a 50k race or trail marathon and would like to improve your training and racing strategy for that distance then definitely have a read of Alastair’s ultimate trail marathon and 50k training plan/guide!

There’s a lot of great information in there for beginners, and seasoned racers alike – information that many won’t talk about in order to give themselves the edge over other competitors!


Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running Trail and Kale

4. Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set (12 litre)

The Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set is not a women’s specific hydration pack, but is nonetheless a popular vest for trail marathons and ultrarunning, for both women and men, and deserving of a place on this list.

Designed using comfortable, form-fitting and thin fabric (what Salomon calls their ‘Sensifit’ construction), this is a lightweight race vest that shapes around your body and so is one of the rare unisex hydration packs that can offer a comfortable fit for women and not just men. It is offered in a range of sizes with each vest being adjustable, so you can find the best size and fit for you.

Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set 2 Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running Trail and Kale

While it comes with two 500ml soft flask water bottles, it can also hold a water bladder in the rear. The Advanced Skin 12 Set also has a great selection of useful pockets, from the two zip-up pockets in the front, to the low rear pockets on either side, which you can access while still wearing the vest. It is designed to be ideal for mountain racing, with the capability to carry collapsible poles using the loops in front of the vest or across the lower back (as shown in the pictures).

  • Volume: 12 litre
  • Includes: 2x 500ml soft flasks
  • Weight: 13.9oz
  • Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL (note these are unisex sizes)

Recommended US online stores for the Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set:

Recommended UK online stores for the Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set:

amazon.co.uk Amazon.co.uk See Deal
Last Amazon price update was: 21st April 2021 1:00 am

Also consider the women’s-specific Salomon Advanced Skin 8 Set…

Salomon Advanced Skin 8 Set Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running Trail and Kale

If you find yourself liking the idea of the Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set but want a women’s-specific design, they don’t currently offer a women’s-specific 12 litre version, but you could consider the Salomon Advanced Skin 8 Set, which comes in a women’s-specific fit.

The ‘8 set’ version has a smaller capacity (8 litres) and a few different features, but is designed to fit more comfortably around the chest. This women’s hydration pack includes ultra-friendly features, such as the ability to stow trail running poles (in the rear of the vest) and two soft flask water bottles with flexible straws so you can drink from them without removing them from the vest.

Recommended US online stores for the Women’s Advanced Skin 8 Set:

Recommended UK online stores for the Women’s-specific Salomon Advanced Skin 8 Set:

sportsshoes.com Sportsshoes.com £91.99 See Deal
amazon.co.uk Amazon.co.uk See Deal
Last Amazon price update was: 21st April 2021 1:00 am

I hope you enjoyed reading this women’s hydration packs guide for ultra running and other long distance trail runs and races – if you have any questions about any of these, or experience using them yourself, please drop us a comment below.

Alternatively, follow us over on Instagram and ask us over there – don’t forget to say “hello!”. 🙂


YOU NEED TO READ THIS! How To Become A Stronger Trail Runner – Alastair’s Top 20 Performance Hacks (Nutrition, Recovery, Gear + More)



The Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running and Trail Marathons 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
The Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running and Trail Marathons 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
The Best Women's Hydration Packs for Ultra Running and Trail Marathons 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
REI sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running

All opinions are our own and never influenced by brands. We may earn money if you buy from a link.

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