Getting a running vest - bladder or bottles?

espenhbespenhb ✭✭✭
Been looking at getting a hydration vest, but I'm not quite sure what would be better: One with bottles on the front or one with a bladder in the back?

Intuitively I'd go for the bladder. Makes more sense to have some spare room up front so one can have some food and stash arm warmers, hat and gloves during a run without having to take the vest off. But I figure there must be a reason why so many of the top trail runners use vests with two bottles on the front instead. What am I missing? Why do so many seem to prefer bottles over bladder? And why do you prefer what you prefer?


  • Bladder will go warm with the heat of your body unless its insulated. 
    Bottles on the front are very easy to refill and can have different fluids in. 
  • I have a brand new Columbia Caldorado 7L backpack for sale if interested £50 including postage (uk)
  • RobojogRobojog ✭✭✭
    Early this year I bought a Salomon hydration backpack that came complete with two 500ml soft flasks. After a while I added a 2 litre Hydrapak bladder for longer runs. In my experience the front mounted soft flasks stay cooler and the weight distribution is more comfortable. The larger bladder does the job and I do use it for extended runs but it warms up rapidly and I'm constantly aware of the weight and volume of water sloshing around behind me. For most runs I prefer front mounted soft flasks, but I'm glad I've got both options. Whatever you decide, don't be tempted to buy cheap flasks or bladders the taste is terrible!
  • The benefit of bottles is that you can see how much you are drinking.  I’ve tried bladders on the back and separately on the hip and didn’t drink enough leading to getting dehydration and carrying too much weight.
  •  Out of interest which vest are you looking at getting as your 1st one? Il looking to make the swap over to one soon.
  • Ended up getting the Salomon Agile 2. It fit the bill (enough liquids and space for a few pieces of clothing and some food), but it's a bit... Big for me. It seems like. Struggling to tighten it down enough. But I do have a narrow frame, so I might have to get one of the female fitted vests.
  • How did you get one with agile 2. I'm tempted by one? 
  • Re. water sloshing: after you've filled a water bladder, turn it upside down so the drinking tube is at the top, and suck the air out. Hey presto - no sloshing! Soft bottles similarly you can suck the air out after filling.
    In my experience, a bladder or bladder plus bottles is great for long self-supported runs. For races, bottles are easier for refilling. Also, the weight of the fluid on the front balances the weight of the kit in the back. And being able to check easily with bottles how much you have drunk is good.
    Note: if female you definitely want the SOFT bottles.
    My two vests/backpacks at the moment are the Montane Via Claw 14L and the Decathlon Kalenji 10L Trail Running bag. Note that the Kalenji is only £30 (you do need to buy the soft bottles separately, at £8 each, but that's still £46 total...) which is a real bargain compared to some of the packs out there.
  • I have a Camelbak with bladder on the back and an Inov8 with bottles at the front. I prefer the Inov8 because there's more room in the back for kit (essential for fell running) and you can easily refill the bottles at drink stations.
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