13 Popular Hydration Electrolyte Packets Ranked From Worst To Best

Hydration is all the rage these days. From expensive bottled water to those stainless steel tumblers that seem to be everywhere, it's clear that drinking water has never been cooler. But if you're serious about staying hydrated, plain old H2O isn't going to cut it. When you lose fluid, whether through sweating, vomiting, or consuming diuretics like coffee and alcohol, you are not only losing water, but electrolytes as well, which are minerals that are vital for the human body to function (per the National Library of Medicine). Among the most important are sodium (otherwise known as salt), potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride, all of which you'll find in many hydration drinks. 

Due to the increased awareness of hydration, the market has been flooded (pun intended) with dissolving electrolyte mixes. If you're a bit overwhelmed by it all and don't know where to start, you're in luck, because we've rounded up 13 of the most popular products and ranked them from worst to best so you don't have to waste a penny finding out which ones fit your needs.

13. Waterboy Hydration + Weekend Recovery

Most of us like to think that we need electrolytes because of our intense workout regimens, but let's be real: alcohol consumption is probably to blame as well. Waterboy knows this and proudly holds down the niche. Its Hydration + Weekend Recovery mix appeals to a specific demographic, with TikTok-approved marketing depicting 20-somethings who look like they're in the throes of Spring Break partying. One serving provides an eye-popping 49% of your recommended daily value of sodium, 7% of potassium, 10% of magnesium, and 70% of chloride. There's also 500% of your daily value of both vitamin C and vitamin B12. Each packet contains 0 sugar and 10 calories.

While it is true that large quantities of alcohol can act as a diuretic and lead to sodium loss (per Cleveland Clinic), knocking back nearly half a day's worth of sodium in one drink is not ideal, even if you've been vomiting all night. According to the Mayo Clinic, sleep, water, bland food, and over-the-counter painkillers are the most effective hangover cures (aside from time), and there is no scientific evidence that vitamin B12 boosts energy unless you're someone who doesn't get enough in their diet (per the Mayo Clinic). You don't benefit from that extra vitamin C either, because, like B vitamins, excess amounts exit your body in your urine (per Mount Sinai). You can, however, ingest an unhealthy amount of sodium, which most Americans already are.

12. Vitalyte Electrolyte Replacement Drink Mix

With more than four decades under its belt, Vitalyte is one of the oldest electrolyte drink mixes on the market. Because it's designed to accompany physical activity, it's higher in calories and sugar than other hydration mixes, clocking in at 90 calories per serving and 21 grams of sugar. It provides 6% of the recommended daily intake of sodium and 4% potassium, but its magnesium and calcium are so low that they don't even account for 1% of their respective recommended daily intakes. Instead of using artificial sweeteners or cane sugar, Vitalyte uses glucose, a simple sugar that is converted to energy more quickly than any other form of sugar. A single-serving packet costs $1.35 on the brand's website, while a 40-serving bag costs only $22.99, just $0.57 per serving.

As far as flavor goes, there's something for everyone, from the obligatory citrus options to Cranberry Frost, Grape, and Watermelon. Compared to other electrolyte drink mixes, however, Vitalyte doesn't have a very strong taste despite its sky-high sugar content, and the mixture can be clumpy and solid, making it difficult to scoop. With comparatively high levels of sugar and calories and low levels of electrolytes and flavor, Vitalyte ranks near the bottom of this list.

11. LMNT Zero-Sugar Electrolytes

In the world of electrolyte mixes, most brands do everything they can to conceal the salty flavor of sodium. LMNT solves the problem not by ignoring it or trying to conceal it, but by using it as a selling point. Six of its nine flavors have "salt" in their name, from Chocolate Salt (sounds tasty) to Raspberry Salt (not so much).

You will not be surprised to learn that LMNT has lots of sodium. Each packet of powder contains 43% of your recommended daily intake, along with 4% of the recommended daily amount of potassium and 15% of magnesium. The product is sweetened exclusively with stevia, and each serving has only 10 calories. There are fewer than 10 ingredients in each flavor, meaning that you don't have to worry about a host of processed additives. However, getting 43% of the recommended daily dose of sodium in one drink is worth pausing over. According to the CDC, Americans consume far too much sodium already, about 148% of the recommended daily amount on average. Unless you're sweating profusely for long periods, you probably don't need that extra sodium in your water.

10. Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier

Liquid IV is a powdered mix that comes in bags or individual packets. Each serving contains 40 calories and 10 grams of sugar along with 22% of the recommended daily intake of sodium, 8% of potassium, 280% of vitamin B12, 80% of vitamin C, and 130% of vitamin B6. It does not provide calcium or magnesium. At approximately $1.56 per serving when purchased in bulk, the product is comparable to other brands, trending towards the pricey end of the spectrum.

One major selling point of Liquid IV is its range of flavors, which includes Guava, Golden Cherry, and Piña Colada. However, based on the more than 100,000 reviews on Amazon, it's clear that even fans of the product find the flavors to be hit or miss. Another issue is that it is extremely sweet compared to other brands due to the combination of sugar, stevia, and dextrose. It also contains the synthetic form of vitamin B12, cyanocobalamin, which, according to several studies, can cause kidney issues in people who are predisposed to them (per Harvard Medical School). This is on top of the fact that B12 deficiency is rare and your body just gets rid of any excess through urine (per the Mayo Clinic). The brand shot to prominence around 2019 when everyone from Justin Bieber to DJ Khaled started throwing their investment dollars behind it, but unless you love the flavors, it simply doesn't warrant the hype, especially nutritionally.

9. Jocko Hydrate Hydration Amplifier Packets

Jocko Hydrate is part of the Jocko Fuel brand that seems to sell products geared toward one thing: getting shredded. In addition to pre-workout mixes, protein cookies, and "testosterone optimizer" supplements, is this hydration mix which contains 10 calories and 2 grams of sugar in each serving. Electrolytes include 22% of the recommended daily intake of sodium, 8% of potassium, 32% of chloride, and 29% of magnesium. You also get 29% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B6, a whopping 1,042% of vitamin B12, and 111% of vitamin C.

There are two flavors to choose from, Blue Raspberry and Lemon Lime, and each packet costs about $1.80 if you order from the brand's website. The brand has die-hard supporters who swear by every product, but the Hydrate mix isn't revolutionary compared to other options. The nutrition profile is comprehensive, but there is also a lot of filler. Unless you're vegan or anemic, you are almost certainly getting all the B vitamins you need through your regular eating habits (per the Los Angeles Times). Drinking an extra 1,042% of the recommended amount of B12 is equivalent to pouring water into an already full cup since your body simply gets rid of any excess amount through urine. Despite the brand claiming that B6 and B12 support energy and need to be replenished, there is no evidence to back it up unless you are vitamin B deficient (per the Mayo Clinic).

8. Propel Electrolyte Water Beverage Mix

When it comes to sports drinks, Gatorade is the juggernaut that every other brand is either trying to match or differentiate itself from, but not everyone is crazy about all the sugar and artificial colors, which is why its parent company introduced Propel in 2002. You might be familiar with the clear, liquid version of the drink, but there is a powdered mix that also has zero calories or sugar. One packet contains 9% of your recommended daily intake of sodium, along with vitamins C, E, B6, and B12. It also provides niacin, a nutrient that helps the body convert food to energy. It does not provide magnesium or calcium, and its potassium content is too low to constitute even 1% of the recommended daily intake. There are, however, ingredients that are common in processed food that some people might want to avoid, such as corn syrup solids, modified food starch, and artificial sweeteners.

On the plus side, there are seven flavors, including Black Cherry, Kiwi Strawberry, and Watermelon, and at about $3.00 per 10-pack, it is easily one of the most affordable options on the market. That said, the product lacks key electrolytes and tastes like the kind of artificially flavored sports drinks most people are trying to avoid when buying hydration mixes.

7. Tailwind Endurance Fuel

Tailwind's hydration mix doubles as a calorie source for long workouts. Instead of carrying separate chews or gels for energy, you get it all in one handy powder. This is great if you're an athlete planning a long day in the mountains or on the road, but if you're just looking for a little hydration boost during an average day of work or a standard gym session, you might not be thrilled with the 200 calories and 50 grams of sugar in the suggested two-scoop serving. Along with the calories and carbohydrates, it also provides a hefty dose of electrolytes, including 26% daily value of sodium, 4% of calcium, 4% of potassium, and 4% of magnesium.

Flavors include Mandarin, Lemon, and Berry, while the caffeinated version comes in Matcha, Raspberry, Cola, and Tropical. Unlike similar brands, you can also get an unflavored version called "Naked" in case you'd rather have the electrolytes and energy without the flavor. Each version is flavored naturally, giving the mixes a pleasantly fresh taste that has none of the artificiality of other brands. That said, it is extremely sweet, which may be off-putting for some. At $2.49 per single serving, it is more expensive than the other brands on this list, which, combined with the eye-watering sugar content and high number of calories, makes it a tough sell for those who aren't elite endurance athletes.

6. GU Hydration Drink Tabs

Like Nuun, GU's hydration product comes in the form of an easy-to-use tablet. It's low in calories (10 per tablet) and sugar (1 gram per tablet). It has 14% of your daily value of sodium and 1% of potassium. Unlike many other electrolyte drinks, however, there is no magnesium or calcium. When purchased on the brand's website, it costs $30 for four 12-tablet sleeves. At around $0.63 per tablet, they are more affordable than many other comparable options, though buying the sleeves individually from other retailers is less economical.

There are several flavors, including Tropical Citrus, Tri-Berry, and Strawberry Lemonade. If you need an extra pick-me-up, Strawberry Hibiscus also has caffeine. GU's tablets draw an inevitable comparison to Nuun. The calories and sugar content are comparable, as is the range of flavors and packaging. The biggest difference, however, is that GU provides a much stronger flavor despite offering fewer electrolytes. Both brands are sweetened with stevia, but because GU is stronger, the distinctive (and some might say "unappetizing") flavor of the sweetener is more pronounced. If you like hydration mixes that are more intensely flavored than Nuun, you will probably enjoy GU's tablets, but they are not universally appealing.

5. DripDrop Dehydration Relief Fast

DripDrop doesn't have the high profile of other hydration brands, possibly because, at 35 calories and 7 grams of sugar per serving, it fits neither the low-calorie, low-sugar market nor the energy-hungry athletic performance market. It does, however, offer plenty of electrolytes and vitamins. Each serving of powdered mix contains 14% of the recommended daily value of sodium, 4% of potassium, and 10% of magnesium. It also provides an immune boost with 80% daily value of vitamin C and 15% of zinc.

There is a wide range of flavors to choose from, including Mango, Concord Grape, Pineapple Coconut, and Lemon. Because the products contain four sweeteners (sugar, fructose, dextrose, and sucralose), some people may find it too sweet, but it doesn't reach the level of Liquid IV in that regard. The flavors are not noticeably artificial compared to other brands, nor are they too salty. At about $1.13 per serving when you purchase a pack of 32 from the brand's website, DripDrop is also more affordable than many other options. For those who are trying to eliminate sugar from their diets, DripDrop is not the best option, but for anyone who needs an energy boost with their electrolytes, it covers the bases. You even get some vitamin C and zinc as a bonus.

4. Nectar Essential Daily Hydration

Nectar's electrolyte powdered drink mix distinguishes itself from the pack by being sugar-free, zero-calorie, and made with organic fruit. In each serving, you get 4% of your recommended daily value of sodium, 6% of both potassium and calcium, 12% of magnesium, and 6% of chloride. It's also relatively affordable if you buy them on a subscription basis, costing just $1 per serving. There are six flavors to choose from: Fresh Lemon, Wild Berry, Sunrise Orange, Cherry Pomegranate, Strawberry Lemonade, and Watermelon.

Based on these stats, Nectar might seem too good to be true, but there are several downsides to even the playing field. For one thing, the flavors are extremely muted and not very distinct from each other. The powder does not dissolve in water as readily as other mixes, and the use of stevia as a sweetener may be off-putting for some. If you're mostly in the market for an all-natural electrolyte mix that has a stellar lineup of nutrients but doesn't sneak extra sugar and calories into your diet, Nectar is one of the best options out there, but it doesn't offer much flavor.

3. Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Hydration Powder

Ultima Replenisher is another brand that boasts a sugar-free, zero-calorie electrolyte drink mix. Each serving provides 2% of the recommended daily value of sodium, 6% of calcium, 25% of magnesium, and 4% of chloride. Other nutrients include 10% of the recommended daily intake of zinc and 110% of vitamin C. When purchased in bulk, each serving costs a little over $1, making it one of the more affordable electrolyte drink mixes on the market. Flavors include Grape, Watermelon, Passionfruit, and Blue Raspberry, and there is a separate line of mocktail flavors such as Coconut Piña Colada, Appletini, and Peach Bellini.

One minor downside of Ultima Replenisher's hydration powders is that they do not always dissolve fully, potentially leaving you with wasted electrolytes. Otherwise, however, the product is a flavorful, affordable option for people who don't mind the taste of stevia and want something without calories. Its comparatively low sodium content makes it ideal for those who aren't sweating profusely, and simply want a top-up of electrolytes and vitamins that aren't packed with calories and sugar.

2. Skratch Labs Hydration Sport Drink Mix

If you're an endurance athlete, Skratch Labs is the gold standard. Not only does it have plenty of electrolytes to replenish what you lose through sweating, but it also provides 80 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates, and, depending on the flavor, 17 to 19 grams of sugar per serving to boost energy levels. Those are probably deal breakers for anyone trying to cut back on sugar or calories, but Skratch Labs embraces its athletic performance niche and has thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon as a result. Each serving provides 17% of the recommended daily intake of sodium, 10% of magnesium, 4% of calcium, and 20% of vitamin C. You can purchase a single serving for $1.95 or a 20-serving bag for about $1.10 per serving from the brand's website.

One of the things that differentiates Skratch Labs from its competitors is that it identifies all of its ingredients. Instead of the generic and notoriously generous catch-all term "natural flavors" that you'll see on many processed food labels, Skratch Labs lists ingredients such as peach juice and lemon oil. As a result, the mixes taste like they actually come from plants rather than straight from a Kool-Aid tub like many other hydration products. If you're concerned about artificial flavors and sweeteners, and lead an active lifestyle, Skratch Labs is tough to beat.

1. Nuun Sport

Nuun Sport tablets have been hanging around mainstream grocery store shelves for years, so it's no surprise that they earn the top spot on this list. They score major points for convenience — unless you're a wallet-only kind of person, it's easy to carry around the small plastic tube wherever you go. Nuun touts its tablets for being gluten-free, vegan, kosher, and non-GMO. They also only contain 1 gram of sugar and 15 calories. Depending on where you purchase them, they cost about $0.75 per serving, making them much more affordable than many of their competitors.

Each tablet contains 13% of the recommended daily value of sodium, 1% daily value of calcium, 6% of magnesium, 3% of potassium, and 2% of chloride. In other words, it covers the basis and nothing more. The product has tens of thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon, illustrating its broad appeal. It's just sweet enough, and with 13 flavors — several of which contain caffeine — it's got something for everyone, regardless of dietary requirements. There's not a lot to dislike about Nuun's Sport tablets, and it's a great place to start if you're new to electrolyte mixes, or just want a solid option that has stood the test of time.