18 Popular Hydration Drinks Ranked Worst To Best

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Growing up, you may recall chugging candy hued bottles of sports drinks whenever you needed to rehydrate. Maybe you'd been playing hard on the field, ran the mile really fast in P.E., or perhaps you were sick and needed to replenish some fluids. 

You'll still find those candy-colored, skin-staining beverages at the store, but there's a whole new world out there when it comes to hydration drinks. And yes, water is the most essential hydration drink, but the market is rife with electrolyte beverages, coconut waters, powder mixes, and even drink tablets.

There are a variety of ways to improve your hydration, with more options than ever. That's why we've ranked some of the most popular offerings on the market. Along the way, we'll cover some of the science of rehydration with electrolytes and how different types of drinks measure up nutritionally. Just as importantly, we'll let you know which drinks are worth their salt (pun intended) and which to skip. Keep reading for the full breakdown.

18. Powerade

One of the most popular sports drinks on the market, this neon colored beverage claims to quench thirst and improve hydration after a sweat sesh. We all know what to expect from Powerade, and that's a sugary punch that will stain our lips and tongue.

The thing is, sweet and colorful Powerade may taste good, but it's not likely to provide better quality hydration than water alone — so says an investigation into the sports drink industry in the British Medical Journal. A summary of the investigation in The Atlantic points out that the sports drink industry, including major players like Powerade and Gatorade, sponsors scientists who make impartial claims about dehydration, like, "Without realizing, you may not be drinking enough to restore your fluid balance after working out."

More than that, many of the studies these scientists conduct are flawed. Ultimately, unless you're working out strenuously and seriously need to replenish electrolytes, Powerade has little more to offer than a candy-like flavor. Even then, there are better options on this list.

17. Gatorade

Like Powerade, Gatorade is a cloyingly sweet sports drink with artificial neon hues that can stain your skin. We've counted 17 popular flavors, though there are of course more limited-edition flavors that come out from time to time, as well as a sugar-free line.

That British Medical Journal called into question the effectiveness of Gatorade for improving hydration, too. Those questions go much further back, though. A University of Florida study from 1990 divided a high school football team into two groups, each running 40-yard sprints. Between sprints, one group drank Gatorade, while the other drank sweetened and colored water. The study found no difference in performance between the two groups. Once again, the mixture of sugar and electrolytes found in Gatorade might help people who are engaged in high endurance activities (like running a marathon), but it's not likely to be any better for you than water on the hydration front.

16. Vitaminwater

If you've ever drank a Vitaminwater with the thought that it was a health drink, we hate to be the bearer of bad news. Unfortunately, this lightly flavored drink is high in sugar, with 26 grams of added sugars in a bottle of their Revive Fruit Punch flavor. For comparison, one (admittedly smaller) serving of Gatorade's Fruit Punch Thirst Quencher clocks in at 21 grams of added sugars.

We think the flavor of Vitaminwater is, well, watered down and a little sad. If you're going to consume the sugary beverage, you may as well enjoy the flavor. As for the Vitaminwater's Revive flavor, one reviewer at Influenster explains that the "fruit punch flavor to it just tastes totally artificial and isn't as good as their other flavors in my opinion."

As for hydrating powers, Vitaminwater is 99.5% water, crystalline fructose, and sugar, according to Mother Jones. In that other 0.5% you'll find some vitamins and electrolytes, but hardly enough to make an impact.

15. V8 +Hydrate

A relative newcomer on the market, V8 +Hydrate is an electrolyte drink made from plant juices and no added sugars, from the company that brought you those notorious cans of love-it-or-hate-it tomato juice. V8 +Hydrate comes in four different flavors: strawberry cucumber, blueberry acai, orange grapefruit, and coconut watermelon. They're mostly composed of vegetable juices, with a hit of natural flavorings, purees, and stevia. The drinks are isotonic, meaning they have the same salt and sugar concentrations as cells and blood.

Here's the thing: Nutrition-wise, these might be a solid choice. They offer some electrolytes and nutrients without a sugar crash. The problem lies in the taste. There's a large consensus of people that say they just don't taste very good.

Here's one reviewer on Amazon's take: "These were terrible. It could be the fact these have Stevia leaf extract in them. They can claim that isn't an artificial sweetener til they are blue in the face but I do not like artificial sweeteners and this has as bad an aftertaste as any I've ever consumed. They even made me sick to my stomach which never happens to me."

14. Bai Flavored Water

Bai Flavored Water is an antioxidant-infused drink with caffeine, making it a bit of a hydration drink and energy drink hybrid. In it, you'll find a blend of white tea, polyphenols, and coffeefruit extract. It's also free from added sugars, using the sweeteners stevia and erythritol instead.

While you will find solid hits of vitamin C and other antioxidants, Bai Flavored Water doesn't contain a high electrolyte content. Bai does, however, offer a line of coconut water-infused drinks called Cocofusion. Coconut water contains electrolytes like salt, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Caffeine scientist Danielle Robertson Rath says in a blog post centered on the flavored water, "Bai is a phenomenal healthy option acceptable for those concerned about sugar content and artificial ingredients." Overall, Bai's offerings can be a decent hydration option. We just don't think their watered-down flavor holds up to other offerings on this list. If you'd like to rehydrate with a gentle caffeine kick though, this might be a great option for you.

13. BOLT24

BOLT24 is an electrolyte drink offered by Gatorade, meant to fuel an athletic lifestyle outside of strenuous exercise (hence the "24" reference, like 24 hours in a day). The drink is lower in calories than classic Gatorade, sweetened with cane sugar and stevia. It sources its natural electrolytes from watermelon and sea salt. Plus, it boasts 100% of your daily value of vitamins A and C. It's caffeinated to boot, with 75mg of caffeine per serving.

If that seems like a lot, that's because it is. BOLT24 is trying to accomplish quite a bit in one little bottle of sweet electrolyte beverage. It's as if they took the pros of classic Gatorade and really took things up a notch.

So, is it good? It's definitely a passable electrolyte drink. Marvo at The Impulsive Buy review blog sums it up as this: "There's a lot to like about BOLT24 — great flavors, no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors, electrolytes, lower sugar content than regular Gatorade, and all those vitamins." This is a decent option, especially when you're trying to kill, like, eight birds with one stone.

12. BodyArmor SuperDrink

BodyArmor is a sports drink line with a variety of flavors like strawberry banana, orange mango, and pineapple coconut. These drinks are coconut water-based, so they feature lots of potassium (an electrolyte), along with antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin A. While they don't use any artificial sweeteners in their drinks, they are relatively high in added sugar, with 21 grams of pure cane sugar in a bottle of their strawberry banana flavor.

If you're cool with the higher sugar content, BodyArmor drinks are pretty tasty. One reviewer at Influenster says of their lemonade flavor, "A lot of sports drinks disappoint me and are gross. I wasn't expecting much from this drink either (I had the lemonade flavor) but it was actually pleasant! No overwhelming or underwhelming flavors and I get a hint of the coconut water flavor which I love. The drink felt very smooth if that makes sense." They do have a small gripe with the price. "Would drink again, just wish I wasn't $2," they add.

11. Propel Zero Sugar Flavored Water

If you're a Millennial, you might remember chugging down those intensely sweet, vaguely fruit-flavored bottles of Propel water with a packed lunch at school. No, just us? Well, Propel no longer offers those nutritionally questionable flavored waters that were sweetened with tons of added sugar. Now, all of the flavored water lineup is zero sugar, sweetened instead with the artificial sweetener sucralose. The waters are enhanced with electrolytes like potassium, along with nutrients like vitamins C, E, B6, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

Since making the switch, Propel waters have become arguably a much more sound source of electrolytes and vitamins. This is especially true because their products are primarily marketed to children. Livestrong notes that the gently sweet flavor of Propel might encourage kids (and adults) to consume more water, which is definitely a pro. It's important to note though that while Propel flavored water contains electrolytes, the electrolyte content is a lot less concentrated than some of the options on this list.

10. Pedialyte (unflavored)

If we're talking about hydration drinks, we'd be remiss not to mention the O.G. rehydration treatment: Pedialyte. It was the go-to for childhood ailments, and it may have even nursed you back to health as an adult during a nasty hangover or two.

The classic, unflavored Pedialyte replenishes lost fluids when you're sick, along with zinc and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. According to the Mayo Clinic, Pedialyte and electrolyte solutions like it "contain water and salts in specific proportions to replenish both fluids and electrolytes." The unflavored Pedialyte has no artificial sweeteners or dyes.

Pedialyte is made by combining water, dextrose (a simple sugar made from corn), electrolytes like salt and potassium, and zinc for immune support. If you're sick, this oral solution will rehydrate you better than any juice or sports drink. It's also suitable for real cases of dehydration from strenuous exercise, heat exhaustion, or travel. Now, will you find us chugging Pedialyte as a casual post-workout beverage? Probably not.

9. Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Hydration Powder

While sports drinks have reigned over the hydration beverage market for years, there's a new trend that's taking hold: powdered electrolytes, with vibrant flavors that easily mix into water. First up on our ranking is the Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Hydration Powder. (Yes, it's a mouthful!)

This powder comes in a variety of flavors, including blue raspberry, lemonade, and watermelon. Their mix includes six electrolytes: calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and salt. You'll also find support minerals, fruit flavor extracts, plant-based colors, and stevia. This means there's no sugar, carbs, or calories, making Ultima powders a great choice for diabetics or people otherwise looking to avoid sugar.

One reviewer on Amazon agrees, saying of the powdered mix variety pack, "I am a Type 1 Diabetic and I live in the South where it's very hot and humid. I could use an electrolyte drink sometimes, particularly in the Summer. The problem is that electrolyte drinks are high in sugar & sodium, neither of which is good for me. I searched the internet specifically looking for an electrolyte drink with no sugars and little added sodium and found Ultima on a website about energy/vitamin drinks that specified it was good for diabetics. I ordered the variety pack expecting to dislike at least a few of the flavors, but I actually think they're all good."

8. Hydrant

Another popular electrolyte powder company, Hydrant offers a range of hydration powders to be mixed into water. We'll focus on their "Hydrate" line, which comes in flavors like lemon lime, blood orange, watermelonade, and peach iced tea.

Hydrant mixes are lightly flavored with real fruit juice powder, and contain just four grams of sugar per stick. That sugar comes in the form of powdered fruit juice and a small amount of cane sugar. They're also loaded up with electrolytes like salt, magnesium, and potassium, along with zinc for improved immunity.

We think the drink mixes from Hydrant are a tasty way to get some additional electrolytes on a hot day, or after exercising. According to Honest Brand Reviews, the "Hydrate mix pack gets plenty of rave reviews on Amazon as well. The product page lists over 2,361 comments and an average rating of 4.2/5 stars. Buyers noted that it helped boost energy levels and also reduced headaches caused by dehydration."

7. Essentia Water

Electrolyte-enhanced hydration and sports drinks are great, but one of the best (and most essential) ways to hydrate your body is to drink plenty of water. If you're looking to elevate your water drinking experience, you could try Essentia water. This bottled water is ionized alkaline water, meaning it has a pH higher than 7.0.

There are a host of health claims about the benefits of drinking alkaline water, ranging from improving acid reflux symptoms to preventing major diseases like cancer and heart disease. For what it's worth, the Mayo Clinic claims there's little evidence to support most of these health claims, and plain water is just fine. We can't comment on the health benefits of Essentia water, but what we can say is the taste is clean and smooth, making for an amazingly refreshing, thirst-quenching experience. Essentia also infuses their water with trace amounts of electrolytes, which actually enhances the taste of the water, while ionization removes bitter-tasting acidic ions.

One reviewer on Amazon highlights how great Essentia water is for athletes, saying, "Excellent product for athletes or for those that need electrolytes after a workout. My son is 18yo and will be playing collegiate golf in the fall and spring. His coach recommended this for when he is playing. ... It is his go to water now when he is going out to golf. Anyone who works out or participates in outdoor activities should definitely try."

6. Nuun Sport Electrolyte Drink Tablets

We've covered flavored waters, sports drinks, powders, and alkaline water on this hydration drink ranking. Now, check this out: hydration drink tablets! The Nuun Sport Electrolyte Drink Tablets are just one of the many offerings in the Nuun tablet lineup. You can choose from flavors like citrus, fruit punch, grape, and more. These tablets are a blend of electrolytes, citric acid, dextrose, stevia, natural flavors, and a few other ingredients. They contain just one gram of sugar per tablet, along with 15 calories.

To make your drink, you'll simply pop a tablet in a 16-ounce glass of water and allow it to dissolve. Nuun pushes that these tablets are specially formulated for post-exercise or sports use. Karen Iorio Adelson writes for The Strategist that her pantry is never without them. "Another advantage of Nuun is that it just tastes really good; I remember first trying it out and being impressed by how sweet it was not," she says. "When I drank a Nuun-laced glass of water after a long run, I didn't get post-run headaches and I had more energy. And when I sipped some while running, I totally avoided muscle cramps. My favorite flavor is lemon lime (I buy it in bulk), but tri-berry, watermelon, and strawberry lemonade are tasty, too."

5. Vita Coco Coconut Water

There's another hydration beverage we haven't accounted for: coconut water. According to research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, coconut water is comparable to sports drinks in its ability to promote rehydration and support exercise. That's because it naturally contains electrolytes like magnesium and potassium. It's worth noting that the study did find coconut water more likely to upset participants' stomachs, though.

One of the leaders in the coconut water market is Vita Coco. In their original carton, you'll find coconut water enhanced with a touch of vitamin C and less than 1% sugar. The flavor is fresh, tropical, and gently sweet. If you like coconut water (it's definitely a polarizing drink), you'll probably like Vita Coco. We think it's great when you need a refreshing hydration boost, but it's also one of the few options on the list that mixes great in nutrient-packed, rehydrating smoothies if you're so inclined.

4. Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier

Perhaps the most popular of all the hydration powdered mixes, Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier can now be found in big box retailers all over the country. Their drink mix, which comes in flavors like strawberry, lemon lime, and passion fruit, relies on what they call "Cellular Transport Technology," or CTT®. It's a delivery system that purportedly enhances rapid absorption of water into the bloodstream.

We love the vibrant flavors of Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier, which delivers a sweet hit without overwhelming the palate like a classic sports drink might. It does contain 11 grams of sugar per packet, placing it somewhere in the middle of sugar content compared to other offerings on this list. We've also found that Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier really helps soothe any dehydration effects, like a headache or dizziness, on a super hot day or after a sweat sesh.

Interestingly, Liquid I.V. got its start after founder Brandin Cohen noticed the baseball players he worked with drinking Pedialyte to rehydrate after a brutal workout. He set out to create a product that was better suited for adults to rehydrate and enjoy after exerting themselves, and came up with Liquid I.V.

3. Harmless Harvest Coconut Water

Coconut water once again finds its way on our hydration drinks ranking, but this is no ordinary coconut water. Harmless Harvest coconut water has a cult-like status for its distinctly fresh coconut flavor, unlike any other bottled coconut water on the market. The next best thing might just be to crack open a fresh coconut yourself.

One reviewer on Amazon sings its praises, saying, "This is the best coconut water I've ever tasted. It's light and refreshing and has more of a coconut flavor than other brands. I love to drink it to re-hydrate after a heavy workout." They're not alone — Harmless Harvest has a total score of 4.5 out of 5 on Amazon.

What sets them apart? Harmless Harvest sources their coconut water from young Thai Nam Hom coconuts, known for their fresh and fragrant flavor. The water is micro-filtered, meaning it's never thermally pasteurized to lose its freshness. You'll also notice this coconut water is naturally pink; that's because coconut water can turn pink when its antioxidants interact with the elements. Harmless Harvest doesn't add anything (like vitamin C) to counteract this process. When it comes to coconut water, it's widely hailed as the best tasting bottled option available.

2. Roar Organic

Vibrantly packaged and flavored, Roar Organic drinks combine vitamins, antioxidants, and electrolytes to help you keep hydrated. They come in a few bright flavors, like mango clementine, blueberry acai, Georgia peach, and cucumber watermelon.

Roar Organic drinks aren't quite a sports drink, nor are they a flavored water. They're coconut water-based, so they deliver those natural electrolytes from potassium and magnesium. They're also packed with vitamin C, and boast a solid nutritional profile, with only 20 calories and no more than 3 grams of sugar per bottle.

We love their vibrant flavor and colorful packaging, which makes the whole hydrating experience fun. They're gently sweet and pleasant, but won't hurt your teeth with sugary flavor or stain your lips (we're looking at you, Powerade). One reviewer at Amazon agrees, saying, "I was drinking Powerade Zero, but don't love the taste. Then I found Roar Organic. Wow!! I started with the Mango Clementine flavor and loved it, but it's a little tart and I don't always feel like something tart. The Cucumber Watermelon Flavor is SO refreshing I just love it!! It has just the right amount of flavor and sweetness (not much), but without all of the sugar and/or chemicals."

1. NOOMA Organic Electrolyte Sports Drink

Our number one hydration drink is NOOMA Organic Electrolyte Sports Drink. This sports drink carton is groundbreaking for a number of reasons: it's nutritionally sound with a coconut water base, only 30 calories per carton, and 0 grams of added sugar. It's gluten-free, dairy-free, and suitable for a variety of diets. Plus, the drink's packaging is sustainable and better for the environment.

Most importantly, it tastes amazing! NOOMA comes in several unique flavors, including blueberry peach and chocolate mint. In a review of NOOMA on Spoon University, Lily Baker highlights the chocolate mint flavor in particular, writing, "Normally, I am not a fan of coconut water based drinks. However, the subtle hint of coconut that came through in the drink made it come off as a creamy delicious drink. The creamy coconut flavor mixed with the warm hints of mint and chocolate made it taste like I was drinking a milkshake." Rehydrating with a milkshake-flavored drink that's actually good for you? You can't beat that.