The Best running backpacks

Make your run commute to work or trail run easier with these best running backpacks.

runner wearing a backpack

Finding the best running backpack can be difficult – there’s a bunch of features to consider and there is no one-size-fits-all pack.

For example, if you run commute to work then your choice of running backpack will be different to someone who intends to hit up the trails or runs ultra-endurance events.

We know it can be overwhelming trying to choose the best one for you. So, we’ve highlighted five of the best running backpacks for all occasions, whether commuting, trail running, or ultra-running.

Editor’s choice

Great for commuting with a lightweight design

OMM 12 phantom running backpack for commuting

Second best

Great all-around running backpack

Inov-8 Adventurelite 15 running backpack

For trail running

Best for trail running with plenty of storage

Salomon trail blazer backpack for trail running

The best running backpacks, in order

1. Omm Phantom 12 running backpack

Lightweight & plenty of storage

OMM 12 phantom running backpack for commuting
OMM 12 phantom running backpack for commuting

The OMM Phantom 12 is the best running backpack for commuting on our list. This is because of the lightweight design while offering plenty of storage space.

You benefit from a harness for increased comfort, a no-bounce design and conveniently placed pockets for energy gels, water bottles, and other easy to reach items.

The waist strap does run thin, however. But this shouldn’t be too big of a problem.

2. Inov-8 Adventurelite 15 running backpack

Hydration reservoir compatible

Inov-8 Adventurelite 15 backpack for running
Inov-8 Adventurelite 15 backpack for running

The Inov-8 Adventurelite 15 is lightweight, highly durable, and contains a zero-bounce fit, just like the above pack from OMM.

With a comfortable fit for commuting to work or running on uneven terrain, it’s a versatile pack with a ton of features.

For example, the running backpack is hydration compatible – there is a dedicated compartment for storing a 2-litre water reservoir.

While the pack’s weight is nearly double the Phantom 12, it’s still lightweight but offers increased hydration storage and a waterproof design.

If you’re looking to go on the trails or need a backpack for anything other than commuting to work, this is the one for you.

3. Salomon trailblazer 20l running backpack

Best for trail running

Salomon trail blazer backpack for trail running
Image credit: Amazon

Looking for the best trail running backpack? Let us introduce you to the Salomon trailblazer 20-litre pack.

With 8 more litres than the Phantom 12 and 5 more than the Adventurelite 15, the trailblazer 20 is ideal for those carrying a lot of kit, whether a jacket, an extra pair of shoes, snacks, or a change of clothes.

It’s also a good option for commuting – there is a laptop sleeve and plenty of storage for all your gear.

And if that’s not good enough, the pack is also compatible with hydration sleeves, allowing you to stay focused on your run without stopping to refuel.

It’s difficult to find a flaw with the Trailblazer, but the quality of the zip could be a little better.

4. OMM running vest

Best for hydration with plenty of pockets

OMM running vest
Image credit: Sportsshoes

While it’s not exactly a proper running backpack, it is a hydration pack.

Another product from OMM, this hydration vest is designed for ultra-distance racing.

There are seven easy-access pockets for gels and snacks, you can store upwards of four water bottles, and the water-resistant design keeps you focused on your run without soaking your kit.

You’ll struggle to carry other items and clothing, but if you’re looking for a buddy to tackle an ultra event or long run in the heat of winter, then this is the best choice for you.

5. Osprey Daylite plus 20l

Best for everyday use & hiking

Finally, we have the Osprey running backpack Daylite Plus – a backpack for those who don’t want the look of a proper “running backpack.”

With a 20 litre capacity, just like the Salomon Trailblazer, there’s plenty of room to store your work kit and other belongings if commuting.

Despite this, this backpack is better suited for everyday use, hiking, and the occasional commute to work.

There is also no laptop sleeve which may be a deal-breaker for you.

For more information on the Osprey Daylite, we recommend checking out a full review by Adventure Pending.

Why do runners wear backpacks?

If you’re commuting to work, then you may wear a running backpack to carry your work gear, an extra set of clothes, and other essentials to clean up at the office.

On the other hand, if you’re off on a long trail run on the weekend, then a pack would be a good idea to carry extra fluids, running gels, emergency supplies, a running jacket, and other essentials.

The options are endless, but one thing is clear – a running backpack is a convenient piece of kit every runner should own.

A simple guide to help you find the best running backpack:

With so many options of running backpacks out there, it can be difficult to find the best one for you.

You may find yourself in a state of analysis paralysis, but don’t worry – we’re here to help.

There are three main factors to consider when shopping for the best running backpacks:

  1. Size
  2. Budget
  3. Purpose

1. Size

The capacity of a backpack is measured in litres. The most common size is usually anywhere from 5 to 20-litres.

Often, external straps are implemented into the design of the bag to increase comfort, compressing the contents of the bag and providing a secure fit.

How many litres you choose is dependant on your intended use. For example, are you looking the best running backpack for commuting, trail running, or something on the smaller side to carry a few extra essentials?

If you are commuting to work, you’ll likely need a bigger pack. This provides you more space to store work items alongside extra clothes and kit, not to mention shower amenities.

If you’re just looking for something to carry a few extra running gels and extra fluids, then a running vest is likely a better option – we’ve included one on our list.

2. Budget

A key factor when choosing a backpack for running is your budget.

Generally, as with most things: you get what you pay for. The more expensive the bag, typically, the higher the quality and the more comfortable it will be to wear.

But, you don’t have to fork out big bucks to find a suitable running backpack for you.

There are plenty of options out there around the £30 – £80 mark – great if you’re not a daily commuter.

If you’re looking for a commuter backpack, perhaps one you’d also take on the trails and fells, then spending a little more is a good idea.

This will make it last-longer, it’ll be more comfortable, and you’re sure to get your money’s worth.

3. Purpose

Finally, we have purpose.

If you’re looking for a backpack for a one-off run then your best off picking up any old backpack from your local sports direct.

However, if you’re looking for one with a little more longevity, maybe for commuting to work and hitting up the local trails on the weekend, then you should invest in a specialist one from one of the top brands such as OMM or Inov-8.

What are the top running backpack brands?

When it comes to running backpacks, there are a few brands that dominate the marketplace, including OMM, Inov-8 and Salomon.

We’re constantly seeing new backpack innovations from new brands, too – so we keep this list updated.

The verdict

Finding the right running backpack is like finding the perfect running shoe – there is no one-size-fits-all option.

While one runner may be looking for a backpack perfect for commuting, another may be after one for trail running or ultra-endurance racing.

But, we can use the three key requirements: size, budget, and purpose to inform your decision.

Take these into account to find the very best running backpack for you, whether you’re looking for a daily commuter or a once in a blue moon backpack for hitting up the local fells.

Whatever running backpack you choose, we’re sure you’ll make the right choice.

Remember to regularly clean your backpack from any spilt liquids, gels, or food contents to keep it clean and lightweight.

We will now leave you with a backpack FAQ, answering some regularly asked questions when it comes to running backpacks.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best running backpack for commuting?

This is ultimately down to personal preference. However, we recommend a backpack which utilises a no-bounce design, providing enhanced comfort to and from work.

Is it okay to run with a backpack?

Yes! However, if you do choose to run with a backpack we recommend investing in a specialized running one. These are often more lightweight and increase both comfort and support when running.

Why do runners wear backpacks?

Runners wear backpacks for a variety of reasons, however, mainly to carry more gear such as extra fluid, running gels, or valuables when running. Others wear backpacks to carry a change of clothes and other essentials when commuting to and from work.

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