Best Running Backpacks Reviewed
For hardcore training, or for a casual jog on the trail, you will probably find a lot of use in a running backpack which can hold all of your gear and accessories, as well as help you be prepared for the unexpected. These can carry your snacks and hydration and a waterproof jacket in case you run into rain while you are out there. We have looked for products that are lightweight yet can carry a lot. Most of these are relatively small and minimal in design but are very efficient with the space that they have. These kinds of products usually have multiple pockets and storage compartments along with several loops and clips on the outside. Our goal is to guide you toward products that will not get in your way but will instead make your life easier.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 16 hrs of research
Mesh and nylon
- Osprey Packs Daylite
- Gregory Mountain Miwok
- Deuter Speed Lite 20
- Nike Course
- Gear Beast Vest
- Salomon Agile
- Gregory Mountain Maya
- Nike Lightweight
- Salomon Advanced Skin
- New Balance Endurance II
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Backpacks for Runners
1. Osprey Packs Daylite
Mesh and nylon
Bottle pocket too small
The Osprey running backpack can be worn by itself as a small, lightweight product perfect for use when running, or, you can just as easily attach it to the back of a larger pack for more storage when going on long hiking trips. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the Osprey is not necessarily compatible with all large packs, but is certainly compatible with other products from the same brand.Read more
The Osprey backpack for runners is made out of mesh and nylon which are both great for durability, breathability, and the nylon is great for its water resistance properties. The straps are made out of mesh which will ensure that you stay cool. The panel on the back is also made out of mesh. This is an excellent feature since users often mention that these kinds of products tend to give them a sweaty back. The Osprey prevents this from happening. The Osprey has some great features like a key clip so you do not lose your keys as well as an interior sleeve which can hold a hydration bladder, or it can be used to hold a tablet or a laptop. The Osprey's design makes it good for use in both exercises and in travel.
One thing that users did not like was that the side water bottle pockets are not deep enough and the water bottle kept falling out, especially when the pack was being bounced around on a trail. One idea might be to put the water bottles in other pockets and use the water bottle pockets for something else, something smaller like snacks or mini water bottles. Inside the front storage compartment is a mesh organizer which will help prevent having to stuff all your gear in a disorganized fashion.
There is a chest strap with a buckle and it is adjustable up and down. The Osprey can carry up to 13 liters of gear, and it is made out of a special kind of ripstop fabric for added durability. The total interior capacity amounts to 793 cubic inches. Although it is not completely waterproof, the Osprey is at least water resistant.
2. Gregory Mountain Miwok
Has hip belt
Hydration tube clip
Quick access pockets
Not enough pockets
The shoulder straps and the back panel of the Gregory Mountain product have both padding and mesh so that they are both comfortable and ventilated. The straps on this product have a number of elastic loops on them which are handy for storing your sunglasses or other accessories. The loops are also useful for threading through a rubber hydration tube, and the straps also have a clip specifically designed for this purpose.Read more
The Gregory Mountain backpack has something called BioSync Suspension which is designed to evenly distribute the weight of the product and also to help the product stay flexible which is helpful for using it in activities where you will be moving around a lot. This suspension system helps absorb shock, and it is designed to work well for going up and down steep inclines. The Gregory Mountain does have a ton of storage. It can hold 1,098 cubic inches or 18 liters. But users have said that the problem is that there are not enough pockets or organizers which means all your gear gets stuffed in one big lump instead of being organized and accessible. Something you could try is to purchase a separate organizer to put inside the product.
One cool feature the Gregory Mountain does have is an expandable pocket in the front. This pocket is designed to be used for a helmet or any other similar sized gear. It also has pockets on the hip belt so that you can keep things there that you need to have quick access to. The Gregory Mountain has a place to attach a safety light, and it also has a bungee loop to attach a pole for use in trekking. One of the pockets has a soft liner so that it will not scratch electronics making it ideal for storing your phone. The bottom panel has two layers to ensure that it will not tear and will hold in your gear securely.
3. Deuter Speed Lite 20
Wet gear compartment
Limited lifetime warranty
Length impedes athletic ability
Since the Deuter has a wet gear compartment, it is an especially good choice if you plan on participating in or training for a triathlon. The running backpack comes with a lifetime warranty, although it is limited.Read more
The Deuter backpack for runners has a frame that is flexible, and it also has a chest strap, two hip wings, and a waist belt, all of which help to distribute the weight evenly and to provide a comfortable fit. Each of the straps is fully adjustable which is great news if you have trouble finding the right fitting product if you are extra tall or short. The Deuter has special pockets for snacks on the side and they are easy to reach so you can stay nourished without having to stop. This product actually has an SOS label built in which gives instructions for saving lives in case of a medical emergency or an injury.
The Deuter backpack for runners has a capacity of 20 liters, and it features several loops for all kinds of accessories. It has special zipper pulls which are designed to prevent snagging or tearing your gloves. Relating to gloves, the Deuter also has a special pocket for storing your gloves. On the plus side, the Deuter has a lot of storage capacity. But on the downside, it might be a little too long to comfortably fit shorter people, especially when used for athletic activities where it might get in the way. Some users have said this is an issue, while others did not think it was bothersome, especially since the product does have height adjustment options which can help.
Some great features of the Deuter include compression straps which help keep gear from shifting around while you are on the go. There are also light reflectors that are built in for added safety. This product uses a fabric that is made out of nylon that is high density and has a very tight weave. This makes it resistant to abrasions and also helps prevent tearing.
4. Nike Course
Organized zippered compartments
Laptop sleeve not secure
The Nike Course running backpack has a cool reflective tape pattern on the back and that along with its bright neon green detailing make it extra visible. The Nike has a capacity of 15 liters while weighing only 13.8 ounces on its own.Read more
The Nike Course running backpack is designed with a stabilizing construction which helps to prevent things inside from bouncing. One problem, though, is that if you put a laptop inside, there is not really anything to keep the laptop from bouncing a little. It would have been nice if Nike would have put an elastic harness inside to secure a laptop, since having it bounce around is not just annoying but also might damage your laptop. If you do not plan on using this for a laptop, however, this will be a non-issue for you.
The Nike has a ventilated harness to keep you cool, and it also has chest straps that are adjustable with the sliding rail system. It has a handle on top so that you can carry it that way if you choose to do so. The main compartment features dual zippers for easy access. There are multiple compartments with zippers for helping you stay organized. Around the outside of the product are cinch straps that you can tighten to compress the product and keep the products inside more secure. There is an adjustable belt strap that can be tucked away when not in use, and the main harness straps have a comfortable wide shoulder design. The interior of this running backpack is lined with polyester for durability and water resistance.
5. Gear Beast Vest
Extremely minimal design
Universal phone fit
Resistant to sweat
Does not bounce
Not much storage space
The Gear Beast backpack for runners features a unique design that hugs tightly to the body and does not bounce at all. It can hold any size of phone, up to six inches measured diagonally.Read more
The Gear Beast has mesh wings that are padded and breathable and resist sweat. The product is made partly out of neoprene material and the pouch is water resistant to protect your electronic device and valuables. Since the Gear Beast is so small and lightweight, it also does not have a lot of storage capacity. This is best for when you do not need to carry too much with you, only the basics. This is basically like wearing one large external pocket.
The arm straps are soft and stretchy, and they can be adjusted to fit both men and women and all different body sizes. The Gear Beast sits high on the back of your shoulders and has ports for cords so that you can use earbuds without having trouble with the cords tangling or getting in your way. This product has a main pouch for your phone and then another smaller pouch for money and keys. Both are covered by the main flap which attaches by velcro.
6. Salomon Agile
Extra wide opening
Harness bottle holders
Several color options
Zipper is not durable
The Salomon Agile running backpack has a unique feature on the main harness straps. Each strap features a pocket just the right size for a water bottle. This way you can carry your hydration in an easy to reach place perfect for grabbing when on the go.Read more
The Salomon Agile backpack comes with soft flasks for carrying water with you. It features soft fabric that is designed to not cause any chafing on your skin, and the product adapts to the shape of your body. It is adjustable and allows you to prevent irritation or pressure points on your sternum. The Salomon Agile has two loops which can be used to attach a helmet. Users have said that the zipper for the hydration bladder compartment is not durable and has the tendency to stop working or to come apart. Unfortunately, the Salomon Agile is also not waterproof. The Salomon must be hand washed, but most likely you will be able to simply spot clean it most of the time. This product has a volume of 12.4 liters, so it is smaller than some models, but still good for carrying a light amount of gear. Unlike a lot of these kinds of products, the Salomon Agile actually has quite a few color options to choose from including Barbados cherry/graphite, Citronelle, fiery red, night sky/sulfur spring, urban chic (a light gray), black, or surf the web (an ocean blue).
7. Gregory Mountain Maya
Stretchy front pocket
Hip belt pockets
Attractive color choices
Minimal storage space
The Gregory Mountain Product Maya has a unique fit designed specifically for women. It is a bit less bulky and more lightweight than its gender-neutral counterparts.Read more
The front pocket stretches for a lot of extra room, and it is fastened with a bungee so that you will not have trouble getting it closed even if you stuff a whole bunch of gear in there. The hip belt is padded and features a pocket on each side for easy reach. Since the Maya running backpack is designed specifically to fit women, it does not have quite as much storage. It has a capacity of only 10 liters. You might be surprised at how small the product actually is. The pockets are highly expandable, though, so it will carry more than it looks like it will. Some users have said that they had trouble fitting much gear in this product, but others said that if they used the space efficiently, they could easily pack several layers of clothing for winter running. One thing users loved about the Maya is that it has a ton of adjustable design features. There are straps and buckles and bungees all over it that allow you to completely customize the fit. The Maya has a 3D back panel that is made out of breathable foam. Inside of this product, there is a clip for hanging a hydration bladder. Having a clip for this has its advantages because it means you can remove the hydration bladder more quickly that way. The Maya has reflective webbing for running in low light conditions.
8. Nike Lightweight
Three main compartments
Secure zipper closures
May not have suspension
You sometimes have to choose between the convenience of a small running backpack and the convenience of a large amount of storage space. The Nike is pretty small at 41 centimeters tall by 31.5 centimeters wide. It does not have a lot of storage space, but you might find that its small size is a worthwhile trade-off.Read more
One of the cool features of this product from Nike is the zipper on the back of the bag. It runs the length of the product and gives you some added storage space. Nike backpack has three main compartments, all of which can be accessed through secure zippers. Another great thing about this particular model is that it is water resistant. It has ventilated shoulder straps to keep you cool, and some of the detailing are reflective. One detractor is that the product might not have quite as good of suspension and weight distribution as some other models on this list.
9. Salomon Advanced Skin
Lots of pockets
Cool and breathable
Gentle on skin
Not at all waterproof
The Salomon Advanced Skin is one of the lightest weight running backpacks you can find. While it might not have as much storage as a traditionally designed model, its unique design offers other advantages like great breathability. You might not even feel like you are wearing anything extra. The whole product is made out of mesh which allows airflow to travel through it unhindered.Read more
While the design of the Salomon Advanced Skin means that it is not waterproof, it is quick drying so sweat will evaporate rather than become trapped. If you need to protect some of your belongings from rain, you will want to put them in a plastic sealable bag before storing them in this product. The Advanced Skin features several different pockets of varying shapes, sizes, and closures, each of them good for storing different things. It has a pocket for a water bottle, but it also has a pouch on the back for a hydration bladder. This product has been designed to minimize skin irritation and charing. The fabric is non-irritating, and all potential chafing areas have been given extra smoothing to avoid any problems. Users have spoken highly about how comfortable this model is and have said that comfort is one of its strongest aspects. The great thing about this product's design is that all of your gear is easily reachable. You will never have to stop, take it off, and unzip the pouches like you would with other models. Users have said that this particular model is ideal for long-distance running. Some have said that the durability is an issue with thread sometimes unraveling, and others have said that the sizing runs a little large.
10. New Balance Endurance II
Eyelets for ventilation
360 degree reflectivity
No laptop space
Many backpacks for runners only have a little bit of reflective tape here and there on the back of the product. But for extra safety, the New Balance Endurance has reflective features all the way around the product, so it does not matter what angle you are to the traffic, they will still be able to see you.Read more
The Endurance has a removable foam pad that aids in keeping its structure. If you want less structure and a more slouchy style, you can take the pad out. The hydration bladder sleeve has a little bit different design on the Endurance than on other models. With the Endurance, there are two ports into the bladder sleeve, which means you can more easily choose which side to have the rubber tube on. Inside this model is a valuables pocket that is lined with tricot. There are several eyelets on this product which make it more breathable. They act as ventilation ports. One thing missing on the Endurance is a place for a laptop. Although not completely necessary, it might have been nice if it was included because it makes the product more versatile.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
In our search for the ten best running backpacks on the market, we knew that adjustability was a big factor in determining which products made the list and which ones did not. All of the products we chose have at least some adjustability, and most have several ways they can be adjusted. This is the single biggest factor affecting how well the backpack fits. It is also very important for making sure the product stays secure and does not bounce around too much when you are on the move. And yet another thing it affects is how well and how evenly the weight is distributed across your body. Something we often noticed across reviews for several different products was how happy users were when they found products that had a whole bunch of adjustable options. They felt like they were basically able to customize the product to fit them perfectly. The nice thing about this is that more than one person could use the same product and would be able to adjust it to their own unique fit.
First of all, we wanted to make sure that at the very least the shoulder straps, also called the harness, was adjustable. This helps you move the pack up and down, determining how high or low it sits on your back, which also affects how the weight is distributed across your shoulders. This is essential for these types of products. If the product is too low, it will bounce and possibly even hit the back of your legs. If it is too high, it will hinder your arm, shoulder, and head movements. This was also one of the first essential criteria because of the fact that users will be of different heights and builds.
Next, we looked at the chest strap, also called the sternum strap. For one thing, this helps take away some of the strain that is on your shoulders. It helps pull the weight of the product down and forward instead of letting it pull your shoulders backward. It also secures the two main straps and keeps them from falling off your shoulders, another essential factor for using these when running. The sternum strap should be able to be adjusted both horizontally and vertically. That is, you should be able to tighten it to pull the two sides closer together, and you should also be able to move the whole thing higher or lower on your chest. This second way of adjusting the strap is usually done by either having the strap looped around both main shoulder straps, or having it on a track that runs along the inside edge of both shoulder straps. Another thing we read was that women especially need to be able to adjust the sternum strap up and down, and will possibly wear the sternum strap higher or lower than men typically do. Some experts recommend that you wear it somewhere around one inch below the collarbone, but some users prefer to wear it across where the solar plexus is. It is best to experiment and see what fit is most comfortable for you and feels like it is helping to relieve some of the weight of the pack.
We also looked at the hip belt which helps rest some of the weight on your hips and relieves some of the pressure off of your shoulders. One of the cool things we found was that often these products use the space efficiently by putting pockets on the adjustable straps, especially the hip belt and the two main shoulder straps. These are also a great location for pockets because they are in front of you and are within easy reach. Finally, we also looked at the straps that crisscross the back of the product and allow you to compress the product and the contents inside. This helps tremendously in securing the load and making sure the gear inside does not bounce around.
Durability is an obvious necessity, especially for these kinds of products that are going to be getting a lot of wear and tear. We researched to find out what users were reporting as far as what the common weak points of these kinds of products are. What we found was that products like these typically have trouble in the areas of the zippers and the fabric. Most users did not encounter trouble with the durability of any of the straps, harnesses, or pockets. With this information, we were able to look for products that avoided these common problem areas by strengthening the fabric, sometimes with double layers, and by using high-quality zippers. We came across users who reported incidents where similar products would simply give out under the weight of the contents. The fabric would tear and the contents would spill out—definitely not a good day if you are out on the road or trail. We chose products that used durable fabric materials like nylon and polyester, and oftentimes a blend of two or more materials. Many of our choices also have the bottom of the product double reinforced so that the place that gets the most strain from the weight of the contents is also the most strong.
This criterion presented a little bit of a dilemma due to the fact that with this factor we were basically asking these products to do two things that were in opposition to each other. That is, we wanted them to have a lot of capacity and to be able to carry a lot of gear, but yet we wanted them to be small and lightweight and do not interfere with your ability to run. When choosing products, we had to settle for a compromise between capacity and convenience, and we had to weight the importance of being able to take a lot of gear with the comfort of being able to travel light. The products we chose generally range in capacity from around 10 liters up to 20 liters. When you are choosing a product, you will need to think about what kind of activity you will be using it for, and if you want it to be versatile enough to be used for both athletic activities and for long distance traveling. You will need to choose a product based on how much you absolutely have to carry with you. It is probably best to go with the smallest option you can since it will be more minimal and will be less likely to tire you out.
One of the factors related to capacity was compartment design and the number of pockets. We looked for products that had at least one big zippered compartment, but also often up to two or three. We looked to see if there were some system of organization inside the compartments. Things like mesh pockets or organizers inside were a plus because otherwise, these main compartments tend to become a disorganized mess with everything just thrown in there. We also looked for plenty of pockets on the outside of the product. Pockets of all different shapes and sizes were preferred since they each are best for different things. We made sure the products had a special place to store common items like keys, phone, water bottles or water bladder, and snacks.
Many of us know what it is like to wear an ill-fitting pack that pinches and pulls and makes our back and shoulders feel sore and achy. No one wants that especially for when you are trying to get some exercise. To prevent this, we made sure the product had a good design and fit with adjustable straps so you can distribute the weight and feel comfortable for hours. We looked for padding on the hip belts and on the shoulder straps. We closely examined user reviews to make sure the product did not have a tendency to dig into your skin or pinch anywhere. We also looked at fabric type and quality, as well as the design of the seams. This was to make sure the product was designed to prevent chafing, which can be a common problem when you are exercising because you might be wearing minimal clothing, like a tank top which allows the product to come in contact with your bare skin. Finally, another essential quality of comfort was ventilation. Nearly all the products we chose have a mesh back panel and mesh shoulder straps. Often the back panel has several layers to help wick away sweat and provide breathability. Without this, you would have trouble with sweat getting trapped on your back and running down your skin. Making sure that the products were designed to keep you cool was one of the big factors relating to the comfort of these products.
The unfortunate fact of the matter is that most of these products are not fully waterproof. If you plan to be out in the rain, it would be best if you placed any valuables or sensitive items in waterproof plastic sealable bags before storing them in the pack. Another option is to get a raincoat or a poncho that fits over the top of the pack. The good news is that most of these products are at least water resistant, so a little light sprinkle of rain or some sweating is not going to soak through and ruin the items inside. Some products, even though they are not fully waterproof, do have a waterproof compartment inside for storing wet gear or valuables. Since we could not find products that were completely waterproof, we insisted on finding ones that were at least water resistant.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Have you heard of the sport called the aquathlon? It has actually been around since the 1900s and combines running and swimming. It can be held on any kind of trail and any kind of body of water. You first run a certain distance on the trail, then swim a certain distance, then run another distance to the finish line. There are different distance standards depending on the individual race, and many are held in some beautiful locations.
You might be wondering what essentials you need to bring with you so that you do not accumulate too much weight but at least have enough supplies to last for a long distance run. Here are the most essential basics you need to consider bringing: water, first aid kit, several snacks (consider how far you will be going, how fast, and how many calories that will burn), and an extra article of clothing like a light jacket (in case it rains).
Other Factors to Consider
We hope you feel prepared with all the information that you need to choose the right product for you. These products are designed to withstand a lot of miles, and users often say that when they find the right product, it becomes a favorite accessory that they end up using for years until it finally wears out and they have to find a replacement. We have looked at things like how important it is to adjust the product to the proper fit, what essentials you need to bring with you, and how certain products are designed to keep you safe whether it is with reflective tape, or first aid information, or an anti-chafing design.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Will these running backpacks slow me down?
No, they shouldn't, especially if you get a good fit and tighten the straps so it fits tightly to your body. Things that can potentially slow you down are if you pack too much weight in the product or if you don't get a good tight fit and the product bounces or doesn't distribute the weight evenly.
q: What is Tricot fabric?
This is a certain kind of fabric you will see with some of these products. It is extremely smooth and comfortable and prevents chafing against your skin.
q: I am fairly short. Will these still work for me?
Yes. You might want to go for one of the smaller products, which will help it fit better, but also remember that you can often adjust both where the product sits on your back, and also sometimes how tall the product itself is. Or, you can go for one of the minimal designs that are extremely small and either fit like a vest or simply go across your shoulders. These are things you can do to get a better fit.
q: I am very tall. Will these still fit me?
Yes, although you will want to keep some things in mind when choosing a product. First of all, you might want to go for one of the bigger models which will probably fit better. If you choose one of the smaller products, you might have trouble with the hip belt going around your stomach rather than your hips. Also, remember to adjust the shoulder straps so that the product fits comfortably on you. These products are all highly adjustable and can fit a wide range of heights.
- 6 Rules to Follow When Running with a Pack, Blog ,
- The Definitive Guide that You Never Wanted: Fitting and Adjusting Your Backpack, Article ,
- Aquathlon, Article ,
- What is Tricot Fabric?, Article ,