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The best running backpacks: keep it together with a lightweight jogging backpack

Running backpack

No matter if you’re an aspiring Mo Farah or a Couch-to-5k-er, there are a few things that are true across the board. First: warming up and cooling down is a must; second: no matter how tempting it is, you can’t take every day as a cheat day; and finally: it pays to be prepared. Opting for one of the best running backpacks available right now will see you well on your way to organisational excellence as well as preventing unwanted rubs and chaffing.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not suggesting Boy Scout levels of prep for every jog you ever go on (put the Swiss army knife down and drop the woggle), but when running outside, whether it’s a quick jog in your lunch break, a Sunday morning out on the track, or a long-distance race, you need to keep a few essentials to hand. Aside from a decent pair of running shoes, the one thing you need is a good, lightweight running backpack. 

Depending on what kind of activity you’ll be doing, and in what weather, you might want to go for a waterproof running backpack. High-altitude hikes, rainy days and running or cycling to work will all bring their challenges, so especially if you’re transporting anything delicate like a laptop or tablet, it makes sense to go waterproof.

Other than that, it’s mostly down to budget. You can get ultra-comfortable basic backpacks for under £50 that will see you through most runs without chafing or aching, or go up to £100 for fully-featured backpacks with a few more attachments, pockets, and adjustable bits.

running backpack

1. OMM Phantom 12

At just 200g, this ultra-light pack is our featherweight champion

Specifications

Best for:
Capacity: 12L
Waterproof: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely lightweight
+
High-quality waterproofing

Reasons to avoid

-
Small capacity 

With its light-as-a-feather construction, this 200g pack is perfect for races or zipping into work after one too many times snoozing the alarm. The adjustable 6-point harness keeps things stable and bounce-free, so you won’t be conscious that you’re carrying anything at all, while the AquaGuard water-repellent finish stops your possessions getting soaked, and the reflective detailing keeps you safe while running at night.

running backpack

2. Gregory Miwok 24

Whether walking, running or cycling; commute with ease with this backpack

Specifications

Best for: Storage
Capacity: 24L
Waterproof: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Large capacity
+
Handy additions for cyclists

Reasons to avoid

-
Slippery fabric 

The die-cut foam on the back panel and harness of this Gregory pack mould to the shape of your back for comfortable and stable carry whatever you’re up to, whether it’s running, walking or cycling. With its large capacity, this running-meets-cycling backpack is one for the commute, big enough to pack a change of clothes and shoes, with secure interior zip pockets and a really helpful bungee closure for attaching helmets when not in use. 

running backpack

3. Nike Commuter

A large pack which is both stylish and breathable

Specifications

Best for: Style
Capacity: 15L
Waterproof: No

Reasons to buy

+
Looks good
+
Decent size

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most durable 

If you’re in search of a comfortable running rucksack that looks cool enough to double up as a day bag, go for the Nike Commuter. It looks equally at home on a morning jog as slung nonchalantly over the shoulder on the Tube, with a ventilated back panel for breathability and adjustable sternum strap for a close custom fit. It is, however, on the smaller side for a commuter bag. If you need to keep a change of clothes or a laptop handy, we recommend going for the larger capacity Gregory Miwok instead.  

running backpack

4. Salomon Trail 20

A sturdy and versatile pack for everyday use

Specifications

Best for: Value capacity
Capacity: 20L
Waterproof: No

Reasons to buy

+
Great capacity for the price
+
Comfortable and adjustable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof 

While this value backpack isn’t the most feature-packed — and understandably so, for half the price of some others featured in our list — its large capacity makes it perfect for family hikes, gentle jogs, and beginners getting up to speed. It’s comfortable to carry and versatile too, with its adjustable belt and sternum strap, and reviewers said they were left dry after a long day thanks to the breathable Airvent back panel 

running backpack

5. Osprey Rev 6 backpack

This pack ensures you stay hydrated on the go

Specifications

Best for: Water bladders
Capacity: 6L
Waterproof: No

Reasons to buy

+
Included water bladder
+
Stable and comfortable straps

Reasons to avoid

-
Phone holder is too small for most phones 

As a trail-running buddy, the Osprey Rev 6 is second to none. The BioStretch body-wrap harness boasts stabilisation wings and a sturdy body belt for a great, close fit, meaning no uncomfortable jiggling while you’re trying to smash your personal best. It also has the best water bladder integration of any pack on our list, with its own included 1.5L reservoir for keeping you hydrated out on the track. 

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