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There's nothing better than heading out for a run with your perfect running shoes, comfy running kit and nothing more than a watch on your wrist. However, sometimes it's not just you that you have to carry around on your run! So, here are the crème de la crème of the running backpacks – for commuting or general use. If you're running to work (or play) with stuff on your back let's make sure you're as comfortable as possible.
First go over exactly what you'll be carrying. If it’s a matter of a top and trousers, but no shoes, plus personal effects, but not a laptop, then a 10L pack will suffice, maybe even an 8L.
The OMM Ultra 8L is a stripped down pack; lightweight but strong thanks to the rip-stop nylon material – which is also pretty effective at letting rain run off it, though in consistent rain you should line it with a plastic bag. It has a removable foam pad at the back, to protect your back from stuff digging in whilst you run. Straps are a strong mesh for lightness, as the capacity is slight you won’t miss any padding here. Due to the size it also has one sternum strap and no waist strap as the pack isn’t big enough to warrent one. It also folds in on itself and fits into a flap pocket – so, perfect for traveling, and the buckle of the strap is also a whistle! As with all packs you can add a bladder for water if you like – it will fit up to a 2L – and there's a hole for the tube and elastic holds to keep it in place on the shoulder straps. There are also side stash pockets for water bottles – they fit the OMM Bottle and the collapsable Flexi Flasks best. This is the smallest of our packs, it will fit thin layers like trousers and a shirt, plus small extras, but bulky jackets etc. will work better with the following…
The Salomon Trailblazer 10 features a longer back support in a more square design. Like the OMM, there’s space for bottles in the side mesh compartments and you can add up to a 2lt bladder. There’s one main compartment and the ripstop material keeps it light but durable. The only thing it’s lacking next to the OMM is a whistle.
The Gregory Maya 10 is a great option for women. The Maya 10 offers a good number of pockets so you can access things quickly, great comfort and durability. I’ve had mine for years, washed it a fair amount and it’s still going strong.
The Montane Trailblazer 8 is designed more for races as there’s easy access pockets for nutrition but it’s equally handy as a commuting backpack. With a great fit and considerate extras like a whistle (required for some off road races) and a bungee cord so you can stuff a jacket on the front of the pack.
If you're carrying heavy items then we really recommend Gregory or Montane running backpacks, they are heavier then OMM but offer more padding and protection.
With the Gregory Miwok 12L you get compression straps so you can reduce the volume to fit the contents. The padding on the back and shoulder straps is brilliantly comfortable. The Miwok also has a stack of pockets and compartments, so you'll always be able to find things quickly. A lot of thought has gone into comfort: side strap fastening for less bulk, tidy loops for hanging straps, it sits high on the back to prevent clothing riding up. This will hold up to a 15” laptop.
The Montane Trailblazer comes in two gender distinct fits. The 16 is women’s specific fit and very comfortable. The 18 is cut on a male specific fit (don’t get me started on why women get 2lt less space!). There is a good number of pockets for easy access and quick finding of keys etc. I particularly like the design of pockets on the shoulder straps at the expense of hip pockets that can come too far forward which means you don’t knock your elbows into any side pockets. The harness is customisable so you can get exactly the right fit for your shape. Both will fit a laptop that’s 15” or less.
If lightness is your most important factor then the OMM packs are ideal. The OMM 12L and 15L (numbers denote storage capacity in litres) have two side mesh pockets, two hip-belt pockets (one zipped, one a mesh pouch for easy access). With a pack weight of only 430 grams, this is a versatile ultra-light pack. Both packs will hold a laptop, the 15 will hold up to 17” size.
If you've got a 17”+ laptop or simply loads to carry then go for the 20 litre + options.
The Ultra 20L is very similar to the OMM 15 and 12 but with more storage. It’s great for packing clothing in, less ideal for laptops as the base is a strong but thin ripstop nylon material.
The Montane Trailblazer 25 has generous zip pockets on the straps for quick access of essentials. You can customise the fit of the harness to ensure a neat fit regardless of how full or not the pack is. The double chest straps guarantee this pack won’t jiggle about when you’re running, so even if you’ve got a load of things to carry it'll all be held really securely.
The Miwok 24 offers a bit more padding, shaping, and more pockets. A better option if you are carrying heavier items; the pack is double the weight of OMM 20L at 840g, but that weight goes into a durable structure and reliable padding so you can bear the weight of your pack and belongings in the most comfortable way possible.
The Montane Trailblazer 16 is a very well designed pack for the female frame. It fits beautifully on the shoulders, no digging in round the back of the neck, or too much gaping at the top of the pack. For petite frames the length of the pack can mean it sits on the hips, so the Gregory Maya 10 can be more comfortable. What I really love about this pack is the way the hip side pockets are set further back and instant access pockets are on the shoulder straps, if you are narrower of shoulder (as I am) it means your elbows don’t risk bumping against the side pockets. In comparison to the Gregory options, this pack is also lighter at 420g.
The Gregory Maya designs are women-specific packs that are padded and comfortable – at least in my experience! All the straps pull tight enough to fit the slightest frame. The back is padded as are the straps, and there are lots of handy internal pockets and compartments.
There are two sizes. We find the Maya 10L is the most popular; it will hold clothing and the contents of your shoulder bag but you could struggle with shoes. If they are flats you can fit them in the side mesh pockets as long as you don’t need to put bottles there. It sits high enough on the back so that even if you're petite in height it won't rub on your hips. At the front of the pack you have an stretchy mesh cover which you can pack more into. You’ve got hip pockets to hold phone, keys, etc. There are two main compartments to the bag, one fairly shallow and the other that is designed to take the bulk of the contents.
The Maya 22L will fit a laptop and has plenty of space. If you're carrying less on some days the side compression straps ensure the pack is still neat and contents secure.
OMM backpacks also fit us well and are beautifully light, we find the 8Lt very popular for those looking to carry bare essentials.
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