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 that simple and 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 – if you're running to work with stuff on your back let's make sure you're as comfortable as possible.
Best Running Backpacks for Small Loads
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 10lt pack will suffice.
The OMM Last Drop 10L 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 rather than into 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, not padded but as the pack is small it's unlikely that it'll be heavy enough for this to be an issue. 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's also side stash pockets for water bottles – they fit the OMM Bottle best. You could also consider the 8L version, which is almost the same but a little smaller.
The Salomon Trail 10 is a good commuting backpack too, plus it comes in some nice colours (okay, not a technical thing but if you like the look of it you can be more inspired :-)) 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. You can read more bout the Gregory women’s specific backpacks at the bottom of this page. 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 Gregory Miwok 12 gives you that little bit more room.
Best Running Backpacks for Lots of Stuff
If you've got a bit more to carry - shoes / laptop / books / bulky jumper - then you want to look at either the OMM Ultra 15L (pictured top and right) or the Gregory Miwok 18L. The 15L will carry a pair of shoes but it'll be a bit snug. If you've really got stacks to carry there's the Gregory Miwok 24L
If you're carrying heavy items like laptops or books then we really recommend the Miwok, don't be put off by the 24L capacity, there are compression straps so you can reduce the volume to fit the contents, and the padding on the back and shoulder straps is brilliant and very comfortable. The Miwok also has a stack of pockets and compartments, so you'll always be able to find things quickly, there's even a expandable mesh compartment for a bike helmet! I've used the women's version - Maya 16L - with my laptop and it's far more comfortable than anything else I've tried, a lot of thought has gone into comfort: side strap fastening for less bulk, tidy loops for hanging straps, sits high on the back to prevent clothing riding up.
The OMM 15L has the same features as the 10L but is a bit longer, with hip pockets, slightly padded shoulder straps and a handy top zip pocket for keys, etc, same lightweight design.
Best Running Backpacks for Women
Gregory design women-specific packs that are far and away the most comfortable – at least in my experience! They sit properly on the shoulders, no digging in round the back of your neck, or too much gaping at the top of the pack. All the straps pull tight enough to fit the slightest frame, and they sit high enough on the back so that even if you're petite in height they won't rub on your hips. The back is padded as are the straps, and there are lots of handy internal pockets and compartments.
There are three sizes. We find the Maya 10L is the most popular, it will hold clothing and the contents of your handbag 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 – I do that a lot. Heels can work in the helmet space which is the front part of the pack and expands out quite a bit as it’s designed to hold a helmet but you may have to stuff them with paper to prevent the toe area from being crumpled. 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 16L will fit a laptop and has plenty of space, plus the front half pocket has side zips to expand capacity. I use that for carrying shopping but it will fit a bike helmet. If you're carrying less on some days the side compression straps ensure the pack is still neat and contents secure. There's even a Maya 22L pack if you need the extra space.
Have your say
Everyone has a different experience, so we'd love to hear what you think. What's been your best running backpack? Let us know in the comments below...