For events where you need to carry your running kit and food it’s essential to get the weight and fit of your running backpack or vest just right.
So, the best running backpack or running vest for your training / racing will be dictated by what you’re carrying. Focus on what you need to store in a pack, cutting out the non-essentials. Then choose from the expertly designed running packs that you can rely on for performance and comfort.
If you're training on your own, or competing in a one-day event, then you need a backpack that will hold the essentials of survival kit, snacks, water and navigation. You should be able to fit this into an 8L pack.
The OMM Ultra is an 8L pack: super light, it's just a shell, no extras, and at 235g it's not adding to your burden. It will suffice for a water bladder (which you need to purchase separately), snacks and a jacket. The harness system gives great stability with just one chest strap; the yoke design means the pack sits high on the back and secures well with the strap. The mesh side pocket is generous to fit any water bottle plus a little extra for snacks.
The advantage of the OMM packs is the whistle that’s built into every chest strap – something that’s required by many adventure races – plus a removable foam pad that protects your back from prodding bag contents, but can be also be used as a pillow / seat mat.
For shorter races, or those in the warmer months when you don’t need to carry additional clothing (note: mountain races require waterproof kit year round) a 5L running vest can be an excellent option.
I recently used the Salomon Advanced Skin 5 for a self-supported 40-mile race, starting out with 4L of water and snacks, and found this a more comfortable and ergonomic option than a backpack. Another advantage is the instant access to snacks and water without having to strain or remove the pack. The 8L and 12L options will give you storage space for clothing layers too.
Weekend / 2-Day Events
If you're camping overnight you're going to need a little more storage space. When part of a team you can split the load of tent and cooking gear between you, in which case a 15L pack will suffice. It may not seem like much room, but with sleeping bags being super small, and other gear more space-economical these days, it works.
The OMM Ultra 15L backpack is perfect. It can accommodate up to a 3L bladder, and has side hip pockets. Like the 8lt version, it's super light, has a removable foam pad at the back, and one of the buckles acts as a whistle.
If you really don’t think 15Lt will do it, there’s the OMM Ultra 20 pack. Still very light at 380g. With both packs, the loops on the main body of the pack enable you to secure a jacket with use of a bungee cord or ice axes/poles.
The addition of a Go Pod will give you more space for water bottles and snacks, which can be accessed without difficulty. The pod attaches to the straps of the backpack
If you've signed up for the Marathon des Sables, or an equivalent race where you've got to carry your kit and food over more than a couple of days, then you need a spacious running specific backpack.
For the MDS, or any event where you're carrying tent, sleeping bag, cooking stove and food, you'll want the Classic Mountain Marathon 32L. Less survival gear and the 25L version will suffice. The foam padding that protects your back through the day can be pulled out at night for a bit of extra protection from the hard ground. As with other OMM backpacks one of the clips acts as a whistle.
You can add on the OMM Go Pod, which can stash anything from a bottle to gels and bars, giving you instant access to energy snacks. The side compress cord means things don't start rattling around once you've used up some of your provisions. There are even loops on the pack to hang trekking poles.
Have your say
Competed in an adventure race before? We'd love you to share you're experiences and advice below. It's always super useful to those preparing for their first event.