When it comes to choosing a backpack for running, the options are endless, depending on your need. If it’s a ultramarathon, you’ll want a minimalist vest to carry gels, fluids and snacks. If you’re planning on adding a run commute or two to your weekly mileage, you’ll probably want something more substantial to carry all the essentials.
Below are our picks for the best backpacks for running for all kind of runners, let’s have a happy running!
10 of the best backpacks for running in UK 2021
1. USWE Nordic 10
The USWE Nordic 10 Vest has a secret weapon: its Thermo Cell insulation technology, which stops the drink tube and bite valve from freezing in extreme temperatures. It works by reflecting the user’s body heat, built up during physical activities, via a thin mesh membrane. The rest of the pack is made from a lightweight but durable synthetic with a 3D mesh back.
Thanks to the nifty NDM 4-point harness system, the chest straps expand along with the chest during physical exertion and this allows for a consistently tight and compliant fit. Ergonomically designed, the shoulder straps here deliver an even and smooth distribution of the backpack’s weight. Joining forces with the chest straps to create the 4-point front system, all the straps are connected with a rotatable quick-release that securely holds the entire backpack in place.
There’s a total of seven different pockets here (a lot for a running pack), including stretch mesh on the sides and two handy zipped ones on the chest where you can stash a phone or GPS. Designed for use in winter, when the evenings are longer and darker than in summer, it’s good to see the implementation of visual reflective points on the front and back, as well as an easy and secure attachment for a bike LED-light. This is a functional and very, very comfortable pack to wear for all kinds of high tempo winter sports.
2. Patagonia Nine Trails Pack 18L
The Nine Trails Pack is Patagonia’s larger hiking daypack. It is made in the way that stands true with their brand: simple, well built, and effective. Made with soft and durable nylon and a well-constructed hip belt, the Nine Trails Pack easily moves with your body as you move through the backcountry. The stretch mesh pocket and large main compartment opening allow great gear access. Where the pack does miss the mark is the lack of trekking pole accessories. It is also on the more expensive side of the price bracket—though Patagonia is one of the most environmentally-friendly gear companies on the planet and they stand by their gear for life. For many, this makes the brand worth the premium that it commands.
For moving quickly and comfortably on scrambles and hikes when you don’t need to pack the kitchen sink. Perfect for extra layers, hydration and essentials.
The breathable mesh back panel and harness straps on this backpack are narrower than normal, which makes for a supremely secure fit, and there is considerable padding on the shoulders and waist, where it is needed most. The adjustable sternum straps are fiddly but great for securing comfortably across the chest. Capacity is ample (we even managed to fit in a coat) but the compression straps need to be pulled tight to stop the load shifting around. There are zipped waistband pockets, though the pack would benefit from one on the harness, for a phone.
3. Arc’teryx Arro 16
The Arro is one of the Arc’teryx’s original staples, and the brand is now making it in a smaller 16-liter option. The sleek styling is a throwback that still fits in just as well on the move as it does propped next to your desk. At first touch, the Cordura nylon and water-tight zippers scream durability. Yes, this backpack can take a beating, but it also didn’t slow us down. While its appearance is more urban, flared wings near the hips and articulated rear padding helped it hug us better than many others, eliminating a lot of side-to-side motion as we moved quickly. Though Arc’teryx says that the padded sleeve is designed for 13-inch laptops, we were able to fit a 15-inch Macbook Pro in there without issues. We also appreciate the smaller secondary zip pocket on the back with drainage holes, great for separating toiletries and other items that may be wet from electronics and clothes. While the position of the sternum strap isn’t (easily) adjustable, it was already in a comfortable spot.
4. Gregory Miwok 24L Backpack
Gregory Miwok 24 Daypack: A good daypack may be the essential piece of gear that any outdoor enthusiast owns. Not only do these smaller backpacks allow you to carry everything you need with you on the trail, but they can also be a companion while traveling, running errands, or for your daily commute too.
The Gregory Miwok has been a great pack for years and every new iteration unveils some new technology. The Miwok is minimalist and built well. There are smart pockets, and the harness system has been built to breathe and move well with the user. There is no solid frame in the pack, which does cause problems with the pack when it is set down. A few great additions help the pack stand out, such as the glasses holder and plastic hydration hose holder on the shoulder straps. The Gregory Miwok 24 is also offered in a female specific variant as the Gregory Maya 22. Overall, the Gregory Miwok is our pick for Runner Up for Best Daypack.
The Gregory Miwok 24 is made from durable 100D Nylon, which makes this the perfect pack for all eventualities. From daily commutes, to airport travel or trail walking; this backpack is designed to withstand frequent and harsh use and will stand the test of time. It has a barely-there feel and an expandable helmet pocket which makes it ideal for cyclists, too.
5. Adidas Terrex Agravic Backpack Large
Pack light. Move fast. This adidas Terrex Agravic Backpack offers the right amount of space for fast-and-light trail missions. It’s hydration compatible with tube routing and two dedicated bottle pockets. The mesh back panel and shoulder straps move heat and moisture away from your body to keep you cool while you’re on the go.
The Terrex Agravic rucksack is a great option for a runner who just wants one backpack for all their outdoor endeavours. With a capacity of 13 litres, it’s on the small side for a commuter bag, but it’s just large enough to squeeze in a laptop and a change of clothes. And if you don’t need to carry a laptop, space is plentiful for your work stuff.
The large reflective patch on the back of the rucksack is also a boon for commuters who run at night, and for trail-runners, the Terrex Agravic has two 400ml bottles that fit into the straps. Its larger capacity also means it’s great for all-day excursions when you need to carry food and emergency equipment with you.
6. Osprey Nebula and Nova
Principally designed for commuting but capable of taking a lot more than the urban hustle in its stride, the Osprey Nebula is among the best bags of its type. It’s stuffed with padded slots and pouches for all your laptop, tablet and smartphone storage needs, yet capacious enough to hold up to 34l of gear for a day out on the trails.
With deep, stretchy water bottle pockets on either side and a stretchy pouch at the rear to stuff your waterproof jacket or bike helmet in, this is truly the MacGyver of multipurpose backpacks. The wide straps are comfortable and it will also shrug off the odd shower or two, although you may want to avoid using it in torrential downpours as there’s no built-in rain cover and the cable port at the top isn’t sealed against the elements.
The Nebula is aimed at men, and while we find it works as a unisex pack, women may find the female-specific Nova version more comfortable.
7. Camden Gear – Miracol Hydration Backpack
The Camden Gear running backpack is the best affordable option to choose from. It comes at a highly cost-effective price and offers many features we are sure you will you.
This hydration backpack is affordable, versatile, and offers a lot of features runners will love. It is highly durable and comes with 6 different storage pockets as well as 1.5 liter BPA free water bladder. It is comfortable, highly breathable, and the adjustable straps allow for a secure fit. Its ripstop material makes the backpack highly durable and it is built to last.
travelers found the Miracol Hydration Backpack to be very lightweight and easy to run with. We particularly love that the two clips on the belt keep the backpack snug and secure when you’re on the go.
8. Osprey Daylite plus 20L
Designed with a lightweight approach the Osprey Daylite Plus is the perfect 20L allrounder that’s perfect for active commuters (runners, cyclists etc.) thanks to some serious straps and an internal hydration sleeve.
The Osprey Daylite Plus 20L backpack acts as a fantastic solution for an active lifestyle/commuter backpack.
Internal laptop and hydration sleeves give great options for computer security and hydration during active commutes or on longer hikes with plenty of space for all daily essentials. Harness padding, sternum strap and the removable hip belt are fantastic for keeping the weight of the pack in the correct position.
As a dedicated commuter pack, hiking pack or as a solid allrounder, the Daylite Plus is a great looking competent pack forming a great companion in a range of activities.
9. Karrimor Unisex X Lite 15L Running Backpack
The Karrimor X Lite Backpack is ideal for wearing to head out onto a run, with a spacious main compartment and multiple smaller zip pockets to store all your valuables whilst out on a run. The rucksack features adjustable, padded shoulder straps, a bungee system to one side and reflective detailing for better visibility in dim light conditions.
It’s a great value and very bold. The rucksack itself is certainly bright to say the least, but it’s function does not stop at being a beacon to those around you. It is well made, feels sturdy and the fit along with it’s medium size is what I find perfect for running with whilst carrying what you need. It doesn’t ride up, stays as stable as a backpack can be on your back, whilst not being too big. A great addition to your winter gear collection to carry your warmer clothes in to training and more importantly to be seen as the nights gets longer.
10. OMM Ultra 8 Running Backpack
This small but mighty running backpack is a crowd favourite for runners who don’t carry too much on their runs. The versatile lightweight, waterproof running backpack has a simple design and is great for running and racing.
Everything has been put into this running backpack to reduce its weight on your body. The combined chest strap and waist belt harness reduces the overall weight of the backpack. A yoke strap across the chest spreads the weight of the backpack evenly across both shoulders. Once you adjust the straps to your body, you won’t even know it’s there.
Slot your water bottle into one of the wrap around mesh side pockets on the outside of the bag, or connect your water bladder inside the bag. The secure zipped pocket will keep your valuables safe as you run.
This best running backpack is unisex, and the smaller capacity is great for women who are looking for a smaller fitting backpack that will fit them well. Runners who want to use this backpack for commuting may prefer the bigger 15 litre version. In addition, the yoke that sits on the chest may not sit comfortably on women with larger chests.
Pack light, and get on out there.
How to buy the right running backpack
What size do I need?
Backpack capacity is measured in litres, and while larger rucksacks above the 50-litre mark are great for backpacking, you won’t want to run with something that big on your back. Most running backpacks range from 5L to 20L in capacity and often use external straps to compress their contents, which helps prevent items from bouncing around as you move.
Before you decide on which backpack is best for you, you should always consider what you want to put inside, and why. Will you need to cart clothes, toiletries, a packed lunch, and a laptop with you to work? Or will you just need to throw in an extra layer or two, a water bottle and some hydration gels? Do you already have a bag that’s too small to fit everything you need? Or perhaps you have an old, bulky rucksack and you want something slimmer and more portable.
What features should I look out for?
Running backpacks can include a lot of different features. While you might only need space for a single water bottle, others require compatibility with hydration bladders for access to larger reserves of water during long walks or runs or waterproof pockets for phones and tablets. Also, if you tend to run when visibility is restricted, such as at night, the reflective strips and materials are essential.
Sternum, chest, and waist straps are essential for comfort and stability, and especially so if you plan to run with heavier loads. The same goes for breathable fabric if you’re planning to embark on an intense run or tend to sweat a lot.
How much should I spend?
The quality of materials, number, and type of compartments and other special features all have an impact on the price you pay. There’s no point shelling out for features you don’t need, however. After all, there’s not much point choosing a backpack with a padded laptop compartment that you’ll never use, or a hydration bladder that will remain empty.
While you can get a perfectly good backpack for around £25, if you want something that will survive harsh conditions and constant use – and which will remain comfortable on longer runs and more technical terrain – it’s well worth spending more.
So you’ve now seen the best backpacks for running. They spread the weight evenly across your back and provide clever ways of storing your valuables and hydration equipment. The right running backpack is the piece of sports equipment that you really can’t do without.
We hope you find the right one for you!