Best Running backpack

Best Running Backpack: The ideal rucksacks for running, commuting and hiking

We pick the most reliable, durable and comfortable backpacks for grand adventures and active commutes

Running backpack

Whether you’re running to work, disappearing into the hills, or just jogging a couple of kilometres to and from the local train station, a spacious, durable running backpack is essential if you’re planning to cart your gear around while getting from A to B.

It pays to choose the right rucksack. If Sunday mornings mean hiking up the nearest hill or jogging through the countryside, then you’ll probably be looking for something that’ll spread the weight evenly, won’t rub or chafe, and that will keep your snacks, water, and extra layers dry. If, on the other hand, you’re travelling into the city five days a week, then you’ll want a bag that’ll also keep your laptop safe and secure against accidental bumps, while minimising any impact on your shoulders, waist or torso.

No matter what your requirements are, this guide will help you find the perfect fit for your lifestyle and budget.

How to buy the right running backpack for you

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 are Running Backpacks?

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.

Best Running backpack

What is the best Running backpacks on the UK Market?

1. Vango Lyt 15 : Best Budget Running Backpack

Vango Stone 15 Daysac - Black

This is a terrific little backpack and an absolute steal for £20. The Vango Lyt 15 is just about large enough to take your office essentials, including a small laptop or tablet, and has an outer zipped pocket for the gear you need close to hand. The backpack only has a sternum strap, there’s no waist strap, but given its small size it still sits securely on your upper back when running. There’s also the Lyt 20 if you need a bigger rucksack, but if you load that to the brim, the lack of a secure waist strap might be more apparent.

Preview Product Rating Price
Vango Stone 15 Daysac - Black Vango Stone 15 Daysac - Black No ratings yet £15.00

2. Jack Wolfskin Proton 18: Best LED Backpack

Jack Wolfskin Unisex's Proton 18 Pack Backpack, Black, One Size (Pack of 2)

The star feature here is the ring of LED lights that run around the outer pocket of this rucksack to make you extra visible when run commuting. The lights are powered by a power bank, which isn’t included with the rucksack but any battery pack with a USB socket will work, and even if you run out of power, the large reflective sections will increase your visibility at night. The Proton 18 is a good size for commuting, handling a laptop and change of clothes with ease, and there are internal dividers to keep your stuff organised. It has a sternum and waist strap to help you get a lockdown fit to minimise bouncing on the run.

3. Proviz REFLECT360 Running Backpack: Best Reflective Running Backpack

Proviz Reflect 360 Men's and Women's Reflective Touring Backpack, One Size Cycling Adjustable Pack (20 Liters), Black

It’s not the prettiest thing we’ve ever seen, but AmazonBasics’ Cast Iron Kettlebell is a brilliant budget option, offered in weights from 4kg to a heftier 20kg. Unlike cheap plastic options, this product is built to last: the surface is painted with an anti-corrosion coating, and it comes with a one-year warranty. The textured handle affords a comfortable yet secure grip and is wide enough to use with one hand or two depending on preference. If you’re just getting into kettlebells, this is a fantastically affordable way to get started.

4. Osprey Syncro: Lightest Running Backpack

Osprey Syncro 5 Men's Multi-Sport Pack -Sport Pack - Wolf Grey (O/S)

These multisport backpacks aren’t specifically designed for run commuting, but the adjustable strap system and roomy main pocket mean they’ll do a grand job of carrying your gear to and from work without bouncing around too much. The Syncro is the men’s design and the Sylva is the women’s, and there are also five- and 20-litre versions of the rucksacks, so you can pick the size required to accommodate your essentials.

The Syncro and Sylva backpacks are particularly good for commuting in the summer thanks to the ventilation system and open-yoke design, which get as much air as possible to flow down your back so you avoid or at least limit that horribly sweaty feeling that can arise when running with a rucksack.

5. Nathan Trail-Mix 12L: Best Running Backpack with a bladder.

Nathan Backpack Trail-Mix 12L (With 2L Bladder)

While this 12-litre rucksack is primarily designed for trail running, it’s become our go-to commuter option because the rolltop-fastened main compartment is roomy enough for a laptop, a change of clothes and all the other essentials required for a day at work. The straps also have easy-access pockets that are large enough for your phone, wallet, keys and work ID card, and can be tightened quickly so the rucksack sits comfortably against your back for the entirety of your run commute.

The rucksack comes with a two-litre bladder, which you’ll probably want to leave at home when commuting, but can slot back in when you have time for a long run on the trail at the weekend.

Preview Product Rating Price
Nathan Backpack Trail-Mix 12L (With 2L Bladder) Nathan Backpack Trail-Mix 12L (With 2L Bladder) 129 Customer Reviews £93.99

6. Salomon Agile 12 Set: Best 12ltr Running Backpack

Salomon Agile 12 Set Unisex Backpack for Long Excursions with 2 Flasks (500ml), Perfect for Running, Hiking and Training, Capen Blue

A good option for savvy packers, or those who don’t need to wear a full suit and smart shoes at work, this 12-litre option is comfortable and hardy enough to wear on long-distance trail runs, so it’ll definitely do the job for your commute.

7. Inov-8 Race Ultra Pro 2In1 Vest : Best Running Backpack money can buy!

Inov8 Inov-8 Backpack, gris, S-M

If you’re worried that you’re make the wrong decision about what size pack you need, this clever two-in-one rucksack could be the perfect option. It can be worn as a race vest that just has room for your drinks and other essentials, or you can add the 10-litre pocket on to the bag when you need to carry more stuff. The pocket attaches via six straps that can be tightened so it doesn’t bounce around while you run.

Preview Product Rating Price
Inov8 Inov-8 Backpack, gris, S-M Inov8 Inov-8 Backpack, gris, S-M No ratings yet £134.99


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