10 Best Running Backpacks

Many runners run with backpacks. If you’re on a long trail run in the countryside, you might want to pack some extra water, some small snacks for a boost of energy, a waterproof running jacket, and who knows what else.

Lately, many people have started running to commute to work also. And in this instance, you’re going to need an entire change of clothes and a few shower amenities before you sit down at your desk.

10 Best Running Backpacks

So you’re going to need somewhere to stash your gear. A one-shoulder carrier is of no use to a runner whatsoever. And if you intend to carry a lot of bulky items, then a fanny pack is also no good whatsoever. 

What you need is a running backpack. Besides, being able to stay hands-free while on a run lets you concentrate on your pace and breathing.

There are some really great running backpacks out on the market at the moment, and we’re going to show you 10 of our favorites.

After that, we also have a quick buying guide for you, which serves as a quick checklist, to make sure you’ve covered everything before you buy.

And, without further ado…

OUR TOP PICK

This hydration backpack comes highly recommended and is available at a very good price too. Although it was designed with cyclists in mind, it’s also a great choice of backpack for runners too.

It has a very large internal capacity, coming in at a whopping 18 liters.

That’s big enough to easily accommodate a change of clothes and a few shower amenities.

It’s designed to be used with a water bladder, it has special pipes, etc, but unfortunately, no water bladder is actually included in the price.

That’s the only downside.

The fabric has a comfortable, breathable back for sweat and heat dissipation, and is also ultralight and tear-resistant.

There are adjustable straps for both shoulders and waist, so you can ensure you’ll be able to run entirely bounce-free.

We also love the detachable pouch, which is great for stashing all your smaller essentials.

It comes in a great choice of colors, 5 to choose from altogether. And some could really help you to be seen in low light situations. Though all options feature reflective strips.

Pros

  • Very large internal capacity
  • Can be used with a water bladder
  • Reflective stripes for visibility in low light
  • Fabric is breathable, ultralight & tear-resistant
  • Adjustable straps to run entirely bounce-free
  • Detachable pouch for stashing essentials

Cons

  • No water bladder included

EDITORS CHOICE

What we really love about this backpack is how well suited it is for running at night or when it’s dark outside.

You can either go for one that’s entirely lime green, so you’re super visible as you run, or you can go for a pink or black one, with highly reflective stripe detail.

It’s specifically designed to hold your smartphone or small tablet securely behind you as you run, with headphone cutouts.

With your headphone wires behind you, they won’t get in your way at all as you run.

We love that it has a breathable back to it, just what you need on an energetic run. It’s also water-resistant, which is great if it happens to start raining while you’re out on your run.

We also love the adjustable chest strap, and how, when properly fitted, the bag remains secure and bounce-free as you run.

And if you need to grab something quickly out of your bag, you can use the fast release buckles on the shoulders.

Pros

  • High visibility in the dark
  • Designed to hold devices
  • Keeps headphone wires at bay
  • Breathable & water-resistant
  • Fast release buckles

Cons

  • No water bladder
  • No room for a change of clothes

BEST VALUE

This is an excellent hydration backpack for running with. It comes highly recommended, and you get excellent quality despite the affordable price point.

It’s a 10-liter running backpack that comes with a 1.8-liter water bladder.

So as well as keeping you fully hydrated on your runs, you’ve also got plenty of room in there to stash your phone, wallet, keys, etc.

It’s made with superior ripstop material all around, so it won’t tear no matter how much it’s used.

We love that it features an adjustable waist strap, as well as adjustable shoulder straps, this way the backpack stays bounce-free, allowing you to run in comfort.

We also love the smaller pockets that rest on your waist.

Pros

  • Includes water bladder
  • Adjustable straps 
  • Superior ripstop material
  • Lots of small pockets
  • Affordable yet top quality

Cons

  • No room for a change of shoes

RUNNER UP

This is the perfect running back for keeping hold of all your small accessories as you run. It comes highly recommended and is very affordable.

It’s specifically designed to hold your smartphone securely behind you as you run, with headphone cutouts. With your headphone wires behind you, they won’t get in your way at all as you run.

There’s also a separate storage pocket, which is great for stashing your credit cards, money, and house keys.

It features padded adjustable shoulder straps for extra comfort, and for extra security, there’s also a strap for your waist. When properly fitted, the bag remains bounce-free as you run.

It’s also very lightweight and is even sweat resistant to boot.

Pros

  • Designed to hold smartphones
  • Keeps headphone wires out of the way
  • Separate storage pocket for other essentials
  • Lightweight, sweat-resistant, & bounce-free

Cons

  • No water bladder
  • No room for a change of clothes

RUNNER UP

This backpack comes from top brand Nike. And it’s very roomy, with a whopping 15-liter capacity.

This makes it a great choice of backpack for when you need to carry a change of clothes. 

And there are multiple compartments, so you can keep anything that might leak away from your clothes. Perfect for your commute.

It also has a reflective zip, to give you that extra bit of visibility when it’s dark outside.

Amazon occasionally has deals on this product - certainly worth a look.

Pros

  • Top, well-established brand
  • Large 15-liter capacity

Cons

  • No hydration bladder
  • Premium product at a premium price

RUNNER UP

This backpack has seen amazing feedback from customers, having earned a full 5 stars out of 5 with Amazon alone.

What we love the most about this backpack is the sheer size of it, coming in at 20 liters. It’s big enough to pack enough stuff for an entire weekend. 

Better yet, it has a padded interior sleeve. You could either use it to store a hydration bladder if you have one or, you could safely keep a laptop or large tablet in there.

It also has a convenient front panel pocket which is great for stashing your smaller items like your phone or your keys, etc. We also love the stretch side pockets, which are big enough to stash a water bottle.

It also features both a chest strap and a waist strap, which when used with the adjustable shoulder straps, makes for a bounce-free fit as you run.

The back of the backpack is made from comfortable mesh-covered foam, to keep it ventilated and breathable.

Amazon occasionally has deals on this product - certainly worth a look.

Pros

  • Amazing customer feedback
  • Very large interior capacity
  • Padded interior sleeve for laptop
  • Stretch side pockets for a water bottle
  • Plenty of straps for bounce-free fit
  • Breathable and ventilated

Cons

  • No water bladder included
  • Premium product at a premium price

RUNNER UP

What we love about this backpack is that it’s more like a vest.

The shoulder straps are much wider than with a backpack and they provide extra storage, and there are straps between the shoulder straps and the backpack to help keep the bag secure and so ensuring a bounce-free fit as you run.

The shoulder strap storage can easily accommodate your smartphone, or water bottles, or other small essentials.

But that’s not all. It also comes complete with a 2-liter water bladder, so keeping hydrated as you run is a breeze.

The bag itself has a total 7-liter capacity, so you can easily stash more gear in there besides the water bladder.

It’s available in 2 great color options, charcoal grey, and sangria red. But better yet, the fabric is designed to wick sweat away and keep you comfortable.

Pros

  • It’s more vest than backpack
  • Comes with a 2-liter water bladder
  • Plenty of room to stash your gear

Cons

  • Premium product at a premium price

RUNNER UP

Now, here’s another great backpack that comes highly recommended.

What we love about this backpack is that it comes with a very large water bladder, 3-liters in fact. Which makes it a great choice for those who like their long-distance cross country runs.

In addition to the storage pocket for the water bladder, there are plenty of other places to stash your gear, including two front pockets and some bungee cords.

There are 6 color options available, and I think it’s safe to say they are all targeted at men. That said, it is adjustable to fit both men and women.

Pros

  • 3-liter water bladder included
  • Great customer feedback
  • Plenty of room for stashing gear
  • 6 great color options to choose from

Cons

  • Some customers have had trouble retrieving their water

RUNNER UP

This backpack has been flying off the shelves. And for good reason too.

It has a large inner capacity of over 20 liters, so you can stash everything you’d need for a long day out.

And although it’s not a hydration pack, there’s a bottle holder on either side of the bag, so you’re still going to be able to keep properly hydrated.

We were also very impressed with the fabric. It’s tear-resistant, water-resistant, and scratch-resistant. Not to mention lightweight and comfortable.

In addition to the adjustable shoulder straps, there’s also a chest strap and a waist strap, so when properly fitted it should remain entirely bounce-free as you run.

We also love the great color options. There are 14 to choose from.

Pros

  • Large inner capacity
  • 2 water bottle holders
  • Chest & waist straps
  • Tear-resistant 
  • Water-resistant

Cons

  • No water bladder included

RUNNER UP

This hydration backpack from Water Buffalo has been flying off the shelves.

It comes complete with a 2-liter leak-free water bladder, so you’ll be sure to keep hydrated on your run. And the backpack is insulated, so it will keep your water cool for up to 5 hours.

But it’s not just for water. In addition to the roomy main compartment, there’s also an inner sleeve, exterior pocket, and bungee. So you can stash all your other bits and pieces in there too.

And, it’s so lightweight and comfortable, you could forget you’re wearing it.

Pros

  • Lightweight & ergonomic
  • Padded & ventilated
  • Bestseller with online retailers
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty 
  • Includes 2-liter water bladder

Cons

  • If you fill the water bladder, you won’t have room for a change of clothes

Best Running Backpacks Buying Guide

As promised, here’s your buying guide. Let’s take a look at everything you need to think about before you buy.

Purpose

If you don’t go running regularly, and you just need a backpack for a one-off run, then you can make do with any backpack you might have lying around the house.

Committed and dedicated runners however may be more interested in a specifically designed runners backpack. One that can be properly secured to your frame, and is built to really last.

If you’re commuting to work, your choice of backpack is more difficult if you have to carry a laptop.

Hydration Bladder

Keeping hydrated as you run is essential. To that end, you either need to keep one or two water bottles handy or invest in a running backpack or vest that features a hydration bladder.

Brand

Some brands of running backpacks are significantly better suited for runners than others.

Our favorite brands for running backpacks are, and we were sure to include them in our shortlist of favorites.

Size

If you’re running as part of your commute, then you’re definitely going to want a change of clothes and several shower amenities. In which case you’re going to need a large backpack.

If however your simply taking a quick run around a few blocks, from your home and then returning home, then you’re not going to need as much gear, and a smaller back or a running vest might suffice.

Backpacks can vary in size from about 5 liters to about 20 liters. And there is no right or wrong size of backpack so long as it meets your needs.

Cost

We’re going to level with you here and say that, as a general rule, the more money a backpack costs, the better quality it is, and the longer it will last you. This is especially the case with the bigger brands, including several that made our shortlist.

But that said, you can get a pretty decent lifespan with the more affordable running backpacks on the market.

And if you are quite budget-conscious, then we can recommend our number pick, the. It’s the most affordable one that made our shortlist.

Suzie
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