With lighter evenings and beach season fast approaching, we’re suddenly inspired to get up and get running. But heading out can be a pain with mobile phone, keys and coins banging around in pockets. The answer is a good running backpack – especially one that won’t weigh you down or flap around with every stride. For sprinters, trail runners or long-distance-lovers, we went all Forest Gump to test out the leading backpacks on fit, size, weight and features to suit each run type. Here are our winners.
1. Deuter Race Exp Air, £57, amazon
For anyone who runs to work, we recommend this finely-engineered piece of kit. Shoes and a shirt fit into the expandable 12-litre capacity, it sits snugly and you’ll suffer no more from sweaty back syndrome thanks to an anatomical frame system allowing breathing space from the body.
2. Flipbelt, £25, amazon
Okay, it’s not technically a backpack but we had to include this neat, stretchy waistbelt as it stows phones, keys and cards without needing a whole bag. Made of soft, sweat-wicking, fabric, it sits comfortably around the waist and comes in a rainbow of colour options.
3. Salomon S-Lab ADV Skin Hydro 12, £81, Sports Shoes
More vest than backpack, this only has space for a few essentials but it’s incredibly light, designed not to chafe, has dual hydration packs and its body-hugging, breathable mesh offers the best fit. Pricey, but definitely worth it to fend off that wall.
4. Arc’Teryx Aerios 10, £70, Arc'teryx
Canadian purveyors of high-quality outdoor gear come up trumps with a light and strong design best suited for trail running. It sits in a sturdy high position with very comfortable shoulder straps and the back panel, while rigid, nicely moulds to the spine. There’s 10-litres of space and bungee cords keep everything firmly in place.
5. Kalenji Running Hydration Bag, £12, Decathlon
This value pack has five-litres of space, an integrated one-litre hydration system and a sternum strap for a secure fit. What it lacks in finery it makes up in price.
6. Osprey Rev 1.5, £45, Chain Reaction Cycles
This well thought-out bag delivers an excellent combination of weight, size and functionality. There’s space for supplies, it comes with a 1.5-litre water bladder and is peppered with convenient nooks and hooks including a phone flap on the shoulder. Avoid overstuffing for the best fit.
7. Montane Dragon 20 Marathon, £95, Cotswold Outdoors
Endurance runners who need something a bit more substantial will like this ultra-light, cavernous 20-litre capacity pack. The body harness design forms around the body for a bounce-free fit, it carries two water bottles plus hydration reservoir and it’s waterproof, too.
8. Montane Fang 5 Trail Pack: £38, amazon
A stripped-down version of the Dragon 20, this is built for speed. Alpine runners hotfooting it over rocky terrain won’t get any jiggle from the vest-like pack and at 246g, it won’t be a drain energy. It’ll carry more than you think and even has a built-in emergency whistle should you need it.
9. Deuter Compact Lite 8, £48, Chain Reaction Cycles
This clings to your back like a Koala thanks to hip and chest straps stopping any bounce. It’s ventilated on the spine and inside are compartments for everything from your mobile to wet laundry, a hydration bladder and hidden rain cover. It won’t be light enough for speedsters but its attention to detail outruns the competition.
10. Saucony Speed of Lite Run Pack, £30, Sports Shoes
Running specialist Saucony has designed a distraction-free pack by making it so light you wouldn’t know you’re wearing it. Made from the same tear-resistant ‘Ripstop’ fabric used for parachutes it’s not the most breathable around but offers bags of space for spare clothes and a towel, then magically folds up into itself.
The Deuter Compact 8 brings home the gold for covering all needs. This Swiss Army Knife of bags has pockets for everything, ventilation and a body-hugging fit. It might not be as size zero as others but it punches well above its weight whether used on short jogs or on trails. Going more compact we love the Osprey Rev 1.5 but if you’d rather sacrifice space for light weight the Salomon S Lab is a runner’s dream.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing
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