14 running backpacks for every training need

Mountain Hardwear Singletrack Race Vest

Best for: Ultra training

A very light pack that wraps around your torso like a second running top and, with its handy shoulder-strap pockets, allows easy access to gels, bars and water. There’s also space for a bladder and an extra top or jacket in the back zippered pocket. With a 6L capacity there’s not much to this, but if you’re travelling light and long it’s a very fine option.

£50, Accelerate UK

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

Osprey Daylite Plus 20L

Best for: Walking commutes

A sturdy pack with plenty of space for daily commute needs: the tablet sleeve was perfect for keeping work documents uncrumpled. However, you need to keep weight to a minimum for on-the-run comfort since the unpadded waist/hip and chest straps are narrow and dig in if you pull them tight to minimise bounce.

£50, Osprey

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

RYU Quickpack Lux 1.1

Best for: The gym

It’s a shame that the Quickpack doesn’t have running-specific straps because in every other way it’s a treat. It’s a light, 18L bag constructed with a moulded shell design to help you fit in the maximum amount of kit. It also unzips at the front for easy access and packing. With its solid build, leather straps and weather-resistant wax coating, this a good long-term investment.

£146 + shipping, RYU

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

OMM Ultra Eight

Best for: Smaller runners

This one focuses on fit and comfort rather than features. It’s a minimal 8L pack with few flashy attributes but the weight-to-durability ratio is impressive, and our tester found it an extremely comfortable ride with the (moderate) load locked tight against the body. The straps are adjustable, but we reckon this is best suited to those with a slender frame.

£38, OMM

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

Salomon Agile 2

Best for: Race day

The is stylish, sleek and good for going fast for short distances, but not much else. The idea here is to keep the weight and dimensions down, and help you to carry essentials without compromising your run. Our tester packed in a spare top, 1L bladder, phone, keys, wallet and a couple of gels. It was so light he forgot he was wearing it. The only gripe was a fiddly chest strap.

£60, Salomon

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

Patagonia Fore Runner Vest 10L

Best for: Simple comfort

Light and compact with a 2L hydration bladder, this hugs the back neatly and has a breathable mesh foam panel to provide comfort and structure. There was minimal sideways rotation, thanks to the chest strap and the side adjusting straps, while the two small expanding pockets were handy and the waterproof coating made it perfect during showers.

£100, Patagonia

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Best for: Short run commutes

This is sturdy without being heavy, with a nicely tapered shape that hugs the back. It has one main pocket, a smaller one on top and easy-access mesh storage on the outside, as well as two bottle holders. (It’s bladder-compatible, too). On the run it stays put, thanks to the thin chest and waist straps, but on the downside the stiff shoulder straps rubbed a little.

£60, Deuter

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

Raidlight Ultra Vest Olmo 12L

Best for: Multi-day epics

This is a sizeable piece of kit, with enough compartments, zips and attachment loops to keep even the most methodical packer happy. It’s designed for long, tough events such as the Marathon Des Sables; it’s nicely and logically designed, fits well and is surprisingly light. However, our tester did note a couple of fraying seams after several good runs.

£80, Ultra Light Outdoor Gear

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

DHB Slice 15L

Best for: Those on a budget

Wiggle own brand dhb has a loyal following because it sells very decent kit at reasonable prices. The light, neat, slim and robust Slice is a good example. The shoulder, chest and waist straps are easily adjustable and it sits snugly in the middle of the back. There are few flourishes but if you’re looking for a bargain you won’t be expecting those anyway.

£23.99, Wiggle

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro

Best for: Carrying smart clothes

If you struggle to get to work without your smart clothes getting crumpled, here’s your solution. It’s a rigid box (volume is 10L) that will take shirt, top/trousers and skirt plus underwear and keep them folded and fresh as you run. There’s also a shoe-carrying attachment and it’s all far more comfy to run with than it appears.


Photo by Tobi Jenkins

Camelbak Ultra 10 Vest

Best for: Marathon training

This is almost a very good pack. It’s well designed and there is room to fit in all you need for a long training run alongside the included 1.5L bladder (with its new no-drip, nozzle). But runners who don’t like a high-sitting pack should look elsewhere, and it may take some strap adjustment to ensure a stable fit.

£110.49, Sports Shoes

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT Vest

Best for: A trail marathon

The Jurek here is ultra-running legend Scott Jurek, who does things such as running the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail in 46 days. He designed this 9L pack and his experience is evident, from the high-back design, myriad entry points, array of pockets, clips, bungee holsters, whistles and more. He’s thought of everything and then put it in the right place.

£110, Wiggle

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

Grivel Mountain Runner Comp

Best for: Trail running essentials

A tiny but mighty 5L pack that’s perfect for those who prize durability. It won’t fit much more than a 500ml bottle, keys, phone and a gel but it emerged unscathed from a couple of mucky forest runs and gave the impression that, come the apocalypse, cockroaches will be wandering around with these on their backs.

£60, Grivel

Photo by Tobi Jenkins

Ronhill Commuter Xero

Best for: Secure fit

Despite the name we don’t think this 10L pack is ideally suited for commuting, largely because it won’t fit enough stuff in unless you pack light, owing to the inflexibility of the material used for the main compartment. But that same inflexibility keeps things in place, while the adjustable fit is excellent and the pack clings tightly to your back.

£80, Ronhill

Photo by Tobi Jenkins