Running Advice

Written by

Jasmine Vigar

Top 8 Running Backpacks for Every Type of Run

From commuting to running ultra marathons, discover the best running backpack for you.

Runners wearing running backpack

Whether you’re doing a gentle 5k and need to store your phone, or if you’re about to run a completely self-sufficient ultra marathon and need to carry all your gear, we have the right backpack for you. 

From morning commutes to trail runs, here are our top recommendations for every type of run. 

Top 8 running backpacks 

Here are our 8 top running backpack recommendations: 

  1. Best backpack for commuting - Option 1: Asics Lightweight Running Backpack
  2. Best backpack for commuting - Option 2: Stolt Athlete Backpack
  3. Best backpack for Ultra Marathons: The Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20/30/40L
  4. Best hydration vest:  Salomon Active Skin 4
  5. Best backpack for trail runs: Salomon Adv Skin 12 Set Hydration Vest
  6. Best budget running backpack option: Sundried Hydration Backpack
  7. Best lightweight running backpack: Inov-8 VentureLite 4 Vest Backpack
  8. Best backpack for carrying small essentials: The Pulse Unisex Salomon Running Belt

What factors should you consider when buying a running backpack?

With so many different options on the market, we asked our coaches and searched for the very best to provide you with some options. 

First of all though, what should you look for when buying a running backpack? Here are the top things to consider: 

  1. Fit and comfort: A running backpack should fit snugly without bouncing around, causing discomfort during your run. Look for adjustable straps to personalize fit. 
  2. Capacity: Consider the amount of storage you need for your essentials, such as water bottles, snacks, and extra layers.
  3. Hydration: If you're running long distances, opt for a backpack with hydration reservoir compatibility or bottle pockets.
  4. Weight: Look for lightweight materials that won't weigh you down while running.
  5. Durability: Choose a backpack made from durable materials that can withstand the rigors of running trails or commuting in urban environments.
  6. Extras: Pay attention to additional features like reflective accents for visibility, multiple pockets for organization, and sweat wicking materials.

What is the difference between a normal rucksack and a running rucksack? 

A well-designed running backpack should be light and comfortable on your back. Unlike typical rucksacks, it should remain stable and secure on your back, without bouncing or causing excessive sweating with each stride. 

One of the key differences lies in adjustability; a running backpack is engineered to fit snugly as you move, ensuring minimal movement and discomfort. Moreover, it distributes weight evenly, preventing strain on your shoulders, especially when the momentum of your run comes into play. 

Most importantly, running backpacks have the technology to cater to the unique demands of running, offering features that enhance performance and convenience.

Top 8 running backpacks for every runner

Below, you’ll find our top suggestions for the best running backpacks on the market, depending on your needs.

1. Best backpack for commuting - Option 1: Asics Lightweight Running Backpack

Buy it here: Asics’ outlet


  • Streamlined, lightweight option 
  • Handy compartments inside 
  • Has enough space for change of clothes and other essentials (10L)
  • Adjustable chest and shoulder straps
  • Built in hydration reservoir pocket
  • It may even fit a laptop depending on its size (backpack is 45 cm x 24 cm x 10 cm) 


  • Not big enough if you require lots of things for a working day

Capacity: 10 liters

Hydration capacity: 1.5L bladder

Price: £40 

The Asics Lightweight Running Backpack is an ideal choice for commuters who are seeking a balance between functionality and minimalism. 

It's compact yet spacious enough for essentials like a change of clothes and work essentials, catering to individuals who like to incorporate running into their daily commute. It may be compatible for carrying your laptop to work too but you must check the width of your laptop first (see dimensions of the backpack above). 

Engineered with the needs of runners in mind, it has a lightweight construction and ergonomic design, ensuring it doesn’t bounce and move when running. Additionally, it has a sleek aesthetic which presents a more professional appearance — which is perfect if you’re arriving at the office with it. Overall, it’s an excellent lightweight option for a commuter's running backpack.

2. Best backpack for commuting - Option 2: Stolt Athlete Backpack

Coach Anya’s pick 

Buy it here: Stolt’s store


  • Anti-smell properties 
  • 16-18L capacity 
  • Laptop compartment (up to 16”)
  • Waterproof finish
  • Ergonomic fit with adjustable chest, waist and shoulder straps  
  • Several separate compartments 
  • Antimicrobial treatment for odor prevention


  • You’d have to pre-order it 
  • Higher price point 
  • May be too large in capacity for some 
  • Weighs more than other running backpacks 

Weight: 1kg

Capacity: 15-18L

Hydration capacity: water bottle holder on side (1L)

Price: £149

This backpack is designed with athletes in mind and incorporates innovative features tailored to their needs. 

Its higher price point is warranted, with all the details carefully thought out: from its antimicrobial treatment to prevent your sweaty clothes from stinking out the office, to its stationary and laptop compartments, to its waterproof finish for whenever you are caught in the rain. 

Anya Culling, international marathon runner and Runna coach, says this backpack is her go to commuter bag. With a capacity of up to 18L, it’s perfect for those who need more than just a change of clothes on their daily commute. 

It has an adjustable and padded chest, and shoulder and waist straps to ensure a secure and comfortable fit when running. It’s also made of durable yet light and breathable materials for high performance. 

For those looking for a high quality commuter backpack which meets all your requirements, this is the bag for you.  

3. Best backpack for ultra marathons: The Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20/30/40L

Buy the women’s backpack here: Ultimate Direction FastpackHer

Buy the men’s backpack here: Ultimate Direction Fastpack


  • Chest hydration packs
  • 15 exterior pockets for quick access
  • Seamless harness technology and breathability for a comfortable, anti-chafe harness
  • Pole attachment
  • Front pockets for quick access to hydration and fuel
  • Varying capacity 
  • Female and male models for perfect fit


  • Phone doesn’t fit in front pockets 
  • Some report straps are too long 

Weight: 560-715g

Capacity: 20-40 liters

Price: £120-£155

The Ultimate Direction Fastpack offers a practical solution for ultra athletes tackling challenging distances, whether these are assisted races or self-sufficient. It can also be a great option for those who enjoy long hiking days or trail running and need that extra storage. 

The backpack is available in various sizes ranging from 20 to 40 liters, so athletes can choose the capacity that best suits their needs. Its design merges the functionality of a running vest with the carrying capacity of a backpack, ensuring a comfortable fit for athletes. Plus, it comes in both male and female versions to provide a tailored fit. 

The pack's various compartments and adjustable straps enhance efficiency and convenience, while its durable build withstands demanding trail conditions. 

The 20L bag measures 18.5" x 11.0" x 7.0" and weighs 22.9 ounces, striking a balance between capacity and weight. It’s a popular option in the trail and ultra world. 

Best hydration vest: Salomon Active Skin 4

Buy it here: Salomon’s store


  • Adjustable to optimize fit and stability, ensuring it’s snug 
  • Made of breathable fabrics 
  • Holds 2 x 500 ml of water but also compatible with a 1.5L bladder
  • Storage for extra essentials
  • Lightweight and compact


  • Higher price point 

Weight: 195g

Capacity: 4 liters

Hydration capacity: 1L (also compatible with a 1.5L bladder)

Price: £95

The Salomon Active Skin 4 is an extremely popular option for endurance runners who want hydration and storage on the go. The vest is engineered to fit snugly against the body, providing stability and comfort even during a long run. 

Its key feature is its hydration system, which includes soft flasks strategically placed in the front pockets for easy access, allowing athletes to sip water without breaking stride. 

The Skin 4 also offers enough storage space for essentials such as nutrition, extra layers, and other gear, with multiple pockets and compartments designed to be accessible and easy to organize. 

If you are looking for lots of storage, however, it may be better to look at Salomon’s alternative hydration vests such as the Active Skin 12 with extra storage space. 

Overall, despite the higher price point, the Salomon Skin 4 hydration vest is a popular choice for runners seeking a high-performance hydration solution due to its design and quality. 

For a more in-depth look at hydration vests specifically, check out our article on the best hydration vests for runners.

5. Best backpack for trail runs: Salomon Adv Skin 12 Set Hydration Vest

Buy it here: Salomon’s store


  • Adjustable for an optimal fit and stability, ensuring it’s snug 
  • Made of breathable fabrics 
  • Holds 2 x 500 ml of water but also compatible with a 1.5L bladder
  • More storage for layers and other gear for longer runs
  • Lightweight and comfortable 


  • More expensive than other options

Weight: 293g

Capacity: 12 liters

Hydration capacity: 1-1.5L

Price: £140

The Salomon Adv Skin 12 Set Hydration Vest is a versatile running backpack suitable for assisted ultra-distance races and longer trail runs. 

With its 12L storage capacity, it has lots of space for essential ultra gear and fuel – and even has pole holders. 

The ergonomic design and adjustable fit ensure comfort during longer runs. While it may be overkill for shorter runs and comes with a higher price tag, its durability and performance make it a top investment for serious runners tackling challenging terrain and distances. 

When running long distances, it’s really important to ensure the fit of your backpack works well for you. What may work for one may not work for another, so it’s a good idea to head to a shop where you can try the fit for yourself to reduce any chance of discomfort in those grueling miles. 

6. Best budget running backpack option: Sundried Hydration Backpack

Buy it here: Sundried’s store


  • Much cheaper than other options
  • Space for essentials 
  • Hydration bladder compatible 
  • Padded and adjustable waist, chest and shoulder straps


  • Need to buy bladder separately 

Weight: 280g

Hydration capacity: 1-1.5L

Price: £17.60

The Sundried hydration backpack is a fantastic option for runners on a budget. It has everything you could need for long runs, including storage for essentials and adjustable straps for a comfortable fit – plus, it’s even compatible with a hydration bladder. 

It’s perfect for those searching for an option that is low-cost and has all the essential features you would need from a running backpack, even for longer runs. 

7. Best lightweight running backpack: Inov-8 VentureLite 4 Vest Backpack

Buy it here:


  • Lightweight and compact
  • Fits snugly to your body, thanks to its ergonomic design and adjustable straps
  • Breathable materials 
  • Has pole attachments
  • Some reflective materials
  • Bungee for compression of contents 
  • Integrated whistle


  • Soft flasks for water not included (compatible with ULTRAFLASK 500ml, 1L, and 2L reservoir)

Weight: 145g 

Capacity: 4 liters

Hydration capacity: 3 liters

Price: £44.99

The Inov8 VentureLite 4L Hydration Pack is a strong option for those seeking lightweight comfort and versatility. With four liters of capacity for equipment or three liters of liquid, its ergonomic design ensures a snug fit while allowing freedom of movement when on the move. 

The bag is made of durable yet breathable materials, making it ideal for trail and longer runs, though some runners may find the storage capacity limiting for extended outings. Overall, it's a reliable choice if your priority is functionality and a lightweight design.

8. Best backpack for carrying small essentials: The Pulse Unisex Salomon Running Belt

Buy it here: Salomon’s store


  • Lightweight and minimalistic 
  • Ideal for shorter runs
  • Multiple expandable pockets with 4 way stretch 


  • Much less storage than a backpack 

Weight: 62g

Capacity: 0.79L

Price: £32

Although not a backpack, we decided to include the Pulse Unisex Salomon Running Belt to this list, because it’s an excellent lightweight and durable option for carrying the essentials during your shorter runs. 

By essentials, we really mean keys, phone and maybe a small snack – the belt won’t hold much more than that. Its minimalist design allows you to focus on your activity while securely holding personal items. 

Thanks to its stretch fabrics, it offers a snug fit without feeling restrictive. Just make sure to check the sizing on the Salomon website for the perfect fit. 

This running belt is the ideal choice for when you need to travel light and stay focused solely on your performance.

Find the right running backpack for your longer runs – and even for your commute

Investing in a quality running backpack is essential for any runner looking to stay organized and hydrated on the go, especially during longer runs. Plus, the right backpack will even make it possible to run on your commute, if that’s what you need to do to get those miles in. 

Consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing the right backpack for you – for example, will you need it for long, 10- or 20-mile trail runs, or will you mostly use it in the city? Will you commute with it? What hydration capacity do you need? 

Ideally, try out a few backpacks at your local running store to find the perfect fit – and enjoy the convenience and comfort it brings to your runs!

If you are training for your next big running goal, make sure to check out our running plans. From 5k to ultramarathons (and everything in between), we have the right training plan to help you reach your full running potential. 

FAQ: All you need to know about running backpacks

Is it ok to run with a backpack on?

Yes, as long as the backpack fits properly and doesn't cause discomfort or hinder your movement. For this, you need to find the right model and fit. 

What backpacks are good for running?

Look for a backpack that’s specifically designed for running. Popular brands include Salamon and Ultimate Direction, known for their durability, the quality of their materials, and their fit.

What kind of bag is best for running?

Your best choice would be a running-specific backpack that is lightweight and snug, with adjustable straps, and that has storage space for your hydration and fuel – and an extra layer if you need it!

When should you use a running backpack?

Running backpacks are ideal for commuting to work, long-distance trail runs, or any activity where you need to carry essentials on the go.

Before you set out on a long run, make sure you test your running backpack on a shorter distance closer to home.

Is a running belt or backpack better?

It depends on your needs and preferences. Running belts are ideal for carrying small items like keys or phones, while backpacks offer more storage space for larger essentials like water bottles and extra layers.

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