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Running gear has come a long way in recent years, but one piece has gone under-the-radar with some major advancements: running backpacks. Upgrades such as reliable hydration bladders, ergonomic designs and breathable fabrics have made running backpacks much better — no matter what type of run.
Carrying water and gear has always been a struggle for runners, as the bouncing motion makes most bags and regular backpacks completely unusable. Running backpacks are typically smaller, carry water in a bladder or a dedicated water bottle pocket, and evenly distribute weight with chest and waist straps.
When picking a running backpack, your first consideration (besides budget) should be size. If you’re run-commuting to work or going on a long trek, you’ll want more space. But if you’re just running a few miles in the morning, a small pack with room for water and your phone is more than fine.
To help find the perfect running backpack, we’ve combed the web and come up with 11 great options for all types of runners and budgets. Check them out below.
1. CamelBak HydroBak Hydration Pack
When running, the most important thing in your backpack is water. And when it comes to hydration bladders, CamelBak is the original — and they still do it best (just ask the military or NASA). This minimal HydroBak features the brand’s award-winning bladder, as well as a small pocket for your phone, keys and other essentials. It also has a lightweight, breathable mesh harness and back panel that stays comfortable for hours.
2. S.K.L Hydration Pack
Shopping for a running pack on a tight budget? Go for this hydration pack from S.K.L. It costs just under $15, but still has some great reviews and a solid build. It’s on the small side with a 2-liter water bladder and a pouch pocket for essentials, so we recommend using it for shorter runs.
3. Kuyou Hydration Pack
BEST FOR NIGHT RUNS
If you run on the road at night or in the wee hours of the morning, a reflective pack will provide a boost in safety. This one from Kuyou has four reflective panels, offering ample highlighting for cars and trucks to notice you. Otherwise, it has a simple bladder-and-pocket design that’s great for shorter runs.
4. Gear Beast Running Backpack
Some runners don’t like carrying any water, and if you’re out for less than an hour or there are water fountains along the way, you don’t really need to carry water. Still, you’ll want a secure place for your phone, wallet and keys, in which case we suggest this tiny running backpack from Gear Beast. It sits high and secure on your back, allowing you to run without your stuff jingling around in your pockets.
5. Teton Sports Hydration Pack
This running backpack from Teton boasts that highest rating on Amazon with over 2,000 reviews and 4.3 stars. It’s slightly larger than regular running backpacks with 1100 cubic inches (18 L) of space, but an ergonomic fit and secure straps keep it from bouncing too much. If you’re going on a long trek or need to bring extra gear, this is a great pick.
6. ECEEN Rave Pack
Hydration backpacks are ideal for running, but they’re also very handy for concerts or festivals. If you plan on using your pack for all of the above, go for this vibrant backpack from ECEEN. It comes in a variety of eye-catching, shiny colors, which do double duty as a fashion statement and reflective guard against cars while running on the road.
7. Triwonder Hydration Pack Backpack
BEST VEST PACK
Vest backpacks are a popular option for long-distance runners such as marathoners because they stay comfortable for a long time and evenly distribute weight. We recommend this one from Triwonder because it comes highly-rated and reasonably priced, and features an ergonomic fit that won’t weigh you down on long runs.
8. Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack
Osprey is one of the most trusted brands for adventure backpacks, and this Daylite pack upholds their stellar reputation. It works as both a daypack and running backpack thanks to a super comfortable build and secure straps. This versatility means you can use it for hiking or commuting in addition to running.
9. Nike Running Backpack
BEST COMMUTER BACKPACK
If you run your commute to work (good for you), this Nike backpack is ideal. It has a city-friendly style that’s not too outdoorsy (like some running backpacks) and enough space for all your daily necessities.
10. The North Face Recon Backpack
If you need to carry a seriously big load while running, this Recon backpack from The North Face is your best bet. With around 30 liters of space, it has the largest capacity in the business. But somehow, it still makes carrying all that stuff manageable thanks to wide, padded shoulder straps and a ventilated, padded pack panel.
11. Salomon Adv Skin 5 Set
Salomon’s Advantage Skin running backpack is the top-of-the-line option for serious runners. It uses a wrap-around design to distribute weight in a way that feels like you’re not wearing anything. It doesn’t come with a bladder, but it has a hanging system that you can upgrade with a bladder, or you can stick water bottles in the chest pockets.