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Best backpacks for running

Run with a backpack

Whether you enjoy long-distance runs, trail running on rugged terrain or jogging to fit your workout into your daily routine, there are some essentials you just can’t leave home without. Your water bottle, protein bar and other snacks, phone, keys and ID are some of the items you might want to take with you.

With a high-quality running backpack, you can bring along everything without weighing down your pockets. Running backpacks are available in various sizes, so you can usually find an option that fits all of your must-haves.

Looking for a pack for your next run? Check out this list of some of the best backpacks for running. 

What is a running backpack?

While you can run with any backpack you’re comfortable with, running backpacks are designed specifically for runners. This means they’re comfortable enough to wear for long-distance runs, large enough to hold plenty of belongings and streamlined enough to not slow you down.

Some running backpacks are actually more like vests with a few pockets to hold essentials. These tend to offer a particularly slim, lightweight fit and can work well for other activities in addition to running, such as biking and hiking. 

Running backpack features

Comfort is the most important thing to look for in a running backpack. A good running backpack has shoulder, chest and waist straps that evenly distribute the pack’s weight for more comfortable running. The best shoulder straps are wide and padded to keep them from digging into your skin and causing chafing. All of the straps should be adjustable to ensure you get the right fit. 

Most backpacks provide their capacity in liters. A running pack with a capacity of 8-12 liters is usually large enough to work well for commuting runners, while smaller packs can work well for long-distance runs. 

Some running backpacks include a hydration bladder you can fill with water. These bladders usually include a flexible drinking tube, so you can easily stay hydrated while running. Other running backpacks feature a water bottle pocket, which allows you to bring your own water bottle on runs. 

Best running backpacks 2021

Ultimate Direction Mountain 5.0 Hydration Vest

This backpack boasts a comfortable, lightweight design that makes it perfect for runners. It features a hydration pack to fuel all those long-distance runs and an easy-cinch system that makes it easy to get the fit just right. 

Sold by Backcountry


Triwonder Hydration Pack Backpack

This soft, lightweight backpack features mesh on the back and shoulder straps for maximum breathability when you’re running in hot weather. It can hold a water bladder or water bottles for hydration on long-distance runs, and its shorter overall length helps prevent chafing. 

Sold by Amazon


TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack

Thanks to its adjustable design, this running backpack can fit a range of frames. Its shoulder straps are made with breathable mesh and a contoured design that makes the pack comfortable enough to wear for hours. It offers built-in safety features, including reflective trim for running in low lighting. 

Sold by Amazon

DTown Hydration Backpack

If you’re looking for a compact running backpack, this small 2-liter pack is the one for you. It offers a thermal-insulated pocket for the hydration bladder that can keep your water or other beverages cool for up to 4 hours. The pack is made of water-resistant nylon and has padded shoulder straps to make it more comfortable. 

Sold by Amazon

Nathan VaporKrar 4L 2.0 Hydration Vest

This backpack has a shirt-like fit, making it one of the most comfortable packs for runners. It has front stash pockets for items you want easy access to, as well as a zippered chest pocket for belongings you need to keep secure. The 360-degree reflective details improve visibility in low lighting. 

Sold by Backcountry and Amazon

Hydro Flask Journey Series 20L Hydration Pack

This backpack’s articulated back panel follows the curve of the spine, making it highly comfortable for long runs. It’s made with waterproof fabric, taped seams and coated zippers to keep the items inside dry in inclement weather. The design is also tear- and abrasion-resistant for maximum durability. 

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Patagonia Women’s Nine Trails 18L Backpack

Trail runners will love this durable, water-resistant backpack that can stand up to the rigors of even the most rugged terrain. It has a highly breathable back panel and a padded shoulder harness, as well as chest and waist straps to keep the pack from moving around. 

Sold by Backcountry

Salomon Agile 6 Set Backpack

This compact running backpack is perfect for long runs and can come in handy for hiking. It’s made of nylon mini-ripstop to prevent wear and tear, and its 3D comfort system keeps the pack balanced on your back. 

Sold by Amazon and Backcountry

Gregory Maya 10L Women’s Backpack

This is another excellent backpack for trail runners because its BioSync Suspension keeps the pack moving along with you on rugged trails. It offers a hydration sleeve with external accessibility to make it easier to refill, and it has both external and internal pockets for plenty of storage. 

Sold by Backcountry and Amazon

High Sierra HydraHike Hydration Pack 

This backpack provides a large main compartment for all your necessary gear and a 2-liter hydration reservoir for long-distance runs. The padded shoulder straps and air mesh back panel keep you cool and comfortable, and the chest and hip belts are both adjustable. 

Sold by Amazon

Osprey Duro 1.5L Hydration Vest

This compact, lightweight backpack is ideal for road runners who want a durable, comfortable bag. Its sturdy nylon construction and bounce-free design keep your gear from moving around. The hydration reservoir’s attached hose has a chest magnet for hands-free drinking while running. 

Sold by Backcountry and Amazon

Nike Run Commuter 15L Backpack

If you’re a commuter runner, this backpack is a comfortable option for runs to work or school. It features a stabilized design to keep the pack from bouncing as you run, and the side cinch straps make it easy to get the fit just right. The mesh back panels make the bag more breathable. 

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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