7 mistakes everyone makes with running backpacks

From going too big to forgetting about hydration, here are the most common running backpack mistakes

Runner strapping on the Tracksmith Olmsted Pack
(Image credit: Tracksmith)

As the days get longer and the weather warmer, you'll see more and more runners on the streets and trails. Some of these runners wear backpacks, which might make you wish you had one.

However, If you're new to the topic, you'd better read the most common mistakes everyone makes with running backpacks to avoid disappointment later. Even the best running backpacks won't do a thing if it's not suited for the type of runs you do.

While we're at it, here are 8 mistakes everyone makes with running watches. It's a must-read if you're planning on upgrading your wrist wearable anytime soon.

1. Size matters

Selecting a backpack that doesn't fit properly can lead to discomfort and chafing during runs. Ensure the backpack is the right size for your torso length and adjustable for a snug fit. Consider what you'd want to use the backpack for, whether it's commuting or trail running, assess your gear, and select the backpack accordingly. 

2. Stuff it

Do you need that extra pair of running shoes or three pairs of running compression socks? Carrying too much weight or unnecessary items in the backpack can slow you down and make you more tired. Pack only essential items for your run and avoid overloading the backpack.

Runner wearing the IAMRUNBOX Everyday Rolltop backpack

(Image credit: IAMRUNBOX)

3. Balancing act

Unevenly distributed weight can cause the backpack to bounce or shift while running, leading to discomfort and instability – not to mention chafing! Pack heavier items closer to your back and distribute weight evenly to maintain balance. Look for packs designed for the specific purpose you want to use them for. For example, commuting bags have laptop compartments close to the back panel, while trail running packs have hydration pockets at the front.

4. Strapped down

Failing to adjust and secure straps properly can cause the backpack to move around or rub against your body, causing irritation. Take the time to adjust shoulder, chest, and hip straps to ensure a secure and stable fit. Some backpacks come with detachable straps, which can be beneficial and reduce unnecessary rubbing.

5. Airing is caring

Running backpacks that lack adequate ventilation can lead to excessive sweating and discomfort, especially during long runs or in hot weather. Choose a backpack with breathable materials and mesh panels to promote airflow and reduce moisture buildup. Waterproof bags are often less breathable, although not always.

UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 20TH MARCH 11AM GMT | Polar launches Grit X2 Pro outdoor watch

(Image credit: Polar)

6. Watering hole

Forgetting to hydrate during runs or choosing a backpack without a hydration system can lead to dehydration and decreased performance. To stay hydrated on the go, opt for a backpack with hydration reservoir compatibility or external water bottle pockets. That said, not all runs require full hydration bladders. If you mostly do 5-10Ks, carrying around a 10L bladder might be overkill. See tip number two above.

7. Raceday trials

Trying out a new running backpack for the first time during a race or long run can be risky. Always test the backpack on shorter runs to ensure it fits well, stays comfortable, and meets your needs before using it for longer distances or races. Most importantly, consider whether you need a running backpack in the first place for the particular race you're doing.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.