Best running backpack 2022 and hydration packs for commuting and marathons

The best running backpacks from Osprey to Nike to beat the daily rat-race with

Best running backpack: pictured here, a person running on a street wearing a running backpack
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best running backpack might not initially seem like an essential accessory. Still, as soon as you start jogging to work or the gym, suddenly it is, especially now that fitness has penetrated everyone's daily routine. Want to avoid people on public transportation and get fit when commuting to work? Throw your stuff in a running backpack, and off you jog to work.

You can use running backpacks for purposes other than commuting: many long-distance runners prefer these ergonomic bags to carry their smartphones or water bottle. Hydration packs come in handy for those who like to go (or run) the extra mile. Marathon runners, in particular, prefer water backpacks for racing.

Once you've got your running backpack, don't forget all the other running essentials: the best running watch to track heart rate and route details, the best running headphones to keep you entertained as you run, and the best running shoes (or the best women's running shoes) to make sure you don't wreck your feet, pounding on the pavement.

Best running backpacks to buy right now

Why you can trust T3 Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Matador Freerain28 Waterproof Packable Backpack

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

1. Matador Freerain28 Waterproof Packable Backpack

Best running backpack overall

Specifications

Best for: Outdoor adventures, traveling, hiking
Capacity: 28L
Waterproof: Yes
Colour: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Folds into the smallest parcel, ideal for travel
+
Waterproof main compartment
+
Comfortable shoulder straps
+
Lightweight construction (only 4oz/115g)
+
Hip belt wings for a secure fit
+
Free shipping (in the US)

Reasons to avoid

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It's not a wetbag, so don't try to submerge it under water

Matador's FreeTrain backpack caught our attention because A) we love Matador at T3, and B) it's incredibly versatile and durable yet comfortable to wear. The Freerain28 Waterproof Packable Backpack (opens in new tab) (retailer link) might be a bit on the large side for a commuting backpack, but its super lightweight construction and rolltop closure allow you to resize the bag to your needs (by rolling it up, obviously).

The hydration-compatible bag also features a hip belt with pockets and an adjustable sternum strap for extra security. Plus, the main compartment has internally sealed seams and is completely waterproof – no matter what's in the bag, it'll stay dry and safe. Better still, the UHMWPE-reinforced wear panels on this running backpack ensure extreme durability, abrasion resistance, and excellent tear strength. 

OMM Phantom 12 on white backgroundT3 Best Buy Award badge

2. OMM Phantom 12

Best running backpack for everyday use

Specifications

Best for: Everyday use
Capacity: 12L
Waterproof: Yes
Colour: Black & orange

Reasons to buy

+
Super lightweight construction
+
6-point harness provides a secure fit
+
Allows for faster tempo, thanks to small form factor

Reasons to avoid

-
Hydration pack sold separately  

The OMM Phantom 12 has a super lightweight feel and expandable capacity, making it by far one of the best running backpacks for everyday use. Whether on your daily commute or running in a race, this backpack will serve you well, and you won’t even know it’s there with its incredibly adjustable 6-point harness.

Salomon Trail 20 Backpack on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

3. Salomon Trail 20 Backpack

Best running backpack for commuting

Specifications

Best for: Commuting
Capacity: 20L
Waterproof: No
Colours: Red, Black, Blue

Reasons to buy

+
Decent load capacity
+
Affordable price point

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof 

With a 20L capacity, the Salomon Trail 20 Backpack may sound too big, but it is a comfortable way to pack everything you need for your day. It is not waterproof, so we do not recommend it for long outdoor walks, but this is one of the best running backpacks for commuting through a city because the air mesh straps ensure it doesn’t get too hot. 

Gregory Miwok 24 Backpack on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

4. Gregory Miwok 24 Backpack

Best running backpack for durability

Specifications

Best for: Trail running/hiking
Capacity: 24L
Waterproof: YES
Colour: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Durable outer shell ideal for off-road adventures
+
Plenty big enough to store snacks and water

Reasons to avoid

-
Durable material makes the bag comparatively heavy

The Gregory Miwok 24 is made from durable 100D Nylon, which makes this the perfect pack for all eventualities. From daily commutes to airport travel or trail walking, this backpack is designed to withstand frequent and harsh use and will stand the test of time. It has a barely-there feel and an expandable helmet pocket, which makes it also ideal for cyclists.  

Nike Commuter on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

5. Nike Commuter

Best running backpack for laptop

Specifications

Best for: Everyday use
Capacity: 15L
Waterproof: No
Colour: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable 
+
Stylish

Reasons to avoid

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Not for extreme activity 

We absolutely love the Nike Commuter and believe it is one of the best running backpacks for commuting with style. This pack can take you from the gym to work and on your evening run with a look that is simple yet stands out from the crowd. The back panel will ensure you don’t get too hot (especially if you’re wearing a suit). The reflective strip makes this bag ideal for running at night time for high visibility.  

Browse our Nike discount codes to snap up a saving on your purchase. 

How to buy the best running backpack for you

If you have a long commute, then any less than a 12L capacity backpack isn’t going to cut it – especially if you want to carry a laptop. Look out for bags with dedicated compartments for all your daily essentials. 

If you prefer to run super early or leave the office late at night, reflective detailing will make sure you’re visible in urban environments, and waterproofing will protect your gadgets in even the most unpredictable weather.

Competitive runners should opt for no more than 10L is advisable so that it doesn’t slow you down and allows for ease of movement. Make sure it has an integrated or designated space for a hydration pack for when you need to refuel on the go.

Can you run with a hiking backpack?

Smaller hiking backpacks with sternum- and waist straps are ideal for running. Military people might disagree with the size recommendation as they tend to carry heavier backpacks as part of the Role Fitness Test, but that's an extreme example. For carrying around spare clothes/shoes and maybe some water, a compact hiking backpack will do just fine.

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other fitness content creators such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab).