Best running backpack 2021: crush your on-foot commute with the best running and hydration backpacks

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

Best running backpack
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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

Then, whether it’s going out for a run first thing in the morning, or hitting the gym during your lunch breaks, a running backpack will allow you to keep your essential belongings about your person as you seamlessly blend work day and workout.

Also, hydration backpacks can be used in areas with arid conditions or by long distance runners. These backpacks house a hydration bladder, a reusable plastic pouch with a spout fed through the bag and the strap so you can easily take some water from it without having to take the backpack off or stop.

Don't forget all the other running essentials too: 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.

Fancy going out in the heat for run? Here is how to workout in the heat safely and effectively. and when we say workout we mean run. Obviously. 

The best running backpacks, in order

Best running backpack: OMM Phantom 12T3 Best Buy Award badge

1. OMM Phantom 12

The featherweight champion for racers and commuters alike

Best for: Everyday use
Capacity: 12L
Waterproof: Yes
Colour: Black & orange
Reasons to buy
+Super lightweight+Accurate fit
Reasons to avoid
-Hydration pack sold separately  

The OMM Phantom 12 makes our top spot because of it’s super lightweight feel and expandable capacity, making it by far one of the best running backpacks for everyday use. Whether you’re 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 adaptable 6-point harness.  

Best running backpack: Salomon Trail 20 BackpackT3 Approved badge

2. Salomon Trail 20 Backpack

A large capacity bag for the city commuter

Best for: Commuting
Capacity: 20L
Waterproof: No
Colours: Red, Black, Blue
Reasons to buy
+High capacity+Affordable
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 backpack for commuting through a city because the airmesh straps ensure it doesn’t get too hot. 

Best running backpack: Gregory Miwok 24 BackpackT3 Approved badge

3. Gregory Miwok 24 Backpack

This is an durable adventure-proof backpack that will take you from the office to hiking in the woods

Best for: Adventure
Capacity: 24L
Waterproof: YES
Colour: Black
Reasons to buy
+Adventure-proof+High capacity
Reasons to avoid
-A little pricey 

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 ideal for cyclists, too.  

Best running backpack: Dueter Speed Lite 15T3 Approved badge

4. Dueter Speed Lite 15

The budget backpack for anything from extreme sports to going to the gym

Capacity: 15L
Waterproof: No
Colour: Grey
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Extremely light
Reasons to avoid
-Plain colours  

The Dueter Speed Lite 15 pack is one of the best running backpacks for marathons as it is praised for its weightlessness. It is also ideal for days out and holidays as it has plenty of space for a change of clothes and other belongings as well as the perfect sized pocket for keeping a book safe if you like to read on the go. You’ll also get all your mod-cons including a 2L bladder compartment with hydration hose. 

Best running backpack: Nike CommuterT3 Approved badge

5. Nike Commuter

A sporty but professional looking backpack for the style conscious commuter

Best for: Everyday use
Capacity: 15L
Waterproof: No
Colour: Black
Reasons to buy
+Affordable +Stylish
Reasons to avoid
-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 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.  

best running backpack: people ascending a mountain wearing running backpacks

(Image credit: OMM)

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 backpacks 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, too, 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.