Best running backpack 2024: pack light, run right

Stay agile, stay organized, and stay ahead with our selection of the best running backpacks

Best running backpack 2024: Quick links

Runner wearing the IAMRUNBOX Everyday Rolltop backpack

(Image credit: IAMRUNBOX)

01. Best overall: Tracksmith Olmsted Pack
02. Best affordable: Rab Tensor 10L
. Best packable: Matador FreeRain 28
04. Most storage: Montane Gecko VP 20L +
05. Most durable: Gregory Miwok 24
06. Best mid-range: Nike Commuter
07. How to choose
08. How we test
09. FAQ

Looking to hit the ground running? You might think a running backpack is just an extra accessory, but once you start jogging to work or the gym, it becomes your trusty sidekick.

It's like finding your stride on a trail – suddenly, you can't imagine life without it. Need to dodge the crowds on public transport and sprint your way to fitness? Toss your essentials in a running backpack, and you're off like a shot.

But before you dash off, let's lace up some tips on how to pick the perfect pack. Consider things like size, hydration options, and comfort features. It's like choosing the right pair of shoes – you want something that fits just right and won't give you blisters.

And it's not just for commuting; serious runners know that a good backpack can be a game-changer. From carrying hydration packs for those long runs to stashing your essentials, it's like having a personal assistant on your back, minus the coffee runs.

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.

Best overall

Tracksmith Olmsted Pack review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

1. Tracksmith Olmsted Pack

Best running backpack overall


Best for: Commuting
Capacity: 18L
Waterproof: Yes

Reasons to buy

Runner-friendly design
Weatherproof construction
Durable materials used
Secure laptop pocket
Ventilated shoe compartment

Reasons to avoid

Might be too small if you want to use it as a standard backpack

The Tracksmith Olmsted Pack is the best running backpack right now for commuters who like to carry a laptop and a spare set of clothing to and from work—and for everyone else, really.

It's crafted entirely from recycled polyester, with the design emphasising ample storage, including dedicated compartments for a laptop and shoes, facilitating organisation.

With classic Tracksmith aesthetics and a runner-friendly design, this pack offers water-resistant construction and a range of practical features.

The inclusion of a padded back panel, adjustable shoulder straps, and a removable hip belt ensures both comfort and versatility. The Olmsted Pack shines in storage solutions, boasting four main zippered compartments, including a diagonal front pocket for quick access items and a large main compartment with a laptop pocket.

Ventilated shoe storage at the bottom enhances convenience, while sturdy construction and weatherproof materials ensure durability and protection. A premium choice for runners and commuters alike, offering style, functionality, and sustainability in one sleek package.

Read our full Tracksmith Olmsted Pack review.

Best affordable

Rab Tensor 10L Backpack against gradient background

(Image credit: Rab Equipment)

2. Rab Tensor 10L Lightweight Pack

Best affordable running backpack


Best for: Trail running
Capacity: 10L
Waterproof: Yes

Reasons to buy

Made from 100% recycled material
Super lightweight
Hydration bladder-compatible

Reasons to avoid

Quite a small for anything other than the essentials

Rab's Tensor pack stands out not just because it's one of the most affordable running backpacks on this list but also because of its lightweight, body-fitting construction that helps it almost disappear on your back when you run.

Designed predominantly for trail running (and hiking), the 10-litre Tensor can fit 2L hydration bladders and has a surprising number of pockets for such a compact bag. It has a front stash pocket, a zippered top pocket, and an internal zipped security pocket to organise all your gear easily.

The sternum strap not only helps the Tensor stay put when you tackle the trail, but it also houses a whistle, should you need to attract attention. There is also a loop for a bike rear light (Rab does mention mountain biking in the product description) and a removable waistbelt.

It's not the most voluminous bag on this list, but it's more than spacious enough for shorter trips on or off the beaten path.

Best packable

Matador Freerain28 Waterproof Packable Backpack

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

3. Matador Freerain28 Waterproof Packable Backpack

Best running backpack overall


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

Reasons to buy

Folds into the smallest parcel, ideal for travel
Waterproof main compartment
Comfortable shoulder straps
Hip belt wings for a secure fit

Reasons to avoid

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

Matador's Freerain 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 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.

The hydration bladder-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. 

Most storage

Montane Gecko VP 20L + against gradient background

(Image credit: Montane)

4. Montane Gecko VP 20L +

Best running backpack for storage


Best for: multi-day running expeditions, fastpacking
Capacity: 20L
Waterproof: No

Reasons to buy

Lots of storage space
Two water flasks included 
Ideal for multi-day activities
Comes in three sizes

Reasons to avoid

Some complaints about durability
Doesn't really work unless it's full

Montane's Gecko VP 20L + running backpack is an absolute beast. As well as a spacious main compartment, it also has pole attachments, zippered accessories, stash and side pockets, and room for two hydration flasks, the latter of which are included in the price.

Designed for multi-day treks and runs, the Gecko has what Montane calls a stability control construction with tension straps and side compression, all of which are adjustable on the move. The two sternum straps can be moved up and down on the daisy chains to ensure the bag sits perfectly on your torso.

The bag is treated with POLYGEINE technology, which is said to provide longer-lasting freshness and a fast drying time. Montane doesn't state which version of POLYGEINE is applied; it could be either silica-based or silver-ion coating.

Either way, it helps the bag stay fresher for longer and reduces the number of washes the Gecko requires.

The bag is positively humongous, which, in theory, allows you to carry a ton of stuff with you. However, the Gecko can feel a bit clunky when not full (there is no harness system to make it fit better when empty), and its maximum carry load is also unclear.

Some users complained about the stitching coming apart after a few uses, which we think is due to either of those criteria (the bag not being full and/or being too heavy). Nevertheless, it's an awesome pack, especially if you're into fastpacking.

Most durable

Gregory Miwok 24 Backpack on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

5. Gregory Miwok 24 Backpack

Best running backpack for durability


Best for: Trail running/hiking
Capacity: 24L
Waterproof: yes

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.  

Best mid-range

Nike Commuter on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

6. Nike Commuter

Best mid-range running backpack


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

Reasons to buy

Stylish appearance
Body-fitting design

Reasons to avoid

More of a casual bag

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 choose the best running backpack for you

Choosing the best running backpack requires considering several factors. First, determine the size you need based on what you'll carry—whether it's just essentials or extra gear like a hydration bladder or extra layers. Look for lightweight, breathable materials to keep you comfortable during your run.

Consider features like adjustable straps and padded back panels for a secure, comfortable fit. Reflective elements are essential for visibility, especially if you'll be running in low-light conditions. Additionally, check for pockets and compartments to keep your belongings organised.

When trying on backpacks, test them out with some running motions to ensure they don't bounce around excessively. Finally, read reviews and consider recommendations from fellow runners to find a backpack that meets your needs and budget.

How we test the best running backpacks

Testing the best running backpacks involves a series of steps to ensure they meet your needs. First, we assess the fit and comfort by wearing the backpack and adjusting the straps to our bodies. We often look for padded shoulder straps and a breathable back panel to prevent discomfort during long runs.

Next, we evaluate the stability of the backpack by jogging or running with it on. We pay particular attention to any bouncing or shifting to ensure the backpack stays close to our bodies and does not hinder our running motion.

We also test the capacity and organisation of the backpack by packing it with essentials, such as water bottles, snacks, keys, and a phone. We check the accessibility of the pockets and compartments, too.

Finally, we assess the overall performance and functionality of the backpack based on our running needs. We consider factors like weight, visibility features, and additional accessories like hydration bladder compatibility.


Is it good to run with a backpack?

Running with a backpack offers benefits like added resistance for training, convenient commuting, hydration, and storage solutions. However, it's crucial to choose a well-fitting backpack to prevent discomfort and injury. If it enhances your running experience comfortably, it can be a valuable accessory.

What kind of bag is best for running?

The best bag for running is a lightweight, ergonomic backpack specifically designed for running. Look for features like adjustable straps, breathable materials, and minimal bounce to ensure comfort and stability while running. Hydration packs or waist belts with water bottle holders are ideal for staying hydrated during long runs. Also, consider the size and capacity of the bag to accommodate essentials like keys, phone, wallet, and snacks without adding unnecessary bulk.

How much harder is it to run with a backpack?

Running with a backpack can make running feel more challenging due to the added weight and potential for discomfort. The extra load can increase fatigue and alter your running mechanics, leading to a slower pace and greater energy expenditure. The backpack's movement may cause imbalance and strain on your back and shoulders, impacting overall running performance.

However, with proper fitting, lightweight gear, and gradual adjustment, many runners adapt to running with a backpack over time. Building core strength and focusing on good posture can also help minimise the impact of running with a backpack, allowing for a more comfortable and efficient running experience.

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
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for 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.