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 other purposes 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.

Fancy going out for a run in the heat? Here is how to work out safely in the heat.

Best running backpacks to buy right now

OMM Phantom 12 on white backgroundT3 Best Buy Award badge

1. OMM Phantom 12

Best running backpack overall

Specifications

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 its 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

2. Salomon Trail 20 Backpack

Best running backpack for commuting

Specifications

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 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

3. Gregory Miwok 24 Backpack

Best running backpack for durability

Specifications

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 also ideal for cyclists.  

Dueter Speed Lite 15 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

4. Deuter Speed Lite 15

Best cheap running backpack for marathons

Specifications

Capacity: 15L
Waterproof: No
Colour: Grey

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Extremely light

Reasons to avoid

-
Plain colours  

The Deuter 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 a hydration hose. 

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

-
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. 

pictured here, 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 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 (opens in new tab) (external link), 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
Matt Kollat

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).