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Running backpacks Reviews and Buyer's Guide (Feb 2019)

As you know, it can be really annoying to run with a backpack on. Some backpack models are just not nice to run with even if they are officially called running backpacks!

So it's super important that you spend some time choosing the right running backpack for your needs.

You need to make sure the backpack is comfortable and big enough for your stuff (without ending up being too big and heavy to run with) - and at the same time it's super important that the backpack is of good enough quality, so it doesn't fall apart.

The 141 Best Running Backpacks

RankRunning BackpackRating
1Camelbak GamblerCamelbak Gambler
Available on Amazon
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4.9049 reviews
2Osprey RavenOsprey Raven
Available on Amazon
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4.64213 reviews
3Camelbak PowderhoundCamelbak Powderhound
Available on Amazon
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4.6212 reviews
4Camelbak SparkCamelbak Spark4.6228 reviews
5Osprey TalonOsprey Talon4.581,648 reviews
6Camelbak LoboCamelbak Lobo4.57754 reviews
7Osprey DynaOsprey Dyna4.5663 reviews
8Dakine SessionDakine Session4.5626 reviews
9Camelbak HAWGCamelbak HAWG4.54130 reviews
10Camelbak AventuraCamelbak Aventura4.53124 reviews
11Fox ConvoyFox Convoy4.5210 reviews
12Camelbak FourteenerCamelbak Fourteener4.51358 reviews
13Camelbak PhantomCamelbak Phantom4.4934 reviews
14Osprey SkarabOsprey Skarab4.4769 reviews
15Osprey VerveOsprey Verve4.4767 reviews
16Ultimate Direction FastpackUltimate Direction Fastpack4.4582 reviews
17Camelbak MarathonerCamelbak Marathoner4.4196 reviews
18Camelbak KUDUCamelbak KUDU4.4027 reviews
19Fox PortageFox Portage4.4012 reviews
20Patagonia Nine TrailsPatagonia Nine Trails4.4041 reviews
21Osprey MantaOsprey Manta4.39376 reviews
22Platypus SiouxonPlatypus Siouxon4.3855 reviews
23Platypus TokulPlatypus Tokul4.3778 reviews
24Osprey RaptorOsprey Raptor4.36729 reviews
25Camelbak HelenaCamelbak Helena4.36160 reviews
26Deuter Speed LiteDeuter Speed Lite4.36835 reviews
27Camelbak AmbushCamelbak Ambush4.3531 reviews
28Osprey SkimmerOsprey Skimmer4.34164 reviews
29Osprey DuroOsprey Duro4.34106 reviews
30Gregory TempoGregory Tempo4.3311 reviews
31Maxpedition FalconMaxpedition Falcon4.33555 reviews
32Osprey RadialOsprey Radial4.32208 reviews
33Osprey MokiOsprey Moki4.32128 reviews
34Camelbak ScoutCamelbak Scout4.32162 reviews
35Deuter RaceDeuter Race4.32469 reviews
36Camelbak SnoBlastCamelbak SnoBlast4.30107 reviews
37Camelbak Cloud WalkerCamelbak Cloud Walker4.29462 reviews
38Camelbak Rim RunnerCamelbak Rim Runner4.29373 reviews
39Marmot KompressorMarmot Kompressor4.28244 reviews
40Camelbak SolsticeCamelbak Solstice4.2837 reviews
41Camelbak MotherlodeCamelbak Motherlode4.28145 reviews
42NRS PFDNRS PFD4.28572 reviews
43Camelbak CircuitCamelbak Circuit4.26113 reviews
44Camelbak MULECamelbak MULE4.25293 reviews
45Salomon TrailSalomon Trail4.2540,197 reviews
46EVOC StageEVOC Stage4.25107 reviews
47Osprey DayliteOsprey Daylite4.251,085 reviews
48Osprey SyncroOsprey Syncro4.241,156 reviews
49Camelbak ThermobakCamelbak Thermobak4.24400 reviews
50Salomon S-LabSalomon S-Lab4.24556 reviews
51Camelbak CoronadoCamelbak Coronado4.2312 reviews
52Camelbak SkylineCamelbak Skyline4.2369 reviews
53Platypus DuthiePlatypus Duthie4.23124 reviews
54Triwonder MarathonerTriwonder Marathoner4.221,102 reviews
55Gregory JunoGregory Juno4.2126 reviews
56Camelbak CaperCamelbak Caper4.2043 reviews
57EVOC FREVOC FR4.19356 reviews
58Camelbak AuroraCamelbak Aurora4.17397 reviews
59Nathan FireballNathan Fireball4.1536 reviews
60Maxpedition CondorMaxpedition Condor4.15495 reviews
61Camelbak BlowfishCamelbak Blowfish4.1495 reviews
62Camelbak SequoiaCamelbak Sequoia4.13106 reviews
63Camelbak ZoidCamelbak Zoid4.1263 reviews
64Osprey MiraOsprey Mira4.11176 reviews
65Osprey HydrajetOsprey Hydrajet4.1122 reviews
66Camelbak SkeeterCamelbak Skeeter4.1187 reviews
67Camelbak ClassicCamelbak Classic4.11925 reviews
68Camelbak TrailblazerCamelbak Trailblazer4.1153 reviews
69Nathan VaporcloudNathan Vaporcloud4.1075 reviews
70Osprey RevOsprey Rev4.08396 reviews
71Dakine AMPDakine AMP4.0812 reviews
72Gregory DriftGregory Drift4.0810 reviews
73Camelbak QuanticoCamelbak Quantico4.0742 reviews
74Osprey ViperOsprey Viper4.06587 reviews
75Orange Mud EnduranceOrange Mud Endurance4.0511 reviews
76Gregory CitroGregory Citro4.0411 reviews
77Nathan HPLNathan HPL4.01297 reviews
78Gregory MiwokGregory Miwok4.00106 reviews
79Black Diamond NitroBlack Diamond Nitro4.0046 reviews
80Osprey ZealotOsprey Zealot3.99233 reviews
81Camelbak DartCamelbak Dart3.9923 reviews
82Nathan IntensityNathan Intensity3.9925 reviews
83Under Armour TranceUnder Armour Trance3.991,307 reviews
84Camelbak OctaneCamelbak Octane3.98191 reviews
85Deuter CompactDeuter Compact3.9846 reviews
86Exos BravoExos Bravo3.95554 reviews
87Ultraspire AlphaUltraspire Alpha3.9127 reviews
88Camelbak CharmCamelbak Charm3.90580 reviews
89Camelbak MagicCamelbak Magic3.8876 reviews
90Camelbak HydrobakCamelbak Hydrobak3.871,691 reviews
91Camelbak RogueCamelbak Rogue3.871,308 reviews
92Nathan ZealNathan Zeal3.8556 reviews
93CamelBak DaystarCamelBak Daystar3.8211 reviews
94Thule CapstoneThule Capstone3.81126 reviews
95Gregory MayaGregory Maya3.80123 reviews
96Nathan VaporairNathan Vaporair3.79112 reviews
97Ultimate Direction PBUltimate Direction PB3.7887 reviews
98The North Face ElectraThe North Face Electra3.76362 reviews
99Teton Sports OasisTeton Sports Oasis3.752,027 reviews
100Nathan ElevationNathan Elevation3.7023 reviews
101Salomon AgileSalomon Agile3.7064 reviews
102Patagonia Fore RunnerPatagonia Fore Runner3.7010 reviews
103High Sierra MorayHigh Sierra Moray3.69196 reviews
104Gregory PaceGregory Pace3.6726 reviews
105Orange Mud HydraquiverOrange Mud Hydraquiver3.65130 reviews
106Ultimate Direction SJUltimate Direction SJ3.65170 reviews
107Ultraspire AstralUltraspire Astral3.6350 reviews
108Salomon SkinSalomon Skin3.60255 reviews
109Nathan FireStormNathan FireStorm3.5990 reviews
110Geigerrig GuardianGeigerrig Guardian3.5925 reviews
111Nathan MoxyNathan Moxy3.5741 reviews
112Terra Nova LaserTerra Nova Laser3.5555 reviews
113Camelbak MolokaiCamelbak Molokai3.5213 reviews
114Salomon SenseSalomon Sense3.50293 reviews
115Outdoor Products RipcordOutdoor Products Ripcord3.50127 reviews
116Camelbak PursuitCamelbak Pursuit3.4974 reviews
117Outdoor Products MistOutdoor Products Mist3.48507 reviews
118Camelbak AreteCamelbak Arete3.47232 reviews
119Geigerrig RigGeigerrig Rig3.46484 reviews
120High Sierra PropelHigh Sierra Propel3.44310 reviews
121Nathan SpeeddrawNathan Speeddraw3.39586 reviews
122Salomon HydroSalomon Hydro3.3998 reviews
123OMM PhantomOMM Phantom3.3915 reviews
124Camelbak FranconiaCamelbak Franconia3.2942 reviews
125Camelbak UltraCamelbak Ultra3.26103 reviews
126Nathan MercuryNathan Mercury3.25285 reviews
127High Sierra QuickshotHigh Sierra Quickshot3.23802 reviews
128High Sierra WahooHigh Sierra Wahoo3.22191 reviews
129High Sierra LongshotHigh Sierra Longshot3.19230 reviews
130Camelbak PalosCamelbak Palos3.18123 reviews
131High Sierra PiranhaHigh Sierra Piranha3.18489 reviews
132Camelbak DelaneyCamelbak Delaney3.12327 reviews
133Nathan MirageNathan Mirage3.1222 reviews
134Camelbak FlashFloCamelbak FlashFlo3.00166 reviews
135Dakine ShuttleDakine Shuttle2.94176 reviews
136Camelbak ChargeCamelbak Charge2.9015 reviews
137Camelbak ArcCamelbak Arc2.89138 reviews
138High Sierra WaveHigh Sierra Wave2.89782 reviews
139High Sierra RiptideHigh Sierra Riptide2.8130 reviews
140High Sierra MarlinHigh Sierra Marlin2.8076 reviews
141Nathan SwitchbladeNathan Switchblade1.4817 reviews
How we rate the bags

We have checked 76,466 Running backpack reviews, so we can show you the weighted average rating of all the bags.

Using the average ratings, you can check what all the reviewers think instead of just viewing the subjective opinion of one specific reviewer.

It's much simplier to find the best bags that way.

Buyers Guide to Running Backpacks

Woman with running backpackIt is almost impossible to run with only the clothes on your back and your music player strapped to your arm. Also, your pockets don’t really make the best place to store important items such as house keys. This is why running backs are quite so important to running enthusiasts. They are especially vital to those that like endurance training or prefer to run out in isolated areas. If you like to join competitions, particularly longer marathons, a running backpack really will come in handy. So, how do you choose the best one for you?

The Types of Running Backpacks

First things first, there are several models of backpacks. These are all made for different types of running as well as runners. Here are the most common options:

The Running Bag

These bags are typically larger in size. They resemble the backpacks that you are typically used to and in certain instances, may actually be used for hiking and other activities. The main point about these backpacks is that they come equipped with a larger volume and lots of pockets. You can expect a running bag to be able to hold between 10 and 25 liters, perhaps more. The TETON Sports Oasis 1100 is an excellent example of a slightly larger running bag that is still light enough to run with.

Hydration Packs

As the name suggests, the main purpose of a hydration pack is to ensure that you stay hydrated during you run. Because of this, these packs are usually quite a bit smaller than the running bags. These packs are only as large as the hydration bladders that they house. There are a few small pockets, nonetheless to store smaller items. Hydration packs do have the benefit of having a sip tube that is directly connected to the reservoir in the bag. Hydration packs can be anywhere from 1 to 3 liters in volume.

Waist Backpacks

The easiest way to understand what a waist backpack looks like is to imagine a sleeker version of the fanny pack. Waist packs, as you guessed it, are fixed around your waist with the help of a belt. These come in two different forms. There is the running belt and the hydration belt. Both pelts have small pockets for storage. The hydration belt, however, comes equipped with loops where you can fix water bottles. These can usually hold about one to four bottles of water.

Race Vests

Last but not least, there are the race vests. These are so named because they are worn like regular vests. These type of running bags strike a compromise between running bags and hydration packs. The main thing about race vests is that they are incredibly light so as to not slow you down. Nonetheless, there is enough room to carry several personal items and hydration bladders.

Matching the Running Bag to the Activity

How can you decide which of the above running backpacks are best for you? Well, one of the most important factors that come into play here is the type of running that you do. Let’s take a look at the most common types and see which activity requires which backpack:

Daily Run

Are you not headed too far away from your house or your car? In this case, you are not going to need to take a whole of things with you. At the most, your phone, keys, and perhaps some money is all that you need. In this case, a running belt may be more than enough for the running that you do. If your run is quite long and you cover several miles, then it is a good idea to have a hydration with you instead.

Endurance Running

Are you a little bit more hardcore with your workouts? Do you not only run long distances but also do so in precarious environments such as hills? If endurance running is your preferred method of exercise, you are going to need a bag that is slightly larger. At the same time, you can’t really be bogged down with too much of weight. In this case, hydration packs will be of the most use to you as you will be able to stay hydrated but also have enough of space for a phone or keys.


As you can imagine, a race vest is best if you are taking part in competitions, especially the longer ones. These bags have great support and cling to your body so that you don’t have to worry about them bouncing around. Yet, there is enough of room to fit a hydration bag of varying sizes.

Run Commuting

One activity that is growing in popularity is run commuting. This is when you run to and from work each day. The goal here is to have a bag that can carry a variety of items. At the very least, you are going to need a change of clothes and shoes. However, it is also quite likely that you are going to require enough space for a laptop as well. This is when larger running bags will be quite useful. As an added bonus, there are a number of running bags that have hydration bladders installed within them. This allows you to stay hydrated as you run.

What to Look for in a Running Backpack

Now that you know which type of backpack you may want to head towards, let’s discuss the specific features that you should be looking at with any model:

The Backpack Straps

This is perhaps the most important part of a running backpack and what can make or break a bag. You should always look for straps with a decent thickness (make sure that they are heavy duty but are not large enough to slip off your shoulders). This way, they will not dig into your shoulders as you run. Another thing to pay attention to is the padding so that you will always be comfortable.

Straps play a more important role than just comfort, nonetheless. For instance, one of the advantages that straps offer is stability. The last thing that you want is for your bag to bounce off your back as you run. Here, harness straps will be of the greatest benefit to you. These will make sure that the backpack stays fixed to your body.

If you are using a backpack for a run commuting, you are going to be carrying a heavy load. What you will be looking for here, is lots of support. This can be found in the form of a waist strap. This will ensure that the weight is more evenly distributed. Waist straps are advised if you carry weights greater than six pounds. If you require a lot of support, you should also look for bags that have chest straps. Having the bag secured to several points around your body is going to make your load feel a lot lighter.

Hydration Options

If you are a serious runner, one of the main reasons that you want a running backpack is because you are looking to stay hydrated with minimal fuss. If you are choosing a hydration backpack, make sure to consider all of the components carefully. This includes checking to see how well the sip tube works, whether the bite valves are suitable for you, and whether or not the tube can be secured in some way as you run. You may also look for add-ons such as insulated bladders that help to keep your water at optimal temperature.

As mentioned, some running backpacks have hydration bladders included in the backpacks. These, too, feature sip tubes and bite valves. Therefore, you should give these features a once-over before making a decision. If you are not going to be running very far, then a water bottle holder might suffice instead. You will need to check that the holder not only secures the bottle well but also that you can easily reach the bottle.

Backpack Material

Another thing that runners like to pay attention to is the material that the bags are made from. Now, these can vary quite drastically not just between the types of running backpacks but also between manufacturers.

Choosing the right material can be a bit tricky. The first thing you will have to do is to decide the function that this material will perform. Do you want something that will keep you cool as you run? Are you looking for the lightest option possible? Perhaps durability and toughness is what you are looking for.

If you run in the heat then you don’t want your sweat soaking through or for the pack to make you feel hotter than you already are. The solution to this problem is mesh – and lots of it. It is important to verify that the mesh is high quality and will not tear easily, nonetheless.

There are some backpacks such as the Saucony Speed of Lite Run Pack that is actually made from the same material as parachutes. Not only does it make the pack resistant to tears, this material is also incredibly light. You should be warned that it is going to be quite uncomfortable to carry during warmer months.

If you run in the rain, you are going to require a backpack that is capable of repelling most of the water. Nylon is typically the best material for the job. You should know that water can still seep in through the zipper so you are going to need all-over rain covers to keep the water completely out.

If the purpose of your running bag is to carry as heavy a weight as possible, then nylon will serve the purpose but it is going to need to be much thicker. A bag that is stronger will inevitably be a little heavier than other options.

Storage Pockets

What you intend on carrying in the bag will typically determine how large the pockets need to be and how many there should be as well. For instance, if you are commuting, you will probably need larger pockets as you will need to store bigger items. Recreational runners, on the other hand, will need smaller pockets for keys and perhaps spare change.

Size is not the only thing you should be concerned with. You should also look at the placement of the pockets. This is particularly important if the backpack is tightly secured to your chest and waist. If the pockets are too far away to reach, you will need to stop, unclasp the bag, and then look for what you need. This is why it is a good idea to have smaller pockets that are either close to your chest or that you can easily reach with your arms.

Getting the Right Fit

It is little use in getting the right backpack if it does not fit you properly. To get a good idea where a backpack may rest on your back, you should measure the distance between your lower neck and your waist. You can then compare this is to the length of the backpack. For speed runners, a backpack that is too close to their waist may be a hindrance. You may want to look for ones that rest higher up on your back so that it does not get in the way. Equally as important is to check where the chest and the waist straps rest to make sure that they are not uncomfortable. You should aim to get straps that can easily be adjusted.

The other thing you will need to look at is how your backpack sits when it is slung across your shoulders. In particular, how does it affect your posture? As a rule of thumb, a backpack should accommodate your posture instead of the other way around. This means that you don’t find yourself hunching or shifting your natural position to suit that of the backpack. These can cause back pain later on if you have to wear the bag on a continuous basis.

These are the various points you need to focus on so that you will be able to choose the best running backpack for you.

20 More Running Backpacks

Classic running backpacks and models that haven't yet got enough reviews to be ranked.

RankRunning BackpackRating
Dakine DrafterDakine Drafter
Dakine NomadDakine Nomad
Gregory AmasaGregory Amasa
Camelbak LUXECamelbak LUXE
Camelbak KickerCamelbak Kicker
Camelbak BootleggerCamelbak Bootlegger
High Sierra TakopahHigh Sierra Takopah
Deuter AttackDeuter Attack
Nathan JourneyNathan Journey
Nathan GritNathan Grit
Montane JawsMontane Jaws
Ultimate Direction WaspUltimate Direction Wasp
Salomon PeakSalomon Peak
Grivel Mountain RunnerGrivel Mountain Runner
Klymit DashKlymit Dash
Platypus B-linePlatypus B-line
Ultraspire ZygosUltraspire Zygos
Ultraspire VelocityUltraspire Velocity
Adidas NGAAdidas NGA
OMM AdventureOMM Adventure

Last updated on February 22, 2019