The Best Running Backpack for Commuters

Best run commuting backpacks

My commute is 1hr 15 mins, door to door. Not too bad, and certainly a lot better than it would have been if we hadn’t moved. But that’s still 2.5 hours of my day spent travelling, 150 minutes where I’m on the train or in the car.

If I have to travel so far, I might as well do some of it on foot. In fact, it takes almost as long to run from Paddington to work as it does to take the Hammersmith & City line tube there. However, it does mean that I need to

I tested a lot of backpacks for this piece, and put blood (chafe), sweat and tears (post-oncology week) into it too. I hope you find this useful, and I’ll keep adding to it if I find anything better as I continue to run commute.

Best run commuting backpacks

The best run commute backpack: Gregory Maya 16L Running Backpack

The last one I tried worked the best for me. It’s the women’s specific backpack and I could tell by the fit of the shoulder straps and the fact that I could really cinch in the waist that it had been designed with a women’s figure in mind. I liked that I was able to adjust so many of the steps, and secure it to my body tightly. It didn’t move around like some of the others I tested, therefore I had no issues chafing, even in just a tank top. And although it was a little smaller than some of the others at 16L – they do a 20L version too. Plus a mens option…which I obviously haven’t tried.

This one carries my laptop, shoes, clothes, purse, coffee cup and a small coat. I couldn’t fit my big Tupperware for lunch in it with all my other stuff, however maybe it would all fit in the 20L. I wish they’d put some more reflective pieces on it to avoid having to wear fluoro in the winter but otherwise, no complaints!

At £65, it isn’t cheap but it’s no-where near the cost of some of the others I tried, and I see it as a great investment piece.

Best run commuting backpacks

The Runner’s Up: 

I Am Run Box – I’ve used this running backpack a lot over the years. I love it for carrying my laptop, it holds it securely without feeling like all your stuff is going to damage it. I think this run backpack is probably the most ‘professional’ commuter backpack…it holds a folded shirt and laptop, and comes with a packing guide. I did find the straps rub a little on the back of my neck and it doesn’t fit a huge amount in. Not quite the perfect fit for me but definitely a well deserving runner up.

Osprey Tempest 20– I LOVED this bag….until I didn’t. I ran in it with a jacket on, I used it as my commute rucksack when I wasn’t commuting…and then I ran home on a warm night in a tank top and chafed SO badly that I bled. I literally had to hold the backpack off my back as the chafing started within a mile or so. 4 miles shouldn’t do that much damage. However, if you run in a t-shirt or are looking for more of a hiking/commuting backpack – this might be perfect for you. It’s certainly very well made and comfortable to wear.

best run commuting backpack

DHB Slice Rucksack – this is the most budget of the rucksacks and probably the perfect one if you’re just starting to run commute and haven’t decided if you like it yet! I have the 15L which sometimes feels a little small, however it is packed full of pockets, has a reflective seams and padded seams. My only issue with this bag is that it isn’t waterproof, I ran with my clothes in a plastic bag, just incase! It does come with a rain cover, but I like the idea that if it starts to pour mid-run I don’t have to stop and faff around putting the cover on.

Some of the other’s that I tested:

OMM Ultra 15L Running Backpack – The waist strap was really padded and comfortable on this, however unfortunately the shoulder straps didn’t sit flat on my chest and I couldn’t tie them tight enough. The bag looked so awkward on me and bounced all over the place when I ran. I think this could be comfortable if you have a longer torso but definitely worth trying to see if it suits your body type!

Arc’teryx Arro 22 Urban Commuter Backpack – this one looked so sleek and definitely wouldn’t be embarrassing to turn up at the pub with. It’s also waterproof which is crucial in a city like London…however I just found it too structured. It perhaps needs wearing it to mould to your body or is designed for more of a square/rectangular body shape but I found that the straps didn’t sit well on my shoulders or hips.

best run commuter backpacks

Lululemon Run All Day backpack – Looks great however I don’t feel that it functions that well – I struggled to get it on by myself, having to ask my colleagues to help clip me in (quite embarrassing!). For me, the strap around my waist was too thin, I like to carry a lot of the weight there rather than all on my shoulders, and I don’t think the waist strap really worked. Luckily, that strap is removable so it makes a great bag to bring to the gym or for travelling.

Nike Lightweight bag – this bag looks really fancy and very sleek, with plenty of high vis, however it didn’t take any weight around my waist. I did like that it was quite small and therefore could be adjusted easily to fit my body with plenty of pockets for my bank card, phone etc.

best run commuting run backpack

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This post includes affiliate links - they don't cost you any extra but gives me a % to cover the costs of the backpacks used in this test! 

13 Comments

  1. Chloe
    19th October 2018 / 8:33 am

    So so helpful thank you! When I got my commuting rucksack the men’s ones were so much cheaper than women’s so I got a men’s one and it’s so uncomfortable this has inspired me to get a new one.

  2. Robyn
    19th October 2018 / 1:33 pm

    Love my Gregory running backpack! I’ve got the 10L size which is great if i’m just running home from work, but since i hate running carry stuff on me I tend to just use it as a sort of every day bag when I’m going from work to spin/yoga/run club.

  3. Andrea
    19th October 2018 / 2:57 pm

    You did put a lot of work into that! Great review!

  4. Diana
    19th October 2018 / 3:46 pm

    Great reviews! Do you find that it’s hard to get used to carrying so much stuff on your back during your runs? Or does the waist strap help a lot? I have a small backpack I run with sometimes but have never tried running with a laptop in it. I would also love to hear more about your whole run commute routine- do you usually run to work or home from work (or both?). I’d like to start doing that a few days a week but would have to figure out the whole showering/ getting ready situation if I did it in the mornings.

    • charlotte
      Author
      19th October 2018 / 4:43 pm

      Its definitely something I’ve got used to but a waist strap is a necessity for me. I also like them to have pockets at the waist for my phone and money. Happy to do a run commute tips (and confessions!) post!

      • 19th October 2018 / 8:47 pm

        I would love to know more about how you actually make the run commute possible. I would be a sweaty smelly person at work and I don’t think my co-workers would appreciate that. Also, how in the world do you carry all of your shower gear if you do happen to have showers at work for you to get ready at for the day? Hope you’ll write up a run commutes tips and confessions post! 🙂

      • Diana
        19th October 2018 / 9:05 pm

        Thanks! I would love to read that post! Thinking run commuting could be a great way for me to add some miles during half and full training next year so I am def interested in tips/ tricks for how you make it work!

      • Alyssa
        22nd October 2018 / 6:44 pm

        Ditto on the post for run commuting! I would love to hear the logistics behind how you accomplish it. It seems like such a great idea when you have to commute anyways!

  5. Heather Greene
    19th October 2018 / 4:57 pm

    I run commute but have never tried to run with my laptop. If I could, I would be able to run a lot more often. What size laptop do you have and how do you protect it? Does the Gregory pack have a padded sleeve? Thanks for such an awesome post – I looked all over the internet for this type of information when I started run commuting over a year ago and there was very little advice!!

  6. 20th October 2018 / 10:13 am

    Great review. Thank you for this.

  7. 23rd October 2018 / 3:11 pm

    Thanks for this! I bought mine from Decathlon- it’s a super small one (maybe 5L) but fits a surprising amount in – I can usually fit a change of clothes (including a coat!) and my reusable coffee cup 🙂

  8. 1st November 2018 / 2:20 pm

    This is super helpful as I’m beginning to contemplate run commuting home. Thank you!

  9. 8th November 2018 / 7:13 pm

    I had exactly the same issue with the Tempest. It rubbed so much! I’ve actually given it to my Mum who now uses it for hiking and loves it!