Running all or part of your commute is one of the best ways to add more exercise to your weekly routine, but the logistics behind a successful runcommute can be tricky. To do it right you'll need more than motivation, you'll need a backpack that's up to the task.
For many people running to and from work won‚Äôt take that much longer than alternative methods of transport, especially if you live in or commute into a city, and it‚Äôs a brilliant way to relieve stress at the start or end of the working day. That‚Äôs especially true when compared with sitting in traffic or standing on a jam-packed train.
To run commute successfully, however, you need the right gear. We‚Äôre not talking about shoes and kit, either, because the most important part of a running commuter‚Äôs set up is their rucksack. Having the wrong pack strapped to your back can make every run an uncomfortable chore, and even lead to injury.
What to look for in a run-commuting backpack
The right running backpack will have an array of straps you can tighten to ensure it fits close to your body and doesn‚Äôt swing or bounce around while you run. It might also be waterproof, if you‚Äôre really committed to run commuting, and reflective details are also useful, because come the winter many of your trips to and from the office will be in the dark.
Those who run-commute tend to want a bigger volume than those just ensuring they have the essentials for a Sunday jaunt ‚Äď so 20l plus storage space is the norm. If you're looking for a 10-15-liter option then check out our round up of the best running backpacks for ultras and trail runs.
Best all-round running backpack for commuting
Stolt Alpha Business Backpack
This truly ticks all the boxes you could want from a running backpack. With a capacity of 20-liters, it‚Äôs large enough that you can carry a full change of clothes, and it has a separate pocket with a sleeve for your laptop. You can even stretch the storage to 25-liters using the expandable shoe pocket.
Despite all this space, the Stolt Alpha sits snugly against the back to be comfortable on the run even when you‚Äôve packed it to the gills. We‚Äôve even used it while tackling interval sessions on the way into work. The backpack is also made from a water-resistant material that has been treated with an antibacterial solution to stop smells building up after sweaty runs.
Furthermore, you can get useful extras like a garment box that fits into the backpack‚Äôs main pocket to keep your suit and shirt crease-free on the run, and if you‚Äôre worried about the weather Stolt also sell a waterproof cover for the Alpa that has reflective stripes on in.
Best large running backpack for commuting
OMM Ultra 20
The straps can be tightened on this large backpack so that even if you use every inch of the space inside its massive main pocket it won‚Äôt become uncomfortable when using it for your run commute. Alongside that main compartments, there are two stretchy mesh side pockets plus pouches in the straps that you can use to stash stuff you need quick access to.
And that‚Äôs pretty much it. There aren‚Äôt a load of fancy extra features here ‚Äď the OMM is a simple but brilliant bag for commuters who need to carry a lot every day.
Best running backpack for keeping your clothes crease-free
IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro Large
The hard shell of this backpack means that it will keep your clothes free of creases while you run, assuming you master the slightly tricky feat of correctly folding those clothes before putting them inside. You can fit up to five garments in the special pocket on the backpack if you opt for the larger Backpack Pro, and there is also a separate space for your laptop with straps to hold it steady while you run.
There are adjustable waist and chest straps on the backpack so you can get the fit spot on or tweak it on the run if it isn‚Äôt, and the outer case is water-resistant so you can commute through a shower without any fear that your perfectly-folded clothes will get drenched.
Best small running backpacks for commuting
Nathan TrailMix 12L
This backpack might be designed for trail-running, to the point where it even comes with a hydration bladder, but we‚Äôve found it to be perfect for run commutes where you don‚Äôt need to carry much beyond a change of clothes. You can even slip a small laptop into it as well if needs be ‚Äď but we‚Äôre talking an 11-12in computer though, nothing too beastly.
The roll-top pocket design is key to this because you can stuff a lot of things inside it and still force it shut. There are large pockets on the straps too, where you can put your phone, wallet and ID card, and a zip pocket on the outside. And since it is designed for trail runs, you can be sure that the TrailMix is comfortable to wear no matter how long your run commute is.
Osprey Duro 15
This is another backpack actually designed for the trails, which means some of its features ‚Äď like the straps to hold your trekking poles and the hydration bladder ‚Äď probably won‚Äôt be that useful as you race the number 33 bus to your office. However, the 15-liter capacity will be right in the sweet spot for many commuters ‚Äď not too large to make the backpack uncomfortable, but still big enough to take all your gear for a day at your desk.
The reflective graphics on the back will also be appreciated by commuters running late at night, or early in the morning, and the strap and hip pockets are roomy enough for your phone, wallet and other essentials.
Best reflective running backpack
Proviz REFLECT360 Running Backpack
You spend all that money on an expensive running jacket covered in reflective sections to make yourself more visible at night, and then you go and wear a backpack over it anyway. Fortunately, if you opt for the Proviz REFLECT360 backpack, you‚Äôll be even more visible to others, because the entire back panel on the backpack is made from a reflective material, and there are also reflective patches on the straps of the rucksack so you can be seen from the front as well.
‚Ä®The 10-liter capacity isn‚Äôt huge, so this isn‚Äôt one for lugging a big laptop to and from the office, but you will fit a change of clothes into the backpack easily, and there are extra pockets on the waist strap too.
Best budget running backpacks for commuting
The slim design of the Slice rucksack means it sits nicely against your back and doesn‚Äôt bounce around too much when on the run, though it doesn‚Äôt quite match the comfort of the pricier options on this list. The 15-liter capacity is mostly accounted for by the large main pocket, which we‚Äôve found you can just about slip a 13in laptop inside, alongside a change of clothes.
There‚Äôs a large reflective pattern on the outside of the pack, and reflective details on the straps as well. All in all, it‚Äôs an excellent value option for commuters ‚Äď perhaps the perfect pick if you‚Äôre not all that sure how much you are going to run to work and want a backpack to test the waters with.