The lowdown on what to look out for
People look for different things when they want to purchase running backpacks; from price, storage capacity, durability to weight.
I will review a few good quality running backpacks factoring in all their added features, unique features, affordability, flexibility and comfort. At the end of the review I will then choose the best running backpack among the lot reviewed with good reason.
Camelbak Adult M.U.L.E Mil Spec Antidote Hydration Backpack
With a name like nuclear launch codes this backpack is a proper running backpack. Made from post consumer recycled materials making the bag very Eco-friendly and a genuine friend of the environment.
This attractive and stylish backpack comes in various colors including Black, Brown and Grey. You can make it a fashion accessory if you so wish without looking out of place.
The main body of the bag is spacious without being cumbersome, so it makes sense to carry any items you might need without making it too bulky and therefore uncomfortable. The internal zip in the main body also helps in storage of sensitive and valuable items.
The back has extra padding making it very comfortable to carry around without feeling uncomfortable and the bag is designed in such a way that the weight is evenly distributed and does not strain the user on specific parts.
It has a twelve litre storage and a three litre crux reservoir. Combined with the lightweight nature of the bag, it is very convenient for long races, training routines or hikes as it won't tire you out, it is made for fast, unencumbered movement.
It has a back panel with air directors that aid the circulation of air to keep you cool.
The bag also has a ventilated harness that allows for extra breath-ability due to its lightweight nature.
To make it fit and be snug according to the user's preference the bag has an adjustable and removable stability belt. For the same function for a better fit, the bag also has a sternum strap that can be adjusted according to your preference.
For convenience, the bag has a very secure and easy to reach phone pocket where other valuables can also be stored when you are out and about.
- The ventilated harness that enhances breath-ability is an awesome feature.
- For a better, custom fit the sternum strap is a godsend for when you don't need the bag banging against your back perhaps when running.
- The air directors on the back panel that conduct air flow and keep the user cool are very refreshing to have.
- Even weight distribution and extra padding on the back makes it a manageable load without strain on isolated parts of your body.
- The magnetic hose retainer on this version is very stiff and not as flexible as previous versions.
Ultraspire Alpha 3.0 Backpack
This hydration backpack is an absolute winner with its lightweight and comfortable design suitable for all of your outdoor activities without breaking a sweat, at least not on its account.
The back has two independent pockets which afford you the flexibility and space to store more items than ever before. You can carry your snacks, car keys, wallet and other none essentials in those spaces without having to compromise much.
Contains two flasks that can be strapped to the front for water storage. It also has a two litre bladder which is a good storage capacity for a hydration vest.
It has an elastic mesh compartment on the back with a zipper for more security and increased space. It also has a zippered mesh pocket on the shoulder for much smaller items.
The bag also has a micro-fiber mesh that greatly increases breath-ability and expels moisture so your back is not all sweaty and sticky. The sweat-proof webbing feature also accomplishes this task and helps avoid the pack getting saturated.
The material is very lightweight and does not chafe against the skin or cause much strain while running.
- The front cinch can be loosened or tightened very easily and are easily reachable without having to stop for example your run during a marathon.
- It has reflective details on the front and back that increase your visibility highly at night and early morning thus keeping you safe.
- The sweat-proof webbing actually lives up to the hype and does not absorb any moisture keeping your valuables dry and your body moisture free.
- Easily accessible right and left pockets which do not require starts and stops while running.
- Microfiber mesh that enhances breath-ability and deals with sweat from your body.
- The bottles are very hard to secure and either slip out once you start running or if tightened, they jostle against your body hitting you with every step you take.
Ultimate Direction Ak Mountain Vest 3.0
This vest is the better, lighter improved version of the race vest except it has subtly better capacity.
It has two half litre flasks and a bladder reservoir of two litres which is not originally included when you buy the vest.
The bag has Silicon- infused Nylon fabric that makes it waterproof and makes it suitable for all sorts of elements.
It is a very modern bag and since most hikers and runners prefer to have their gadgets with them , the pockets have been made to allow for iPhone storage. The bottle holsters can also be used for this function if well-tightened.
The Darlington power mesh technology makes sure that weight is evenly distributed across your back so as not to strain particular areas causing discomfort.
It has an adjustable harness that allows you to easily carry quite a bit of weight but also fits your body very well if adjusted properly. It also has easily adjustable sternum straps.
The vest has external, stretch pockets for trash disposal or any other item that you want to keep visible and close.
- This vest has very many storage compartments which is a relief as you might want to keep various items away from each other and it of course has added space.
- The power mesh technology that evenly distributes weight is very convenient especially for longer distances where any disproportionate weight is felt acutely.
- The Silicon-infused Nylon fabric makes it waterproof which makes it a very handy vest to have throughout all seasons and extreme weather conditions.
- Much lighter than the previous race vest versions making it the ideal, long distance or high intensity activity vest to have as its weight will not affect your performance.
- The other modification they made to make it more efficient was the added space and compartments without making it heavier was a masterstroke.
- The sizing chart can be a bit misleading leading to inconveniences of trying to exchange for a more fitting size.
- The reservoir bladder has to be obtained separately as it is not included in the getup when first purchased.
Vaude Path 13 Cycling Backpack
If you are into cycling and hiking then this is the exact backpack for you, all possible needs one could have during those activities have been factored into the design.
One of its best features is the availability of so many compartments including; mesh side pockets that could be used as disposal for trash, a main larger compartment that has a zip, a pocket for your phone or device, a front pocket that has its own zip and for the cyclists a helmet holder, cool, right?
It has a padded body-contact suspension system with hip and sternum straps that align it well to fit your body and can be adjusted accordingly depending on your preference. All these features make it a very comfortable backpack to have and carry around especially on long expeditions where comfort is king.
The body contact backpack fits to the body and this is a feature that most cyclists will appreciate as they navigate uneven terrain.
The fact that it can contain 9, 13 or 18 litres is a massive advantage as most other bags have a much smaller capacity.
Included is a rain cover that helps the bag become waterproof when needed to keep your belongings dry.
The backpack has reflective details for high visibility during the night time and early morning,a hydration system a light fixture holder which are all geared towards keeping you safe.
It is a great looking, stylish and attractive bag that comes in many colors and could be used as a fashion statement in your outdoor activities.
It is multi-faceted and can be used in a wide variety of activities including; hiking, running, cycling, hiking and mountain climbing.
- The numerous compartments custom made for various objects are very detailed and convenient for carrying around your items without having to cram everything into one space.
- The rain cover comes in handy out there where the weather changes on a whim and you might want to keep your belongings dry.
- Available in different capacities which makes it very convenient depending on the user's needs, this is better instead of forcing everyone to have the same size even if it doesn't suit their needs.
- The ergonomic hip and sternum straps make it a very comfortable backpack to have.
- The large storage capacity especially for water propels this backpack towards the top of the list.
- The helmet clip is a good and necessary addition for cyclists.
- The shoulder straps are not padded and the strain starts to tell during long excursions making it very uncomfortable to haul around.
Salomon Unisex Outdoor Agile Backpack
As the name suggests, this stylish looking backpack is unisex. Salomon is a well-known and well-respected brand in the mountain sports industry, constantly coming up with new and improved technologies for their products.
This backpack is as agile as its name suggests and can be used in so many outdoor activities including; skiing, running and snowboarding.
In addition to this, the backpack is extremely light and is therefore perfect for extreme, outdoor mountain sports where weight can affect your performance.
It contains a 1.5 litre hydration bladder and the storage is just compact enough for a few essential valuables and nothing else.
It has an elastic waistband that allows for unrestricted movement and the fastening is very easy to slip on and off without stopping where time might be a factor.
The shoulder straps are also made from light material to reduce on the chafing and immensely improve air circulation and as a result enhance breath-ability. This feature also stops moisture from pooling in one area of the backpack and saturating it and wetting your valuables.
- The LITE material on the shoulder straps greatly reduces chafing which becomes a huge factor after hours of carrying the backpack.
- The backpack is light and compact making it very convenient for the very demanding mountain sports.
- The price is very good for the options it offers, you get exactly what you pay for and perhaps just a bit more.
- It has an elastic waistband that allows for easy breathing and unrestricted movement.
- It is a very small backpack meaning you really cannot store anything more than the bare essentials which might be inconvenient if you have a few more things.
- Once the 1.5 litre bladder is completely filled up, the backpack is basically full and there is no room for anything else.
- There is no specialized storage for devices like the phone because the storage compartment is in contact with the hydration compartment which is not at all ideal.
Polaris Aquanought Backpack
It's all in the name, the Polaris Aquanought is a real Aqua storage monster what with the thirty litre capacity.
Available in multiple colors including yellow and white.
This backpack is certifiably 100% waterproof and any belongings stored in its compartments stays dry throughout your expedition.
It has a well-vented, foam back panel and a padded waist trap that enhances the comfort of the user when using the backpack.
It has a hand strap where a light can be mounted to the bag.
The bag in itself is highly visible due to its color, this in turn helps with the safety of the user.
It as a shock cord where additional objects can be attached very easily. This of course might add to the weight but it also adds to the number of things you can carry with you.
- The waterproof front pocket is a genius idea, you can store your valuables and they will stay dry for the duration of your expedition.
- It is highly visible mostly due to its color and therefore the user is very visible and this feature enhances the user's safety.
- The hand strap where the light can be mounted is a good touch and makes the whole getup very useful and convenient.
- Not as robust as advertised, certain panels come apart after sometime and this calls into question its durability.
- Water seeps into the zipped compartment for some reason, so if your electronic devices are there it could be a huge inconvenience.
So which one is the best one then?
I have sifted through the debris of very good quality running backpacks and vests to show their best and worst attributes. Some attributes do not really quite matter to some people and to some people they make the world of difference.
Taking into account factors like affordability, quality of performance in extreme weather conditions, storage capacity and durability, I conclude that the best running backpack is the Camelbak Adult M.U.LE Mil Spec Antidote Hydration Backpack.