Last updated: 17/10/2022

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Running backpacks make your next hike or marathon much easier. Thanks to their lightness and elasticity, they adapt ideally to your body shape. The light weight is easy on your back and you have enough storage space for all your essentials. In addition, running backpacks can be supplemented with hydration systems and thus provide you with a constant supply of liquid while running.

With our big running backpack test 2022 we want to help you decide on the best running backpack. We explain the different types of running backpacks, how they differ from hydration belts and list the advantages and disadvantages of running backpacks with hydration systems. This should make your purchase decision as easy as possible.


  • Running backpacks are suitable for many different outdoor activities. They are particularly popular with hikers and marathon runners.
  • The advantage of running backpacks is their light weight and breathable material. The fit also makes running with a backpack a pleasant experience.
  • Running backpacks are produced in different variants. Running backpacks with hydration systems are becoming increasingly popular. With hydration bladders you have constant access to a water supply.

The Best Running Backpack: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a running backpack

What is a running backpack?

Running backpacks are special backpacks that are particularly suitable for outdoor activities such as hiking, jogging or horseback riding.

They differ from normal backpacks in that they are smaller and lighter. The light weight is particularly advantageous for jogging.

In addition, running backpacks are especially ergonomically designed so that they adapt to the back of the wearer. Hip and chest straps also ensure that the backpack does not slip during running.

Since the backpacks are primarily produced for sports, the material is breathable and functional.


Running backpacks are ideal for hiking as well as jogging. Their lightness and ergonomics make long distances easier.
(Image source: Gross)

How much does a running backpack cost?

Running backpacks can come with a relatively wide price range. For simple running backpacks, the price is often due to the material and the capacity.

Type Price range
Running backpack 25-65€
Hydration backpack 10-35€
Hydration bladder 10-30€

Hydration backpacks are often cheaper than simple running backpacks, as they leave little storage space for more utensils besides a hydration bladder. They are usually sold with a hydration bladder, but you can also buy hydration bladders in different sizes separately.

Why should I buy a running backpack?

Running backpacks make sense for you if you already run or plan to run longer distances or if you are interested in other outdoor activities.

Among other things, a running backpack will help you if you run so-called trails, i.e. hiking paths. You can stow rain gear, food and water in your backpack. You can also attach hiking poles in the side pockets of the backpack.


Running backpacks with hydration systems are particularly useful for long distances, such as a marathon.
(Image source:

Running backpacks are also particularly useful for marathon runners. You can store small utensils and, above all, secure your water supply with hydration bladders.

The advantage of running backpacks over hiking backpacks, for example, is their lightness. In addition, the fit ensures that the backpack does not slip even when you are moving a lot.

You can also be sure that the material of the running backpack is waterproof and breathable.

What are the alternatives to a running backpack?

Thanks to their elasticity and lightness, running backpacks are ideal for joggers, but also for riders and hikers. However, as products in the sports sector are particularly diverse, you can also find the right one for you from many different alternatives.

Type Description
Running belt A running belt is a type of belly or belt bag that allows you to store your essentials while running. Many running belts have different compartments that offer space for your smartphone, money and keys. The belt is strapped tightly to the body and therefore hardly moves when running.
Hiking backpack A running backpack is also recommended for hiking. Hiking backpacks are also available for this activity. These have a much larger capacity, so you have a lot of storage space for water bottles, jackets, shoes and running poles. However, hiking backpacks are much heavier and more expensive. They are not suitable for jogging.
Arm bag Arm bags are ideal for a rather short run. Only one smartphone fits into the pockets, which are attached to the upper arm with Velcro fasteners. A transparent surface means that the mobile phone can still be used and there is often a hole in the pocket to connect headphones to the smartphone.

Whether a running backpack or just a simple belt or arm pouch is right for you should be decided according to the activity. For short distances you hardly need any utensils, so a running belt is often preferred.

Decision: What types of running backpacks are there and which one is right for you?

Running backpacks come in many different varieties. We have selected three types for you to choose from:

  • a simple running backpack
  • a trail running backpack
  • a hydration pack

Of course, you also have the option of using hydration bladders, which you can purchase separately, to turn any running backpack into a hydration pack. However, the backpacks made specifically as hydration backpacks are somewhat smaller and allow you to easily supply yourself with water.

What distinguishes a simple running backpack and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A simple running backpack can actually be used for all outdoor activities. So whether you are a hiker or a marathon runner, this simple backpack will always make sense for you.

  • lots of capacity
  • ergonomic
  • more weight
  • may slip during the race

Many running backpacks are slightly larger than a hydration pack. You should therefore expect to carry more weight when running.

What are the characteristics of a trail running backpack and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Trail running backpacks are special running backpacks that are particularly suitable for hikers. To make it unnecessary to take the backpack off when hiking, many small pockets are integrated into the backpack.

  • very light
  • space for clothes
  • more weight
  • often only one chest strap

If you are interested in a backpack for jogging, this type of running backpack may be too big for you.

What are the features of a hydration pack and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Hydration backpacks provide you with a constant supply of fluid during exercise. They are often smaller than normal running backpacks.

  • light weight
  • hydration
  • low capacity
  • difficult to clean the hydration system

You can buy special hydration packs, but you also have the option of installing a hydration system in a simple running pack. This is especially useful if you need more storage space.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate running backpacks

In the following we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the large selection of running backpacks.

The criteria you can use to compare running backpacks include:

In the following paragraphs, we will explain what is important in the individual criteria.


The size of the running backpack is important for you, as the wrong size could lead to a bad feeling when carrying it.

It is important that the size of the running backpack fits your height. In addition to the exact measurements, most product descriptions of running backpacks also mention whether it is suitable for taller or shorter people.

The wrong size can cause the backpack to slip or your back to start hurting after a while.

If you buy a backpack in a shop, make sure you get advice and try on different sizes!


The volume or capacity gives you information about how many utensils fit into the running backpack.

You will find many different volumes of running backpacks. Since running backpacks are rather small in contrast to hiking backpacks, the capacity is correspondingly smaller.

You will find running backpacks that are very small, for example hydration backpacks that have a capacity of 2 litres to 3 litres. For hiking, however, running packs with a capacity of 10 litres or more are recommended.


An important criterion when buying a running backpack is the fit. This refers in particular to the number of straps that adapt the backpack to your back.

It is often an advantage if the back and shoulder straps are equipped with foam.

It is particularly important that the straps are easy to adjust.

This prevents friction and makes it easier for you to carry the running backpack.

It also helps if the backpack has a horizontal chest strap and a hip strap. This means that the backpack holds particularly well and will not slip while running.


For long runs and longer hikes, it is especially important that the material is of high quality and well-made.

Since you will probably mainly be doing outdoor activities with the running backpack, you should make sure that the material is waterproof or at least water-repellent.

It also makes sense if the fabric is sweat-resistant. If this is not the case, it can cause painful friction between your skin and the backpack during long runs.

Special features

By special features we mean, for example, the different divisions of different products. Depending on what you are looking for, you will find different backpacks with only one compartment.

However, you can also buy running backpacks that, in addition to a main compartment, also have various side compartments where you can store small items.

You can also buy running backpacks that also have a pole holder. This is especially useful for hikers. As soon as you no longer need the poles, you can attach them to the outside of the backpack.

If you’re lucky, you’ll also find unbeatable deals on running backpacks that include water bottles and hydration bladders along with the backpack.

Facts about running backpacks

What hydration systems are available for hydration backpacks?

The majority of all hydration packs are filled with so-called hydration bladders. The advantage of these systems is the light weight of the plastic bladders. This is particularly important, as you don’t just have to carry the contents of the bottle. Many hydration bladders only weigh around 150 grams.

In addition, hydration bladders are often preferred by runners over water bottles because the water is directly available. You don’t have to take off your backpack to drink. The liquid is always available through a tube.


You can put a hydration bladder in many running backpacks. Many backpacks also have extra pockets for water bottles.
(Image source: Alcock)

However, one disadvantage of the hydration bladder system is that you can’t see directly when the water is running low. Nevertheless, there are some systems that work with replacement bladders.

If you fill the bladder with liquids other than water, you should clean it thoroughly with brushes and tabs.

What is the best way to pack a running backpack?

It is important to pack your backpack correctly so that you can master your hike or marathon in the best and healthiest way. For this reason, we give you some tips here:

  • packlight gear (rain jacket) at the bottom
  • packheavy gear (water bottle) at shoulder height and as close to the body as possible
  • Small items in side and lid pockets
  • backpack weight should not exceed 25% of your body weight

You should also pack your backpack according to the type of sport you are doing:

  • horizontal walking/running: centre of gravity of the rucksack as high as possible above your hips
  • Climbing: the centre of gravity of the pack should be near the middle of your body, further down than when walking

You have packed correctly as soon as you are not pulled in the wrong direction when running, walking or climbing.

How do I run correctly?

Before you start running your first half marathon with your running backpack, we would like to give you some tips on how to run correctly and healthily.

  • Your posture should be upright with your pelvis slightly tilted forward.
  • Your arms should swing loosely and relaxed. Your forearm and elbow should form a right angle.
  • Your head should be upright, it helps if you look about 10 metres away from your feet.

Besides your posture, it is also important to pay attention to the way you run:

  • Take small steps!
  • Roll your feet slightly!
  • Watch your pace! Start slowly, after a little practice you can increase the speed!

Image source: Spotpoint74/