How do you choose the best running backpack for you? Our approach at Head to the Hills is always to take a look at what you want to use it for and what features would be most important to you before making a decision.

If you intend to use a running rucksack for a number of different activities, or in different situations, then you must also asses the versatility of the rucksack you are considering. Take a look at our running rucksack reviews and the information below to help you decide…

running backpack helvellyn fell running rucksacks
Let’s look at some key factors in selecting the best rucksack for running:

Comfort & Stability – You will curse a runners backpack that causes any kind of discomfort. A small niggle can become an unbearable nightmare after even ½ hour of running with a rucksack that is not right for you. Try different types on if you can, but look for obvious comfort features: Soft, contoured shoulder straps, effective sternum strap to stop the shoulder straps from moving and comfortable waist strap with hip fins on bigger packs over 20L. Check that when loaded, the pack is being stabilised correctly with the compression system and does not allow the contents of your pack to move too much.

Volume – This clearly depends on how much you intend to carry. A fell running rucksack does not need to be all that big as you’ll only need to carry essential fell running kit like waterproof body cover, whistle, map & compass etc. A runners waist pouch or a 10-15 litre rucksack for running are ideal. However, if you are training and competing in mountain marathon events, you’ll need a much bigger pack. Anywhere between 20-35 litres of volume is ideal depending on how compact your kit is or how much discomfort you are prepared to put up with!
Larger packs are needed for mountain running in the winter if you want to carry bulkier, more insulating clothing and equipment.

A 20-25 litre pack is the best compromise if you want a good all-rounder.

Weight – As long as durability and function don’t suffer too much then the lighter the better for running. Backpacks designed for hiking and mountaineering can weigh as much as 3kg! That’s a lot of extra weight you don’t need to be carrying and most good lightweight trail running rucksacks weigh less than 1kg. A lot of modern running backpacks have removable features that allow a further reduction in weight if you stripping everything down for an ultralight rucksack weight.

omm last drop running rucksack omm rucksacks for running

Features – Again, this will depend on how you intend to use your pack. Features can add un-necessary weight and cost to a running rucksack.

Aside from the essential features like hip/waist belt, sternum strap and comfortable shoulder straps you may want to consider other features like water bottle pockets, hydration bladder sleeve, hip pockets to keep often reached for essentials to hand like energy bars and compass, integrated emergency whistle feature, internal sleeping/sit mat. These features can really add to the versatility of a pack and save weight and space on items of kit that you would have packed anyway.

Durability – These days, modern fabrics and manufacturing methods make for packs with really good strength to weight ratios. Look out for reinforced bases, solid stitching and bar-tack reinforcements on strap attachment points to ensure long lasting performance of the pack you choose.
For more information please take a look at the related links below. Our range of rucksacks for running from the OMM features some of the most successful mountain marathon rucksack designs available. The OMM run the famous Original Mountain Marathon and their rucksack range emerged from the development of the Karrimor running rucksack.

I hope that this article and the info in the related links has been useful in helping you choose the right pack for you, but above all else I hope it leads to a greater enjoyment of the fells.

Pete