Introducing our bestselling Companion Backpack with some new upgrades! The main compartment zipper now opens three-quarters of the way down and the hardware has been updated to reflect a nylon zipper to make the bag lighter and improve the overall aesthetic. Our signature pocket is now on the side of the bag to store soiled items.
When it comes to choosing a backpack for running, the options are endless, depending on your need. If it’s a ultramarathon, you’ll want a minimalist vest to carry gels, fluids and snacks. If you’re planning on adding a run commute or two to your weekly mileage, you’ll probably want something more substantial to carry all the essentials. For more information on choosing the right running bag for you, read our comprehensive guide here. In a nutshell, you’ll want to look at the straps of the bag - you’ll need one with shoulder, chest and waist straps in order to run comfortably. Secondly, take a look at the capacity of the bag. For commuting 8-12L is normally more than enough room for all your belongings and a good starting point - don’t over pack your bag, the lighter the better. What are the best running backpacks on the market? This offers superb stability and comfort, thanks to shaped shoulder straps, an adjustable chest strap and a wide waist strap; plus cushioning and mesh panelling, which separates your back from the main body of the bag (and delivers excellent breathability).
There’s a roomy main area, with mesh and internal security pockets, secondary zipped pocket on top, plus easy-access side pockets and zipped hip belt pockets. It’s hydration bladder- compatible, offers excellent weather-proofing and has a pack-away rain cover to cope with our lovely winters. The breathable mesh back panel and harness straps on this backpack are narrower than normal, which makes for a supremely secure fit, and there is considerable padding on the shoulders and waist, where it is needed most. The adjustable sternum straps are fiddly but great for securing comfortably across the chest. Capacity is ample (we even managed to fit in a coat) but the compression straps need to be pulled tight to stop the load shifting around. There are zipped waistband pockets, though the pack would benefit from one on the harness, for a phone. This is a quality product at an affordable price. The Maya is designed for those of a slim frame.
It provides a snug fit and surprising amount of room, given its relatively small dimensions. There’s space for a hydration bladder, too, and trekking poles will fit into its side pockets, should you be looking to take it on longer, more adventurous excursions. One caveat: on quicker runs, when the shoulder straps were pulled extra tight to aid stability, our tester experienced a little rubbing around the neck, but nothing major. Apart from that, this is a definitely leader of the pack. A clever little operator, this. It features a whopping 10 pockets, but such great generosity does mean that, while you get excellent storage, it can be tricky to remember where the deuce you’ve packed everything - a small complaint. It comes with a 1L bladder on the back and there are front pockets for two 500ml bottles, which are sold separately. While this is designed as a bells-and-whistles pack for trail running - with securing hooks for poles, space for a 3L bladder and plenty of pockets - it’s not really robust enough for that.
Where it excels is on comfort: the shoulder straps are soft, strong and didn’t dig in at all, and the pack can be adjusted to sit high on the back, offering a rock-solid fit. The small capacity forces you to keep your paraphernalia to a minimum, too. Women runners who are size XS will have to pull the straps painfully tight to secure the pack, so they’re better off looking elsewhere. This one is for runners who like to pack the kitchen sink to cover every eventuality. It’s a monster of a bag, with two entry points, which means that, with careful organisation, you can get to all your stuff with relative ease. The fabric is exceptionally durable, and after a couple of encounters with bushes and branches (we got lost and had to improvise, OK?), it remained free from scratches. The stability is surprisingly good for such a big pack, but small irritations were the lack of anti-odour weave - the scent of pongy kit sticks around in the bag - and breathability against the back was only average. The Proviz Reflect is good backpack that, with some work, could be an excellent one.
This is more of a hydration pack with spare storage than a backpack. It’s comfortable and fully adjustable, and performs its main function - providing you with fluid - very well. The bladder has a 2L capacity, with a large opening for easy filling, and the bite valve works a treat. It’s a shame, though, that we found heavy sweating caused the fabric dye from the pack to leak a little onto the bladder, discolouring it - although our clothes weren’t affected. In terms of storage, it’s smaller than the sum of its parts, but we crammed in a hat, gloves, keys, gels, an extra 500ml bottle and a small jacket. With a harness-style fastening for a close-body fit, lightweight shoulder straps and two large pockets for water bottles, this is a great buy for those marathon training. The 4L storage on the back is big enough for an extra layer, gels and walking poles. There's also two pockets on the shoulder straps for your keys, cards and even sunglasses. We found the bottles moved around a little when not secured with the elasticated loops, but aside from that, this gets top marks.