The trail running vest has been revolutionary. In the last five years, the emergence of these running backpacks that fit almost like a running jacket has meant runners can go further, and much more comfortably. They are designed most specifically for mountain and trail running, where you’ll be out for a long time and you may encounter changes in weather. The idea is that you can fit a running head torch, water, snacks, a wind or waterproof, phone and a few other bits and bobs in a backpack that, and this is the key part, doesn’t bounce. The best running packs should fit, as we say, almost like a jacket. Most of the trail running backpacks and vests out there are around six litres, small, but perfect for runs longer than an hour when you’ll need to carry water
How To Choose a Running Backpack Or Vest
Because these packs are a relatively new development, there is a lot of difference between them. We’ve mentioned in the review the good and bad points of each, but there are several things to bear in mind when buying one. Firstly is, of course, fit. They need to be very snug against the back, move freely with the body and, this may require jumping up and down in the shop, not bounce. You should be able to move your arms without your elbows hitting the pack.
Once you’re happy with the fit, make sure that the fastening is easy to attach. Bear in mind that what may only be a little fiddly when you’re trying it on, will become a more significant issue once when you’re tired and have cold fingers. The less straps the better too – they can flap around in the face on windy days.
Then consider the features. Are the pockets where you need them? There are usually pockets on the vest straps, including for soft water bottles, this is good for quick access but also helps balance the bag when wearing it. Consider what it would be like with full water bottles and a full bag. Hydration bladders and bottles do need some maintenance and will be the part that goes first, so they should be easy to replace if needed.
The main opening should be secure, fairly weather-resistant, and easy to access. Again, bear in mind what it would be like if you’re cold and tired.
Once you use your running vest on a run, you’ll soon understand just how great these backpacks are. Happy running!
Best Running Backpacks Reviewed
Here’s our gear team’s pick of the best packs for running. Each item has been fully tested by one of our experts, just follow the link at the bottom of each description to read each full review.
Best Overall Running Pack: Montane Gecko VP 12+
Best Budget Running Pack: Harrier Kinder 10L
Best Mountain Racing Pack: Scott Trail RC TR4
Best Fastpacking Pack: Rab Aeon Ultra
- Best Fanny Pack / Bum Bag for Running: Cotopaxi Bataan 3L Waist Pack
Best Overall Running Pack
1. Montane Gecko VP 12+
Best for: Distance running, competitive ultra running and FKT chasers
Key attributes: Great pocket capacity, elasticated build, additional flasks
An evolution of the Montane Via range, the Gecko VP 12+ is designed for mountain missions at pace. Runs long enough and wild enough that you need to carry kit and food and drink with you. The 12-litre pack offers plenty of stash space with a large main back pouch, two dump pockets for the two included 500ml soft flasks, two zippered compartments below these – that can also take half-litre bottles – and four stretch mesh pockets.