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OMM Phantom 20L Running Pack | Review

With its stable carrying system and convenient features this is a pack for mountain runs with big mileage

Why We Chose The OMM Phantom 20L: Stable and comfortable carrying system, lightweight, waterproof front of pack.

The OMM are arguably best known for the mountain marathon they’ve been putting on annually for over 40 years now. In this, competitors put themselves through two days of fell running, racing from checkpoint to checkpoint, camping out overnight, and ascending up to 3,500 vertical metres in order to complete the course.

The OMM make kit as well though, stuff designed to help competitors cope with the conditions and demands they could expect on that race. Their backpacks in particular have been a firm favourite.

“The weight is spread out across the anchor point to allow for a slightly more efficient movement of the shoulders.”

Their previous backpack designs have focussed on lightweight functionality, offering all the conveniences that a mountain runner needs but without burdening them with weight, and this, the all-new Phantom 20 is no different.

Suited to long-distance running, fastpacking and cycling, the key feature is its carrying harness, and its impressive ability to provide a stable carry thanks to its unique suspension system and series of shock absorbers.

During a natural running stride, your shoulders rock forwards and backwards in order to generate momentum. This can cause packs with two independent shoulder straps to bounce from side to side.

The Phantom addresses this issue by creating a v-shaped anchor or yoke that sits behind your neck where the two straps merge together. This anchor avoids the full load of the rucksack being taken by each shoulder one at a time. The weight is instead spread out across the anchor point to allow for a slightly more efficient movement of the shoulders.

The Y shaped yoke at the top of this pack focusses the weight distribution to one stable point. Photo: Chris Johnson
A water bottle holder and stretchy phone/soft bottle holder are included on the shoulder straps. Photo: Chris Johnson
Two waterproof zips top the pack and offer the only access into the compartments. Photo: Chris Johnson

To prevent the body of the pack from swinging side to side, a shock absorbing cord connects it to either side of the harness on the shoulders, and webbing straps pull in under the arms. All of these can be loosened or tightened for the right fit and feel while on the go.

The harness itself is based on a running vest design with flat and wide straps that follow the contours of your chest, moving with it without any constriction. So essentially you have a running vest on the front, and pack on the back. Unusual, yes, but it works well.

Aside from this impressive carrying system, OMM have included a full bottle holder on the right hand shoulder strap and a smaller, stretchier phone/soft water bottle carrying pocket on the left side. Access to the main compartment is via the zip that spans across the top of the pack and there’s one smaller top pocket to keep smaller items such as power gels and a mobile phone.

Two separate fabrics have been used at the back, including a 60D ultra-high-molecular-weight waterproof polyethylene on the sides, top and bottom, and an extremely lightweight and thin waterproof material at the front.

You’d need to be a real minimalist and have some very lightweight camping gear to be able to use this for the Original Mountain Marathon itself, but it’s still possible. However, we’d say it’s perhaps better-suited to huge days in the mountains where you need some emergency kit and plenty of food, but also have a bed to get back to at the end. For something like the Berghaus Dragon’s Back, where runners go for five days but have a basecamp ready and waiting for them each evening, this would be absolutely ideal.

It's a pack designed to move naturally with you. Photo: Chris Johnson
Bungee straps mean a close fit but with no chest constriction. Photo: Chris Johnson
Two different waterproof fabrics are used. Photo: Chris Johnson

Tester’s Verdict

Jordan Tiernan, Outdoors Magic Staff Writer

“Stability has been the focus of the Phantom 20L and stability is what OMM have achieved – even when the pack is fully loaded, as I’ve found out whilst using it for both running and cycling.

“It’s worth making sure to carefully adjust the fit to suit each load you’re carrying and to spread its weight equally across the anchor points. Once I’ve got this right it’ll carry better than any other trail-running pack I’ve tried.

“That being said, this pack suffers from the usual durability issues that we’ve come to expect from trail-running gear. If you tend to haphazardly toss your pack face down onto rocks, then expect the extremely thin waterproof fabric on the front of it to get worn or torn. This can of course be avoided by just taking a bit of care.”

OMM Phantom 20L Backpack

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