How to Choose the Best Trail Running Backpack

How to Choose the Best Trail Running Backpack

How to Choose the Best Trail Running Backpack

Written By: SportsShoes

Trail running can often mean hours of running in remote environments and in changeable weather conditions. This means that for safety’s sake it’s essential to take along key basics with you such as a lightweight jacket, food, hydration and other essentials for when you’re venturing far from home. This is where a good running backpack is an absolute must for for trail runners, allowing them to carry key items whilst having a minimal impact on their running. But with so many backpacks available where do you start in finding the right one?

The things you need to look out for:

Lightweight and ergonomic fit

Firstly, there’s nothing worse for your running or anything less enjoyable than lugging a huge unwieldly pack out on a trail run. The good news is that today’s running packs are typically small, light and designed to hug the body to reduce bounce and chafing. Look for adjustable chest and waist straps that will help secure your pack with a customised fit for an ultra-comfortable run.

Showerproof fabric with mesh inserts

Showerproof fabric is a must for any running backpack. It’s essential to keep the contents of your pack dry and avoid soggy food and clothing on wet days. A good backpack will also feature mesh at the back and on the waist and shoulder straps to wick sweat away from your skin and reduce the likelihood of rubbing.


One of the most important aspects of trail running is staying hydrated. A backpack that contains a hydration bladder can be a godsend on warmer days and allows a more even distribution than carrying water bottles alone. If the bag doesn’t have a hydration bladder look for an easy-store, chest flask in the bag instead which also works well for trail running. Some even have an option for both which is great for very long runs and ultra-races where you’ll need to carry even more water.

Storage capacity

Always opt for the lowest capacity you can, while ensuring you can still carry everything you need. Around 20 litres of capacity is roughly the maximum at which you’ll feel comfortable, but many packs are smaller and lighter, depending on how much storage you’ll actually need. Make sure there are plenty of inner compartments to allow you to separate and easily grab items when you need them without rummaging.

Safety features

A whistle can come in useful should the worst happen and you need to alert others to your whereabouts. It’s also a mandatory requirement for FRA races and many packs now feature this as standard. Also look for reflective detailing to make sure you can be seen should your trail run hit a country road at any point.

Our 3 favourite packs:

1. Salomon Agile 6 Set Backpack

This ultra-light pack allows you to run fast on the trails with minimum distraction. Soft water flasks are placed on the chest area, allowing you fast and easy access to fluid and no-fuss hydration.

Montane VIA Dragon 20L Backpack

This pack features a plentiful 20 litres of storage with lots of internal and external stowing options. What’s more, its Freelight Chassis allows the most even weight distribution possible with a personalised fit.

3. Inov8 Race Ultra BOA Running Pack

Designed with ultra-runners in mind, this pack delivers a really efficient way of carrying water while running, featuring a BOA closure system which allows you to “dial in” the fit of the pack to your body and reduce fluid movement. It also includes a soft cup and emergency blanket.

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