How do I choose a comforatble backpack for running
January 12, 2013 5:40 PM   Subscribe

I am a very amateur jogger. I took it up a year ago and can now run 5km fairly consistently and am working my way (slowly, in every sense) up to 10km. I almost exclusively run on the way home from work so I need a backpack for my stuff. Snowflakey details inside

The one I use currently is a basic 15L walking backpack, with no waist or chest straps. The main straps do rub on my arms - I get abrasions on my inner upper arms when not wearing something with long enough sleeves. It's not quite big enough - I think 18 - 20 L would be fine sizewise. It moves around a bit and I think waist or chest straps would be helpful. However I tried one with both and that pulled the main straps in quite narrowly meaning that not only did they rub against my neck (which I assume would get painful) but that they were sitting directly on top of my breasts. I really can't see that being comfortable.

Can you tell me what I, a female amateur runner (with some curves) should be aiming to get in a backpack to comfortably run in? I am not concerned about hydration during running, but it does need to moderately waterproof. Specific recommendations are great, as are general ideas of what to look for. I live in London, so recommendations of bags I can physically try on in a London shop are particularly welcome.
posted by *becca* to Shopping (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've had great luck with Osprey packs...they have a line that's specifically sized for women, and I've found them to be significantly more comfortable than other packs.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 5:52 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mine is by Lafuma - Active 11 - however it looks to be discontinued. I see they do make 20 liter packs.

Key for me is having the bag sit as close to the body as possible. If you need more capacity, look for a bag that is taller or wider rather than deeper. Also, I try to reduce my load as much as possible by keeping dress shoes at the office and even going paperless so that I don't have to transport a notebook or files.
posted by payoto at 6:04 PM on January 12, 2013

Here was my Ask on the same topic. As you can see, I [a woman] ended up with an Osprey. And still love it.
posted by atomicstone at 6:27 PM on January 12, 2013

I used a Camelbak once upon a time, with or without the water bladder filled. Don't remember the model, unfortunately. You definitely want both a waist and chest strap.
posted by kestrel251 at 6:37 PM on January 12, 2013

You might want to look into adventure racing backpacks which, imho, are a lot more boob friendly. There are vest style packs and some with a center vertical strap.

Despite most endurance racers having no boob, weirdly.
posted by fshgrl at 9:49 PM on January 12, 2013

I do a fair amount of running with a backpack... and while I generally use a Nathan hydration pack, I've had really great luck with my Mountain Hardware Fluid. I'm a skinny runner dude so I can't really speak to boobs, but the waist and neck straps really make a huge difference in terms of a pack's stability while in motion.

In the end, though, who knows? Ospreys are good packs, too... as suggested. I would wander by your local serious outdoors store, chat with the staff there and try a bunch on.
posted by ph00dz at 1:37 AM on January 13, 2013

I (also a curvy running chick) have an Ultra 22 from Trespass, which I love. You can't see in this picture, but the boob strap is on little sliders so you can alter the height of it, which makes a big difference. To keep it still I have to cinch the shoulder straps fairly tight, but it's very comfortable - I forget I've got it on.
Oh... it's not waterproof, but I use it with a Hump cover for dryness and visibility.
posted by penguin pie at 7:24 AM on January 13, 2013

Came in to make the same recommendation as fshgrl - to look at adventure racing packs. Also advertised as trail running packs or hydration packs. Not sure what is common in the UK, but some of the manufacturers include Salomon, Ultimate Directions, Nathan, Inov-8, and Osprey. It is kind of a good news/bad news situation. Good news: all of these manufacturers make packs specifically for running and most have packs specifically for women. Bad news: the packs are expensive, will come with a lot of odds and ends you don't need, and will come with a hydration sleeve and maybe a bladder. Inov-8 (pronounced Innovate) is a UK brand. The main features you are looking for are things that are going to prevent the pack from bouncing: waist strap, sternum strap, and some kind of compression straps on the sides of the pack (if it is of larger volume) to cinch down the load. Also, straps for packs you can run in will tend to be a lot wider to distribute the load and minimize chafing.
posted by kovacs at 7:35 AM on January 13, 2013

Some of the racing packs don't have a sternum strap because it tends to chafe, they have two straps that sit lower. Kind of like this one or this one or most of the Ultraspire models. This is the women's one I plan to buy for an adventure race. You really need to try them on to see where the straps hit you though and since you're in the UK, I don't know if you can get those brands shipped reasonably. Aarn is a NZ brand and they have distributors in the UK and they are awesome packs for running or skiing but likely too big for what you need.

I personally like to run in something that distributes weight low around your torso instead of all on your back because it affects your posture less and is easier on your joints (learned this from skiing downhill with a heavy pack in a Wiley Coyote like fashion on many occasions). So maybe look at some of the larger hip belt inspired packs, I think innov-8 is a leader in that design.
posted by fshgrl at 12:25 PM on January 13, 2013

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