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The GO Outdoors Guide To Running Bags and Daysacks

When you’re running, you sometimes need more than the clothes on your back and the tunes on your mp3 player.

With trail running becoming more popular, where days are spent exploring and running across terrain, the need for Running Bags that can hold food, extra layers and equipment has increased. Obviously, you don’t want to be laden down so you need a bag that fits tight and doesn’t bounce as you run.

Choosing A Running Bag

Bags For Track Racing

A boot bag to store your trainers and essentials made from a durable fabric that offers abrasion resistance.

Bags For Quick Runs and Speed Running

A waist pack that can store fluids and a few key essentials can be ideal for short runs close to home.

Bags For All Day Running

A lightweight daybag is suitable for holding warm layers, food and equipment for a day of activity.

Bags For Wet Conditions

A bag with a rain cover and/or a water repellent finish from a breathable membrane. An inner stuff sack or dry sack should also be used for storing your dry clothes away from rain or snow.

Running Bag Support

Running bags typically feature ‘Load-stabilizing compression straps’. These allow your weight to be equally distributed providing you with better balance as your run. As running bags need to sit close to your back for the maximum amounts of support, and least 'bounce', they are also created with ventilated back panels. These are excellent at letting hot air and sweat escape. Bags with ventilated back panelling areas are suspended via a lightweight frame away from your back so moisture can be vented out and cool air can circulate.

Padded straps are commonly used in the shoulders and on the hip or waistbelt. These areas of padding add comfort, making your bag even comfier on long runs.

Hipbelts are common in running bags for the extra support they offer. These fit as they suggest, on the hips and add in extra torsional control.

Openings can be paneled, with a main zip opening, or a duffle style bag with a drawstring, known as a top loading bag.

Panelled day bags can be opened with ease and make packing easy, whereas duffle style top loader bags are harder to gain access too, but can take extra items due to their extended height.

Running Bag Support

Your running bag needs to be both comfortable and supportive. Straps with layers of padding allow your running bag to sit comfortably on your shoulders without digging in. You may also benefit from an additional waist strap on your running bag.

This makes sure the bag sits neatly on your stomach and distributes the weight so the burden is not all on your shoulders, providing excellent torsional support.

  1. Your running bag should sit centrally on the centre of your back, fitting with the curvature of your spine.
  2. Adjust the straps so you achieve an ergonomic, personal fit, close to your back.
  3. Ensure that your bag is not overloaded and can zip with ease. You should place heavier items at the bottom of the pack.
  4. The chest strap should come below the breast bone, resting in alignment with the arm pits.
  5. You should be carrying your weight via your legs and thighs, rather than taking the strain on your upper back.
  6. Make sure that weights are evenly distributed and your strapping system is even throughout, so you can stay comfy all day.

Running Bag Fabrics

In terms of fabric and general construction, look for bags that have ripstop construction or are abrasion resistant as these can withstand rough terrains, slips and falls.

Nylon and polyester are often used separately or are blended in a diagonal weave to create a ‘ripstop’ fabric that is sturdy enough for multiple trips. Ripstop nylon is constructed to prevent tears progressing along the material and is important in abrasive environments.

Coated, Breathable Nylons can be used in a bag to make it waterproof by spreading a thin layer of resin directly onto the inside face of the fabric called a hydrophilic coating.

Water Repellency In A Running Bag

Water repellency can be added to your bag at the final stage of manufacturing, whereby a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) is applied to the bag’s fabric to help it repel water. However, to make a bag full waterproof it would need sealed seams, as well as a PTFE membrane, which most bags do not use because of the excess expense.

The best way to add water repellency to your bag is to use a rain cover, or to keep your belongings within a stuff sack or dry bag, which can keep them protected. To read more on waterproofing, see our Guide To Waterproofing.

Additional Features And Storage In Running Bags

  • If you’re out all day running then a running bag with hydration compatible features , such as a bag which can incorporate a drinking bladder with a tube, as well as additional storage space will ensure you don't need to stop to drink.
  • Hydration compatible day sacks are usually slightly larger in size, so if weight is key then look instead for a bag with pockets so you can store a reliable water bottle.
  • Mesh areas allow venting, particularly on your back to keep you cool whilst active.
  • Side pockets are perfect for storing keys, a water bottle or energy bar, so when you need them, you can reach them without hassle.
  • As well as side pockets, look for front webbing or toggles which can secure a waterproof bag to the front of your bag.
  • Rain covers can protect your bag and your belongings from downpours.
  • Separate areas that store muddy shoes away from your other kit can be handy for preventing damage to your bag, and reduce the amount of time you need to clean it.