10 Stylish Running Backpacks for Your Commute
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Have I ever mentioned that I run-commute? I love it. Two or three days a week, I skip the train and run to the office instead. Mostly, I try to plan ahead, bringing extra lunches and changes of clothes on the days I get into the office in a more conventional matter (read: the subway). But even then, I need to carry keys, glasses, my wallet, some work files, etc. while I'm on the run. So I rely on backpacks.
I started super basic, just tying my regular cloth one on as tight as I could and hoping for the best. Since then, I've learned that fabric and shoulder strap design make a huge difference in terms of comfort. But one thing I hate: So many running backpacks look like running backpacks. They're neon, or absurdly functional with a millions traps and zippers everywhere. I want a pack I can run with in the morning, then take out to dinner that night. These stylish options fit the bill. (Not a run-commuter? Check out these 15 gym bags for the sweaty but stylish.)
REI Flash 18 Pack
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This REI pack ($34.50; rei.com) is surprisingly spacious, with a roomy sack and three inner pockets to organize items. Plus, it's convertible—turn it inside out and it becomes a stuff sack. The simple design and variety of colors means you can tote it around all day long without looking out of place. My one complaint: The first time I wore it running while wearing a tank, my collarbones ended up slightly chafed from the straps.
JanSport Women's Agave Backpack
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Another bigger option, this daypack ($65; jansport.com) has AirCore shoulder straps designed specifically for women to prevent chafing. There are tons of pockets (even one for a laptop, though I've never tried running with that type of hardware), which makes organizing your fitness/life gear easy. I love the option of sticking your phone in the snug top pocket, and that the colors don't scream "RUNNING BACKPACK!"
Rains Runner Bag
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This runner bag ($135; needsupply.com) is probably the most attractive of the bunch, and the one I was most excited to try. The sleek black material is totally waterproof, the straps and back are super-padded, and the interior is crazy roomy. The problem? This bag is huge. It still felt completely comfortable while I ran (and it fit a ton of stuff), but it was basically the size of my torso. Not surprising, since it's designed for men.
Osprey Rev 1.5
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Designed for trail running, this bag ($70; ospreypacks.com) is on the smaller side—you'll be able to squeeze in a change of clothes, a wallet, your keys, and maybe some water, and you'll be at capacity. But it's simple and comfy, fitting close to the body with two chest straps to ensure the pack feels stable. The fabric that's pressed against your back is mesh, so it won't trap sweat. Don't love this style? Osprey has a Packfinder that helps you find your best fit.
Photo: Osprey Packs
CamelBak Day Star 18
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For a super functional pack, this CamelBak option ($80; shop.camelbak.com) looks surprisingly chic. It comes with a water reservoir, which you can remove during shorter run-commutes to give yourself more room for a change of clothes or books. (There are also side pockets for extra water bottles.) Plus, it's designed for women, so it'll fit snugly for minimal bouncing. (See more of The Best Fitness Gear Built Just for Women.)
Photo: Back Country
The North Face Women's Microbyte Backpack
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Another made-for-women backpack, the sternum strap (with a whistle buckle, for those who are worried about safety) and removable waist belt on The North Face Microbyte pack ($85, thenorthface.com) add to the comfort. There's also a 13" laptop compartment and easy-access front pocket.
Photo: The North Face
Dakine Women's Shuttle 6L Backpack
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The pretty Shuttle pack (from $75; dakine.com) comes in three sizes: 6L, 8L, and 12L, depending on how much you like to pack. It's designed for biking (so the front panel expands to allow you to stow a helmet), but the sternum and waist straps work for running too. The shoulders and backpanel are super breathable, to minimize how much sweat is trapped while you're on the move. And the patterns and colors look even more chic than on some regular backpacks.
Mammut Lithium Speed 15 Backpack
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Just because it's bright doesn't mean it's too fitness-y to work everywhere. The Lithium Speed ($63; backcountry.com) comes in a pretty yellow. It will fit a hydration system or whatever stuff you need to bring to work. It also has side straps that let you compress it flat when it's not quite full, which helps give you a smooth ride.
Nike Vapor Lite
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Yes, there are some neon highlights on this Nike running bag ($70; nike.com). But they read more like a trendy, sporty accent rather than telegraphing an in-your-face rave effect. It's ultra-light, reflective (good for running at night), and has two side pockets to store things you may need to grab en route, like your phone or some snacks. Plus, both the back panel and shoulder straps are extra breathable. And despite looking slim, it fits everything you need.
Black Diamond Bbee 11 Pack
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Another minimalist option, the Bbee ($50, blackdiamondequipment.com) is discreet enough to double as a workbag (it comes in a professional black or grey too) and functional enough to make your run-commute comfortable. The nylon is ultra light, and the contoured shoulder straps help minimize bouncing.
Photo: Black Diamond Equipment