Choosing a Running Backpack: A Few Tips and the Deuter Race X

During my run back home today, I saw a lady running with a fully loaded Osprey Stratos 34 (2,000 cubic inches – 34 litres) on her back. Osprey makes amazing backpacks, but that particular one on this lady’s back – whom was no more than 125 pounds after a good meal (50 kg), was just too big, to a point where her running stride was clearly impeded by it as the weight of the pack was constantly shifting from one side to the other.

Choosing a backpack to run commute is not just like choosing any pack back. First, you want it as light as possible, even when packed. And, not only does it have to be well-adjusted, but it has to stay well-adjusted WHILE RUNNING. Finally, it must also be slim enough on your back as to not impede your running action, particularly your arm movements. This normally translates into packs that are between 500 and 1,200 cubic inches (10 to 20 litres), depending on your body type and size. This is well below the traditional day hike back pack size, which is around 1,350 cubic inches (22 litres). In summary, good run commuting back packs are:

  • light
  • slim
  • small
  • tightly-adjusted to the body

Over the years, companies have built more and more packs that fit these requirements. My personal choice: the Deuter Race X.

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back

Deuter Race X on my back

At 5’10” and 160 pounds (1,78 m, 73 kg), the Deuter Race X (730 cubic inches – 12 litres) is the perfect run-commuting backpack for me. This bag is light (1.5 pounds – 600 g), and it fits well between my shoulder blades. Even if I load it to its fullest, it rarely weighs more than 10 pounds (4 kg). The shoulder straps are thin but comfortable and well adjusted, and the waiste and chest straps help keeping it snug against my back. Its compact size does not affect my running stride, and my arms can move as freely as if I had nothing on.  In winter, it fits just as nicely over all the layers required to run through any kind of nasty weather (see Running Gear Fit to Face A Canadian Winter for more information on these layers).

The Deuter Race X fits me like a glove, but it has other very interesting characteristics. First, it is extremely durable – I have used it constantly, through all kinds of weather, for the past five years, over 6,000 kilometres (4,000 miles). The only thing that let go was the top pocket zipper, which I had fixed by a shoe maker.

front

Front view of waist and sternum straps

The Deuter Race X has another interesting quality…it is very affordable (64$ Cdn at MEC; oddly, it appears to be more expensive in the US, at a cost of around 80$ US). Osprey (Raptor), Gregory (Miwok) and many other companies have bags just as good as this one, but none cheaper (at least in Canada).  This bag also comes with an integrated rain cover and is pre-fitted for an hydration pocket (sold separately).

In conclusion, the Deuter Race X is the right size, the right fit and at the right price for most run commuters.

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I mentioned above that I had my pack repaired by a shoe maker after the top pocket zipper gave up on me. I actually get lots of modifications or repairs done on my kit. I am a creature of habit, and I don’t like to change gear that much. If anything breaks or annoys me, I always look for a way to fix it before thinking about getting newer equipment. There are all kinds of good reasons for doing it, but I mainly do it because I don’t like changing things too much!  Many years ago, on a long hike, I grabbed the wrong backpack and threw it on. Despite the fact that it was the exact same pack, I knew right away it was not mine, and I did not like that feeling. I then found my pack and put it on; the feeling was amazing, a bit like meeting an old friend you had not seen for a long time. All that to say that I like my gear and that I take super special care of it!

Top of pack with zipper modification

Top of pack with zipper modification

To get modifications or repairs done, I used to go to a normal shoe maker, but lately, I found a shoe maker that specializes in outdoor gear. The cool thing about that, is not only does the kit gets fixed, but it comes back just as good as new. Since gear can become expensive, I strongly encourage you to look for that kind of shop in your area. (if you live in the Ottawa region, check out Atelier hors Piste http://www.atelierhorspiste.com).

By | 2016-10-22T20:26:38+00:00 May 21st, 2014|Categories: Gear|Tags: , , , , |14 Comments

About the Author:

Nick Pedneault

I’m an engineer by day, a husband and a father by night, and a Canadian run commuter in between! My blog (in French) can be found here: https://johnnyboysaventures.wordpress.com/ I also do volunteer work for Ray Zahab’s impossible2Possible organization http://impossible2possible.com/home. For the past 2 years, I have been translating their i2prace website from English to French http://i2prun.com/

14 Comments

  1. B May 21, 2014 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Any tips on how best to wear the pack when running? I’ve been experimenting with mine for a while now, and I can’t quite seem to get the right fit. I feel fastest when it’s sitting high up on my back, but that really wears down my shoulders. I get that it needs to be snug enough to prevent sway, but what’s the best combo of strap tension to get there? Any suggestions appreciated. I’ve looked online, and I see lots of suggestions for backpackers, but none directed at runners.

    • Nick Pedneault
      Nick Pedneault May 21, 2014 at 10:27 am - Reply

      If you look at the pictures, you can see that it is kind of low on my back, with the top of the pack in line with my shoulder blades. This is how I wear it, and where it feels comfortable, but I might add that this position came over time. Originally, I was wearing it higher, but it “naturally” came down as I was adding mileage, leading me to believe that it is where it fits best.

      • B May 23, 2014 at 7:51 pm - Reply

        Very cool. I’ll try letting it drift lower. Many thanks.

  2. David May 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    I’m using a Gregory Miwok and my run commute and I love it!

    • Nick Pedneault
      Nick Pedneault May 21, 2014 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      The Gregory Miwok looks, indeed, very nice, especially the latest version. However, I never actually got to wear it, so I would not dare review it without having run at least 500 kilometres with it on my back.

  3. Daisy May 22, 2014 at 7:56 am - Reply

    Nice to see that you don’t necessarily have to pay a lot. Does it come in a women’s version?

    • Nick Pedneault
      Nick Pedneault May 22, 2014 at 9:48 am - Reply

      It is a one size fits all back pack. There are no women sizes (unfortunately).

  4. Daisy May 22, 2014 at 7:59 am - Reply

    I’m curious about the size though. It doesn’t really look big enough to fit a change of clothes (incl. shoes) plus a lunch…

    • Nick Pedneault
      Nick Pedneault May 22, 2014 at 9:50 am - Reply

      It fits all my stuff (lunch, clothes, deodorant, etc; even an extra safety jacket in winter!). However, I never carry shoes in it as I leave 2 pairs of shoes at work. If I had to carry them, it would be too small.

      • Daisy June 19, 2014 at 4:02 pm - Reply

        Thanks Nick. I decided to go with an Osprey Mira 18 and I’m glad I didn’t get anything smaller. I do have to carry shoes to work as I don’t run to work every day. (I leave my shoes at work in the winter though.)

        • Nicolas Pedneault
          Nicolas Pedneault June 19, 2014 at 4:42 pm - Reply

          Very nice pack. I like the pockets on the hip belt. The Race X does not have them; I often wish it had them.

  5. B June 18, 2014 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Another backpack question. Now that we’re in the sweaty summer season, my pack is starting to stink really bad. Throughout the past three seasons, I’d followed a strategy of soaking it in bleach-water every weekend, and that seemed to deter any skink. But now just a few weeks into summer, I’ve noticed it starts noticeably stinking after just two days of running (i.e., after soaking it over the weekend, I ran on Mon-Tues, and now it’s stinking on Wednesday morning). Any suggestions? Do I just need to soak it every other day during the summer?

    • Nicolas Pedneault
      Nicolas Pedneault June 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      I think your strategy is particularly good (soaking it once in a while). However, my wife bought me a new Race X for fathers’ day due to the smell of the old one!

      There are some sport specific detergents (I used this one for a while: http://www.amazon.com/Penguin-Brands-Sport-Wash/dp/B003UWI3FO), which do a decent job at getting rid of bad odours. Ultimately though, this problem rarely gets better with time.

  6. Christian December 7, 2016 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    Thanks Nick good review ! Do you know about the Osprey Daylite backpack at 13 liters ? If so, any comments compared to the Deuter Race X ? Thanks !

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