Getting Started – Part 3: Gear and Transporting it to the Office
This is my favorite thing to write about! I’m always interested in trying out new gear to see how well it will work for run commuting and over the years, I’ve really fine-tuned what I carry into a nice, reliable system.
There are three basic types of run commuting and your gear/equipment may vary depending upon which one you choose:
1) Morning commute only
2) Evening commute only
3) Morning and evening commute
One other factor that will alter your list is weather. For #3’s, you’ll need to be prepared for the conditions in the morning and late afternoon. It might be nice out when you run to work, but pouring rain and windy on the way home. Be sure to check the day’s forecast before you leave each morning and pack accordingly.
Note that these lists are for an office-type job, where you have some sort of personal space of your own. They are not exhaustive or gender-specific either, so each individual should add or drop their required items accordingly.
The Run Commuting Backpack
Now that you have an idea of what to carry, you need an idea of what to carry it with. A backpack, of course! But not just any backpack will work. You will need one with a couple of special features. For the past several years, I’ve been using the Osprey Revo (discontinued).
Osprey makes some AMAZING packs and this one – while very basic – is no exception.
The Revo is mostly made from recycled PET (soft drink/water bottles) and has a few reflective bits on the front and back. Let me tell you something about the fabric though – I’ve NEVER washed this pack and I am constantly drenching it with sweat or mud or spilled drinks and it never smells (and runner’s funk can be pretty bad) or stains. It is not waterproof, so the contents inside will get damp during downpours, but not through the back from sweat. This is definitely an excellent feature.
The 1300 in3 carrying space is a pretty ideal size for bringing all the things to work you might need (including the occasional pair of shoes) and also leaves room for a little bit more. I mostly run with mine half empty. On days where you wear warm clothes to run into work and less on the way home, the extra space gets filled quickly. There is also a laptop sleeve inside if you need to carry a laptop around with you.
The waist strap is the most essential component of this pack by far. If you have ever tried running with a normal backpack, you will experience the bouncing and side-to-side motion that an improperly-suited running backpack produces. The Revo has a simple, non-padded strap with an easy to release buckle that cinches down tightly and does not loosen. I have not felt the need for a sternum strap, but one can be added to any pack cheaply and easily.
With any pack, the fit of it depends on a number of factors; including the person’s body type, carrying requirements, etc, so try your run commuting backpack out at a store before you buy one.
Oh, and how much does it weigh full of gear? Between 8 – 15 pounds. Your shoulders might feel tender after the first run, but it goes away quickly and you shouldn’t feel it again if you’re a regular run commuter.
It is an absolute necessity to carry water with you while running around Atlanta in the summer, but wherever you run, it’s a good idea to always have water with you.
A simple water bottle with a lid that you can easily open while running works just fine. You can keep it in the side pockets of your pack for easy access.
Kyle and I have been using the Nathan Quickdraw Plus for a while now and we prefer them over just a regular water bottle.
Not a whole lot to say about this great product. It carries a decent amount of liquid (enough for about 5.5 miles for me), your water is always at the ready (no reaching around your pack) and it adds some additional reflectivity that all of us runners could use out on the road.
Rain Protection for Your Gear
I run no matter what the weather is like outside so I need to keep my work clothes dry. I found the cheapest and simplest solution to be sitting in our pantry – an Ikea shopping bag.
You can buy these at Ikea or online for less than $1 each. They’re monstrous – as in 4,346 in3 of carrying capacity – and made of 100% polypropylene (easy to clean, waterproof).
I’ve also used regular water-repellant, reusable shopping bags and even plastic grocery bags at times with decent results. Use whatever you have around you!
I’ve recently upgraded my rain protection gear. Osprey also makes rain covers for packs and they come in four sizes to accommodate almost anything you can carry on your back. I have not used it yet, but I’ll be sure to post a review after testing it out.
Like I said earlier, this isn’t an exhaustive list of equipment, but we’ll continue to add more reviews and updates as we go along to keep you current.
Now you know what to bring on your run commute and how to get it all there.
Editor-in-Chief of The Run Commuter by night, paralegal by day. Father of three boys. Husband to the world's greatest bicycle advocate. Avid runner. Lover of beer and urban gardening. Can be found running with a backpack around the streets of Atlanta, Georgia. Contact Josh at email@example.com