Top 5 Run Commuting Essentials

Here are five things we think every run commuter should have if you run to and from work on a regular basis.  These items will keep your gear dry, allow you to transport things back and forth, help you clean up, dry off and prepare you for your day at the office.

You can always add things to your everyday gear (like lunch containers, for example), but for those new to run commuting, try these out first and add-on once you get the hang of things.

1) Backpack:  This is the most essential piece of equipment a run commuter can have.  Not only will you need it to carry your clothing, lunch and other personal effects to work everyday, but you can also use it to pick up any additional items on your way to or from work (groceries, library books, etc.)  The pack should fit your body type and have a waist strap and, ideally, a chest strap to keep bounce to a minimum.  Our favorites include packs from Osprey, Deuter, and OMM.

2) Toiletry/Cleanup Kit:  Items can include:  Small towel, antiperspirant, body spray/perfume, bar of soap, baby wipes, makeup, shaving gear, etc.  Keep them in a bag or store them in your drawer.  You’ll want to remember to change out your towel regularly, but everything else should last quite a while before being replaced.

3) Fan:  This will depend on what your workplace setup looks like.  Do you have your own office or cubicle?  A small powerful fan, such as this one from Honeywell, will be your best friend.  It works best by placing it near your feet and aiming it up towards your torso.  Once you’ve cooled off, you can use it to dry off your wet running clothes, too.  You can find a decent one at drugstores, big box stores or online for less than $30.

4) Multiple Sets of Running Clothes:  When you start run commuting on a regular basis, you’re not going to want to do laundry every night.  Find a good pair of running shorts and buy a few pair at a time if you can.  If you can’t, buy a pair every paycheck or two until you have four or five.  Do the same with shirts and soon you can stretch out your laundry days to once a week.  Running Warehouse usually has great sales on running shorts and shirts, as well as cold weather gear.  Also, you can get running shirts from Jiffy Shirts for less than $8.00 each.

5) Waterproof Bag or Raincover:  You will get wet.  Just plan on it now.  However, your cell phone, blackberry, iPod and work clothes should not get wet.   As we’ve talked about before, the Ikea bag is probably the cheapest piece of waterproofing equipment you can find.  But, if you want to keep everything dry – including your pack – a raincover is the way to go.  Check to see if the company that made your pack has one first or just get a universal cover based on how many cc’s your bag holds.  Some covers that can be found online include Osprey, Mountainsmith and BTR Premium.

By |2016-10-22T20:26:57+00:00September 4th, 2011|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , |5 Comments

About the Author:

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


  1. maximilian September 12, 2011 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    great article, currently I 26 miles away from work soooo I don’t want to run a marathon. I will be moving much closer soon and am excited to start run commuting.

  2. […] Use that conversation as a chance to promote run commuting.  Show them that there are ways to try it for themselves even if they live far away (multimodal run commute).  Ask them if they’re training for any upcoming races.  Tell them how running to work allows you to combine your commute and workout that were previously separate and time-consuming tasks.  If run commuting helped with your race times, let them know.  Mention that if a shower is keeping them from doing it, that they can try just running home from work.  You don’t have to run both ways, everyday, afterall.  Another important message to get across: you don’t need to have a bunch of fancy gear – almost any old backpack and clothes will do, though some things are nice to have (See Run Commuting Essentials.) […]

  3. Dan May 26, 2016 at 6:48 am - Reply

    Thank you for this! Such a great tip! Well, I used to run to work before and I think you missed out the importance of using the right shoes. I guess for me, shoes are really significant. If you don’t have the right shoe then chances are, you’ll injure you’re toe/feet along the way. Have you tried injuries because of using the wrong pair of shoe?

  4. Dan January 5, 2017 at 2:36 am - Reply

    I’m curios to know what are your preference in choosing the right backpack? Any tips? Was not a fan of mine because it moves too much when I was on the run. Its not as comfortable.

    • Josh
      Josh January 7, 2017 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      There are few backpack features we see as absolutely necessary if you want to have a great run commute.

      1. Waist strap – ideally padded
      2. Sternum strap – at least one; two is better
      3. External compression straps – these compress the main backpack compartment, and keep items from bouncing around inside your pack

      Some packs that are good examples of the above are the Osprey Manta AG 20/Mira AG 18, and the Deuter Attack 20.

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