What’s the best pack for trail running?

Boy would I like your job! Anyway, next year I plan on doing some multi-day trail runs, so wanted some pack recommendations. These will most likely be overnight excursions, and there'll be two of us, so we can distribute tent components. So, what pack would you recommend to carry all my gear (half the tent, lightweight sleeping bag, some light wet-weather gear, food, water, sundries)? I was looking at packs around the 26-litre mark, but wondering if that'd be enough. Rob London, United Kingdom

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A 26-liter pack is a pretty small pack—about 1,600 cubic inches in U.S. measurements. Is it possible to fit stuff in there for a multi-day trip? Maybe, if you’re frugal as hell, which I gather you are. Still, I’d be inclined to maybe bump your ideal volume up to 2,000 cubic inches, or about 32 liters. Beyond that, you’ll obviously want something that fits very snug and close to your body to minimize bouncing as you run. I imagine you’d also want a built-in hydration system or, at the very least, water bottle pockets on the hipbelt. And of course, you want the pack itself to be light.

One such pack on the U.S. market, and probably available in the U.K. too, is the SpeeDemon from Ultimate Direction ($120, about 80 pounds Sterling). It’s designed specifically for trail running, so has a low-profile design that stays close to your back for good balance and minimal bounce. Plus, it has a big hydration bladder built in. Side pockets and bungee straps give you lots of places to stash small things quickly. Another pack that’s designed for similar activities is the Gregory Advent Pro ($129), a little larger than the SpeeDemon but designed with trail running and adventure racing in mind. It’ll even hold two big hydration reservoirs and has a vented backpad so you won’t get too overheated.

In terms of a “regular” pack that would work, I like Marmot’s Talus ($120). It’s a tough, compact pack, with 2,200 cubic inches of capacity and two water bottle pockets. And of course, you could always stick a hydration bladder into it.

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SpeeDemon available from REI here.

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