The right bag for the right running distance

We have all read the articles of the different guidelines and training methods for different running distances. This article covers what type of bags and packs to bring around when running the various distances from short, medium to long distance running. When discussing this topic, we arrive at the contradiction that smaller, lighter bags suit longer runs but require also need to hold more items for nutrition and hydration. While larger, heavier bags can br brought along on shorter runs but most short runs don’t require refuelling if any at all.

While each runner may have their own preferred type of bag to bring along regardless of distance covered, we will try to find a suitable pack to recommend that you try out to find your preference.

Fun runs:

Fun runs with families or at corporate events usually involve the social side of running rather than the competitive side. These events always feature a sport pack (usually a drawstring bag of some sort) that can be re-used at a future time as an easy gym bag to bring all the essentials along. It is usually made of a light, water resistant material with durable straps in case the user packs all their sport items in the one bag. Many runs also feature tote bags as their bag of choice, these tick all the boxes when any premiums are given to participants and are particularly useful as future supermarket and picnic bags to haul anything you need from children’s towels, clothes, groceries, snacks, picnic mats and a whole host of other items.

5km and below:

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wrist phone,click the picture for more information

The most important factor in a short distance run is hydration; some runners choose to carry a small bottle along on these runs with a hand strap so that the bottle fits nicely in the palm of your hand without having to grip the bottle too hard. This makes perfect sense as a short run wont take too much out of you in terms of upper body movement and so having a bottle along will suit just fine.


streamlined waist pack
streamlined waist pack,click the picture for more information

This distance is considered a medium distance to most beginner runners but is a short, simple training run for marathon competitors. At this distance, many choose to bring along a streamlined waist pack that hugs the contours of the body but is large enough to fit keys, mobile phone, liquid energy packs and small bottles. These waist packs can be made of waterproof material with waterproof zips to avoid sweat penetrating the fabric and causing moisture to gather among the items inside.


waist belt bag
waist belt bag,click the picture for more information

At this distance, nutrition comes into play. Many runners think it is essential to bring along Vaseline packs to avoid abrasion, nutrition packs for keeping the electrolytes up and adequate hydration in the form of isotonic drinks. Usually a streamlined backpack is enough for this distance but runners who prefer a lightweight and cooler option will choose to double waist pack or larger waist pouch.


At Marathon training distances, hydration becomes a big issue and unless you’re at a running event with water points, bringing along adequate hydration can be the difference between life and death. Waist straps with bottle holders are particularly useful but many find these cumbersome and move too much during the run. A good alternative is Hydration belts that contain water bags that reduce significantly in size once the water is consumed. These water bags fold flat and can be reduced to the size of a plastic bag with a mouthpiece.

42 and above

At these distances, it is definitely recommended that you have a hydration point somewhere along the way because even if you could carry a medium backpack, the hydration requirements of a long run will mean that some resupply of the items brought along will need to occur at some point. At this distance a backpack with anti abrasion straps is definitely recommended that is slim enough that it doesn’t affect your upper body movement. It should also be light enough that it doesn’t hold you down and affect performance too much. Generally the bag will be made from a waterproof material to avoid sweat from seeping into the bag and affecting the items inside.