I was on holiday in the Alps in the summer of 2013, a brilliant, truly beautiful holiday. While there I bought a running pack, a Salomon Trail 20. It has served me well accompanying me on my run commutes on an almost daily basis over the last two and a half years - probably getting on for 2,800 miles. This week I had to say goodbye to it. Its demise was actually a little sad, a bit like Achilles and his heel, it was the smallest of ailments that meant its retirement. The clip that fastens the chest strap broke. Not even fully, just on one edge. By using it upside down, the clip not the bag, it still held (I don't really understand why - probably physics or something). It was fragile thought and without it the bag wasn't really usable.
I tried to buy a spare but that's not feasible. I also looked at whether I could replace the clips with any other clip, again due to the design not feasible. So the bag has been retired.
In it's place I bought something completely different - a running pack by Deuter. Specifically a Deuter Race EXP Air Rucksack in green.
It's quite a different pack to the Salomon one. Much more structured and rigid. The back has an air flow system. There is a rigid frame on the back that curves the pack away from the back. This allows air flow and means that your back should get less sweaty and uncomfortable. The straps are also very different and made of a webbing material that feels very strong. Padding at the base of the pack that fits the lumbar region and the usual waist and chest strap make this pack very secure and comfortable.
One thing that is a little issue for me, although not enough to stop me buying it, is the lack of pockets or pouches on the straps or waist belt. Having easily accessible pockets would complete this bag. I used just such a pocket on my Salomon pack for my phone and my keys - so that I could access them without taking the bag off. I have solved this by wearing my flip belt with the pack. Not ideal but a good enough work around.
The main compartment of the bag is plenty big enough for commuting and can be expanded slightly with a zip that goes all the way round expanding the capacity. I generally carry food (sandwiches & fruit) with then clean underwear and a shirt. This all fits without the need to expand the pack. There is room to spare. There is a small pocket on the back, in the picture it is the area with the writing on it, that is big enough for small personal items. I carry my wallet in here.
There are then two further 'pockets' that contain in turn a net that clips over the back of the bag and is for carrying a cycle helmet or waterproofs or anything with a bit of bulk that you don't want to put in the bag itself. At the very bottom the final pocket contains a waterproof cover that fits the bag perfectly. There is additional storage with two mesh pockets on either side.
I have used this bag for a few commutes running around 25 miles or so in total and the longest run has been 5.5 miles. It's great, comfortable, doesn't move too much and feels secure. It feels different to the Salomon with the straps across the shoulders feeling quite stiff - I am hoping that they soften up quickly with use. The lack of a pocket on the straps is a draw back but one I can live with. It's a much more technical bag than the Salomon - the king is dead long live the king...