Pack the Perfect Bag for Runs and Workouts

Molly Hurford
by Molly Hurford
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Pack the Perfect Bag for Runs and Workouts

Most of us don’t like to pack — whether it’s for vacation, the gym or a run. But if you’ve ever had to miss a workout due to lack of crucial gear (hello, left shoe), you know how disappointing it can be. The simple solution: Be prepared at all times and have the basics at the ready. Pro Tip: It pays to have your workout staples already packed so you can grab your bag and go.



A tote bag is great for your run bag — it comes in handy, especially if it’s stashed in your car. The UA On the Run Tote is perfect for this and doesn’t take up much space. If you’re more of a minimalist, I’m a huge fan of these simple nylon drawstring bags. They fit pretty much anywhere, they hold everything you need for an impromptu run, they close so your gear isn’t spilling into your trunk and you can usually even cram one into the pocket of your running shorts if needed.


I’m a firm believer in buying a couple of pairs of running shoes when you find one you love. You’ll never regret it. Case in point: the UA SpeedForm® Gemini 3. Have a pair kicking around the house for your normal runs from home, but keep a spare pair in your run bag so you never get caught out without shoes. Note: Every couple months, give these shoes a good wash so they don’t stink up your bag, and load ’em back in.


Like a good pair of shoes, when you find running shorts that fit right, stock up. The UA Fly-By shorts (in cardinal and white) are personal favorites for women, thanks to their slightly retro aesthetic but high-tech detailing (and they don’t require underwear, so you save a piece of clothing). For men, the UA Launch SW 7’’ are a good compromise between short-enough-to-run and full-enough coverage to stop at a coffee shop. (Note: Unless you live somewhere where it’s always cold enough to require tights outside, opt for shorts or capris versus full-length tights in your run bag so you’re prepared if an indoor workout is the only option.)


Because this is an outfit you’ll reach for again and again, keep your top simple and opt for an athletic fabric to avoid smell issues. For women, the UA Favorite Mesh is breathable with a comfortable fit. For the gents, the UA Threadborne Streaker Singlet can handle any run or wick sweat while layered under a jacket.


Somehow, socks tend to get lost in the shuffle when it comes to grabbing what you’ll need to run. But a pair of good socks can be the key to saving your feet from blisters — and this No-Show pair can go from your run and back to work without anyone noticing how sporty you are.


Obviously, a few of these bag additions are women-specific. For most runs, the Armour® Eclipse Mid sports bra will be enough coverage… And it’s stylish enough that you could keep it on post-workout.



You’ll want to toss a water bottle that won’t leak in your bag so you’re not crazed looking for a water fountain post-run. Add a quick snack, like a granola bar or a single-serve bag of almonds, so you’re also never entering the hangry phase after a run leaves you unexpectedly starving.


If you find a shower, you’ll want a towel. A hand towel might not be enough to truly get you dry and cozy, but it will get you dry enough to get back in clean clothes and won’t take up as much space. If there’s no shower, disposable wipes are a godsend to runners who need to get back to the office after a sweat session. Either way, think ahead and make sure you’ve got deodorant — and apply it before and after your run.


A lacrosse ball is perfect for a quick recovery-focused self-massage, even if you’re sitting in an office chair while you do it. Roll the ball over your quads and calves, and even sit on it to roll out your glutes.


Running and cycling windbreakers are the most useful to have in your bag. They’re typically water-repellent for slightly rainy workouts, they’re always lightweight and easily packable and they add a great layer of warmth when temperatures drop, even if it isn’t windy.


If you live in a climate that varies, the onset of winter might mean adding tights, a cap, gloves and a long-sleeve top to your emergency pack. You might also need a headlamp or flashlight when the days are short. I’m a fan of keeping warm-weather gear in your bag. You never know when you’ll have a chance to hop on a treadmill or hit a gym to take a yoga class or do a strength workout, especially in bad weather.


> Men’s Backpacks
> Women’s Backpacks
> Boys’ Backpacks
> Girls’ Backpacks

About the Author

Molly Hurford
Molly Hurford

Molly is an outdoor adventurer and professional nomad obsessed with all things running, nutrition, cycling and movement-related. When not outside, she’s writing and podcasting about being outside, training and health. You can follow along with her adventures on Instagram at @mollyjhurford.


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