A decent running pack can make or break your run. Being able to carry what you need (or the mandatory kit you have to carry for a race) and carry it without fear of jiggle or, worst of all, chafe, is very important. Packs are also a big investment, so reading reviews can hopefully be helpful. We tried out a new OMM Phantom pack.
We tried the Phantom 20, though they also do 25 litre and 12 litre versions. 20 litres is obviously a biggish pack but my first impression was that it was very light (it weighs 315 grams) despite being made of really good quality materials. Which was my second impression. Having had a couple of backpacks which were made of stretchy mesh and are now held together with Duct tape, this pack feels much more sturdy. It’s made of rip stop fabric, which is much more hard-wearing.
My next thought was that as it’s a one size only pack, it probably wouldn’t fit me as I’m quite small. But the adjustable straps and pull cords meant that I could actually get it to fit well. There’s a chest strap, which sits quite low across the bottom of your rib cage (good news for women) and a small elastic strap higher on your chest. There are side straps to get the fit under the arms right, and these are double ones, so you can adjust both the top and bottom one to get it perfect. Then there are some elastic adjusters on the yoke.
This brings us to a key innovation of this pack – the yoke. Instead of sitting on your shoulders like most vest style packs, the yoke is designed to sit around the back of your neck (though it fits snugly across your front much like a vest style pack). The reason for this is to prevent the side-to-side jiggling you get with packs that are attached to your shoulders. The yoke, and the 7 point harness which aligns the pack with your spine, are designed to minimise the energy that you lose with pack jiggle. It’s not only annoying but it’s energy that you could be putting into running! The two elastic adjusters on the yoke are alse designed to absorb shock and reduce jiggle, and the double side straps form a v shape, which prevents vertical movement. All in all they’ve definitely got the jiggling issue covered!
Here’s a video which explains the yoke and fit system better than me:
I thought it might feel strange at first to wear a pack with a yoke like this, but it felt very natural straight away. You can make small adjustments to all the straps easily on the run if the fit needs fine tuning. It’s a very comfortable pack to wear, with padding across the back. I have to admit that we haven’t really been blessed with much hot weather during the couple of months I’ve been testing this pack, so I can’t say how this would feel in extreme heat, but it certainly seemed breathable and it didn’t make my back any more sweaty than normal packs.
So the Phantom 20 definitely scores very highly on the fit, comfort and lack of jiggling front. How does it score on the pocket front? There’s one big back pocket which is easily big enough to fit all mandatory kit for most races or a decent amount of stuff for an adventure or day out in the hills. There’s also a small zip pocket on the top of the pack which is ideal for a phone, keys (there’s a clip), camera etc. On the front there’s one pocket for a 750ml bottle (with adjustable loops if you want to compress it to use a 500ml or soft flask instead) and two stretchy mesh pockets (one with a velcro fastener, one without so you can just keep stuffing it). You’d get a decent amount of bars, gels and sweets in there or gloves and hat. So as long as you just want the bare essentials to hand, this pack ticks all the boxes. If you want a pocket to keep your phone to hand and big stuff pockets to the sides so that lots of food and perhaps other items like a jacket are easily accessible, this might not be the pack for you.
All in all I was really impressed with the OMM Phantom 20. It’s really comfortable, the fit and the way it sits makes it barely noticeable on the run, it’s made of good quality materials and there’s plenty of room to store all your kit. It’s lightweight, pared back and no fuss. At £120 it’s comparable to or slightly cheaper than the Salomon/UD equivalents. It’s definitely worth considering if you’re investing in a pack to last a long time.
Find more information and details on how to buy HERE.