Workplay bags Mercury Hydration Backpack review

I’ve been on the lookout for a new running backpack for a while now. I want something that I can use as a hydration pack for my long runs but also as a backpack for running home from work. It needs to have reasonable capacity so that I can transport the essentials, but not so big that I’m able to overfill it and then find it’s too heavy to run with comfortably. Most of all it needs to fit well and by that I mean no chest straps that sit uncomfortably across my boobs and no bouncing around on my back when I run.

I’ve been feeling a bit like Goldilocks in my search for the ultimate running backpack so far. Some, like the Deuter Speedlite 15 have been too big and not very comfortable to run with. Others like the Nathan Intensity Hydration Pack have been excellent as a hydration pack and very comfortable to wear but not big enough to use for a run commute. Nothing has been ‘just right’. Until now.


I had been eying up the workplay bags Mercury backpack for quite some time wondering if it might be ‘the one’. I’m a huge fan of their other bags – the Fleetfoot II has become my short run companion and my Goddess III now accompanies me on pretty much every trip I make. So when Guy, the creative director at Workplay offered to send me one to try out I jumped at the chance.

My first impressions? It’s very cute. I actually wondered if it might be a bit too small. But I should know better by now about the bags that Workplay make. There’s always ingenious little touches that make the most of all the available space – they’ve usually thought of everything, and this time is no different.



Looking first at the front of the bag there are two compartments. A smaller pocket in the front – I use this for my oyster card, and then a bigger compartment with a longer zip so that it opens up quite wide.

On the inside are more compartments! A slip in pocket for a phone or mp3 player. A secure zipped pocket where I tend to keep my keys, and on the opposite side a ninja pocket – basically secures things so that they don’t fall out. And then there’s the main compartment too. I’ve managed to fit a rolled up running jacket or long sleeved top in here no problem. There’s plenty of space for gels or snacks.

Back on the front of the bag is the first of a set of safety features – a place to fit a light – you can see mine – it’s pink – on the picture on the left above. Other safety features include strategically placed reflective piping and material along with the identification label that you can see on the photo on the right. I really must get around to filling that in!

On the back of the bag is the compartment that holds the water pouch, when you’re using the bag as a hydration pack. The bag comes with a detachable bladder that fits onto the black tags at the top of the picture on the right below.



The tube then threads through a space in the top of the bag where it pops out the other side and then can be secured along the strap as you can see in the photo of me wearing it on the right. There are enough elasticated loops along the length of the strap to make sure that the tube stays in place and doesn’t flap about when you run.

When I’m not using the rucksack as a hydration pack the large compartment at the back has been big enough to fit in a 500ml water bottle, a large purse and a running jacket or top. What I really like about this pocket is that when you’re wearing the rucksack it sits right against your back so it’s perfectly secure – no-one could unzip it and reach in. This might sound slightly paranoid but when you travel on London transport it’s better to be over cautious than not.

So for me it’s got just enough and not too much space to carry things.

But most importantly how does it fit? Pretty much perfectly. Workplay are experts as designing things to fit women. They understand that we have curves, and lumps and bumps that stick out and need to be taken into account!

The chest strap that secures the bag in place can be adjusted both up and down and across. This means that it can be pretty much custom fit for any shape or size. It sits above the boobs and is really comfortable. The fit of the bag on your back can also be adjusted by a pair of straps that can be tightened or loosened up as needed. It took me a couple of goes to get this right but once the bag is in the correct place you know it as it doesn’t move around at all when you run. Genius.

back-400x427There’s only one thing that I would change about it if I could and that’s to put a zipped pocket onto one of the straps for gels. There’s a small pocket that you can slip one into – as shown on the photo on the left – but for a marathon training run I need something a bit bigger. There’s plenty of room in the other compartments of the bag but I don’t really want to stop and take the bag off to reach it.

That really is the only thing that I would change about this otherwise fantastic bag. I like it so much that I’ve also started to use it just for days out. Yesterday I spent the afternoon at a climbing wall and it was just the right size to take all my essentials along with me for the day and much more comfortable to carry than an over the shoulder handbag.

Well done Workplay – you’ve done it again!

Disclaimer – I was sent this bag for free to review. However, all my opinions on this bag are my own

One thought

  1. Thank you so much for the review Becca – and the suggestion regards adding more external storage. Consider that on the next design brief! If you get any pictures of what you pack in it for the daily commute would love to see them. Whats also interesting is the purpose that you first took the bag for ( holiday) and how it’s turning out in day to day life . I styled it to have all the function of a hydration bag but added in the functionality to make it more versatile – the way I see it – if you spend £50+ getting a bag – it is better value for money if it can look smart enough to take to work and do run / bike / ski as well! Wish we had made it in feminine colours but maybe next time. Glad it’s turned out to be useful – that the most important thing. Have FB / Twittered and will Instagram if I may – so if you have any more ‘in use’ photo’s to add that would be great. Just featured your blog about the Goddess in a USA email so you might have some visitors!

    Best Regards,

    Guy Mathiot.

    MD & Creative Director.

    workplay bags Tel/Fax: +44(0)1793791020

    AWARDS: Workplay bags innovative “Fleetfoot II lightweight womens running bag” Won Silver in the Womens Running magazine Best Running Accesories Awards.

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