Whether you’re just getting into hiking or have been blazing trails for years, a quality daypack is a must-have in your hiking gear collection. Yes, they’re great for hiking, but the best hiking daypacks are also ideal for touring cities and taking flights and train rides. The point of a daypack is for you to be able to leave your house, camping tent, or hotel for the day with only the things you need to comfortably enjoy a day of hiking.
Many daypacks fit those parameters, but with so many options on the market it can be difficult to distinguish between the good and the bad. We’ve done the work for you to make sure you’re prepared for all of your day hikes.
Our Top Pick: Don’t have time to read the whole article and just want to know what the best daypack for hiking is? After hours of research and testing we have concluded that the best hiking daypack for women is Osprey Tempest 20 and the best men’s hiking daypack is Osprey Talon 22. These bags are amazingly comfortable and lightweight, but best of all, they are protected by Osprey’s lifetime warranty. No matter if for day hikes or short city trips, you seriously can’t go wrong with the Osprey Talon 22/Tempest 20. For a more in-depth review click here.
Comparison Table of the Best Daypacks for Hiking
Below is a list of the best hiking daypacks. Click on the name to read reviews and check prices.
|Osprey Talon 22||Men||1 lb. 11 oz.||11, 18, 22, 33L|
|Osprey Tempest 20||Women||1 lb. 10.2 oz.||20, 30, 40L|
|Deuter Speed Lite 20||Unisex||1 lb. 1 oz.||12, 16, 20, 24L|
|Osprey Stratos 24||Men||2 lb. 12 oz.||24, 34, 36, 50L|
|Osprey Sirrus 24||Women||2 lbs. 9 oz.||24, 36, 50L|
|REI Co-op Flash 18||Unisex||9 oz.||18, 22L|
|CamelBak Fourteener 24||Unisex||2 lb. 9 oz.||20, 24L|
|Osprey Daylite Plus||Unisex||1 lb. 4 oz.||13, 20L|
|Patagonia Nine Trails 28||Unisex||2 lb. 3 oz.||14, 20, 28, 36L|
|Gregory Nano 18 H2O||Unisex||1 lb. 2 oz.||18, 22L|
|Kelty Redwing 32||Unisex||2 lb. 0 oz.||32, 44, 50L|
|Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil||Unisex||2.5 oz.||20L|
Backpack vs. Daypack
Novice hikers may be wondering, “What is a daypack, and how does it differ from a backpack?”, and rightfully so because the distinction can be confusing.
A daypack is a type of hiking backpack, but not all backpacks are daypacks. When we look at the differences between a daypack vs backpack, the main thing we learn is that a daypack is a backpack only made for day hikes while a hiking backpack can be used for longer multi day hiking trips.
Because daypacks are geared toward day hikes, they are more lightweight and have a smaller capacity than hiking backpacks. Some daypacks are simple, and others are more full-featured like backpacks and can include things like hydration compatibility and loops for hiking or climbing gear.
Planning a multi day hiking trip? See our article on the best hiking backpacks instead.
What to Look for in a Good Hiking Daypack
Here are the main things you should look for when in the market for your next daypack.
1. Usage: What Is Your Daypack For?
Answering this question will help you focus on the features you need in a daypack. For example, if you’re getting a daypack so you can easily carry things while you’re adventuring through Buenos Aires, then you probably don’t need it to be able to hold ice axes or trekking poles. On the other hand, those things would be necessary if you intend to spend your days in the mountains or in an alpine climbing zone.
Also consider where you’ll be doing most of your hiking with this daypack. If you’ll be doing mostly warm-weather hiking, then ventilation and breathability should be priorities. Water resistance will be a priority if rain is common in your preferred hiking areas. Many daypacks repel water in light rain, but consider searching for a daypack with a built-in rain cover if there’s a chance you’ll get caught in heavier showers. Thinking about your style of hiking will really help you to focus in on what you should be looking for in your next daypack.
2. Ideal Size (Capacity)
The size that works best for you will depend on why you’re getting a daypack. If your goal is to find a quality pack that will fit your rain jacket, water bottle, and some snacks while you take a day tour of Machu Picchu, then a pack between 10 and 20 liters should be perfectly fine. If you’re heading on a long day hike and considering camping overnight, it’s likely best to go with a pack around 35 liters. Most people find their comfort right in the middle, between 20 and 30 liters. It’s typically a great size for exploring urban areas as well as for going on standard day hikes.
3. Carrying Comfort
The comfort of the daypack is determined by the padding in the shoulder straps and hip belt. Some hip belts are super padded and very supportive, while others are made of a thin webbing. Some even have removable hip belts.
More padding equals more comfort, but it also equals more weight. If you know you’re going to be carrying a heavy load for an extended amount of time, definitely go with more padding. If you tend to do shorter hikes or don’t carry a lot of things, less padding will save you both weight and money.
4. Pockets and Organization
More pockets typically make it easier to keep your stuff organized. In addition to the main compartment, popular pockets include side mesh pockets for things like your water bottle and travel umbrella, a pocket on the top for small items like tools and keys, and hipbelt pockets for small things you want easy access to. Another favorite that not all packs have is an exterior mesh pocket, which is perfect for things like a microfiber travel towel or wet clothing.
It’s helpful to think about the things you plan to bring with you and how you want to organize them because you don’t want to spend money on a daypack that doesn’t have enough storage space and pockets for what you need to carry.
The weight of the pack will depend on its size, comfort, and features. The heavier daypacks will offer more padding, more comfort, more storage, and more features to help you perform well on the trails. The lighter daypacks will lack those things. While extra padding may sound nice, it will add extra weight. So if you’re only going to be wearing your pack for an hour or so at a time, then added padding, weight, and cost may not be worth it.
6. Closure Systems and Access
Some daypacks are top loaders while others are panel-loading packs. Top-loading packs are accessed through the top of the pack and are secured with zippers, drawcord systems, or roll top lids. While drawcord systems are lightweight and simple, they’re not as secure as zippers and roll top lids. Some prefer roll top lids because you can change the size of the pack based on how many times you roll the lid.
Panel-loading packs are favored by some because you zip open the main compartment like luggage, allowing quick and easy access to everything in the pack. This adds cost and weight to the pack, but for some people it’s definitely worth it.
7. Benefits of Choosing a Women’s-Specific Daypack
For those with smaller torsos, whether woman or man, the women’s version of a daypack may offer a more comfortable fit of the hip belt and shoulder straps. And if you’re taking longer hikes, a comfortable fit should be one of your top priorities.
Best Hiking Daypack Reviews
No matter your reason for getting a daypack, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect fit among this list of great options.
Weight: 1 lb. 11 oz.
Capacities: 11, 18, 22, 33L
Gender: Men (Women: Osprey Tempest 20)
Excellent for day hiking, biking, and peak bagging, the Osprey Talon 22 has a lot to offer. You’ll have dual-zippered panel access to the main compartment and there are six additional pockets to help you stay organized throughout your hikes. For your more extreme adventures, there is a LidLock helmet attachment, trekking pole attachment, and an ice-tool loop with bungee tie-offs. There’s even an external hydration sleeve. You can choose this pack in either a 20 or 22-liter capacity. The women’s version of this bag is called the Osprey Tempest 20. Just as excellent as the men’s version, it comes in an 18 and 20-liter capacity. Osprey continues to create quality packs that are among the best daypacks for hiking.
Weight: 1 lb. 1 oz.
Capacities: 12, 16, 20, 24, 32L
The Deuter Speed Lite 20 is a day hiking backpack geared toward alpine climbs, short ski tours, summit pushes, and adventure races. This pack uses the Delrin® U-frame, which means it can remain light at only one pound one ounce while still offering quality support. The packs padding helps to enhance comfort and breathability even on longer hikes. There are a total of five pockets, so you can easily make sure you have quick access to things like your phone and portable travel camera when you need them. The pack also includes accessory loops for gear or a helmet holder attachment. If you need to be able to move quickly through rugged conditions then go with the Deuter Speed Lite 20.
Weight: 2 lbs. 12 oz.
Capacities: 24, 34, 36, 50L
Gender: Men (Women: Osprey Sirrus 24)
The Osprey Stratos 24 is an amazing pack for men, so it should come as no surprise that its women’s version, the Osprey Sirrus 24 is the best women’s daypack for hiking. These daypacks have been designed to be able to carry anything you may need, whether you’re in California day hiking in Big Sur or in Krka National Park on your day trip from Split. The 24-liter pack offers dual-zippered panel access to the main compartment and a total of five exterior pockets. The Osprey Stratos 24 weighs two pounds 12 ounces and measures 22’” x 12” x 12”. Integrated into the pack is a raincover and an internal hydration reservoir sleeve. It also has an ice-tool loop with bungee tie-off. To make sure you can take everything you need with you without being weighed down, go with the Osprey Sirrus 24 or the Osprey Stratos 24.
Weight: 9 oz.
Capacities: 18, 22L
The versatility of the REI Co-op Flash 18 makes it an ideal hikers daypack. Whether you’re touring Paris or exploring a US national park, this pack will have you covered. The 18-liter pack only weighs nine ounces and measures 17” x 10” x 7”. If you’re looking to save even more weight, the sternum and hip belt strap can be detached. The back panel pad is removable and can be used to sit on. The pack is hydration-compatible, including an internal sleeve and hose exit port, and also includes a weather flap to seal the top in the event of rain. The outside of the pack has loops to add extra gear, a zippered pocket, and a daisy chain with an ice-axe loop. The REI Co-op Flash 18 is a great multi-use pack for city tours and shorter outdoor adventures.
Weight: 2 lbs. 9 oz.
Capacities: 20, 24L
You’re prepared for almost anything when you’re wearing the CamelBak Fourteener 24. It’s one of the best day hiking packs because it perfectly combines comfort, ventilation, and weight. This daypack is equipped with an Air Support™ Back Panel that includes innovative air tunnels to help maximize ventilation while also promoting load stability. It includes a new CRUX™ reservoir with Quicklink™ system that can hold three liters of water. The pack has a 21-liter capacity, weighs two pounds ten ounces, and measures 21.3” x 11.8” x 11”. It has nine exterior pockets to keep you organized and a trekking pole carry. Hikers truly appreciate the unmatched performance offered by the CamelBak Fourteener 24.
Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz.
Capacities: 13, 20L
The Osprey Daylite Plus is a simple pack that allows you to travel comfortably and conveniently. It comes in six fun colors and includes a pocket for a hydration reservoir. When you’re not hiking you can tuck away the shoulder straps and carry the bag by its integrated handle. Yes, it’s a great daypack for backpacking, but its size also makes it an ideal alternative for air travel if you don’t want to take your traditional carry-on luggage. This bag has a 20-liter capacity, weighs about one pound four ounces, and measures 18” x 10” x 9”. The main compartment includes a padded interior sleeve to hold a small travel laptop, tablet, and other electronics. No matter how you choose to use it, you’ll really appreciate having the Osprey Daylite Plus by your side.
Weight: 2 lbs. 3.3 oz.
Capacities: 14, 20, 28, 36L
The Patagonia Nine Trails 28 is perfect for those looking to spend their days in the mountains. The 28-liter pack truly has room for all of your essentials, from clothing layers to food to your hiking headlamp. The pack was made with thoughtful features like a wide opening U-shaped main zipper for easy access to everything inside and a stash pocket to help you keep track of easily lost items like keys and sunscreen. This pack is equipped with a mono-mesh back panel to allow for excellent airflow and prevent moisture buildup. The perforated foam and dual compression straps help you manage a variety of load sizes comfortably. The nylon material and polyester lining are both treated with a DWR finish and polyurethane coating. If you’re heading to the mountains then the Patagonia Nine Trails 28 is one of the best hiking day backpacks you could bring along.
Weight: 1 lb. 2.4 oz.
Capacities: 18, 22L
This daypack’s three-liter reservoir, coupled with Greogory’s proprietary 3D QuickDry soft-molded technology and integrated drying hanger, allows it to easily be one of the best backpacks for day hiking. The bag has three exterior pockets, including one for your refillable travel water bottle, a magnetic sternum strap, contoured padded shoulder harnesses, and more. This 18-liter pack weighs about one pound two ounces and measures 19.5” x 10.25” x 6.5”. The Gregory Nano 18 H2O also includes reflective attachment loops to secure trail accessories, a top drawcord opening, and a padded tubular webbing haul handle. Whether you’re headed out for a day hike or a fun weekend with friends touring Seattle, the Gregory Nano 18 H2O will make a great companion.
Weight: 2 lbs. 0 oz.
Capacities: 32, 44, 50L
Most people don’t hike very frequently, so when you’re shopping for good daypacks for hiking, be sure to consider versatility. The Kelty Redwing 32 is a great example of this. This rugged and lightweight daypack can be used for hiking as well as things like commuting to work or day-long adventures like touring Cape Peninsula. The 32-liter pack is made of 420D polyester, weighs two pounds, and measures 22” x 14” 11”. It has six exterior pockets, includes a dual-use laptop / hydration sleeve, and has loops for trekking poles or ice axes. The Kelty Redwing 32 is a high-quality option for all of your short-term outdoor adventures.
Weight: 2.5 oz.
If you’re a minimalist hiker or looking for an ultralight daypack on a budget, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil may be the perfect pack for you. The thing it lacks is padding, so you’re not going to want to overload it or take it on an extended hike, but it does have great qualities that make it an excellent choice for some hikers. This 20-liter pack only weighs 2.5 ounces and can pack down small enough to fit in the pocket of your hiking pants. The pack is ideal for holding things like a rain jacket, snacks, and souvenirs. Its stuff sack has a carabiner so you can easily attach it to your backpack when you’re on the go. This award-winning daypack has the advantage of being small enough to go with you to some places the larger daypacks can’t (like certain museums), so if you’re traveling light be sure to consider the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil.
A good quality daypack will let you travel as light or heavy as you need to for the day while still allowing you to be comfortable and enjoy the world around you.