If you’re planning a trip filled with hikes or other daytime adventures, you might be in the market for a packable backpack. Your main luggage is probably too bulky to drag around on a shorter excursion, but shoving an empty backpack into a suitcase can significantly increase the weight of your luggage and take up precious cargo space.
Lightweight and compact, a packable backpack, also known as a daypack, is an innovative travel accessory that can easily accompany you wherever you go. They conveniently pack into their own pocket or accompanying sack and offer users compact portability and a minimalist design. The right packable backpack should strike the optimal balance between portability and functionality as well as offer convenient additional features depending on its intended use. This guide tells you what to look for and lists the best daypacks currently on the market.
Quick Answer: Best Packable Backpacks
Below is a list of the best packable backpacks for travel. Click on the name to read reviews and check prices.
- Best Overall: Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack
- Best for Durability: Matador On-Grid Packable Backpack
- Best Budget: Amazon Basics Ultralight Packable Day Pack
- Best for Hiking: REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack
- Best Ultralight: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Travel Day Pack
- Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Daypack
- Columbia Lightweight Packable Backpack
- Herschel Packable Casual Daypack
- Eddie Bauer Stowaway Packable Daypack
- Tortuga Setout Packable Daypack
Best Overall Packable Backpack
All factors considered, the overall best packable backpack is the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack. Osprey is well known for creating high quality packs with affordable price tags, and this packable daypack is certainly no exception. It’s hard to believe that this pack’s weightless design offers an 18-liter capacity and convenient features comparable to its heavyweight counterparts. Designed with four ounces of durable ripstop nylon, the pack features a dual-zipper main pocket, a convenient top zipper compartment, and a water bottle pocket. Osprey also offers a lifetime warranty on all of their products, so you can rest easy knowing you’ve made a smart purchase. With its top-notch comfort, durability, and accessibility, the Ultralight Stuff Pack is definitely the best packable backpack for travel.
Best Packable Backpack for Durability
Designed with high quality reinforced nylon, this ultradurable packable daypack is a reliable travel accessory whether you’re hiking up a mountain or navigating urban transportation. The completely waterproof exterior is proven to keep your belongings safe and dry and is capable of standing up to harsh winds, downpours, and even extreme winter weather. The Matador On-Grid Packable Backpack is extremely lightweight, and the innovative design allows it to pack into its own pocket, making it easy to transport when not in use. Its 16-liter capacity makes this the smallest backpack on our list and a great choice for anyone looking to pack light. With laptop compatibility, two external water bottle pockets, and multiple internal zipper compartments, this brilliant product from Matador is as accessible as it is durable.
Best Budget Packable Backpack
If you’re looking for an affordable option but don’t want to sacrifice quality, the Amazon Basics Ultralight Packable Day Pack is definitely the way to go. With a 25-liter capacity and a total weight under eight ounces, this convenient pack can hold all of your essential belongings while still offering compact portability. The main compartment’s two-way zipper closure will keep contents secure, and the extra internal pocket is great for organizing smaller items. There are also two mesh water bottle pockets and breathable shoulder straps that make this a great pick for any adventure. When empty, the pack can fold into its own front pocket, and the water-resistant exterior adds to its impressive versatility and durability.
Best Packable Backpack for Hiking
With a hydration-compatible design and enough capacity to hold all of your hiking essentials, the REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack is the best daypack for any outdoor adventure. You can attach your ice-axe and other essential gear to the daisy chain and exterior loops, and the external zipper pocket keeps smaller items easily accessible. The pack also offers a convenient sleeve for a water reservoir, and the mesh shoulder straps come with extra padding that reduces friction and makes the pack comfortable to carry. Additional comfortable features include a convenient hip belt and an adjustable sternum strap, and the padded back panel can be removed and used as a seat pad. With a quick-pull drawcord, the pack can easily be opened with one hand, and the attached weather flap seals the opening and protects your belongings. This 18-liter packable backpack is also made with certified eco-friendly materials, making it a great choice for any nature enthusiast or environmentally conscious consumer.
Best Ultralight Packable Backpack
Weighing in at just 2.5 ounces, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Travel Day Pack is the lightest backpack on our list. If compactability is your main concern and you’re looking to minimize the weight of your luggage in any way possible, this is definitely the daypack for you. The ultralight design allows the bag to pack into a small sack that can hang on a keychain, and it even comes on a carabiner for secure transport. Despite its compact design, the convenient daypack offers an impressive 20-liter capacity when expanded. Although this travel pack is virtually weightless, it still offers a strong and durable exterior made from nylon, reinforced stitching, and a two-way zipper closure. This innovative accessory from Sea to Summit offers an impressive capacity and a reliable design that makes it the best lightweight packable backpack on the market.
Best of the Rest
For an ultralight daypack with a smaller price tag and a greater carrying capacity, consider this 40-liter pack from Venture Pal. Although this pack boasts the carrying capacity of a large carry-on bag, it weighs a mere 11.2 ounces. It easily tucks into its own pocket so you can stow it in your luggage without sacrificing significant space or weight. In addition to its larger capacity, the Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Daypack is made with tear-proof water-resistant nylon and a double-layer bottom piece that makes it suitable for carrying heavier loads. Multiple internal compartments keep your belongings organized, and a separate waterproof pocket is useful for keeping wet items separate. With padded shoulder straps and an adjustable chest clip, this high-quality pack is comfortable to carry, even when it’s packed to the brim.
Highly regarded for their best-in-class sportsgear and top-rated backpacks, Columbia offers another great daypack made from lightweight materials and durable stitching. This 21-liter backpack features a simple design with a main compartment organized by a divider and a convenient external pocket for keeping smaller valuables handy. The entire pack weighs just 10.6 ounces and can be stowed in an internal sleeve and quickly removed when needed. Another notable aspect of the Columbia Lightweight Packable Backpack is that it comes in eleven stylish colors including standard neutrals and vibrant neons. For a high quality backpack from a trustworthy brand, Columbia has got you covered.
With sturdy materials and stylish flagship designs, Herschel has become an increasingly popular backpack brand. Their classic backpacks are widely trusted to stand up to heavy everyday use, and that same standard of quality extends to the Herschel Packable Casual Daypack. This ultralight 24.5-liter packable backpack mimics the brand’s classic style but collapses into its own pocket for easy transport. Available in several colors and patterns, the pack also offers a convenient external pocket and adjustable shoulder straps. Given Herschel’s impressive record of producing quality backpacks, it comes as no surprise that they’ve created one of the best daypacks on the market.
This highly versatile 20-liter packable backpack is crafted from water-resistant ripstop polyester designed to endure both the harsh conditions of outdoor adventure and the repeated strain of everyday use. A great choice for organization, the Eddie Bauer Stowaway Packable Daypack is equipped with three external zipper pockets, one internal Velcro compartment, and two additional water bottle pockets. The smallest external pocket also functions to store the backpack for effortless transportation, and a breathable padded back panel and adjustable padded shoulder straps make comfort a priority. There are also four front lashing loops to store additional gear, making this another great pack to take on a hike. With several attractive colors to choose from, Eddie Bauer offers a pack for every style.
This 19-liter daypack is made from 8.5 ounces of ripstop nylon and duraflex buckles that strike the optimal balance between durability and weightlessness. The minimalist design is sleek and stylish while still offering convenient features, including a front zipper compartment and expandable water bottle pockets. The pack is highly rated for comfort and features an adjustable sternum strap as well as a generously padded back panel and shoulder straps. With breathable mesh where the bag touches your skin, this ergonomic backpack is made to keep you cool no matter the weather. The fairly simple design and standard measurements make this packable daypack highly versatile and a reliable choice for any adventure.
What to Look For in a Good Packable Backpack
Whether you’re limited by airline guidelines or how much you can carry, managing weight restrictions is an important part of traveling. One benefit to packable backpacks is that they are extremely lightweight, making them perfect for anyone looking to cut down their load. Heavier daypacks with a lot of extra features can weigh up to a pound, while some are virtually weightless at just a few ounces. If every ounce counts for your upcoming trip, consider scaling down on extra features and choosing an ultralight daypack.
Size and Capacity
The most convenient feature of packable backpacks is their ability to fold up to a very small size, and some can even be packed small enough to hang on a keychain or fit in your pocket. Despite their compactability, these handy backpacks come in a variety of capacities. It’s important to choose a pack that is large enough to fit all of your essentials but doesn’t offer too much extra space for unnecessary items.
When it comes to ensuring that your pack can hold all of your essential items, durability is equally as important as capacity. Since these packs are made to be thin and lightweight, lower quality options are often made from cheap unreliable material. The best packable backpacks for travel are generally made from ripstop nylon or polyester and although they don’t need to be expensive, they should hold up against significant wear and long-term travel. Depending on the type of trip you’re preparing for, you may want to choose a pack with a water-resistant exterior, if not one that is completely waterproof.
The best daypacks offer a lightweight alternative to a standard travel backpack without skimping on comfortable features. Hip and sternum straps are great for taking some weight off of your shoulders, and padded back panels and shoulder straps can reduce friction, making the pack easier to carry. If you think you might be sweating when carrying the backpack, make sure that the back and shoulder straps are made from mesh or another breathable material.
In addition to comfort, convenience and organization are essential components of a good packable backpack. Exterior pockets keep small essentials like your phone and wallet safe and accessible, and internal pockets and dividers are great for organizing larger belongings.
Reason for Use
If you’re planning to take your daypack for a hike or other outdoor adventure, hydration is probably one of your top priorities. In this case, look for a pack with external water bottle pockets or a designated space for a hydration reservoir. Some packable backpacks also come with external chains and loops for attaching extra gear. For a different kind of day trip, designated laptop compartments and card holders might come in handy. There are also many great packs on the market that are made for a diverse array of activities and feature a versatile design with a combination of the aforementioned components.
Whether you’re looking for a travel-friendly hiking backpack, or you just want an ultralight alternative to your everyday pack, you can’t go wrong with this list of the best packable backpacks for travel.