When you want to go out on a day hike, a critical piece of kit you need to have with you is a day pack. A day pack is a small backpack that enables you to carry all the necessary bits of kit for your day hike.
So, that bit of food for a snack and your lunch, the all important water to keep you hydrated and a place to keep extra layers of gear should you need to put them or a place to put them if you take some off.
As with rain Jackets and hiking boots, a daypack is pretty much a necessity for your basic hiking gear kit. As with any piece of outdoor gear kit these days though, there is a plethora of choices available to you on today’s market, lots of good ones and lots of not so good ones. Nothing new there 🙂
As always though, let's start at the start …
Know What You Need Your Pack For
I list this section in every one of the gear pages on the site and while it could be tiresome to some if they re-read it, I can’t over emphasize this point enough.
You need to know what you need a pack for. This gets easier as you get more experienced with hiking but when you’re new to hiking, it can be a bit confusing. There are so many different sizes of packs, from day packs to back packs … what’s the best option for me!? what will meet my needs!?
While this page is specifically about day packs, it’s worth looking into this on a broader scale for a moment to help illustrate what I mean.
As always, start with what you need your pack for ... where are you going hiking? Are you going for a few days? Will you need to wild camp? Are you only ever day hiking? If so, for 2 hours or 10 hours? Will you be hiking in hot conditions and so may need to carry less extra gear, or will you also be heading out in the middle of winter when it’s near zero degrees at the summit of the peaks you want to climb?
As you can see, the answers to all of these questions will have a large impact on the kind of pack you need to get.
Now, as mentioned, this page is about day packs so we’re not talking about backpacking or camping for a night or two here. That immediately excludes the bigger internal and external frame backpacks. However, even within the smaller range of daypack sizes available, there is still a lot to consider.
If you’re completely new to all this and you’re not 100% sure what your needs are and what specific things you should be looking for in a day pack, check out the day pack buying guide. It runs you through everything you should consider and what features are good to have in a day pack.
How This Page Works
As mentioned above, there are a lot of really good day pack options available on the market today. This is a good thing, choice is always nice!
What I’ve done here, as with the other gear pages, is pick out a couple of my favorite hiking day pack options.
I’ve decided top pick two main options with the distinction being in terms of size. My preferred size of a hiking day pack is 30 to 35 liters. However, I do also utilize smaller packs in summer, 20 to 25 liters.
You can click on the image or links below to be taken either to a more detailed review here on the site or to and external link where more information is available.
Remember, do your homework first! Depending on the result of your investigations based on the buying guide i.e. deciding what you need your day pack for, what type of hiking you’re doing, what kind of climate, etc. , a 30 to 35 liter or 20 to 25 liter day pack, may be a better option for you.
Personally, I use and recommend a 30 to 35 liter day pack as it should do you all year round. It has that bit of extra space for extra layers should you need to carry more gear at colder times of year. At hotter times, you just have less kit in it so no problems there.
As Always, I’m conscious of the fact that you may not like my choices so you can check out more day pack options here. The reviews there list out a further selection of very good day pack options. They’re all functional and have a lot of positive user reviews.
OK, without further ado …
Just to reiterate again, I am listing out two options. The first one is a 30 liter option which is within my recommended choice of size. The second, is a smaller day pack which is also a very good option should you prefer something smaller than 30 liters.
Best 30 Liter Day Pack
If you day hike all year round and like to do longer hikes of 20 km's plus, I recommend a 30 Liter pack. It has that bit of extra space to carry a few extra layers, snacks, etc. The Gregory Z30 Day Pack is an excellent option.
The Gregory Z30 is a great option from a very popular range of packs from Gregory. Very functional, it has most of the things I would look for in a good day pack e.g. a rain cover, hydration bladder sleeve, etc.
The range of available pockets is excellent: 2 zippered panel, 1 zippered bucket, 2 stretch water bottle pockets, 2 waist belt pockets, an internal security pocket. It has a sturdy design and construction utilizing 210D nylon and 100D nylon in the body; 210D Nylon in the base as well as 200D polyester for the lining. (D = dernier, a unit of measurement to determine fiber thickness)
Click on the image above to learn more.
Pros: Good capacity for year round day hiking, rain cover included, hydration sleeve, lots of pockets
Cons: May be too big for folks hiking in year round sunnier climes
Best Uses: Day hiking, general outdoor use, day-to-day use
Learn more about the Gregory Z30 backpack here.
Best Small Hiking Day Pack
For summer day hiking in warmer temperatures, a smaller day pack can sometimes be a better option. An excellent choice for summit days or shorter hikes in good weather is the Osprey Talon 22 Day Pack.
The Osprey Talon 22 is another very good option from another very well known and loved backpack brand name. With a capacity of 22 liters, this pack is an excellent option if the 30 to 35 liters size is too big for your needs. The Talon is again, very functional. It has lots of pocket options, a hydration sleeve and is a tough and rugged pack that will last you a long time.
With lots of the standard attachment features e.g. helmet, ice ace, trekking pole etc. you have in the Talon 22 most of the things you could need for an excellent smaller sized day pack for the trail. It features a tough and durable construction utilizing 70D x 100D mini-shadow nylon and 210D nylon dobby. As a final note, it also has lots of great user reviews and is a very popular choice.
Click on the image above to learn more about the Talon 22. Finally it’s worth noting that the Osprey Talon 33 is also available. It has a similar construction as the 22 but with more capacity and a few more features.
Pros: The Talon 22 features reasonable capacity for day hiking, hydration sleeve, lots of functional pockets and features
Cons: No built in rain cover
Best Uses: Day hiking, general outdoor use, day-to-day use, biking
Learn more about the Osprey Talon 22 Daypack here.
OK, so that’s it for now. I hope you found my recommendations useful and they help you pick the right day pack for your hiking needs. As always, take your time and educate yourself well in the process and, most importantly, be clear about what you need your pack for.
Remember the day packs listed here are good for day hiking but not suitable for longer hiking or backpacking trips, you need something bigger for that. Knowing what you need your pack for is key. Read the hiking daypack buying guide first, that will walk you through all the many things you need to consider when choosing a day pack.
When you've done that, have a good think about how much stuff you need to carry with you on your day hikes at different times of the year. In short summary, know what your needs are before your purchase.
Finally, in the sidebar, there are lot's of gear coupon options available. Be sure to check them out before you purchase anything, you could bag yourself a bargain!
I’ll be updating this as things change but these are my recommendations for now. If you've any questions on any of this or if I can help in any way, feel free to leave a comment or send me a note via the contact page. Happy to help if I can.