In this post we preview the best day packs for hiking in 2021. When you want to head out on a day hike, a critical piece of kit you need to have with you is a daypack.
A daypack 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 🙂
All of the packs listed here are good daypack options for the trail. They all have lots of excellent user feedback and tick all the functional boxes for a good hiking daypack. Note, any reference to prices listed here are only to serve as a guide, to see live prices, click on the links for each daypack.
If you’re totally new to buying a daypack for hiking, we list some buying advice and FAQ’s below, after the daypacks.
If you don’t have time to go through the full list and just want to know our top recommendation, then we can tell you that our top pick is the REI Co-Op Traverse 35. It’s an excellent daypack that will allow you to comfortably carry your day hiking gear on the trail.
OK, let’s get started!
1. REI Co-op Traverse 35
- The listed capacity is 35L, which is at the higher end of the range for a daypack, which means you can pack more gear with the extra space
- Fits well and is comfortable when loaded up
- Features a functional stuff-it pocket for wet gear
- Hydration reservoir compatible (sold separately)
- Ventilation on the back panel could work better
- Could be too big for some peoples day hiking needs
REI Co-op Traverse 35 Daypack Features Summary:
- Back panel offers the lumbar support of a traditional back panel with the breathability of a trampoline back panel
- 3D contoured hipbelt with sculpted foam padding hugs your body for a perfect fit and all-day comfort
- REI UpLift™ Compression technology pulls the pack load up and in, closer to your center of gravity, to improve your balance and stability
- Large zippered front pocket for on-the-go organization lies on top of a large stuff-it pocket to store wet, dirty or bulky gear
- On-the go bottle pockets mean you never have to ask your hiking partner to grab your water bottle for you
- Integrated raincover can be deployed in wet weather to help keep the pack and its contents dry
- Lightweight, durable, 200-denier recycled ripstop nylon body with rugged, 400-denier recycled nylon Oxford bottom for durability
- Tool keepers and lash points let you strap trekking poles or other gear to the outside of the pack
- Spacious hipbelt pockets can fit a phone, camera or food for on the go
- Hydration compatible (reservoir sold separately) with tube holder on shoulder strap
- Capacity: M: 35L (2135 Cubic Inches) L: 37L (2257 Cubic Inches) – plenty of space for extra gear, etc.
- Claimed weight: M: 1417g / 3 lb 2 oz – L: 1474 / 3lb 4 oz
Best Uses: Day hiking, light backpacking, travel, general outdoor use, general day-to-day use
The Traverse 35 daypack from REI Co-op is a top notch day pack from REI. REI are a well-known and respected outdoor store, who sell their own brand products as well as own label branded products. This a roomy day pack and we like it a lot.
The Traverse 35 pack is constructed using a lightweight and durable, 200-denier recycled ripstop nylon body with rugged, 400-denier recycled nylon Oxford bottom.
This gives you a tough and durable pack, and it’s good that the bottom is reinforced that bit more as it will take the brunt in terms of weight and abrasion,
The straps are adjustable and in combination with the 3D contoured hipbelt, which comes with sculpted foam padding, the pack is designed to hug your body to provide a good fit. This design feature works well and the pack fits the body in a snug and comfortable manner.
The back panel in the pack provides good lumbar support while aiming to not sacrifice on breathability. This is one aspect of the pack that could work a bit better, but overall it is still very functional.
The Traverse 35 has two size / capacity options, Medium and Large. The medium option comes in at 35L (2135 Cubic Inches) and the large at 37L (2257 Cubic Inches).
This is at the higher end of the capacity range for a daypack but it provides some nice versatility. For example, at 35L it is feasible to use this pack for a short backpacking trip.
Also, if you hike in places were the weather is, shall we say, turbulent, then the extra space provides the capability to pack extra layers for heavier rains and colder temperatures. Similarly, if you are a hike leader, the extra space will come in handy for packing extra safety gear and so on for your group,
Moving on to the storage capabilities of the Traverse 35, the pack includes a total of 8 exterior pockets as well as the main compartment. Some nice features in the pockets are the stuff it pocket, which is great to put wet gear into, keeping it away from dry gear in the main compartment.
Another nice pocket feature comes in the functional water bottle pockets, which work well and are accessible i.e. you don’t need to ask someone else to get your water bottle out of them for you.
Finally, the zipped hip belt pockets are nice as they are easily accessible on the go and they are also very functional for storing some items away securely e.g. a mobile phone.
The pack has an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir with a tube holder on the strap. The pack does not come with a hydration reservoir, you need to get that separately.
There are tool keepers and lash points on the pack so you can also store items by attaching them to the outside of the pack e.g. trekking poles. The pack also comes with a rain cover which can be deployed as and when you need it to help keep your gear inside dry.
We think the Traverse 35 is an excellent day pack offering from REI and you could do a lot worse than picking this up. You will get a lot of excellent use from this quality piece of kit!
2. Osprey Talon 22
- A very comfortable, fast and lightweight daypack that ticks all the boxes for a daypack for a day hike out on the trail
- Lots of excellent pocket options that are both functional and practical e.g. front pocket for storing wet gear, zip hip belt pockets for easy access items on the go, etc.
- Plenty of practical hiking features e.g. hydration sleeve, key attachment, helmet, ice axe and trekking poles attachment, etc.
- The Osprey Talon product range has undergone several iterations, so the pack has a lot of user feedback, and therefore user based improvements, incorporated into its design and construction
- May not be ideal for longer day hikes or if you need to pack a lot of extra layers, a larger volume like the Osprey Talon 33 could be a better choice
- Be careful to pick the most suitable size option for your needs i.e. S/M or M/L
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack Features Summary:
- Material Construction: 70D x 100D mini-shadow nylon and 210D nylon block dobby
- Stretch front pocket; stretch mesh side pockets with InsideOut™ compression; stretch pocket on harness; Twin zippered hip belt pockets
- AirScape™ mesh covered accordion foam backpanel for comfort and fit
- External hydration access
- Internal key attachment clip
- LED light attachment point
- LidLock™ bike helmet attachment
- Seamless lumbar to hipbelt body wrap
- Single ice axe loop
- Sternum strap with emergency whistle
- Stow-on-the-Go™ trekking pole attachment
- Zippered panel access
- 22L volume (1343 (M/L)) ideal for layers, lunch, and hydration
- Dimensions: 20.1 x 10.2 x 9.4 (M/L) (H x W x D) inches
- Claimed weight: l lb 10oz (M/L)
Best Uses: Day hiking, biking, camping, general outdoor use, general day-to-day use
Good for day hiking all year round, the Talon 22 from Osprey offers a lot of functional capability in a stylish looking design and construction.
The Talon 22 is constructed using a combination of 70D x 100D mini-shadow nylon and 210D nylon block dobby. This material provides a tough and strong material which will stand up well, to use and abuse on the trail.
The pack also features AirScape™ suspension, which is a trademark mesh that helps air circulate around your back as you wear the pack on the move.
The pack is secured using a BioStretch Harness (mesh covered die-cut foam), which is a gender specific built-in hipbelt, so it can be easily adjusted to different body sizes and shapes. The die cut slotted hipbelt also features zippered stretch mesh pockets, more on that further below.
The pack also secures around the chest using an adjustable sternum strap, which also features a rescue whistle, which is always handy to have!
Overall, the pack volume comes in at 20L (1220cu in) for the small/medium and 22L (1343cu in) for the medium/large.
In terms of storage, as well as the main compartment, which is accessed via a zipper closure, the pack also features a stretch front pocket, stretch mesh side pockets with InsideOut™ compression, a stretch pocket on the harness and, as referenced above, two zippered hip belt pockets. All the pockets are well designed, functional and easy to access.
The pack features a hydration sleeve so you can easily pack water for easy access on the move. The pack design and construction also provides the ability to attach a helmet, tools, like an ice ax, and carry trekking poles when they’re not in use.
An internal key attachment clip and LED light attachment point are also featured. Note, a rain cover is not included with the Talon 22.
The Talon 22 is also available in multiple different colors e.g. Black, Martian Red, Spring Green and Ultramarine Blue.
Given the quality construction and amount of practical features on the pack, we feel it’s a good pack, and you’ll get a lot of excellent use out of it.
Finally, the Talon line of packs from Osprey has been around for a long time, so there are numerous iterations of improvements included in this latest version. It’s also worth noting, that both smaller and larger capacities are available, for example the Osprey Talon 11 and the Osprey Talon 33.
In our opinion, the Talon 11 is too small to be a functional daypack for hiking, but the 33 could work well, if you need to carry more extra layers than will pack into the Talon 22. However for most day hikers, 20 to 25L capacity should work pretty well.
3. Black Diamond Bolt 24
- Plenty of practical hiking external carry features e.g. tool attachment, poles, etc.
- Comfortable fit providing excellent mobility
- Hydration compatible
- No real water resistance
Black Diamond Bolt 24 Daypack Features Summary:
- Material Construction: 210d ripstop main, 210d dobby abrasion
- Front, side and hipbelt stretch pockets; stretch-mesh side pockets for stashing gear
- SwingArm™ straps for ease of movement
- High-flow OpenAir™ backpanel and hipbelt
- Top-loading with fixed top pocket and side zip access
- Trekking pole/ice axe attachment loops, bike light clip
- Hydration compatible with external-access hydration sleeve
- 24 L (1,465 cu in)
- Claimed average weight: 940 g (2 lb 1 oz)
Best Uses: Day hiking, biking, skiing, general outdoor use, general day-to-day use
The Bolt 24 from Black Diamond is a very functional and versatile day pack. It’s perfect for day hiking all year round but it will also work well for a wide variety of other outdoor activities e.g. biking, skiing, etc.
As well as offering functional capability, it comes in a stylish looking design and very durable construction.
The Bolt 24 is constructed using 210d ripstop main and 210d dobby abrasion. This is a strong and durable material which will take a lot of beating.
The pack also features ‘Black Diamonds High-flow OpenAir™ backpanel’, which helps to provide good ventilation all around your back as you push yourself and the heat starts building.
The pack is secured using a chest Harness and hipbelt. Overall, this works well to get a good fit, although there are no lower compression straps. The pack volume comes in at 24 L (1,465 cu in) so a good amount for a daypack for a day out on the trail.
In terms of storage, as well as the main compartment, which is accessed from the top but also has a side access option, the pack also has a top pocket. The pack also comes with front, side mesh and hipbelt stretch pockets, so you have plenty of storage options available.
The pack is hydration pack compatible with an external access hydration sleeve. So you can pack your hydration pack for easy drinking access while on the move. The pack design and construction also provides the ability to attach various tools, like an ice axe, trekking poles, etc.
Given the quality construction and amount of practical features on the Bolt 24 pack, we feel it’s a good hiking day pack. It’s designed well and you should get a lot of great use from it.
4. Marmot Kompressor Plus
- The design and construction of this pack is all about being lightweight and fast, and it definitely works in that regard
- Good for day hikes, summit days and general outdoor use and comes at a low to mid-range price tag for a day pack
- Has most of the requirements that should cater for most day hikers requirements and needs
- The capacity may be a bit on the smaller side, but if you’re OK with that, it’s not a big deal
- Some more pocket options would be nice, but that kind of goes against the design principles of what this pack is aiming for
The Marmot Kompressor Plus Daypack Features Summary:
- Material construction: Main Fabric: 100d 89% Nylon 11% Polyester Ripstop; Secondary Fabric: 210d 210T 100% Nylon Ripstop; Lining Fabric: 135d 100% Polyester
- Airmesh Shoulder Straps and Back Panel
- Single Tool/Trekking Pole Attachment
- Hydration Port and Clip for Hanging Reservoir
- Removable Closed-cell Foam Back Sheet
- Removable Webbing Waist Belt
- Full Body, Lightweight Compression Straps
- Daisy Chains
- Sternum Strap
- Durability Without the Weight
- Highly Compressible
- YKK Zippers
- Capacity: 20L (1220cu in)
- Claimed weight: 0lbs 12.5oz (350g)
Best Uses: Day hiking, camping, general outdoor use, general day-to-day use
The Marmot Kompressor Plus, is another good day pack option, that is worth a look if you’re in the market for a daypack.
Again designed for the purpose of day hiking specifically in mind, the Kompressor is constructed using a great combination of a lot of very durable materials.
The main fabric is 100d 89% nylon 11% polyester ripstop which is combined with a secondary 210d 210T 100% nylon ripstop. Finally, the lining fabric is 135d 100% polyester.
So, with all of that in mind, the material is without a doubt tough and very abrasion resistant, without being heavy.
In terms of capacity the Kompressor Plus offers 20L (1220cu in). Honestly, we feel that is approaching the smaller side for a day pack, but if you have ultra-lightweight gear that easily packs away, you should still be good with that capacity.
The claimed weight of the pack is 0lbs 12.5oz (350g), so it will work well for shorter day hikes and summit days on a longer backpacking trip. The pack also has a removable backpanel, which is in keeping with the ‘fast-and-light’ capabilities that are clearly intended with the design.
The pack features Airmesh shoulder straps which help enable ventilation as you move. Again, this adds to the pack being lightweight as well as providing a comfortable fit. The pack is secured with a sternum strap and a hip belt strap, so the normal standard for a day pack in that regard.
In terms of storage, the Marmot Kompressor Plus features one main compartment, a front side zip pocket and it also comes with an hydration sleeve for a reservoir (not included). The pack also features a single Tool/Trekking Pole Attachment and it stuffs into its own lid, so it can be packed away.
For the retail price, this pack comes in at a pretty accessible price, and in line with other pack price points featured here. The Marmot Kompressor is available in multiple different color options as well e.g. black / slate gray to name out favorite color combo.
Overall, the Marmot Kompressor Plus is a lightweight and neat little pack, that is a good option for day hikes out on the trail. The only qualm we have, as mentioned above, is that we feel it is a bit on the smaller side, in terms of capacity.
5. REI Co-op Flash 22
- A wallet friendly price is a pro for the REI Flash 22 pack, which has most of the main features and functional capabilities a day hiker needs
- At 22L, listed capacity, it sits at the just about right size for a daypack, with a functional hydration sleeve
- Ticks all the basic boxes for a basic functional day pack for the trail, that can easily be used for other purposes e.g. travel, etc.
- A lightweight and comfortable day pack
- Single layer bottom of the pack is not as durable as other similar day packs
- Stuff can fall out of side pockets, especially larger water bottles, when bending over or twisting awkwardly as you hike
REI Co-op Flash 22 Daypack Features Summary:
- Material construction: Nylon
- Lightly padded stretch-mesh shoulder straps move freely for comfort on the trail
- Mesh back is soft, breathable and lightly padded for comfort
- Waistbelt and sternum strap can be detached
- Includes a zippered lid pocket and a zippered pocket on the front
- Has an internal sleeve to hold a hydration reservoir (sold separately); includes a port to route the sip tube over either shoulder
- Stash side pockets can hold bottles and other trail essentials
- Tool loops on top and bottom of the pack can be tucked away when not needed
- Capacity: 22L volume (1343 Cubic Inches) ideal for layers, lunch, and hydration
- Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 8 inches (H x W x D) inches
- Claimed weight: 369g / 13 oz
Best Uses: Day hiking, biking, travel, general outdoor use, general day-to-day use
Third on our list is the Flash 22 daypack from REI. We’ve pegged this as our best budget day pack recommendation.
The Flash 22 is constructed using a durable nylon material. The shoulder straps are adjustable and feature lightly padded stretch-mesh. They move freely to provide comfort as you hike on the trail.
The pack also features a mesh back which is soft, breathable and lightly padded for further comfort as you hike.
The pack is secured using a waistbelt and sternum chest strap, both of which can be detached if required.
At 22L (1343 CI) capacity, the Flash 22 sits in the range of what we would normally recommend for a day pack in terms of size and capacity. However, we did see comments on the measured size being more like 18L, which is a bit lower than what would be our ideal in terms of size, for a day pack.
Again, if you are heading out on longer day hikes or need to carry a lot of extra layers on the trail, a 22L pack, may not be the best option, a larger pack may be more suitable.
However, for a 4 to 5 hour day hike, an average for many hikers, you should be good with the storage capability offered by the Flash 22.
In terms of storage, the Flash 22 includes a zippered lid pocket and a zippered pocket on the front, as well as stash side pockets that can hold water bottles, or other essentials, that require easy access on the move.
The Flash 22 has an internal sleeve which can accommodate a hydration reservoir, and includes a port for the sip tube to be out front, over either shoulder.
The pack also features tool loops on the top and bottom of pack, perfect for attaching trekking poles when not in use. These tool loops can also be tucked away when not needed.
Overall, a decent deal to be had for a decent and functional day pack. The pack is also available in several different color options e.g. black, marigold, spa blue and quiet shade.
As stated at the start, we feel this is the best budget daypack option, so while not as functional and expansive as some other options, it gets some extra weighting in terms of value for money.
6. The North Face Litus 22
- A durable pack with a stylish design and look; good for day hikes, summit days and general outdoor use
- Plenty of functional pocket options and the pack has a functional hydration sleeve which should work well for most, if not all, hydration reservoirs
- Good tool attachment options that should cater for most day hikers requirements and needs
- The pack is definitely pricey in relation to what you get vs. some of the competitor offerings
The North Face Litus 22 Daypack Features Summary:
- Material construction: Body: 100D geo weave nylon, Boot: 210D geo weave nylon
- Lightweight day pack for fast and easy hiking
- NextVent suspension for performance-driven ventilation
- Deep top zipper access to main compartment
- Internal sleeve for hydration reservoir
- Pocket configuration for trail essentials, stashed layers, and more
- Dimensions: S/M 45 x 32 x 18 cm and L/XL 50 x 32 x 18 cm (H x W x D)
- Capacity: S/M at 20L (1220cu in) and L/XL at 23L (1404cu in)
- Claimed weight: S/M at 737 g / 1 lb. 10 oz. and L/XL at 765 g / 1 lb. 11 oz
Best Uses: Day hiking, general outdoor use, general day-to-day use
Next up, we take a look at the Litus 22 pack from The North Face. The North Face are probably the most well known outdoor gear brand around, so they shouldn’t need any explanation as to who they are and what they’re about.
They’ve been around a long time delivering quality gear for a wide range of outdoor sports and activities.
The material construction of the Litus 22 is 100D geo weave nylon for the body of the pack, and 210D geo weave nylon for the boot, or base. The material is tough, abrasion resistant and lightweight, just what you need in a daypack.
Let’s look at some numbers to help give a complimentary idea of shape etc. The pack comes in two sizes, a small/medium at 20L (1220cu in) and a large/x-large at 23L (1404cu in).
These have a claimed weight, respectively, of small/medium at 737g (1 lbs. 10 oz.) and the large/x-large at 765g (1 lb. 11 oz.) The dimensions of the pack are small/medium 45 x 32 x 18in and large/x-large 50 x 32 x 18in (H x W x D).
All in all, like any good day pack, in the Litus 22 we have a pack that is a good size for a short to medium day hike, and perfect for a summit day on a longer trek.
As already referenced above, for longer day hikes, you may need to look for something with a bit more capacity depending on your needs.
The pack features a trampoline-style suspended mesh back panel with contoured Atilon sheet, which provides additional breathability. The aim of this feature is to enable ventilation around the body where the pack rests, to help ensure comfort as you hike.
The pack is secured with a waist belt and chest strap. The waist belt is fixed but both of these are adjustable using the straps to ensure a comfortable fit, and to help adapt to varying body shapes.
In terms of storage, the Litus 22 includes a main compartment with deep zipper access. The Litus 22 also features an exterior pocket and stuff pouch, an interior security pocket, for keys and such, and hip belt pockets, handy for small item access while on the move.
Webbing lash points and dual pole / tool attachments are available on the pack, so you can attach tools as required e.g. an ice ax, trekking poles, etc. should you need to.
The Litus 22 is hydration pack compatible (hydration pack not supplied), so you should be able to use your existing water reservoir with the Litus 22. The hydration reservoir is accessed using a H2O port on the back of the pack.
Our favorite thing about the Litus 22 is its sleek look and design. It almost has an aerodynamic feel to it, which looks pretty cool in our opinion.
Aside from that, it is of course a very functional pack which does what it needs to do for the average day hiker.
7. Osprey Daylite Plus
- Has most of the main features and functional capabilities a day hiker needs, with a decent amount of storage space and pocket options
- A versatile pack that will work great for days out and about in town, a carry on for short weekend trips as well as days out on the trail
- Has a functional hydration sleeve, although check compatibility with your reservoir, and side pockets to hold water bottles
- Although it has a tough and durable construction, it is also a lightweight and comfortable pack to use, by many accounts
- May not be compatible with all hydration reservoirs, so keep that in mind if you already have one
- This pack aims to be a hybrid between a hiking day pack and a travel pack, so you don’t get the full benefits of either option
- No attachment options, for example for trekking poles and so on
The Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack Features Summary:
- Material construction: 210D Nylon Oxford
- External hydration access
- Internal document sleeve
- Internal key attachment clip
- Padded laptop and tablet sleeve
- Removable webbing hipbelt
- Side compression straps
- Sternum strap with emergency whistle
- Stretch mesh side pockets
- Zippered panel access
- 20L volume (1220 Cubic Inches)
- Dimensions: 9 x 10 x 18 / 23 x 25 / 46 cms / inches (H x W x D)
- Claimed weight: 280g (9.9 oz)
Best Uses: Day hiking, travel, general outdoor use, general day-to-day use
As referenced above, Osprey are a well-known brand for making quality and functional backpacks. The Osprey Daylite Plus pack is another excellent daypack option from Osprey that is great for short to medium day hikes on the trail.
The main fabric of the Osprey Daylite Plus is 210D Nylon Oxford, which is a lightweight, flexible nylon fabric. In brief, to give a bit of an explanation on what 210D means, the ‘D’ in 210D stands for ‘Denier’.
Denier is a unit of measurement that is used to determine the fibre thickness of individual threads or filaments used in the creation of textiles and fabrics.
So, in short, the higher the rating, the thicker and sturdier the fabric tends to be. 210D is a high rating so, the fabric on this pack is tough and durable.
The shoulder straps are adjustable and are constructed using mesh, so your shoulders can breathe easily as you move. The pack is secured using a waistbelt, which can be detached if required, and a sternum chest strap which also features an emergency whistle.
The pack also features quick release compression straps on the side, which are easy to operate to help you secure the pack close to your body.
In terms of volume, the Daylite Plus comes in at 20L, so just about good enough for a short to medium day hike, in better conditions.
If you plan to head out on longer day hikes or need to carry a lot of extra layers on the trail, say in colder weather, we recommend looking for something with a bit more space, say 25L to 35L, as 20L may not be enough to carry all you need.
In terms of storage, the Osprey Daylite Plus backpack includes a main compartment, which is closed using a zipper. There is a further zippered front compartment with mini pocket holders inside, and a zippered stretch pocket on the front, handy for storing an easy access layer should you need it.
The pack features a padded laptop and tablet sleeve, while not a requirement for a day out on the trail, this could be a useful addition for those wishing to use this pack for multiple purposes e.g. moving around town as well as day hiking. This also doubles as a space for a hydration reservoir.
The pack has twin side mesh pockets, which can be used to store water bottles, or other essentials, that require easy access on the move.
The Daylite Plus pack has external hydration access with a H2O port at the back, so you can access water on the move.
However, the pack is designed to work specifically with the Osprey Hydraulics™ and Hydraulics™ LT Reservoir, so if you already have a hydration pack that you wish to use with this, you should check if it will be compatible.
The Daylite Plus pack does not feature tool loops, so you can’t attach trekking poles, etc. when not in use. The pack is also designed to attach to other larger Osprey specific backpacks / travel packs, specifically the Aether AG, Ariel AG, Farpoint 80 and Sojourn.
This is useful for backpacking and travel, if you plan to set up a camp or base in a location and then do day hikes or short trips out from your base.
The pack is also available in six different color options, solar yellow, black, stone grey, eggplant purple, real red and tahoe blue, so plenty of options to choose from.
In terms of hiking, we feel it would be nice to have a few extra features on this pack. However, if someone is a casual day hiker and needs a pack more for day-to-day use, this is a viable and functional option.
8. Osprey Stratos 34
- Another roomy pack, so more space for more gear
- Comfortable and sturdy fit
- Ventilation on the back panel works very well
- Hydration reservoir compatible (sold separately)
- Could allow a better range of motion when wearing the pack
Osprey Stratos 34 Daypack Features Summary:
- Adjustable AirSpeed™ ventilated trampoline suspended mesh backpanel
- Dual zippered panel access to the main compartment
- Front panel vertical zip pocket; front panel storage pocket; front panel zip stash pocket; large top panel zip stash pocket; side stretch-mesh pockets; zip hipbelt pockets
- Zippered sleeping bag compartment with bellowed divider; removable sleeping pad straps
- Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment; ice tool loop with bungee tie-off
- Dual side compression straps
- Integrated raincover
- Internal hydration reservoir sleeve (reservoir sold separately)
- Capacity: L: 34L (2075 Cubic Inches) M: 32L (1953 Cubic Inches)
- Claimed weight: 1.3 kg / 45.9 oz
Best Uses: Day hiking, short backpacking trips, travel, general outdoor use, general day-to-day use
The Stratos 34 from Osprey is another roomy pack on this list, it is definitely at the higher end of the range in terms of capacity for a daypack. The Traverse 35 pack is constructed using sturdy and lightweight nylon.
The pack features Osprey’s adjustable AirSpeed™ ventilated trampoline suspended mesh backpanel. This is one of the stand out features that works exceptionally well. The design and technology allows excellent ventilation around your back when wearing the pack.
The pack is adjustable on the torso length-wise and is secured via a sternum strap, which also features an emergency whistle, and a waist belt which can also be secured.
The Stratos 34 has two size / capacity options, Medium and Large. The large option comes in at 34L (2075 Cubic Inches) and the medium at 32L (1953 Cubic Inches).
This provides a bigger capacity than many other day packs and means it’s a bigger pack. However, you get a lot more options with that extra space i.e. you can go on extended hikes and trips as you can carry more stuff.
The pack has excellent storage features. As well as the main compartment which is secured with a dual zipper, there are a host of pockets available for use: a front panel vertical zip pocket; front panel storage pocket; front panel zip stash pocket; large top panel zip stash pocket; side stretch-mesh pockets; zip hipbelt pockets.
The pack can store a sleeping bag as well and it features removable sleeping pad straps, which can be utilized as and when required.
The pack has an internal hydration sleeve so you can fit your favorite hydration reservoir. The Stratos 34 does not come with a hydration reservoir, you need to get that separately.
There is a rain cover with the Stratos 34 which is both integrated and detachable. The pack comes with stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment loops as well as an ice tool loop with bungee tie-off. Perfect for day hiking all across the year.
In terms of the retail price, the Osprey 34 sits at the higher end of the range among its peers. It’s an excellent pack though so definitely great value for money.
There are several color options available, so you will be able to find something to suit your taste. In summary, the Stratos 34 pack is an excellent and functional daypack offering from Osprey.
9. CamelBak Rim Rummer 22
- A well designed pack with hiking in the outdoors in mind; durable material construction; good for day hikes, summit days and general outdoor use
- Lots of functional pocket options and the pack comes with its own hydration reservoir, which is definitely a nice to have if you don’t already have one
- Has all the tool attachment options that should cater for most day hikers requirements and needs
- The pack is definitely at the higher end of the scale for a day pack, but with a hydration reservoir thrown in, it’s not a bad deal by any means
The CamelBak Rim Runner 22 Daypack Features Summary:
- Material construction: 70D x 210D nylon dobby, 420D nylon plain weave
- Crux lumbar reservoir allows 20% more water per sip
- Air Suspension back panel maximizes ventilation
- Load-bearing waist belt offers a stabilizing fit
- Cargo compression enhances stability
- Integrated compression straps keep the reservoir tight against the back
- Magnetic Tube Trap keeps hydration tube within easy reach
- Dimensions: 50 x 27 x 24.5 cm / 19.7 x 10.6 x 9.6 in (H x W x D)
- Capacity: 19.5L (1150 cu)
- Claimed weight: 730 g / 26 oz.
Best Uses: Day hiking, general outdoor use, general day-to-day use
The Rim Runner 22 from Camelbak, is another pack designed with day hiking specifically in mind. Camelbak are another quality brand who offer some really excellent products, again for a wide range of outdoor sports and activities.
The material construction of the Camelbak Rim runner is 70D x 210D nylon dobby, 420D nylon plain weave, so again, the material is tough, abrasion resistant and lightweight, perfect for a daypack.
In terms of capacity the Rim Runner offers 19.5L (1150 cu) capacity, so a decent amount of space to pack in your day hike essentials e.g. lunch, an extra layer, etc. The claimed weight of the Rim Runner is 730 g / 26 oz. with dimensions of 50 x 27 x 24.5 cm / 19.7 x 10.6 x 9.6 in (H x W x D).
Like all the packs featured on this page, the Rim Runner is perfect for short to medium day hikes, or a peak ascent on a longer trek.
The pack features a breathable air mesh back panel, which adds to the pack being lightweight as well as providing a comfortable fit. The mesh also allows good breathability and ventilation, so air can move in and around your back as you move and build up heat.
The pack is secured with a hip belt and chest strap. The waist belt is a load bearing hip belt which utilizes open mesh to maximize breathability. The hip belt also features two cargo pockets, one on each side, for easy access essentials.
In terms of storage, the Rim Runner has a good selection of pockets including the aforementioned 2 hip belt pockets, 1 organizer and stretch overflow exterior pockets for quick access and to stash stuff away.
External attachment points are featured in the pack, so you can attach trekking poles and other tools, for easy carrying, when not in use.
The Rim Runner pack comes with its own hydration pack, the Camelbak Crux reservoir, a very functional and popular hydration reservoir, which features a standard port with an easy to use on / off lever.
For the retail price, the Rim Runner comes in at around the higher end of the scale for a day pack, but that is to be expected with all the hiking specific features this pack offers, including coming with its own hydration reservoir.
The Rim Runner from Camlebak is available in several different color options e.g. lichen green/dark citron, aura orange/charcoal, charcoal/grecian blue and grecian blue/pumpkin.
The Rim Runner 22 is another well designed and sleek looking day pack, which offers all you need in a pack for shorter day hikes and peak ascent days.
The fact it comes with its own hydration reservoir is a nice addition if you need to invest in one too, and we recommend you do, as we think it’s the best way to carry drinking water on the trail.
10. Deuter Speed Lite 20
- The Speed Lite sports a minimalist yet very functional design, which provides all the core things a hiker needs for a short to medium day hike
- While the pack is definitely designed with the mountains in mind, versatility is still an option e.g. for days out and about in town
- Has a functional hydration sleeve which can take a 3L reservoir, so can store plenty of water for a hot day on the trail
- Very tough and durable construction, with plenty of adjustable options to ensure a comfortable fit to any body shape
- Some users indicated that the pack was too long on the back, so worth keeping that in mind if applicable
Deuter Speed Lite 20 Daypack Features Summary:
- Material construction: 420D nylon and 210D nylon, with a PU (Polyurethane) coating
- Lightweight day pack for fast and easy hiking
- 20L volume ideal for layers, lunch, and hydration
- S-shaped straps provide efficient, close-to-body fit
- 3D-AirMesh provides ventilated comfort during warm days
- Pockets offer easy access to necessities like maps and snacks
- Adjustable sternum can be altered for personalized comfort
- Dimensions: 46 / 26 / 18 (H x W x D) cm
- Claimed weight: 482g / 17oz
Best Uses: Day hiking, climbing, general outdoor use, general day-to-day use
Deuter are another top quality brand who are really well known for making outdoor activity specific equipment to a very high standard and quality. In truth, the Deuter Speedlite 20 daypack was a close contender for our first choice as it sports an excellent design, specifically set-up for the outdoors.
Starting with the material construction of the pack, the Deuter Speedlite is made up of a material called DYNAJIN 210 which is a Polyester: 30% / Polyamide: 70% composition.
The nylon is a very hard wearing 420D nylon and 210D nylon, which also features a PU (Polyurethane) coating to provide an element of water resistance in the fabric itself.
The tight weave of the special high density denier polyamide offers serious high abrasion resistance. The pack also features a reinforced base, so you can leave it on the ground in any conditions and it won’t tear.
All of this comes without impacting weight and the pack weighs in at a comfortable 482g / 17oz.
The pack features padded and wide S shaped AirMesh shoulder straps which are adjustable, a height-adjustable chest strap and a removable hip belt. All of these options provide the capability to get a very secure and comfortable fit to any body shape.
In terms of volume, the Deuter Speed Lite comes in at 20L (1220cu in), so in the good enough range for a short to medium day hike, in better conditions. It is also perfect for a summit day on a longer trek.
For longer day hikes, you may need to look for something with a bit more capacity. The dimensions of the pack are 46 / 26 / 18 (H x W x D) cm.
In terms of storage, the Deuter Speed Lite includes a main compartment which is closed using a zipper. The pack also has a front stuff pocket, handy for stuffing a wet layer into, to keep out of the main pack.
The Speed Lite also features two mesh side pockets, for water bottles, and an internal secure pocket for valuables like keys and so on.
The Speed Lite also features 3M reflectors for visibility and reinforced pull loops on zippers, as well as an SOS-Label with life-saving tips for emergencies, a nice touch.
Tool attachment loops also come on the Deuter Speed Lite, so you can attach a helmet, ice ax or trekking poles, should you need to.
The Speed Lite is hydration pack compatible and can take up to a 3L reservoir, which is an excellent amount to be able to carry comfortably, with an easy access H2O port on the side, so you can access water on the move.
The pack is designed so the load you carry is kept close to the body. Flexibility is provided through innovative ventilation and stabilization features, which all go to ensure you have an optimized fit, which ensures comfort and excellent load transfer to the hips.
The pack is available in four different color options, petrol-arctic blue, bay-midnight blue, black and cranberry-maron red, so a good range of options to choose from.
Overall, what we really like about the Deuter Speed Lite is its minimalistic yet very functional design. There is no fluff and every feature has a necessary and functional purpose for a hiker.
11. Venture Pal
- A very wallet friendly price is a pro for the Venture Pal, but on the flipside, you get what you pay for so you don’t have as much functional capability in it as you would in other packs
- A roomy 35L (2135cu in) of space means that you have a lot of room to work with, this space is further split off internally to help you organize your gear
- Ticks a lot of the basic boxes for a basic functional day pack for the trail, that can easily be used for other purposes e.g. travel, camping, etc.
- A lightweight pack that packs into itself, for further packing away
- You will get what you pay for, and for the very affordable cost, you need to set your expectations accordingly, like anything, it will have a use life relative to how much it costs to make
- No waist belt closure, only one buckle closure around the chest, which is not ideal for such a large pack
- Common report from users that the water resistant element does not work the best; not a huge issue as in wet conditions, you should try and pack all your hiking gear in dry bags anyway, but worth noting
- No additional attachment options e.g. trekking poles, helmet, etc
The Venture Pal Daypack Features Summary:
- Material: High quality tear and water resistant nylon
- Several pockets for handy storage and convenient organization
- Roomy main compartment
- Two front zipper pockets for smaller items
- An internal zippered pocket
- Two open-mesh side pockets for quick access
- Should meet most airlines, carry on size requirements
- Can be packed into its own pocket, to stow away further
- 35L volume (2135 Cubic Inches) – lots of space
- Packed dimensions: 9 x 2.2 x 8.5 (H x W x D) inches
- Claimed weight: 318 g / 11.2 oz
Best Uses: Day hiking, camping, biking, general outdoor use, general day-to-day use
The Venture Pal daypack is our best daypack choice in the ultra budget category.
For someone who is not a full on hiker or is maybe just dipping their toes in the water, in terms of hiking, and doesn’t want to invest in a more expensive daypack option just yet, the Venture Pal is worth a look as it is very budget friendly.
The Venture Pal pack is constructed using a high quality tear and water resistant nylon material. This provides extra strength and durability, while not being too heavy.
The bottom of the pack is reinforced, in terms of strength and durability, by a double-layer bottom piece. This helps ensure you can securely carry your load on your longer day hikes out on the trail.
The shoulder straps in the Venture Pal feature Breathable mesh with plentiful sponge padding, which helps to relieve the stress on your shoulders. The length of the shoulder straps is of course adjustable to help you get the desired fit.
The pack is secured using a single chest strap which also features a whistle buckle, to help you attract attention in an emergency.
The Venture Pal, is at the higher end of the size range in terms of day packs, coming in at 35L (2135cu in). There is a 25L (1525cu in) version available, but it does not have all the same features the 35L has.
If you are heading out on longer day hikes or need to carry a lot of extra layers on the trail, a larger 35L pack is not a bad idea. That extra space is great for emergency gear like a bothy bag, first aid kit, a few extra emergency layers, etc. so keep that in mind when purchasing.
In terms of storage, the Venture Pal features one main zipped compartment, two zipped front pockets and two side pockets.
As we have already touched on, the main compartment is the main storage area, which provides 35L (2135cu in) of space. The pack is also lightweight coming in at about 318 g / 11.2 oz.
The main compartment is split using two separators, which provides more options for organization. The pack also utilizes two heavy duty two-way SBS metal zippers for access into the main compartment, so you can use these from any side you prefer.
There are two front pockets which are good for holding small accessories like gloves, hat, sunglasses, etc. as well as two mesh side pockets, typically used to hold water bottles and the like.
An interesting feature of note, is that the pack folds into its own zipped inner pocket, so the pack itself can be packed away into a sandwich sized bundle! Handy for packing on a larger suitcase or travel bag.
The Venture Pal does not feature a hydration sleeve, nor does it have a built in rain cover or any additional attachment options for trekking poles, ice ax, helmet, etc.
In terms of cost, the Venture Pal comes in at a very wallet friendly price, so with that in mind, you of course can’t expect to have all the same feature options a more advanced design day pack would have. The pack is also available in a large variety of color options.
As stated at the start, we feel this is the best ultra budget option, so if you don’t want to invest in something more expensive, this is a viable option, but set your expectations accordingly.
Some Tips Before you Buy
If you’re new to buying a daypack, we thought it might be useful to have a brief look at what you need to be thinking about before you buy a daypack. First and foremost, you need to know what you need a pack for.
While this article is specifically about day packs, it’s worth looking into this on a broader scale for a moment to help illustrate what we 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?
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!?
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 daypacks, so we’re not really 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.
We recommend a 20 to 35 liter day pack as something in that range 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.
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.
In this section we review some of the common questions people have about daypacks. We’ll be updating this as more common questions come up.
Q1. What is the ideal size for a daypack?
Typically, 20 to 25 liters is a good capacity for a daypack, however, this is not always the case. For example, say you hike in Winter and Autumn and the temperatures can fluctuate on a day quite significantly between warm and very chilly.
For those conditions, you will need to be able to change layers as you need to. When you’re not wearing your gear, you have to store it somewhere, so you may find that 20 liters could be a little tight.
Next up, some people are just bigger, so their spare gear will be bulkier and take up more space, so a bigger day pack may be needed. On the flip side, people who are smaller, may need less space.
Do you drink a lot of water? I do, I can drink up to 3 liters on a long hike, so I need to carry a 3 liter hydration reservoir with me. I have friends I hike with, who would only drink a liter on the same hike. Clearly, they don’t need to have that extra space to carry the extra water.
One last example, is say if you are the leader of your hike, I don’t mean in an official capacity like a mountain guide, but say if you are taking your family out for the day, and by default, you are the leader.
It is advisable to carry extra gear for emergencies, extra hats, gloves and so on, just in case someone loses something. You should also have a suitable first aid kit and safety equipment, like a bothy bag / emergency shelter. This of course takes up space, so you may need a bigger pack to carry it all in.
The overall point, as with anything hiking gear related, is that you need to take your own unique requirements into account. I personally run with a 25 liter daypack for most normal day hikes, I’m 6 feet tall so I need a bit of extra space for my gear, and I can carry a 3 liter hydration bladder in it.
However, if I am leading a hike I use a 45 liter backpack to carry all the safety gear and spare bits and bobs I need for leading a group of people into the mountains.
Q2. What extras should I look for in terms of functionality?
Personally, I like good functional pockets, that are easily accessible and work well. I like good backpack loops, which I do use from time to time to secure hiking poles or the like.
Your daypack should also be easy to adjust to get a good fit. Put something in it to give it a bit of weight, and then try it on and hook up all the catches. Try adjusting it as you walk around. It should feel secure and it should be easy enough to adjust. Comfortable shoulder straps are important too.
Next up, having a hydration sleeve with a tube port and catch on the straps of your daypack is the way to go for carrying your drinking water, in our opinion. Most good packs come with an hydration sleeve as standard these days.
Finally, good airflow and ventilation in and around your back is a really good idea. Most modern packs make a good effort to get this working well, so you don’t build up too much heat on your back as you hike.
The pack should sit off from your back a bit, allowing air to move freely. If you don’t have this, you will get hot and sweaty in and around your back very quickly, and it isn’t pleasant.
Q3. Is a built-in rain cover a good thing to look for in a daypack?
If you are going to use a rain cover, then definitely get one that is built into the pack itself, these typically stow in a pocket at the bottom of the pack and are attached to the pack itself.
The fact it is attached is important, as in high wind, trying to fit one on that is not physically attached as part of the pack itself, is a real pain and you run the risk of it blowing away.
There is a question on whether a rain cover provides any real protection from the elements anyway. At best, it provides a bit of protection and my approach to it is, well, why not use it if you have it.
It will not keep heavy rain from getting into your pack though, I am certain about that. There are ways to protect your gear in your pack, effectively waterproofing your pack and your gear. Dry bags or a pack liner are the ticket here.
I use dry bags in conjunction with the built-in rain cover in my day pack. I do not rely on the rain cover in any way though, the dry bags do the protecting and keeping the rain from getting at my gear.
Q4. What budget will I need for a good and functional hiking daypack?
Hard to be specific with this, as everyone’s needs are different. There are always high-end options available which cost more, and budget options which will cost less but may not last for long.
I think anywhere between $80 to $150 is a very decent budget for a good daypack (there are always sales and bargains to be had that knock a bit off that too). You can certainly get one cheaper, but you run the risk of poorer quality by doing that.
Nine times out of ten, spending a bit more gets you a better pack, or any piece of hiking gear for that matter. Any savings by getting cheap items usually ends up as a false economy, as you end up having to replace the cheap stuff more regularly as it just doesn’t last as long as better and more expensive gear.
In fact, the extra investment into better gear, probably works out much more economical over the long haul.
Q5. Should I try and buy a well-known branded daypack?
You are paying extra for a brand-named product, there is no doubt about that. However, typically, a branded product provides some level of guarantee, or comfort, in terms of quality. That’s part of the reason that people pay more for a brand name.
Does that mean that you can’t find a bargain with an unknown brand or discount store product? Absolutely not, there are always deals to be had and gems to be found.
However, when you go down that road, you typically have no way of making a reasonable guess as to what the long term outcome will be, so keep that in mind if you choose to do this.
Q6. What else can I do to help me pick the right daypack?
Aside from reading pages like this one on gear review sites, it sounds obvious, but user reviews are an excellent way to get a feel for whether a pack will work for your needs.
If you find a daypack that you like the look of, check for it on Amazon and on other retailers’ websites and read the user reviews that people leave there about the product.
Look for verified purchases i.e. people who genuinely bought the product, to avoid any potential gaming of the system, especially if you are buying from an unknown and cheaper brand.
The reviews people leave behind can tell you a lot about a product. The more reviews the better. If you find a product with 2000 genuine reviews and it has an average score of 4 out of 5 stars, it is reasonable to assume the product is pretty decent.
Then go into the detail a bit more, look out for repeating patterns or comments on user experience in the reviews themselves.
If you have specific needs or requirements, look to see if they are addressed in the reviews, or perhaps in the questions that people often leave for the manufacturer, or fellow users who already have the product.
These days there is a wealth of information available at the scroll of a screen or the click of a button, so you should be able to steer yourself in a good direction with regards to this.
So that’s it for this review of the best daypacks for hiking in 2021. We hope you found these recommendations useful, and that 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 best suited for short day hiking, longer day hiking trips and (some of them) short backpacking trips, but not suitable for much longer backpacking trips, you need a much bigger backpacking pack 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.
We’ll be updating this as things change but these are our recommendations for now. We really hope you found this useful, please link to it and share around your networks if you did 🙂