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Daypacks are an subset of the backpack family. They can serve a variety of functions, from holding essential gear on a hike, to keeping you organized on your daily commute, to transporting carry-on necessities on a flight. Larger daypacks can double as an overnight pack. However, for more than one night, you will likely need a larger backpack to tote supplies and gear.
The size of a daypack is measured as the volume of the daypack cavity in measuring units of liters. Daypacks are lightweight and typically have an internal volume of 20 to 40 liters, while larger backpacks have internal volumes of 40 to 85 liters. Volume refers to the amount of space a pack has, not how much weight you can carry. Toting capacity depends on the pack’s construction, and weight limits vary by manufacturer and model.
The type of daypack you need depends on how you intend to use it. However, there are some key criteria that you should consider when comparing daypacks, such as size, fit, features and style. To learn more about how to pick the right daypack for you, check out our daypack buyer’s guide below.
We compared daypacks based on industry reputation, expert recommendations and consumer reviews. Using this methodology, we identified the top daypacks in the following categories:
A daypack can support a wide range of activities, from hiking to biking to camping to commuting. Finding the right daypack for you means identifying your core needs. If you are hiking in the summer, having a water bladder and good water bottle pockets will be key. If you are biking in cooler weather, you’ll want exterior pockets to stash extra layers. And if you are commuting, you might prefer a daypack with a padded laptop sleeve and fewer straps that could get tangled up in a crowd.
No matter why you’re in the market for a daypack, there are a few key characteristics to consider. To help you find the best daypack for you, we’ve outlined several factors to keep in mind: size, fit and comfort, features, quality, and price.
The two core size metrics we consider for daypacks are storage volume and weight. The volume will indicate how much room the pack has to store items. Meanwhile, finding a daypack that doesn’t weigh a lot means you’ll have a lighter load right off the bat. These days, modern fabrics and manufacturing techniques have made significant progress in keeping the weight of the packs low without compromising comfort, carrying capacity and durability.
How comfortable your daypack is depends on how well it fits, how well its design supports weight distribution, and whether or not it’s built to allow air circulation between you and the pack to keep you cool.
To prevent back pain, always use both shoulder straps, and the chest and waist strap if your daypack has them. Make sure the straps are tight enough to prevent your daypack from swaying from side to side as you move. Your daypack should not ride low on your torso. The bottom of the pack should rest at least an inch above your hips.
For heavy loads, invest in a pack with a padded hip belt, which can take up to 80 percent of the weight of the pack and reduce the amount of load on your shoulders. Similarly, finding a daypack with padded shoulder straps that fit, or can adjust to, will make the remaining 20 percent of the weight much easier to bear. Packs with smaller nylon belts won’t take the bulk of your pack load and transfer it to your shoulders. However, they will still help with the comfort of your pack. The thinner belts help keep the pack snug to your back and reduce movement and bouncing from your daypack as you are hiking or commuting.
When loading your daypack, organize your items so that the heaviest gear sits in the middle of the pack close to your spine, keeping the combined center of gravity close to your natural one while also ensuring the weight sits mostly on your hipbelt. Compression straps can keep your daypack profile slim to help control your center of gravity and reduce a shifting center of gravity while you are moving.
Daypacks come with a variety of features, from hydration sleeves and water bladders to sleeping bag pouches and hiking pole hooks. If you need a little help staying organized, consider a pack with lots of pockets. If you plan on packing a lot of gear, look for a daypack with zippered access down the length of the main compartment so you don’t need to remove all your items when you just need one. If you are looking for overnight capacity, having attachment straps at the bottom of the pack to carry your sleeping bag will prove convenient. And if there’s a chance you’ll encounter wet conditions, having an integrated rain cover can be a real bonus.
The structural design, fabric, stitching, buckles and zippers all play an important role in the durability and usability of your daypack. Spending more money on a daypack made from reliable materials will ensure your investment lasts. If you expect to encounter rougher conditions, look for daypacks made from cordure or rip-stop nylon, which can resist tearing. If waterproofing is important to you, consider a pack made from polyester or nylon.
The price range for the daypacks we evaluated ranged from $50 to $230, with the average price being $120. Larger daypacks made from higher quality materials and equipped with more features will generally cost more. While you can certainly find a good daypack without a high price tag, you should consider your intended use before choosing based on price alone. Saving money now on a daypack that can’t meet your needs will ultimately lead you to purchasing a replacement sooner than you intended.
Editor’s Note: Prices and availability are accurate as of publication, and are subject to change.
The daypacks we evaluated for this category can adapt to a variety of situations. Whether you need a pack that can tote a day’s worth of hiking gear, or serve as your carry-on when travelling, these daypacks strike a great balance in size, function and style.
The Osprey Talon (men’s sizing) and Tempest (women’s sizing) are ranked as some of the best daypacks in the industry, having received significant expert recognition for their high-quality materials and construction, as well as their balance of size, comfort and features. Specifically the versatility and comfort this pack provides is unmatched in it’s category. Whether you are hiking, biking, or travelling, this pack has you covered.
Both the Talon and Tempest come in two sizes so that you can find the right fit for your torso length and waist size. Both the Talon and the Tempest include a ventilated back panel and an internal frame sheet with foam padding for added comfort. These daypacks also come with adjustable foam shoulder straps with top tension adjustment, an adjustable sternum strap and a padded waist belt.
Weighing 1lb 14oz for the small to medium sizes, and 2lbs 1oz for the large to extra-large sizes, the daypacks themselves are pretty light. At 22 liters, the volume capacity of these packs is on par with similarly sized packs.
These daypacks feature two stretchy side pockets with compression straps to securely store various items. Two zippered pockets on the hip belt provide easy access to smaller items, such as your phone or compass, and a large stretch pocket on the front provides space for bulkier items like a fleece or raincoat. The packs also feature helmet clips and loops for stowing hiking poles. The packs have a hydration sleeve that can accommodate a bladder up to 3 liters in capacity (bladder not included). Sturdier fabric on the bottom of the pack helps prevent wear and tear in areas that take more abuse.
Deuter is a German company that has been manufacturing daypacks and backpacks for more than 100 years. The Deuter Speed Lite 16 is on the smaller side of the daypack range. However, if you are looking for a lightweight, no-fuss, high-quality daypack, this product delivers. It is not meant to carry a lot of items; rather, it is ideal for toting essentials for a day hike, a bike ride, or as a carry on while traveling.
The Deuter Speed Lite 16 has a breathable mesh back panel with a U-frame that provides more comfort than the typical daypack. It has an adjustable sternum strap and removable nylon hip belt for additional stability.
With a 16-liter capacity, this daypack is on the smaller end. It weighs 0.8lbs.
The Deuter Speed Lite 16 has a main compartment accessed by a zipper. The top of the pack has an additional zippered pocket to store smaller gear, and two side pockets with compression straps provide easy access to frequently used items. There are four loops to use as attachment points for helmets or hiking poles, as well as loops for bike lights. This daypack has a hydration sleeve that can accommodate a water bladder up to 3 liters in volume.
Learn more about the Deuter Speed Lite 16.
Ultralight daypacks weigh less than the average daypack because they tend to have a lower stowage volume and fewer features. They are ideal for short hikes or for day excursions while traveling. They are also popular for multi-day adventures when you want a smaller pack to take on shorter trips from your basecamp.
The REI Flash 22 is not the lightest in the ultralight range; however the little extra weight is well worth the additional features and quality you get. While it isn’t as easy to stow as other ultralight daypacks, the REI Flash 22 does come with foam padding that provides extra comfort when carrying it.
The REI Flash 22 fits torso lengths from 16 to 20 inches. It has a slightly padded back panel, mesh shoulder straps and an adjustable sternum strap for comfort. It also includes a removable nylon hip belt.
The REI Flash 22 has a carrying volume of 22 liters and weighs 13 ounces.
This ultralight daypack has two stretchy side pockets to carry water bottles or thermoses. There are two external zippered pockets, one in the top lid and one on the front. The main compartment includes a small pocket with a key holder. The daypack also has a hydration sleeve that fits a 3 liter water bladder.
Learn more about the REI Flash 22.
The Matador Freerain24 is a high-quality ultralight daypack that can easily fold up into a small pouch and be stowed away in your main luggage. An additional bonus is that the main compartment of the daypack is waterproof.
Given that it is ultralight and foldable, the Matador Freerain24 isn’t necessarily the most comfortable daypack to carry. However the shoulder straps are wide to help distribute weight evenly, and there is an adjustable sternum strap for extra support.
As its name suggests, the Matador Freerain24 has a carrying volume of 24 liters. On its own the pack weighs 6.6 ounces, or less than half a pound.
The Matador Freerain24 has two somewhat stretchy side pockets with straps to hold your water bottle or thermos in place. It also has a large waterproof zippered pocket on the front of the pack. The main compartment is accessed by a roll top.
Learn more about the Matador Freerain24 Packable Daypack.
If you are travelling in warmer weather or prefer to have more water-carrying capacity, hydration daypacks are the way to go. They include a water bladder and additional pockets to carry bottles, while also leaving enough space to bring the rest of your gear.
The Gregory Citro 24 and the Juno 24 are durable and comfortable daypacks. The three-liter bladder comes with a handle and a built-in drying hanger, while the moisture-wicking mesh back panel will help you stay cool and dry. These features make these daypacks a great choice for longer day hikes.
These packs feature a perimeter alloy frame and a ventilated suspension design that creates a gap between your back and the pack to keep you cooler. They also include a padded hip belt and padded shoulder straps with a sternum strap. The Juno accommodates torsos measuring between 14 to 19 inches in height and waists measuring 24 to 45 inches. The Citro accommodates torsos that measure between 16 and 21 inches in length and waists between 28 and 48 inches.
The Citro and Juno 24 H20 have a carrying volume of 24 liters, weigh just over two pounds and have a maximum carrying capacity of 20 pounds.
These daypacks have dedicated zippered hydration sleeve areas that make it easy to attach and remove the 3-liter bladders. The bite valve is magnetic, allowing it to be easily secured to the sternum strap. Meanwhile, there are five secure pockets to keep your gear organized: two zippered pockets on the hip belt, a lined, zippered pocket on the top, a stretchy pocket on the front, and a mesh security pocket inside the packs. There are also two stretchy side pockets to hold additional water bottles. The pack also includes attachments for hiking poles.
The Camelbak Octane 25 is optimized for active day hikers or trail runners. It includes a two-liter hydration bladder and features two sternum straps to keep the pack close to your body, reducing the amount of movement. The pack also features shoulder straps with pockets for quick access to small items or additional water.
The Camelbak Octane 25 is ideal for torsos measuring 17 to 21 inches in length. The hip belt measures 30 to 50 inches. The pack has dual shoulder straps and a frameless, padded back designed to optimize airflow and prevent overheating. However, this daypack doesn’t provide much support or rigidity in the back, meaning you won’t want to use it for heavier loads.
The Camelbak Octane 25 weighs 1lb 6oz and has a carrying volume of 22 litres. The water bladder has a 70 ounce capacity.
This hydration daypack comes with lots of features to help you stay organized. There are two pockets on each shoulder strap, each large enough to fit a soft hydration flask Additionally, one strap features an open pocket large enough to stow a phone or map, while the other has a small zippered pocket. The hip belt also has two zippered pockets. On either the side of the pack is a larger pocket with stretchy fabric, plus a pocket on the front of the pack large enough to stow a sweatshirt or raincoat. Meanwhile, multiple small pockets inside the pack, including a zippered pouch with a key ring, are ideal for smaller, more valuable items. The Camelback Octane 25’s 2-liter hydration bladder has its own zippered access.
There are no compression straps, but this daypack does come with an integrated rain cover.
Learn more about the Camelbak Octane 25.
These daypacks are designed with hikers in mind and give you room to comfortably pack for an overnight trek. The packs’ larger size allows for more organizational elements like pockets, as well as features that provide increased comfort. However, that means you can expect options in this category to weigh more than the average daypack.
Mystery Ranch has earned a solid reputation in the backpacking community, with their various models routinely receiving recognition from industry experts. They have specialized in high-quality packs for decades and is one of only a few companies that manufactures backpacks for the military and other government agencies. Their packs, including the Scree 32, carry the load really well and are built to last.
The Scree 32 was built with comfort in mind, featuring foam padded shoulder straps; a padded, removable waist belt; and a padded, mesh back panel designed to reduce moisture This model comes in multiple sizes so you can find your best fit.
The Mystery Ranch Scree 32 has a carrying volume of 32 liters and weighs around three pounds empty.
A Y zipper layout for access to the main compartment gives you quick access to items at either the top or bottom of the pack without having to remove everything. Two vertical storage pockets inside the pack help with organization, while two pockets on the top lid, and two on the waist belt are ideal for stowing frequently used items. Two water bottle pockets, one on either side of the pack, ensure you’ll stay hydrated. There is space for a hydration sleeve, but you will need to purchase a water bladder separately. The pack also features tool loops and compression straps in the front and on the side.
Learn more about the Mystery Ranch Scree 32.
The large volume of the Stratos 36 gives you plenty of room to pack for your overnight, while the high-quality construction Osprey is known for ensures this pack will last for more than one season. We especially like the extra features this daypack provides, such as a dedicated sleeping bag compartment, not to mention the suspension and padded straps to comfortably carry the load.
The Osprey Stratos 36 comes in two sizes. The small/medium has a volume of 33 liters and weights 3lbs 3oz. The medium/large has a volume of 36 liters and weighs 3lbs 5oz.
This daypack features thick, padded shoulder straps with an adjustable sternum strap, as well as a tensioned mesh back panel and perimeter wire to help support the weight of the pack and increase air flow. The shoulder strap height is adjustable for optimal fit, and the pack has an integrated seamless and padded hip belt.
The Osprey Stratos 36 features great organization outside and in. On the outside it has two side water bottle holders with compression straps, and there is a zippered pocket on each side of the hip belt. The top lid has two pockets: One can be accessed from the outside, while the other is a mesh interior pocket with a key clip. On the front there is a large zippered pocket. On the bottom is a sleeping bag compartment, as well as compression straps to hold a sleeping pad or tent. Along the whole side of the pack, a zipper gives you access to the main compartment so that you can reach items at the very bottom, without having to take everything out. This daypack does have a hydration sleeve, although a bladder is not included. The pack also comes with an integrated rain cover.
Learn more about the Osprey Stratos 36.
When you are traveling to and from work, running family errands, or looking for a carry-on bag, these daypacks have the right features. Rather than hiking poles and sleeping bags, these packs have storage designed for laptops, books, or family items. However if you ever do want to take them on a hike they will do the job well enough.
It’s not surprising to see a well-known backpack brand like Osprey rank well in this category. The company’s experience making comfortable, durable and functional packs is evident in their lineup. We also love their focus on eco-friendly materials: the Osprey Daylite Plus is partially made from recycled plastic bottles.
The Daylite Plus features lightly padded mesh shoulder straps, a mesh padded back panel and a sternum strap to help provide comfort. It also comes with a no-frills nylon hip belt
This daypack has a capacity of 20 liters while weighing a mere 1lb 3oz.
There is no shortage of organizational tools on this pack, starting with a stretch pouch and a zippered pocket on the front. There is one more medium-sized zippered pocket on the pack’s exterior that includes a key clip. Inside you will find a padded laptop sleeve which can double as a hydration sleeve (the bladder not included, but there is a hook and hose port). There are mesh stretch side pockets, though they are too wide and shallow to hold a standard water bottle.
Learn more about the Osprey Daylite Plus.
At first glance, the Topo Designs Mountain Pack looks much more like a hiking pack than a commuter or every-day pack. But if you give it a chance you can see how this daypack provides form and function for both settings. The quality materials, tough build, high carrying capacity and bold color options make this pack stand out.
The Topo Designs Mountain Pack features padded shoulder straps with a lift adjustment and a sternum strap. The back panel is made from breathable mesh. It also features a removable nylon waist belt to help support heavier loads.
Weighing just over one pound, this daypack has a nearly 37-litre volume.
The Topo Designs Mountain Pack has two deep side pockets with cinch closures to keep your water bottles or other items in place. The pack features two external zippered pockets, one on the top and one on the side, and a security pocket on the inside. There is also a zipper down the front that provides direct access to the entire interior.
This daypack features multiple attachment loops and compression straps to help secure additional items. It also includes a hydration sleeve that can double as a laptop sleeve; however, because the bottom of the pack has minimal padding, we recommend also using a protective case when toting your laptop.
Learn more about the Topo Designs Mountain Pack.
Sometimes we want a daypack that brightens up the day and looks less like the typical hiking pack. We have picked three options that are different from your typical daypack. They are colorful, fun and stylish, but also deliver on the function of a daypack.
The Free Range Equipment Canvas stands out with its custom designs created by independent artists. A portion of the proceeds from each daypack goes to the artist who created your pack’s look. Coupled with the simple-yet-effective construction, this daypack has style and function
The Free Range Equipment Canvas features lightly padded shoulder straps with a sternum strap. It also has a removable back pad.
This daypack is fairly sizable, offering a carrying volume of 25 liters while weighing only one pound.
The body of the Free Range Equipment Canvas is extremely simple. It features one main compartment with two internal pockets, one mesh and one zippered. There is also an external zippered pocket on the lid.
Learn more about the Free Range Equipment Canvas.
We love that the Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia 18L Pack uses repurposed nylon, and no two packs are alike. This is because the individuals sowing together your daypack choose their own combination of fabric color and stitching. This makes for a simple, yet vibrant, bag.
The Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia 18L has wide mesh shoulder straps, as well as waist and sternum straps
This daypack is extremely light, clocking in at 0.66 pounds. But it has a fairly substantial carrying volume of 18 liters.
This daypack is extremely simple in its design, with simply the main compartment and a front zippered pocket. The main compartment is accessed from a cinched opening secured with a drawstring. The Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia 18L also has a hydration sleeve, but you will have to purchase the bladder separately.
Learn more about the Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia 18 L Pack.
The inspiration for the design of the old school-style Fjallraven Kanken Classic comes from a Swedish school bag from the 1960s. This unique style comes in more than three dozen color choices. We especially love that the material is both water- and dirt-resistant, meaning that its good looks are built to last.
The Fjallraven Kanken Classic has simple, narrow shoulder straps that can prove uncomfortable if there is too much weight in the pack. However, the shoulder straps can be snapped in place if you want to carry the bag by the grab handles. The back panel is reinforced with a foam pad for support.
Although it only weighs three quarters of a pound, the Fjallraven Kanken Classic has a carrying volume of 16 liters.
While this daypack is not necessarily designed for hiking or camping, it is a great choice for commuting or to use as carry-on luggage. There are two side pockets on the bag offering easy access to often used items, though they are too narrow to fit most water bottles. The zippers for the main compartment go very low to allow you to easily reach items at the bottom of the bag .
Learn more about the Fjallraven Kanken Classic.