Hikers using the best daypacks for hiking

The 10 Best Daypacks for Hiking in 2017

A great daypack for hiking should be comfortable, easy to use, durable and have enough space to carry everything you need. Simple right? Well, not always. Predictably there are a whole load of other things to consider too like whether it can hold a hydration reservoir, or if it you want it to have good ventilation. Perhaps you need it for other things and not just hiking, or maybe you just don’t know what you want!

Fear not happy hikers. We’ve put together a sparkling list of the best daypacks for hiking that you can get your hands on. So whether you’re after a full-featured, mega-ventilated, super comfy hiking bag, or an everyday, simple but stylish workhorse, we’ve got you covered.

This quick overview of the best daypacks for hiking gives you a basic idea of which bags are leading the way in the hiking world, with more detailed info on each bag later in the article. But if you really want to understand what to look for in an excellent daypack for hiking then read on.

ProductFeaturesCapacityWeightCost
Deuter Speed Lite 20Lightweight, versatile20 litres
530g (1.2lb)$$
Camelbak Franconia LR 24Full-featured with lumbar hydration reservoir24 litres
1200g (2.6lb)$$$$
Osprey Talon 22Great all-rounder, very comfortable22 litres810g (1.8lb)$$
Gregory Salvo 24Very comfortable, simple design24 litres1043g (2.3lb)$$$
Osprey Stratos 26Super comfortable, great ventilation in hot weather26 litres
1260g (2.8lb)$$$
REI Flash 22Lightweight, great value, adaptable to everyday life22 litres411g (0.9lb)$
Arc’teryx Brize 25Stylish, high quality, good for everyday life too25 litres905g (2lb)$$$$
Thule Capstone 32Full-featured, good for overnighters32 litres1560g (3.5lb)$$$$
Kelty Redtail 27Good value, lots of storage options27 litres700g (1.5lb)$$
Marmot Kompressor PlusVery lightweight, packable20 litres370g (0.8lb)$

What to look for in a great daypack for hiking

As with almost any bit of outdoor gear, many of the reasons for choosing one excellently rated daypack over another, comes down to how, where and when it will be used. There’s no point spending a fortune on something you plan on using for the odd hike here and there when there are plenty of great value daypacks available, like the REI Flash, that will perform perfectly well without breaking the bank.

So before we get into the details of what to look for, take a moment to consider a few things:

  • How far will you be hiking?
  • What conditions will you be hiking in? (Rainy, snowy, hot etc)
  • Do you like to keep your stuff well organised?
  • Do you hike with trekking poles?
  • Do you want to use your daypack for more than just hiking?
  • How important is comfort to you?
  • Do you sweat lots, even in cooler weather?

If you know the answer to most of these questions, then it will make choosing the best bag for you much easier. So with those things in mind, here’s a little more info on what to look for in the best daypacks for hiking.

Size/capacity

The capacity of most daypacks for hiking range from around 10-40 litres. This is a pretty big range, and the size you choose really depends on what sort of hiking you are doing. Here’s a rough guide to what the different sizes are best suited to:

10-20 litre daypacks

Best use: Short day hikes
Your main consideration on short day hikes is having enough room to carry your water, food and an extra layer or jacket. Anything above 20 litres is overkill for a short day hike and it’s likely that you’ll just end up filling it with stuff you don’t really need.
Also great for: sightseeing

20-30 litre daypacks

Best use: Full day hikes in the summer
A big day of summer hiking will require you to carry plenty of water and/or a filtration device, more food than for a short day, and often an extra layer for the cool of the morning and evening.
Also great for: Everyday use and short hikes in the winter

30-40 litre daypacks

Best use: Full day hikes in the winter
A full day out in the backcountry during winter will require you to carry lots more gear than during the summer months: more food, more clothing, a stove, and just as much water despite the cold.
Also great for: Lightweight overnighters in the summer

As always, if money and the environmental implications of excess gear weren’t considerations, we’d all have a selection of daypacks for each different hiking scenario. But they are. So your best bet is to go for something that will be most suited to what you do the most of. And if you’re not sure, then go for something that is around 25-30 litres. This will cover your carrying needs in almost all hiking scenarios, and will be ideal for lots of other outdoors sports and everyday use too.
Hiker on coastal path with daypack

Weight

Generally speaking, the greater the capacity of your daypack, the heavier it will be. And the heavier it is, the more work you have to do to lug it with you for miles on end. So ideally, getting something lightweight should be considered, especially if you like to hike fast. However, the heavier packs like the Thule Capstone 32 are usually heavier for a reason. They feature padded waist belts, an internal frame, a comfortable and ventilated back panel, and more pockets and storage options. So before you go dismissing anything that weighs over 1kg, you’ll need to consider these things and how important they are to you.

Comfort

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a daypack is how comfortable it is for you. If you’re only doing short hikes and not hauling too much gear then you can get away without it feeling like you’re wrapped in cotton wool. But for longer hikes, choosing something comfortable is key. The following things will increase comfort levels in most daypacks:

  • Waist belt

    This should be more than just a strap and should be fully padded and adjustable. Ideally it should also be breathable to prevent excess sweating.

  • Back panel

    Look for something with padding around the lumbar area, and trampoline-style suspension to let lots of air flow between you and the back of the bag.

  • Shoulder straps

    These should be padded and breathable, and ideally have load lifters – straps that connect to the top of the pack to draw the bag into the body. This prevents excess movement of the bag and helps keep the weight close to you putting less stress on your back, shoulders and neck.

  • Sternum strap

    Most daypacks for hiking have an adjustable sternum strap that can be tightened to minimise movement and increase stability. Ladies, make sure you are able to fit the strap high enough on your chest to be comfortable whilst still being useful.

  • Torso length adjustment

    Some bags like the Osprey Talon and Stratos allow you to adjust the height of the shoulder straps to fit your torso more specifically.

Ease of use

When you’re not enjoying wearing your daypack in all its padded comfort, you’ll be using the hell out of all those cool features. For some people, having a ton of pockets is a disaster and they work much better just throwing everything in one compartment and hitting the trail. However, if you like to keep things in order and know where things are, choose a bag with lots of storage options like the Camelbak Franconia. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to the usability of a bag, but there are a few things that without a doubt make life much easier when using your bag. These include:

  • Hydration pocket on daypack

    Hydration reservoir pocket

    Usually a separate sleeve within the main compartment of the bag (although the Osprey hydration pockets are accessed externally). These often include a clip or loop at the top of the pocket to hold the reservoir in place.

  • H2O Port

    Hydration port

    If the bag has an internal hydration pocket then it will also need a port that allows the hose of the reservoir to feed out of the bag and onto the shoulder strap.

  • Hose attachment on daypack

    Hydration hose clip

    Having a hose just dangling around at your shoulder can be really annoying, so a good bag should have a loop or clip that holds the hose in place when not in use. The Camelbak Franconia takes this a step further with a magnetised system.

  • Carry handle on backpack

    Top handle

    This is an non-essential feature but is very useful when picking up your pack, or hanging it up when not in use.

  • Zipper ties on the best daypack for hiking

    Zipper ties

    Having zipper ties that you can actually grab hold of easily is a small but important thing to look for, especially if you are hiking in cold conditions and wearing gloves.

  • Rain cover on backpack

    Waterproof cover

    Many daypacks don’t come with their own waterproof cover and have to be bought separately. So it can be a real bonus to have one integrated into your backpack. The Osprey Stratos and Thule Capstone both have rain covers.

  • top pocket of daypack

    Top pockets

    Usually fairly small but really useful to organise things that you need to access easily like keys, phone, map, snacks etc.

  • Internal pockets of bag

    Front pocket

    This is either zippered and often with internal mesh pockets like the Kelty Redtail, or a stretch stash pocket that you can stuff extra layers into easily, like the Talon or Speedlite.

  • Hipbelt pocket of daypack

    Hip belt pockets

    These are great for accessing snacks or your phone without having to take your pack off.

  • Side pocket of daypack

    External side pockets

    Usually made of stretchy mesh, these should hold a bottle and ideally should be accessed without having to take your bag off. Some are angled smartly to make this easier.

  • Compression straps on the best daypack for hiking

    Compression straps

    These are great to cinch down your pack if it isn’t full to prevent too much movement. They are also great for attaching extra gear to the outside of your pack.

  • Gear loops on daypack

    Gear loops

    Having a few extra loops or daisy chains can be really useful for carry extra gear like helmets or ropes etc.

  • Trekking pole loop

    Trekking pole loops

    Most good daypacks for hiking will have loops specially designed to hold trekking poles. These are located either on the back of the pack, or on the hip belt, like the Thule and Osprey packs.

Durability

This is a tough one to quantify, especially when it comes to buying bags that are new on the market that won’t have been tested for years like older bags. Ideally your daypack should last you a good five years of regular use, or more if you are willing to get it repaired as it starts to get tired.

Generally speaking, the more you spend on your bag the better the quality and durability are likely to be. But that’s not always the case. So look for bags made with ripstop nylon or similar, with a high denier (D) rating.


The best daypacks for hiking

Deuter SpeedLite 20 Daypack

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Despite its seemingly simple design, the Speedlite 20 is a deceptively versatile daypack for hiking and adventures. And although the capacity is only 20 litres, this is a big little bag that holds a surprisingly good amount of stuff. The innovative compression strap system can be used to secure skis and trekking poles on the back of the pack or it can cinch the whole bag down to little more than the size of a hydration pack. There are also four small gear attachment loops that can be used to attach a helmet (attachment sold separately), or you can rig up your own storage solutions if you need to carry extra gear like ropes etc.

Where the Speedlight lacks in organisation pockets, it makes up for it with its easy to use design and the spacious main compartment that provides plenty of room to pack everything you need . It is ideal for those wanting to keep things skipping along quickly on a big day in the mountains.

The 210D ripstop nylon does a great job at making sure the Speedlite will stand up to the rough and tumble of life on the trail, and although the Marmot Kompressor is over 150g lighter, its 70D nylon will struggle to compete when it comes to durability.

Other notable features:

  • Main access through top zipper
  • Sternum strap
  • Internal key attachment clip
  • Lightweight, removable waist strap
  • Front mesh pocket with access from both sides
  • Two side mesh pockets
  • Hydration pocket can hold a 3 litre reservoir
  • Hydration port
  • Padded back panel

Cons: Lacks pockets for storage, no rain cover
Verdict: Read our full and in depth review of this simple, durable, versatile and lightweight daypack.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Camelbak Franconia 24

Camelbak Franconia LR 24

At 1.2kg, the Camelbak Franconia is one the heavier daypacks in this review, and also one of the most pricey. But don’t let either of these factors put you off as this full-featured 24 litre bag offers everything you need in a great day pack with some very cool (and super useful) little extras.

Firstly the Franconia features the new Camelbak Crux LR reservoir that sits at the base of the backpack over your lumbar spine. This placement shifts that extra weight onto your hips to keep your centre of gravity lower and more balanced. As your reservoir empties throughout your hike, you can cinch down the compression straps to prevent the water that is left from jiggling around too much.

The hydration system also features a magnetic tube trap that keep the hose in place when not in use, and easily snaps it back into place once you’re done sipping.

There are two trekking pole attachments, pockets galore, and the trampoline-style Air Suspension back panel provides plenty of air-flow on gruelling climbs in hot weather.

The heavier weight of this robust daypack demands greater levels of support for the wearer, making the padded foam hip belt and load lifters essential to maximise comfort levels.

Other notable features:

  • Main access through top zipper
  • Sternum strap
  • Internal key attachment clip
  • Mesh side pockets
  • Cargo storage pocket
  • Zippered front compartment with mesh pockets
  • Padded hip belt with zippered pockets
  • Hydration port

Cons: No waterproof cover, heavy
Verdict: A robust, highly comfortable and full-featured daypack with loads of storage options and a lumbar hydration reservoir.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Osprey Talon 22 Daypack for hiking

Osprey Talon 22

New to Ospreys already impressive selection of excellent backpacks, the Talon 22 is one of the best daypacks for hiking on the market right now. And it’s not just hitting the trail that this brilliantly designed bag is great for: there is an ice axe loop, should you find yourself chilling out at altitude, and an incredibly useful LidLock attachment to store your bicycle helmet.

Osprey have taken some of the best features of the Escapist, adapted them to be ideal for hikers, and added a bunch more features too. The Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment is one such feature that allows you to store your poles without having to de-bag each time you want to put them away.

The AirScape accordion foam backpanel is also an excellent development that combines with a seamless lumbar-to-hip belt body wrap to increase air flow. Combined with an adjustable torso length, this system adds to the overall comfort of the bag by ensuring that the load is spread well across the hips

Other notable features:

  • Main access through top zip
  • External hydration pocket that holds a 3 litre reservoir
  • Internal key attachment clip
  • LED light attachment point
  • Sternum strap with emergency whistle
  • Stretch front pocket
  • Stretch mesh side pockets with InsideOut™ compression
  • Stretch pocket on harness
  • Twin zippered hip belt pockets

Cons: No Rain cover
Verdict: An excellent, lightweight and great value all-rounder daypack that is super comfortable and easy to use.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Gregory Salvo 24 Daypacks for hiking

Gregory Salvo 24

The Gregory Salvo 24 competes fiercely with the Talon in the fight for one of the most comfortable and all-round high performing daypacks for hiking. The Salvo owes its high comfort levels to the FreeSpan ventilated suspension that keeps air flowing very well on tough hikes without encroaching on the interior volume of the bag (like the Stratos). That, coupled with the ventilated lumbar pad, hipbelt and shoulder straps, provides a wonderfully comfortable pack for big day hikes.

It lacks the extra features that make the Talon so appealing for multi-adventurers, but makes up for it with some other excellent and highly user friendly additions, like the sunglasses stash loop on the shoulder strap, and the quick-release buckles on the side and bottom compression straps. It also has trekking pole attachment loops, and an accessories pocket with a soft fabric lining to protect your phone or sunglasses. The large zippered hip belt pockets provide loads of easily accessible storage, and the mesh side pockets are deep enough to not worry about your bottle falling out.

Other notable features:

  • Main access through top zipper
  • Sternum strap
  • Internal zippered mesh pocket
  • Internal hydration sleeve for 3 litre reservoir
  • Hydration port
  • Hose clip on shoulder strap
  • Safety light attachment loop

Cons: No rain cover – but it is water resistant
Verdict: A mega comfortable, simply designed, midweight daypack that is ideal for big day hikes.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Osprey Packs Stratos 26

Osprey Stratos 26

Although the heaviest bag of its size in this review, the Stratos is worth its weight in gold for those hiking in hot conditions and wanting to carry heavy loads. The exceptional levels of ventilation provided by the AirSpeed mesh backsystem and the seamless back panel to hipbelt design (similar to the Talon) makes the Stratos a firm favourite amongst summer hikers who don’t want to compromise on comfort.

This years updated version of the Stratos includes a large front storage pocket with easy access via a vertical zip. And like the Talon, there is a Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment that stores your poles underneath your arm when you don’t need them.

The integrated and detachable raincover is a highly appealing feature that is missing from almost of the bags in this review other than the Thule. And the overall durability of the bag is everything to be expected in an Osprey pack.

Other notable features:

  • Main access through top lid
  • External hydration pocket that holds a 3 litre reservoir
  • Internal key attachment clip
  • Sternum strap with emergency whistle
  • Adjustable torso length
  • External hydration pocket
  • Side compression straps
  • Single ice axe loop
  • Twin zippered hip belt pockets
  • Under lid zipped mesh pocket

Cons: The side mesh pockets are small, and the ventilated back panel encroaches on the internal space.
Verdict: An excellent quality and highly comfortable daypack for hiking in hot conditions.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


REI Flash 22 daypack

REI Flash 22

The ever-popular REI Flash 22 is a no frills lightweight bag that is ideal for the minimalist hiker. The lack of frame and lightweight nylon construction makes it one of the lightest bags in this review at only 411g. And despite its apparent flimsiness, it still manages to provide just enough padding on the shoulder straps and back panel to be comfortable on big day hikes.

What stands out about this simple daypack is its usability in everyday life. Yes, it performs brilliantly as a daypack for hiking with all the necessary features needed, but it’s not so technical that is overkill as a work bag, or commuter bag. A nice feature is the ability to detach both the waistbelt and sternum strap making it even more suited to a variety of scenarios.

The side mesh pockets are huge and can easily carry a Nalgene bottle in each one if you decide not to use a hydration reservoir. And to top it off, this is the cheapest bag in this review offering really excellent value to those who prefer something simple versatile pack vs full-featured technical daypacks.

Other notable features:

  • Main access through top lid
  • External hydration pocket that holds a 3 litre reservoir
  • Hydration port
  • Tool loops on top and bottom of pack can be tucked away when not needed
  • Zippered lid pocket
  • Zippered pocket on front

Cons: Lacks ventilation and no rain cover
Verdict: A superb value, simple and lightweight daypack for hiking and everyday use.

Find the latest price on:
REI


Arcteryx Brize 25 daypack

Arc’teryx Brize 25

Like Osprey, Arc’teryx are renowned for their high quality and well designed backpacks. And the Brize 25 is no different. It offers some great features for hikers and, like the REI Flash, is also highly adaptable to everyday use off the trail – thanks to it’s stylish and streamlined design, amongst other things.

Although over twice as heavy as the Flash, it still only weighs 905g and that extra weight provides stability and comfort that is comparable to the Speedlite. The back panel features Aeroform thermoformed, hydrophobic padding to enhance air flow, and the lightweight hip belt is removable when not needed.

There are some simple and discrete features like the dual daisy chains on the front of the pack, and the SwiftClip bungee straps to secure trekking poles or tools.

What lets this all-round great bag down slightly is the price. It is up there with the most expensive bags in this review and although you are buying into Arc’teryx quality, some better ventilation and a padded hip belt would be welcome additions for the price.

Other notable features:

  • Main access through top zip
  • Sternum strap
  • Hydroport™ drink tube passage with internal clip to keep bladder suspended
  • Hydration bladder compatible
  • Internal security pocket
  • Side pockets can carry 1L bottles or trekking poles
  • Zippered top pocket with key clip
  • Four compression straps – two on each side
  • Secures single ice or mountaineering tool

Cons: Expensive, average ventilation, no rain cover
Verdict: A stylish and well designed hiking daypack that is highly transferable to everyday uses.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Thule Capstone 32 daypack

Thule Capstone 32

Although the heaviest daypack in this review, the Capstone is also the largest with a capacity of 32 litres. New to the Thule line of hiking daypacks, this is an exceptionally well designed bag with loads of innovative features that make is highly suited to big days out in the mountains, or fast and light overnighters.

Thule really have thought of everything. From the button hole webbing on the front of the pack to secure gear, to the simple VersaClick pole holder on the customizable hip belt (compatible with other interchangeable VersaClick accessories (not included)). The small side mesh pockets are angled nicely to provide easy access when wearing the bag, and the front stretch shove-it pocket can hold extra layers or a jacket.

Like the Stratos, there is an integrated removable rain cover, and further moisture reduction is gained from the highly breathable and ventilated tensioned mesh back panel.

Other notable features:

  • Main access through top zip
  • Sternum strap
  • Single large hipbelt pocket
  • Zippered top pocket
  • MicroAdjust Suspension system lets you adjust your torso length
  • Rear hiking pole and ice axe attachments can be stowed when not in use

Cons: Heavy and pricey
Verdict: An innovative, super comfortable and full-featured pack for big day hikes and overnighters.

Find the latest price on:
AmazonBackcountry


Kelty Redtail 27 daypack

Kelty Redtail 27

The Kelty Redtail is an excellent value daypack that provides loads of storage options for time on the trail or around town. It is comparable to the Speedlite in weight, price, and comfort, but with more storage options and 7 extra litres of storage capacity.

Like the Speedlite, the Redtail won’t win any prizes when it comes to ventilation, but the padded shoulder straps and Hex Mesh backpanel certainly do a great job at providing good levels of comfort when fully loaded.

The panel loading main pocket is a really nice feature that allows you to fit in larger items and easily see and access your gear. And the front zippered pocket has lots of internal mesh organisation pockets.

Other notable features:

  • Main access through top zip
  • Sternum strap
  • Internal key attachment clip
  • Hydration pocket
  • Hydration port
  • Side compression straps
  • Top stash pocket
  • Angled stretch side pockets

Cons: no rain cover, average ventilation
Verdict: A very good value daypack with lots of storage options for time on the trail or around town.

Find the latest price on:
AmazonBackcountry


Marmot Kompressor Plus daypack

Marmot Kompressor Plus

At only 370g, the Marmot Kompressor Plus is the lightest daypack in this review. Like the REI Flash, this simple and lightweight design is ideal for fast and light hikers, and is also well suited to carrying lighter loads in everyday scenarios.

A hugely appealing feature of the Kompressor Plus is its ability to completely pack down into its own top pocket. This can be done once the internal foam back sheet is removed from the hydration pocket. It’s highly compressible nature makes it ideal for travelling or backpacking, and the compression straps also help to keep the pack cinched down and stable when loaded.

As with the other lightweight daypacks, the Kompressor Plus isn’t designed to excel at breathability and ventilation, but the Airmesh shoulder straps and back panel provide ample comfort when loaded.

Other notable features:

  • Main access through top lid
  • Sternum strap
  • Internal key attachment clip
  • Hydration pocket
  • Hydration port
  • Daisy chain
  • Trekking pole attachment
  • Removable waist belt

Cons: Not as durable as other bags due to the thin (70D) material
Verdict: A super lightweight and packable daypack that is ideal for travelers and backpackers

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Yep, there really are a load of great options to choose from in this wonderful selection of the best daypacks for hiking. And with such varied designs and features in each one, at least one of these excellent bags will (hopefully) be exactly what you are looking for.
Happy hiking!

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