The Best Hiking Daypacks

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As hard as you may try, you can’t always fit everything into your pockets. And if you’ve ever worn a pair of women’s pants, you’re very familiar with the struggle. But who wants to lug around a bulky backpack during a hot summer’s day that’s only filled with your water and a snack or two? I sure don’t. Luckily, hiking daypacks are here to save the day.

Although they’re technically considered backpacks, hiking daypacks are their smaller, lighter counterparts. Whether you’re gearing up for a short afternoon hike, heading out on a run through the trails or simply commuting to school or work, hiking daypacks are a great resource to help you carry all of your essential items without slowing you down.

Choosing the Right Hiking Daypack

The size or capacity of your daypack will be measured in litres, with the smallest most compact versions holding 10 litres or less, while the bigger models can store up to 35 litres. Bigger bags will be equipped with more features like shoulder padding, hip belts or extra compartments to help keep you organized and comfortable, but keep in mind, all the added bells and whistles tack on more weight.

If you’re not quite sure whether to choose a backpack or a daypack, head down to the bottom of the article for a quick guide on which style of bag should be used for certain activities, as well as key features to look for in your daypack! Or if you're ready to see the choices, check out this list below:

1. Editor's Pick: ZOMAKE Lightweight Packable Hiking Daypack

1. Editor's Pick: ZOMAKE Lightweight Packable Hiking Daypack
  • Great value buy
  • Compact
  • Durable zippers
  • Multiple compartments
  • Tear and water resistant
  • Not waterproof
  • Short shelf life

Key Specs

Material: Nylon
Capacity: 25L
Weight: 0.74 lbs.

Weighing less than a pound, this lightweight and durable daypack from ZOMAKE has a 25L capacity so you can carry all of your essential items with ease. Not to mention, this bag can fold down to the size of a sandwich for easy storage.

Whether you want a brightly coloured daypack to match your vibrant personality or a more subtle shade to blend in with your surroundings, these 25L ZOMAKE Lightweight Packable Hiking Daypacks are available in 13 different colours. These durable multi-purpose bags are great for a wide range of activities, thanks to their ultra-lightweight and spacious design. With heavy-duty SBS zippers and high-quality tear and water-resistant nylon, this budget-friendly daypack is ready to go wherever your day takes you.

2. Runner Up: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

2. Runner Up: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack
  • Ergonomic and reinforced shoulder straps
  • Packs down to the size of a tennis ball
  • Includes packing case and carabiner
  • Durable, water-resistant fabric
  • Zipper may open if closed in the centre
  • May be too small for travel use

Key Specs

Material: 30D Ultra-Sil CORDURA nylon, PU
Capacity: 20L
Weight: 30g

Built from strong, water-resistant 30D Ultra-Sil CORDURA nylon, this Sea to Summit daypack is perfect for lightweight travel. It only weighs 3 oz., and it can hold up to 20 litres worth of gear and packs down to the size of a tennis ball for easy storage and transportation; when you're not using your bag, simply fold it down and throw it in your pocket.

3. Best Lightweight: AmazonBasics Ultralight Packable Day Pack

3. Best Lightweight: AmazonBasics Ultralight Packable Day Pack
  • Super lightweight
  • Lots of storage space
  • Folds into its own pocket for easy storage
  • Made from rip-resistant nylon
  • No interior padding so sharp objects can hurt your back
  • Not waterproof

Key Specs

Material: Nylon
Capacity: 25L
Weight: 159g

While most hiking daypacks are lightweight by virtue of their design and functionality, this option from AmazonBasics is one of the lightest and most affordable options on our list and is ideal if being lightweight and budget-friendly are important features you are looking for in a daypack.

Designed for everyday use or short travel adventures, this 25-litre daypack weighs only 129 grams, or 4.55 ounces can be used as a carry-on, day-trip pack, or a small backpack. It also stuffs into its own pocket for easy storage when you are not using it.

This daypack has a sleek and stylish look and an intelligent functionality with lots of useful packing space. There are several pockets for handy storage, a roomy main compartment, a front zippered pocket for smaller items, an interior zippered pocket, and two open-mesh side pockets to put a water bottle or even a small umbrella.

Made from ultra-strong rip-resistant nylon fabric, the daypack has two adjustable, breathable shoulder straps to ensure a comfortable fit and you can choose from five different colours: black, green, navy blue, red or orange.

4. Best Casual: AOTIAN Lightweight Hiking Daypack

4. Best Casual: AOTIAN Lightweight Hiking Daypack
  • Available in 4 different colours
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Multiple zippered pockets
  • Good value
  • Short shelf life
  • Low quality buckles

Key Specs

Material: Nylon, polyester
Capacity: 10L
Weight: 0.88 lbs.

Perfect for hikes, camping and day trips, this small but spacious hiking daypack from AOTIAN is loaded with multiple zippered compartments, so you can safely store your belongings in a stylish yet durable bag.

One of the benefits of buying a daypack over a backpack is that they tend to lean more towards the trendy side. And if you’re on the hunt for a hiking daypack that doesn’t look like you’re ready to run a mile or two, this AOTIAN Lightweight Hiking Daypack is a great budget friendly option.

Made from nylon and polyester materials, this small, but roomy bag features two main compartments, an extra inner pocket, two water bottle holders, and a back pocket that opens against the top of your back so you can safely stash away any cards or cash that you don’t want to risk getting stolen.

5. Best with Water Bladder: TETON Sports Unisex-Adults Daypack Backpacks

5. Best with Water Bladder: TETON Sports Unisex-Adults Daypack Backpacks
  • Has an integrated rain cover
  • Comes with a 2-litre water bladder with kink-free sip tube
  • Bungee cord system for cycling and climbing helmets
  • Heavier than other daypacks
  • Pricey
  • Some users were not happy with the quality of the hydration bladder

Key Specs

Material: Honeycomb ripstop, 600D PU
Capacity: 18L
Weight: 2lbs

TETON Sports oasis 110 daypack is a good pick if you are a novice day adventurer who wants to explore the wilds outside your town and be able to stay hydrated while carrying the necessities you’ll need for a short hike, bike ride or a walk on the trails.

This lightweight 18-litre daypack includes a two-litre bladder to help keep you hydrated throughout the day and has some great design features for comfort and durability. The daypack’s multiple compression straps allow you to tighten the pack for a great fit to reduce bounce. An integrated rain cover keeps the pack and whatever is inside it dry if you get caught in the rain and you’ll keep cool as the air mesh back panel offers up ventilation on hot days.

This low-profile daypack has adjustable shoulder, waist, and chest straps that work together so you can have a comfortable experience. The daypack is also available in olive green, orange, bright green, black or bright blue.

6. Best Budget Pick: G4Free Lightweight Packable Hiking Daypacks

6. Best Budget Pick: G4Free Lightweight Packable Hiking Daypacks
  • Lightweight
  • Packable
  • Wide range of colours
  • Versatile
  • Multiple storage compartments
  • Water resistant, not waterproof
  • Not very flexible
  • Thin material

Key Specs

Material: Nylon
Capacity: 11L
Weight: 4.59 oz.

On the hunt for a quality hiking daypack but don’t want to break the bank? This inexpensive daypack from G4Free uses high-quality materials and a compact design so you can enjoy a comfortable and versatile beginner daypack.

With over 10 colours and designs to choose from, this G4Free Lightweight Packable Hiking Daypack uses durable, water- and tear-resistant nylon materials to give you a lightweight and compact bag that’s perfect for an afternoon exploring the outdoors or a day full of errands. Its two separate compartments can help you keep your things organized as well as help you access important items in a pinch.

7. Best High End: Deuter Speed Lite 12 Ultralight Daypack

7. Best High End: Deuter Speed Lite 12 Ultralight Daypack
  • Lightweight
  • SOS tips stitched inside
  • Water bladder compartment
  • Comfortable
  • Expensive
  • Hydration port left side only

Key Specs

Material: 210D polyamide
Capacity: 12L
Weight: 350g

Built from ultralight materials with fast-paced activities in mind, this minimalist and comfortable daypack incorporates a flexible frame, adjustable straps and a padded back panel to provide you with a sturdy and comfortable bag.

If this isn’t your first time shopping for a daypack and you’re ready to upgrade your well loved pack, this Deuter Speed Lite 12 Ultralight Daypack is ready for all of your outdoor adventures. Its new streamlined design makes it great for high intensity activities like alpine day hikes, mountaineering, and endurance sports. Each bag is equipped with ventilated 3D-air mesh panels, a flexible Delrin U-frame, chest and shoulder straps, and specialized compartments to hold a two-litre hydration system, wet clothes, or your valuables.

8. Honourable Mention: Osprey Unisex-Adult Daypack

8. Honourable Mention: Osprey Unisex-Adult Daypack
  • Built-in hydration pocket
  • Attaches to other Osprey bags
  • Adjustable shoulder and waist strap
  • Comfortable
  • Multiple compartments
  • Stiff zippers
  • Thin straps
  • Long design

Key Specs

Capacity: 13L
Weight: 454g

Simple and lightweight in design, this Osprey Unisex-Adult Daypack uses a foam back ventilation panel on top of adjustable shoulder and waist straps to help balance load weight and keep your back as comfortable as possible.

Equipped with a full length mesh-covered die-cut foam back panel, this Osprey hiking daypack provides ample support and ventilation to make sure your back is comfortable throughout the day. With a multi-function interior sleeve to store a hydration pack or your small electronics, this small Osprey bag can be used on its own or attached to other compatible Osprey packs.

Daypack vs. Backpack

Because both of these types of bags use shoulder straps to hang off your back, they’re both considered backpacks. So technically, all daypacks are backpacks, but not all backpacks are daypacks. Confusing, I know. Just think of daypacks as smaller versions of backpacks. When you’re heading out on a long hike, you don’t necessarily want to lug around a hefty bag that’s only holding your phone, water and a few snacks. That’s where hiking daypacks come into play. They’re smaller, lighter, and typically forgo the use of an internal frame, although larger styles may incorporate them to help you carry the extra weight.

Should I Use A Daypack or a Backpack?

In some situations, it can be hard to decide whether a backpack or a daypack will better suit your needs. On one hand, the bigger the bag the more space you have to stash any extra gear you may need. But on the other hand, smaller bags equal less weight and strain on your body.

While it’s never a bad idea to have one of both handy to swap out depending on each day’s needs, there are certain situations where one will be better than the other. If you’re heading out on a day hike, running some errands or exploring the city, daypacks are a great option. Think of them as a carry-on — they’re designed to hold your essential items while you’re out-and-about. Backpacks are better suited for longer multi-day hikes or other outdoor adventures when you have to lug around more gear than just the essentials.

Features To Keep In Mind

Capacity

Even though daypacks are generally smaller than backpacks, they still range wildly in size from a 5L capacity all the way up to 35L. Consider what type of activities you have in store to help you decide how big or small your bag should be. Love trail running or short hikes? Small, low profile and compact models around the 10L mark are a great lightweight option. Most hikers find that bags around the 25L mark are the best all-purpose bags. They’re small enough you don’t feel overwhelmed, but large enough to store more than just your jacket and some food.

Weight

Generally, the bigger the bag, the more features it’ll have, which also means more weight. Minimalist bags can weigh next to nothing by forgoing internal structures and padding to stay as light as possible. Neither option is a bad one — the weight of your bag just comes down to your specific needs. Think about how much you need to store in your bag as well as comfort level when comparing models.

Comfort

If you plan to wear your bag for long periods of time, comfort should be a top priority. Bags with back panel padding, shoulder and hip belts and internal frames are a great indication of how comfortable a bag will be.

Leave a Comment

We're always looking for more feedback! If you own one of these hiking daypacks and would like to share your experience with us and other readers, please leave a comment down below!

About the Author: Carlen Oliveira

Carlen Oliveira is a graduate from Ryerson University’s RTA Sport Media program and is currently working as a writer based out of Toronto. She has an avid interest in all things sports and finding engaging new ways to workout. With limited access to gyms and friends during the pandemic, she discovered her love of individual activities like yoga and skipping, which push her both mentally and physically. When she’s not writing or working out, you can find her exploring the outdoors and travelling, come rain or shine… and especially snow!

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