The Best Hiking Daypacks

Table of Contents

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 Heavy-Duty: RUPUMPACK Insulated Hydration Daypack

3. Best Heavy-Duty: RUPUMPACK Insulated Hydration Daypack
  • Includes 2.5L water bladder
  • Wide, padded waist straps
  • Multiple storage compartments
  • Comfortable
  • Small in length
  • Low-quality seams

Key Specs

Material: Nylon
Capacity: 18L
Weight: 1.4 lbs.

With ventilated mesh padding, adjustable shoulder and waist belts, heavy-duty zippers, and reflective strips, this RUPUMPACK daypack is a great option for a wide range of outdoor activities and even comes with its own water bladder.

This lightweight daypack includes a hydration insulated layer and includes its very own 2.5L bladder to help keep you hydrated throughout the day. It's great for those of you who love to spend long days exploring the outdoors hiking, running or cycling. What's more, it's available in a wide range of colours, and with its ventilated mesh padding, along the adjustable shoulder straps, waist strap and back panels, this bag will offer you a world of comfort and convenience.

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. Sleeper Pick: Salomon Trailblazer 20

5. Sleeper Pick: Salomon Trailblazer 20
  • Sleek design
  • Padded back, shoulder and belt straps
  • Bladder compatible
  • Side stretch pockets
  • Zipper may catch on fabric
  • Not waterproof

Key Specs

Material: Polyester, polyamide, elastane
Capacity: 20L
Weight: 414g

Built with a padded back system, adjustable shoulder and belt straps, this 20L capacity bag from Salomon uses high-quality materials to give you a comfortable and reliable bag perfect for all of your single day activities.

If you’re a novice hiker, this easy-to-use Salomon Trailblazer 20 daypack is a great starting point. With a simple design, clean lines and durable materials, this bag is a great investment. Whether you want to throw in a hydration bladder or your laptop, this versatile Salomon daypack can go from an adventure on the trails to your workday commute.

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. Also Consider: Osprey Unisex-Adult Daypack

8. Also Consider: 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.

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