What you’ll find here – The best overall daypack, the best essentials daypack, and the best budget daypack. We review daypacks from the top daypack brands like REI and Osprey and Gregory as well as provide expert advice on how to figure out which day pack is best for you.
Best Overall Daypack
Weight: 2 lbs.
Capacity: 24L, water capacity of 100 fluid ounces.
Pros: Hydration bladder included, super comfortable, not hard on the back, good hip straps, and durable.
Cons: Side pockets are small and only reallty fit narrow water bottles.
Bottom line: Choose the Gregory Citro 24 H20 if you’re looking for a pack with a hydration bladders. We find that having a daypack with a water bladder is ideal for hikes beyond the campsite. it’s a good idea to buy a daypack that includes one.
Top pick: This pack has all the necessary features plus you have a build-it water bladder. You don’t have to fool around with seeing if other water bladders fit. This daypack is the one we use out on our adventures and has become one of our favorite items in our top gear picks.
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- Our recommendations are completely independent and based on personal experience and/or input from industry experts.
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Page last updated: December, 2020
Best Daypack with all the Essentials
Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz. / 1lb. 9 oz.
Capacity 22L / 20L
Pros: Well ventilated back panel, awesome hip belt, well designed pockets and even has a helmet clip if you ride bikes.
Cons: This is a bit on the heavy side of daypacks and you can’t remove the hipbelt.
Bottom line: The Osprey Talon 22 (men’s) and the Tempest 20 (women’s) provide an exceptional balance of comfort and all the essential functionality you need in a daypack. This pack is super comfortable and forms to our back well. Additionally, the soft hip belts , lightly padded shoulder straps, and well ventilated back panels make these packs our best essential packs. We find that for most day hikes the 22L and 20L storage space is plenty.
Best Budget Daypack
Weight: 13 oz.
Pros: Price, Very light (some consider it ultralight), removable hip belt, very comfortable, extremely compact because the frame can be removed and then you can fit it into luggage or your backpacking backpack).
Cons: The frame design makes this pack not as supportive.
Bottom line: The REI Flash 22 has been a common daypack for camping for many years. It’s affordable, light and compact. If you’re just going on short hikes and want a lightweight pack, this is a great option. Also, if you need to pack a dayback into other containers, this one rolls up to take up very little space. We find it easy to reach your water bottles (which is not always the case with some daypacks). Even though the Flash 22 has a removable hip belt, we like taking the pressure off our shoulders so we rarely remove it.
Choosing the best daypack for you
Price – Quality is key and if you take care of your day pack, it will last for many years. Our saying is buy once, cry once because you don’t want a pack to fail you while you’re out on the trails. We only recommend packs that are from top brands and use quality materials. Day packs can be used for camping or as a day hiking backpack.
Packs with hydration – Some people like just having a water bottle and other like using hydration bladders to stay hydrated on the trail. We like hydration bladders and also putting a water bottle in the pack. It’s wise to separate your water and not have all your eggs in one basket (in case one leaks and then you no longer have any water). Almost every daypack we recommend has a hydration hose access area and space to put the bladder.
Weight – When it comes to choosing a daypack in regards to weight, we suggest finding the pack that is most comfortable and has the essential functionally you want first and then narrowing it down by weight. Day backpacks for men are usually a bit heavier.
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Day pack considerations
Capacity – The capacity of a daypack is measured by the amount of liters it will carry. Generally, you want around 20L-30L for a standard daypack. We recommend 20L+ so you can carry all the gear you want.
Back ventilation – Some daypacks have mesh back panel that allows for more airflow and ventilation. If you tend to get a sweaty pack, we suggest a mesh back panel daypack. Also, we find that many hikers find mesh backed packs to be more comfortable overall.
Hip Belt – A hip belt distributes the weight of your pack to your hips and off your shoulders. Also, most hip belts have convenient pockets so you can access your phone, sunscreen, or other other items quickly. For longer camping hikes, we like to have daypacks with hip belts.
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