osprey hikelite18 daypack on a damp forest floor surrounded by ivy
(Photo/Mary Murphy)

Osprey Hikelite 18L Daypack Review: Breezy Ventilation and Catch-All Versatility

With technical design and a few extra components added, the Osprey Hikelite 18L pack challenges the brand’s old fan favorite, the Daylite daypack.

There’s no shortage of technical daypacks out there. In fact, it’s one of the largest categories of gear I’ve tested for GearJunkie. It takes something special to stand out in such a crowded category, and while the Hikelite 18L daypack isn’t breaking any new technical ground, Osprey has honed in on a near-perfect all-around daypack.

Osprey’s aim with the Hikelite series is to create an “unassuming” and versatile pack — one with enough technical features to support double-digit day hikes, and enough comfort to support general, everyday wear. We set out to see how close Osprey got.

In short: The Hikelite 18 ($95) is a stellar option (under $100!) if you’re looking for a do-all, catch-all daypack that also has a few technical features.

We’ve had ours in testing for months, and the size, pocket placement, and overall durability all stood out to us. The ventilation and breathability are better than other Osprey daypack options — so if comfort is of high importance, the Hikelite should top your list.

Osprey Hikelite 18L Daypack Review

the backpanel on the osprey hikelite 18L pack
The highly breathable, ventilated AirSpeed back panel; (photo/Mary Murphy)

I won’t say this Hikelite is the “goldilocks” of packs — there are far too many packs on market for this to be the perfect one. However, compared to other Osprey models and daypack variations, the Osprey Hikelite 18L is up there as one of my top two favorites.

Why? Its ratio of volume to technical features to price is stellar for those who want a versatile, take-anywhere pack.

  • Volume: 18L, 26L
  • Weight: 1.49 lbs. (18L size)
  • Style: Frameless
  • Materials: 100-denier nylon diamond fabric on main, 500-denier nylon packcloth on base of pack
  • Straps: Padded shoulder straps, sternum strap, hipbelt
  • Features: AirSpeed ventilated back panel, side compression straps, side mesh pockets, external zip pocket, trekking pole attachment, removable hipbelt, safety whistle
  • Rain cover included

Osprey Hikelite vs. Daylite Packs

DSC00559
(Photo/Mary Murphy)

Both Osprey’s Daylite and Hikelite daypacks have sternum straps and removable hipbelt straps, a hydration reservoir, side pockets, compression straps, and a zippered main compartment.

However, the Hikelite offers a slightly more comfortable fit for longer stretches on the trail and is slightly more technical in terms of pack features. I also found the Hikelite to be more ventilated/breathable, specifically because of the AirScape back panel and different ventilated carry straps.

Inversely, the Daylite is lighter-weight, packs down smaller, and is a better choice for general use. The Daylite Plus offers a few extra compartments and is more expandable, making it the best travel pack out of the three.

For more technical hikes and better versatility (depending on where my day took me), I preferred the Osprey Hikelite 18L slightly more — especially the additions of the larger zipper pulls, trekking pole loop attachments, and rain cover.

Conclusion

osprey hikelite
Testing the daypack’s waterproofing on an overnight camp trip; (photo/Mary Murphy)

Overall, this daypack has held up over 100 miles in testing. The exterior is durable, the straps are comfortable, and the back panel is breathable as heck. Especially for hot and humid climates, this pack is a winner.

I found it to be spot on with what Osprey designed it for: general daily use and technical trail hikes alike. Its 18L size is just big enough for longer days (though there is a 26L option available too).

Check Price at Osprey

logo detailing on the outside of a green osprey hikelite 18L pack
Durability test: Exterior pack detail after 5-plus months of testing and use. All zippers, straps, and seams are intact; (photo/Mary Murphy)
the author in a pink shell with a Deuter daypack hiking along a trail
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Mary Murphy
By

Mary is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and is based in GearJunkie's Denver, Colo. office. She has a degree in English and journalism, and has a background in both newspaper and magazine writing. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.