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The Best Daypacks of 2024

Going on a hike, bike ride, or simply commuting? You'll need a daypack to carry all your gear (or at the very least, snacks). Check out our review for the best daypacks of 2024.
Best Daypacks Hero(Photo/Miya Tsudome)
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Daypacks are simple pieces of gear, but it can be tricky to find the right one based on style, fit, and your needs. We’ve broken down the best daypacks into a few different categories to help you choose.

What we love most about all of these best daypacks is their versatility. Grab one when taking your dog on a walk, heading into the office or the classroom, or hitting the mountains for a day hike, bike ride, and more. The trick is to find one that hits these four criteria: comfort, fit, included features, and ideal price.

Our expert gear testers have been reviewing daypacks since 2021, meticulously researching and testing the best on the market to keep this review up to date. These packs have been taken on extensive outings from the desert slopes of the Sierra Nevada to the green forested mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Our testers hiked miles with each, loading them up with typical gear for a day’s outing, and making sure to take notes on each one. To choose the best of the best, we ranked each pack on quality, feedback from our testing, and price.

Read on for our best daypack selections as well as our daypack buyer’s guide. And for help with any hairsplitting decisions, check out our comparison chart and FAQ sections.

Editor’s Note: We updated our Daypacks guide on March 18, 2024, to add a number of new and worthy packs including the Patagonia Refugio, Gregory Miko & Maya, and the Mystery Ranch Gallagator.

The Best Daypacks of 2024

Best Overall Daypack

Deuter Speed Lite 25


  • Material 100D and 140D high-tenacity 100% recycled polyamide
  • Pockets Three external stretch
  • Suspension style Deuter’s Lite System, a tensioned Derlin U frame
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 3 L
  • Ideal use Any and everything
  • Weight 1 lb., 9 oz.
Product Badge The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Carries weight well
  • Bluesign-certified body fabric


  • Frame limits packability for travel
  • Shoulder pocket a bit too small to hold phone
Best Budget Daypack

REI Co-op Flash 22


  • Material Recycled ripstop nylon
  • Pockets 1 main compartment, 1 hydration sleeve, 1 small zippered pocket on front, 2 water bottle pockets on each side
  • Suspension style Frameless foam back panel (removable)
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 3 L
  • Ideal use Trail to town
  • Weight 14 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Budget price
  • Packability


  • Lower capacity
  • Not much structure
Best Runner-Up Daypack

REI Co-op Trail 25


  • Material Recycled ripstop nylon
  • Pockets 2 mesh side pockets, 1 main compartment, 2 zippered pockets, 1 pocket for hydration bladder
  • Suspension style Internal HPDE framesheet
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Day hikes, around town
  • Weight 1 lb., 15 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Comfortable
  • Affordable
  • Lots of useful features
  • Good quality materials


  • No padded waist belt
  • Pockets can make the front flap of the pack top heavy
Best Commuter Daypack

Salomon Trailblazer 20


  • Material Polyester, polyamide, elastane, polyethylene
  • Pockets 1 belt zippered pocket, 1 main compartment, 1 pocket with lateral zip access, 1 internal bladder sleeve, 1 top pocket with key holder, 2 side stretch pockets, 1 belt stretch pocket
  • Suspension style Padded back system with padded hip belt
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Daily driver
  • Weight 14.6 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Good size for daily use
  • Many pockets
  • Comfortable padded hip belt


  • Small shoulder straps
  • Not great for running or fast mountain pursuits
Best Hybrid Running Daypack

Arc’teryx Aerios 18


  • Material 100-denier CORDURA nylon; 210-denier CORDURA nylon with twisted 200-denier LCP grid
  • Pockets Main compartment, one small front-access pocket, two side access zippered pockets, internal security pocket with key clip, breathable shoulder harness with 2 zippered pockets to accommodate soft flasks
  • Suspension style Highly breathable AeroForm back panel with anti-barreling frame sheet
  • Hydration-compatible No
  • Ideal use Trail running and day hikes
  • Weight 1 lb., 4 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Comfortable shoulder harness with zippered pockets and pouches
  • Double set of stretchy chest cords to keep pack from moving too much
  • High-quality materials


  • Pricey
  • No hydration sleeve
  • Side pockets not the most secure
Best Technical Daypack

Black Diamond Pursuit 15


  • Material 100% recycled polyester
  • Pockets 1 zippered and 3 stretch pockets on the shoulder straps; 1 large stretch-woven front pocket; 2 quick-access side pockets; 1 interior zippered pocket with key clip
  • Suspension style Frameless foam back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Scrambling or summit pack
  • Weight 1 lb., 8 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Comfortable suspension system with seamless wing construction that hugs your body
  • Lots of pockets
  • Easy access trekking pole storage


  • No ice axe loop
  • Pricey
Best Women's-Specific Daypack

Osprey Tempest Pro 20


  • Material 210D Nanofly UHMWPE nylon + 420HD nylon packcloth
  • Pockets Three external stretch, one external zippered, and two hipbelt
  • Suspension style Injection-molded AirScape back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 2 L
  • Ideal use Hiking, biking,
  • Weight 2 lbs., 1 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Feature-rich with a place or pocket for everything
  • Highly adjustable Bio-Stretch harness and hip belt
  • AirScape backpanel is above and beyond many other daypack frames


  • On the pricier side at $200
  • Hydration pouch won't accept full 3 L bladders in smaller pack sizes
Best of the Rest

Patagonia Refugio 26L Pack


  • Material Recycled polyester
  • Pockets 3+ main compartment
  • Suspension style Frameless
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Travel, commuting, school
  • Weight 1 lb., 9.9 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Large capacity
  • Removable laptop sleeve
  • Made of recycled materials


  • Could use a small external pocket for personal items
  • Thin stretchy mesh water bottle holders prone to abrasion

Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Del Dia Pack


  • Material 100% repurposed ripstop nylon
  • Pockets One external zippered
  • Suspension style Frameless
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 2 L
  • Ideal use Travel, commuting
  • Weight 10.6 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Sustainable
  • Price
  • Slender profile for commuting


  • Fabric colors sometimes aren’t as advertised
  • Requires careful packing

Gregory Miko & Maya 20 Pack


  • Material 100-denier high-density nylon, 210-denier high-density nylon
  • Pockets 6+ main compartment
  • Suspension style Frameless
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Dayhikes
  • Weight 2 lbs.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Well-made suspension and comfortable hipbelt
  • Many pockets
  • Made of high-quality recycled materials
  • Adjustable torso length


  • Can feel a tad overbuilt for its size
  • Not waterproof

Mystery Ranch Gallagator 25


  • Material 210 Robic nylon
  • Pockets 3+ main compartment
  • Suspension style Frameless
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Dayhikes, travel, commuting
  • Weight 1 lb. 4.8 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Comfortable running vest-style harness
  • Easy access to gear
  • Frontal daisy chain and compression straps for external storage
  • Hydration reservoir compatible


  • Vest-style harness won’t be for everyone
  • Mesh pockets only available on 25L version
  • Narrow reservoir pocket

Matador Freerain22 Packable Daypack


  • Material 50D ripstop nylon, with 100D Robic wear panels
  • Pockets Two external stretch, One external zippered
  • Suspension style Frameless
  • Hydration-compatible No
  • Ideal use Travel
  • Weight 10.6 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Great packability
  • Waterproof fabric
  • Rugged wear panels


  • No foam back panel or frame in a larger volume pack
  • Uncomfortable pack straps

Osprey Hikelite 26 Pack


  • Material 100D/420D recycled nylon
  • Pockets Two external stretch, one zippered
  • Suspension style Alloy wire frame, breathable mesh back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 3 L
  • Ideal use Backpacking, travel
  • Weight 1 lb., 11.8 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Breathable back panel and straps
  • Plenty of color options
  • Integrated rain cover


  • Limited external attachment options

Gregory Nano 22 Daypack


  • Material 210-denier CryptoRip honeycomb nylon
  • Pockets Large zip-access main compartment, quick-access zippered front pocket with key hook and organization sleeves, front mesh pocket and two mesh side pockets
  • Suspension style Die-cut foam back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Around town, day hikes
  • Weight 1 lb., 1.6 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Wide, comfortable shoulder straps
  • Die-cut foam back panel for enhanced breathability
  • Comes with a hydration bladder
  • Lots of pockets


  • Hip strap is only a thin piece of webbing
  • Too big to be a running pack

Osprey Talon 22


  • Material 210D/420D recycled ripstop nylon
  • Pockets Three external stretch, one external zippered, and two hipbelt
  • Suspension style Frameless foam back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Multisport days
  • Weight 2 lbs.
The Best Daypacks of 2024


  • Many attachment features
  • Cushy suspension system


  • On the heavier end
(Photo/Nick Belcaster)

Daypack Comparison Chart

DaypackPriceMaterialPocketsSuspension StyleWeight
Deuter Speed Lite 25
$120100D and 140D high-tenacity 100% recycled polyamide4 totalDeuter’s Lite System, a tensioned Derlin U frame1 lb., 9 oz.
REI Co-op Flash 22
$60Recycled ripstop nylon5 totalFrameless foam back panel (removable)14 oz.
REI Co-op Trail 25
$80Recycled ripstop nylon6 totalInternal HPDE framesheet1 lb., 15 oz.
Salomon Trailblazer 20
$70Polyester, polyamide, elastane, polyethylene8 totalPadded back system with padded hip belt14.6 oz.
Arc’teryx Aerios 18$130100-denier CORDURA nylon; 210-denier CORDURA nylon7 totalAeroForm back panel with frame sheet1 lb., 8 oz.
Black Diamond Pursuit 15
$150100% recycled polyester8 totalFrameless foam back panel1 lb., 8 oz.
Osprey Tempest Pro 20$200100D Nanofly UHMWPE nylon + 420HD nylon packcloth6 totalInjection-molded AirScape back panel1 lb., 14.4 oz.
Patagonia Refugio 26L Pack$109Recycled polyester4 TotalFrameless1 lb., 9.9 oz.
Cotopaxi Luzon 18 Del Dia$60100% repurposed ripstop nylon2 totalFrameless10.6 oz.
Gregory Miko & Maya 20 Pack
$130100-denier high-density nylon, 210-denier high-density nylon7 TotalFrameless2 lbs.
Mystery Ranch Gallagator 25
$90210 Robic nylon4 TotalFrameless1 lb. 4.8 oz.
Matador Freerain22 $10050D ripstop nylon, with 100D Robic wear panels4 totalFrameless10.6 oz.
Osprey Hikelite 26$115100D/420D recycled nylon4 totalAlloy wire frame, breathable mesh back panel1 lb., 11.8 oz.
Gregory Nano 22 Daypack$90210-denier CryptoRip honeycomb nylon5 totalDie-cut foam back panel1 lb., 1.6 oz.
Osprey Talon 22
$160210D/420D recycled ripstop nylon7 totalFrameless foam back panel2 lbs.
REI Co-op Flash 22 Daypack on Hike
From town to the trail, we saddled up these daypacks for the ultimate test; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

How We Tested Daypacks

Our GearJunkie testers are a multisport bunch who take every opportunity to sneak out for the types of brief adventures that daypacks shine in. And, we’ve put our heads together here to drum up the best daypacks on the market in 2024.

Nick Belcaster is a Washington-based trail hound who knows well the “get-it-while-you-can” aspect of adventuring in what is sometimes known as the Pacific Northwest. His exploits range from car-to-car alpine adventures in North Cascades National Park to ripping around on mountain bikes just outside of town, and in doing so he’s cultivated a taste for what makes a daypack the one

Our other chief daypack tester, Miya Tsudome, lives in the high desert of Bishop, Calif., at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. She spends the majority of her time in the summer climbing, backpacking, and going on day hikes, and knows what she is looking for in a daypack for navigating mountain terrain. 

Our gearheads have been testing daypacks since 2021, combing the field each year to find new great packs to add to our list. The 15 in this review reflect a variety of the best packs you can find today, covering different uses from casual hiking, technical peakbagging, commuting to work, or traveling abroad. The beauty of a daypack is in its absolute versatility, and we’ve used ours to tackle nearly everything.

For this list, we looked at daypacks across the spectrum — from packable and travel-friendly rucksacks to full-featured hiking and riding packs. We hiked miles in each pack, loading them up with the essentials, noting their frame style, comfort and adjustability, features, breathability, and waterproofing. Our review reflects weeks of careful study to bring you an honest look at the pros and cons of each daypack. Check out our buyer’s guide below for more details about how they measured up.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Daypack

Black Diamond Pursuit Hiking
Each backpack on this list was put through real-world tests by our trail-loving pros; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Whether you’re choosing a pack to take you from work to the mountains or a daypack that can fill one specific use, let’s break down the best way to choose the right daypack for you.

Daypack User Profiles

The Casual Hiker: Those who hike on occasion, and are looking for a pack without too many bells and whistles but are serious about comfort, adjustability, and quality, will want to look for a pack with a few features: water bottle holders or hydration bladder compatibility, a waistbelt, and at least a small organizational front pocket. 

The Gregory Miko & Maya 20 Pack, Osprey Hikelite 26 Pack, and Osprey Talon 22 are all good choices for this category, and have more of a sporty, technical look to them that says “I’m a hiker.” If you’re looking for something that is a little more hybrid in style and can go from trail to town, the REI Co-op Trail 25 and Salomon Trailblazer 20 are great picks.

The Gregory Miko & Maya 20 is a great mid-sized pack at 20 L with plenty of pockets for accessories; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

The Peakbagger: Some day hikers go on a 3-mile jaunt on maintained trails, while other folks’ idea of a day hike is running out into the mountains or doing long, technical trail runs before dawn. If this is your thing, you’re going to want a pack that can move with your body. Look for a daypack in the 15-18L range, with a running-vest-inspired shoulder harness to hold water flasks and goos, that is lightweight and has some waterproofing treatment to withstand the elements. 

The Black Diamond Pursuit 15 and Arc’teryx Aerios 18 are great choices for the extreme hiker. Each pack weighs in at a light 1 lb. 8 oz., has comfortable and snug running vest shoulder straps, and is made with durable materials to withstand abrasion and raindrops alike. As a bonus, the Pursuit 15 comes with a wide, flexible waistband that won’t slow you down. 

(Photo/Nick Belcaster)

The Daily Commuter: The commuter, whether to school or to work, by bike or by train, will also want to look for some specific elements in their next daypack. A good capacity of around 20-25 L, comfortable shoulder straps for long commutes, dedicated laptop sleeves, and water bottle holders are things to consider. 

The REI Co-op Trail 25 and Patagonia Refugio 26L are both great choices for fitting a laptop, lunch, layers, water, and small accessories. For even lighter and simpler bags for gym-goers or errand-runners, be sure to consider the REI Co-op Flash 22, Matador Freerain22 Packable Daypack, and the Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Del Dia Pack. 

(Photo/Miya Tsudome)

The World Traveler: An extension of the commuter and casual hiker category, the traveler’s needs can be wide-ranging. Of course, you’ll want to find a bag that is compliant with the carry-on size regulations of most major commercial airlines, and all packs under 40 L typically are anyway.

Some travelers will want something supportive and comfortable for walking miles exploring new sights, and others will just want a carry-on that they can dump at the hotel. Either way, a bag with interior pockets for keeping personal items secure, a comfortable suspension system, and water bottle holders will be good to look out for. Choosing a pack from the casual hiker or daily commuter categories will suit the traveler just fine.

Pack Size

Arc'teryx Aerios 15 Daypack Outer Stuff Cord
While interior space is where you’ll stash most of your kit, don’t count out exterior lashing points; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

One of the most important items on the trail is your pack — it’s how you’ll carry all your gear and support yourself on the trail. For this review, we included daypacks from 15 to 30 L, but that’s a huge range.

Consider what gear you’ll want to carry: the basics like water, a first-aid kit, wind/rain layer, snacks, glasses, and a cellphone. You might also carry extras like your kids’ layers, a doggie bowl, sun hat or sunscreen, camera, trekking poles, and water reservoir.

You’ll only have space for the essential items with an 11-18L pack, but these are usually a little more versatile for daily use. This is a good size if you’re commuting or going on a shorter hike or bike ride, which the Cotopaxi Luzon 18L is a good choice for. 

Meanwhile, a daypack of around 20-30 L, like the Deuter Speed Lite 25, allows you to bring more water for longer trips in hotter environments or extra food and heavier layers if it’s spring or fall. Packs of this size are also better for quick overnights and multi-activity trips like hiking and climbing or short-term travel.

Black Diamond Pursuit 15 Daypack on Hike
Bigger isn’t always better, and the Black Diamond Pursuit does a lot with the 15 L it’s got; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Larger packs can also be a good choice if you’re traveling in alpine terrain and need more space or features— like headlamp pockets, trekking pole sleeves, ice axe loops, a hip belt, and a helmet compartment or exterior stretch pocket. Although some technical mountain packs like the Black Diamond Pursuit 15 keep it light and small at only 15 L, but with many of the features you look for in a technical mountain pack so you can stay nimble.

Apart from the volume, or carrying capacity, of a pack, there’s also pack sizing for your body. Daypacks are usually one size, as they’re meant to be adjustable and versatile yet streamlined. We had multiple testers of different body types try on these daypacks for comparison.

Any good daypack will have adjustable straps that help with fit. And even though they are daypacks, many have sternum straps or hip belts as well.

If a pack does come in multiple sizes (usually S/M or M/L size ranges or plus or tall sizes), make sure to check the brand’s size chart. Measure your torso or back length and find a pack that will fit your size and height. Things to look for: packs with sternum straps or a removable hip strap.

Frame Styles and Straps

Arc'teryx Aerios 15 Suspension Harness
The shoulder straps on the Arc’teryx Aerios 18 also feature zippered pockets and stretchy pouches in a running-vest style; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Because the loads they carry are often lighter, daypacks don’t benefit greatly from the complicated frames of larger backpacking packs. More often, foam sheets are employed to provide some rigidity to the back panel and better distribute the weight.

Packs like the Gregory Miko & Maya and the Osprey Talon 22 or Tempest Pro offer the greatest amount of support while remaining frameless. Some packs will also make their foam frame sheets removable, offering a cushioned seat on the go like with the REI Co-op Flash 22.

A frameless pack will have an upper comfortable limit when it comes to weight, and will need to be packed with care to avoid being poked in the back with your kit. We try to stay below 15 pounds maximum when saddling up a daypack for an extended jaunt.

The addition of a minimal frame can greatly increase the carrying capacity of a daypack, such as the tensioned Derlin U frame of the Deuter Speed Lite 25, but when you’re hauling the lightweight loads associated with day trips, it often isn’t a necessity.

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

Shoulder straps also play an important role in providing support for a day on the trail. These are typically available in three flavors: J-style straps are the original, S-style straps accommodate those with large chests, and running-vest style straps are preferred for light loads and active movement. Look for shoulder straps that provide a good amount of cushioning foam and fit your torso appropriately.

Typically a requirement on backpacking packs, hip belts on daypacks can afford to be less supportive due to the lighter loads they carry. The most minimal style features simple webbing belts, and can even be removable, like on the Arc’teryx Aerios 18.

More supportive hip belts incorporate spacer mesh and foam to disperse the weight across the hips. If you’re looking to tack on the miles or just want a more cushioned ride, springing for a full-featured hip belt is well worth it, and you won’t be disappointed by the uber-comfortable one on the Black Diamond Pursuit 15.


REI Trail 25 Daypack on the Trail
Both of the REI Co-op packs on our list, the Flash 22 and Trail 25, are made from 100% recycled ripstop nylon; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Daypacks don’t often see the abuses of larger bags, and are commonly constructed of lighter fabrics to minimize weight and cut down on bulk. All of the daypacks on our list are tried and tested, and they’ll work for most outdoor activities.

That being said, if you want a pack to put through the paces year after year, consider one with a higher-denier material (like tight-weaved polyamide, polyester, or ripstop nylon). Deniers from 100 to 200 are a great sign a pack will be durable in the long run. The Arc’teryx Aerios 18 does not skimp on quality, and is an example of a pack made with 100-, 200-, and 210-denier materials. The REI Co-op Trail 25 is also made with recycled materials which is a nice feature to look out for as well.

The material of the back panel in particular can be the difference between smooth sailing and a sweaty back. Daypacks that use spacer mesh and die-cut foam patterns in their back panels will breathe much better than their flat-back counterparts.

Back Panels

Osprey Talon Earth 22 - Review
Osprey leads the pack when it comes to suspension systems, and their daypacks are no exception; (photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Most daypacks will rely on some type of foam and mesh to provide cushioning on your back, as well as promote airflow and breathability. In the pursuit of cutting ounces, daypacks on the ultralight side of the spectrum may exclude this altogether, meaning that perspiration can’t escape as easily.

The upside to this is that these packs compress down impressively, meaning they disappear into luggage or a larger pack.

Because daypacks often lack the bones of a frame to support weight, cushioned back panel design helps to shore up the structure and provides additional support, while keeping the weight close to your back.

A spacer mesh or segmented back panel will keep air moving and hopefully your shirt dry. We were impressed by the ventilation provided by the Deuter Speed Lite 25, as well as the Osprey Talon 22 and Tempest Pro daypacks.

Features, Pockets, and Closures

REI Co-op Flash 22 Daypack Closure
The REI Co-op Flash 22 has a drawstring closure which makes for easy access, but not great weatherproofing; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

What features does the pack offer? Look for how many pockets the pack has or if it has internal pockets or compartments. These features are great to have when it comes to organizing your gear. Is there an exterior pocket? Are there side pockets?

Things to look for: Our first thought when we examine a new pack in testing is to look for where we’ll store our water source, whether that’s a reservoir or bottle. Also, check to make sure the pack’s internal sleeve will fit your reservoir (which can run anywhere between 0.75 and 3 L).

The second thing we check is the back panel. Almost all the packs that made it on our list have ventilated mesh or breathable back panels — this is a really great feature for almost all adventures.

The Mystery Ranch Gallagator Pack has a unique three-zipper closure system; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

The closure style of a day pack can have a big impact on how quickly accessible it is. Main compartments that open with a drawstring are a snap to pop open and closed, but aren’t the most secure or waterproof.

Roll-tops, like the Matador Freerain22 Packable Daypack, offer the best protection from the elements, but can be slow to unravel on opening. Zippered closures are seen on the more feature-rich daypacks, and can even be watertight, but will need to be cared for more, as grit and sand can damage their sliders and cause them to split if neglected.

Sport-specific features, like a bike helmet lashing system or an ice axe loop, will often dictate the best usage style for your daypack. It’s often worth considering what you’ll be using your daypack for the most and purchasing a dedicated pack, or one that is feature-rich and can be used for many different outings.

Some packs will have attachments for trekking poles on the outside, like on the REI Co-op Trail 25 or the Arc’teryx Aerios 18, which frees up valuable side pocket space. Some of the more technical packs like the Aerios, Black Diamond Pursuit 15, and Mystery Ranch Gallagator also have pouches on the front of their shoulder straps for water flasks or quick access to your phone or some snacks. 

Hydration Compatibility

Gregory Nano Daypack Hydration Pouch
Gregory’s H2O series is built around the hydration bladder, and makes for easy integration; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Keeping your water accessible is the best way to ensure your thirst is quenched, and H2O systems like the Platypus BigZip EVO or Osprey Hydraulics Reservoirs make an excellent pairing with a daypack for extended trips. Many daypacks provide hydration compatibility, though not all, so choose based on your expected usage.

Hydration-oriented packs will have separate compartments for bladders, sometimes with insulated sleeves or hooks for securing a bladder, and routing for a hydration tube. Some packs, like Gregory’s H20 Series, have magnetic or quick clip attachments for easy sippin’ on the go. Hydration tube ports allow for drinking tubes to exit the interior of the pack.

You’ll want to check the sizing of your daypack with the size of your bladder. For example, a large 3L bladder might not fit in a 16L pack. See what the brand recommends and check the sizing.

It’s also worth mentioning that water can be one of the heaviest things you carry in a daypack, and choosing a pack with a more robust suspension system to accommodate it will keep your back happy. A pack without a frame like the Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia Pack isn’t likely to haul a full 3 L of water nearly as well as one with a more robustly supportive frame. The Arc’teryx Aerios 18 is a pretty technical pack but lacks a hydration sleeve which is also something to keep in mind.


Do you live in a climate where there’s lots of rain? Are you looking for a daypack that’s more durable and can stand up to travel and use in different places? Check the waterproofing on the pack.

Look for a DWR coating, polyamide, or PU abrasion resistance coating (these packs will be more durable), taped seams, roll-top closures, and waterproof or sealed zippers. Daypacks that incorporate a number of these features, like the Matador Freerain22 Packable Daypack, will have a high level of waterproofness and keep afternoon storms at bay.

You can also employ a pack cover or liner to keep items like an insulated jacket or electronics dry for when you need them most. Some packs, like the Osprey Hikelite 26, even come with integrated pack covers that deploy from a hidden pocket.

Don’t forget to check the quality of the zippers and zipper pulls as well as the overall construction of the pack. Also, check the material on the pack bottom for durability.

Women’s-Specific Daypacks

Arc'teryx Aerios 15 on Hike
Certain daypacks, like the Arc’teryx Aerios 18, come in both a Men’s and Women’s version, to better accommodate different shaped torsos; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Women are built differently than men. Women’s packs tend to have a shorter torso length, narrower shoulder-width straps, and different hip measurements to reflect that. For some, having a women’s pack makes all the difference.

Unfortunately, many smaller volume daypacks are often only available in one unisex size, which means you’ll get less of a customized fit. Larger volume daypacks tend to see increased loads, and some on the market will be offered in a Small/Medium, Medium/Large sizing, or include a women’s-specific model.

Be sure to check to see if a brand offers a pack series in men’s/women’s-specific, and see which measurements or size offerings will best fit you. The pack we zeroed in on as the best women’s-specific was the Osprey Women’s Tempest Pro. Black Diamond also makes a women’s and men’s specific version of the Black Diamond Pursuit 15 with different fits and colorways.

Price and Value

(Photo/Miya Tsudome)

Daypacks run the gamut in terms of cost, from budget-minded sacks to high-end bags for in-a-day adventures. The best bang-for-your-buck daypack we’ve encountered has been the REI Co-op Flash 22.

A good rule to follow is the broader your horizons, the more you’re likely to spend. Additional features add up quickly, and the daypack that can do it all certainly comes with a price tag. More budget-minded options will also likely have a limited lifespan, so treat them with care.

For less than $100, you can purchase a daypack like the REI Co-op Trail 25, Flash 22, Salomon Trailblazer 20, Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Del Dia Pack, Mystery Ranch Gallagator, and the Osprey Hikelite 26 Pack. These daypacks encompass a wide variety of styles, from the more pared-down Flash 22 and Luzon 18L, to the substantial Trail 25 and Gallagator. These budget packs will satisfy the needs of many casual hikes and commuters without breaking the bank. 

The $100-$150 range will buy you some more technical packs, made with slightly higher-quality materials and have more specific features. In our review, this encompasses the Deuter Speed Lite 25, Arc’teryx Aerios 18, Patagonia Refugio, Gregory Miko & Maya, and Matador Freerain22. These packs are more specific in their utility, such as the technical Arc’teryx Aerios, or come with extra features like a laptop sleeve or rain cover.

And for $150-$200, you can buy daypacks that are made with high-quality materials, have the features and qualities found in larger backpacks but in a smaller package, or are even more technical for extreme outdoor pursuits. It is uncommon for daypacks to cost this much, but the Black Diamond Pursuit 15, Osprey Tempest Pro 20, and Talon 22 all fall into this category. All of these packs are made with burly materials such as high-denier ripstop nylon, and have a high attention to detail with features such as waterproof zippers, contoured harnesses, or highly breathable back panels.

(Photo/Nick Belcaster)


What is the best daypack?

The best daypack is hard to define because the sizing will vary based on your needs. Some days, we’ll reach for our trusty 22L REI Flash. On other days, we might need a 24-30L pack depending on the activity.

That being said, the Deuter Speed Lites, REI Co-op Trail 25, and Black Diamond Pursuit 15 packs were some top staff favorites.

Black Diamond Pursuit 15 Daypack Carry
Got a technical day trip in mind? The Black Diamond Pursuit 15 is up for it; (photo/Miya Tsudome)
What is the difference between a backpack and a daypack?

Simply, size. A daypack is meant to comfortably carry all of the essentials you might need on a daily outing and are typically between 12 and 30 L. A backpacking pack will have additional space to accommodate all of the equipment needed for an overnight trip or a more technical outing like rock climbing.

What size pack is good for day hiking?

As we mentioned in the intro, you’ll want a 15-30L day pack for hiking. Any larger, and it will be a heavier load to carry; any smaller, and you won’t have room for the 10 essentials. Based on experience and what’s on the market, 20-24L packs tend to be the most popular choice.

Salomon Trailblazer 20 Daypack
20-25 L is just about the sweet spot for three-season hiking day trips; (photo/Miya Tsudome)
What should be in a daypack for hiking?

Great question — we’ve got an article on this exact topic, with a handy, comprehensive list you can even print out!

But you can expect to always start with the basics: extra layers or a rain layer (depending on the season), water, food, a small first-aid kit, and sun protection.

What should I look for when buying a hiking daypack?

For the daypack itself, look for durable — maybe even water-resistant — fabric, a breathable back panel, straps or loops for securing gear, and a good mix of internal and external pockets.

Other features that are great to have on a daypack are a hip belt, sternum strap, key clip, hydration sleeve, and attachment points for trekking poles.

Now that you have all the tools you need to choose the right pack, get out there and enjoy the outdoors!

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