Are you looking to buy a hiking daypack for your next outdoor adventure?
In this guide we list the best hiking daypacks. Use the guide to find the best overall daypack for general hiking, the best lightweight daypack or the best hydration daypack. Also look out for our picks for the best women's daypack and best budget option.
The combination of decent capacity in a small and light form, plenty of features and great comfortability make the Osprey Talon 22 one of the most versatile packs, and therefore the best overall hiking daypack in our opinion.
Take a look at the comparison table below before moving on, it might help you make a quick decision based on the most important specs and the price of each of the daypacks.
This pack is light and extremely versatile thanks to its smaller size, but it still brims with features. It is, in our opinion, the best overall daypack, with a score of five out of five stars.
The Osprey Talon 22 is lightweight at only 624g, but still manages to pack a solid 22l of capacity along with 7 exterior pockets into the design.
Most appreciated are the two pockets on the cushioned hip belt, perfect to hold a smartphone, small camera or a GPS system.
Another great feature is the hydration sleeve that is separate from the main compartment and can fit a 3L hydration pack. We also like that it has a number of equipment attachment loops, perfect for a number of uses, from helmets to trekking poles.
The combination of decent capacity in a small and light form, plenty of features and great comfortability make Talon 22 one of the most versatile packs, and therefore the best overall hiking daypack.
We rated the Deuter Speed Lite 20 pack the same as the Osprey Talon 22, but for different reasons. While it lacks the storage options of the Talon 22, it makes up for that in its superior comfortability, removable plastic frame and lighter weight.
The ergonomic design of the pack with its unique V-shape and innovative compression shoulder straps make it perfect for hikers who like to move quickly.
However, being only 20l and having a slightly lacklustre hipbelt, it’s probably best not to carry too much weight on long hikes.
Where this pack stands out for us, however, is its affordable price for its brilliant functionality and versatility.
Deuter Speed Lite 20 bag packs a punch at a mid-level price, perfect for almost anyone!
The only women’s-specific daypack on our list, the Osprey Tempest 20 Backpack is, in simple terms, the women’s version of the Osprey Talon 22, our top ranked daypack. It’s not, however, just the same pack in different colours.
While the overall design is pretty similar to that of the Talon 22, and therefore benefits from the same features that we have already mentioned, it is slightly smaller.
For women or even smaller men with shorter torsos, buying a women’s daypack can be immensely helpful, as the slight shift in the weight distribution and the fitting size can make the difference between a comfortable day’s hike, and a really horrible one.
Although it is smaller in capacity, this Women's Osprey daypack holds more padding than the Osprey Talon 22 and has all the same features.
Sometimes you’ll need to carry a large amount of fluids in order to beat the heat of the day during a hike or a cycle. While many other daypacks come with hydration sleeves, most don’t come with the actual reservoirs installed.
This is the main advantage that CamelBaks provide, and CamelBak M.U.L.E. is our favourite one.
This hydration pack is lightweight and provides a decent amount of gear storage on top of the 3L reservoir. The new ‘Crux’ reservoir delivers more water per sip than before, and a magnetic trap keeps your hose in place, easily accessible when you need it.
The back panel allows for excellent breathability, making it very comfortable to carry, even in hot climates.
CamelBak M.U.L.E. is one of the best daypacks to use in a hot climate where fluid intake is so important. It is best used for shorter activities, as there is not much space for extra gear.
Best used for more demanding day hikes or even shorter overnight trips, this pack offers plenty of storage space to pack everything you need.
Because of the large size, this pack may not be as versatile as the smaller packs on our list, but it does have its uses. This range does, however, come in smaller sizes, but the 36l variant was our favourite in the series.
The Osprey Stratos 36 has a pre-curved hipbelt, adjustable shoulder straps and a well ventilated back panel to keep you comfortable while carrying up to 14kg (30lbs).
This pack comes with all the features you’ll need: a sleeping bag compartment, 7 exterior pockets, a raincover and a hydration sleeve. But beware, this does come at a price, as it is one of the most expensive packs on our list.
Osprey Stratos 36 is a brilliant large daypack with all the features, so it works best for trips where you need to pack a little extra stuff.
The CamelBak Rim Runner 22 is the second hydration-oriented pack on the list, but it has more space for general gear than the M.U.L.E. With a built in 2.5L reservoir and an extra 19.5L capacity, it’s built more as a dual purpose pack than the M.U.L.E.
With 9 exterior pockets including stretch pockets, you can have easy access to your equipment or extra water bottles should you need it. The mesh back panel is breathable and comfortable, and the hipbelt has extra storage compartments.
The only issue here is that, for larger people, those hip-belt pockets do not reach all the way to the hip and might sit closer to their back.
This REI pack is fairly light and compact for its 25L capacity, weighing in at only 708g. It has 5 exterior pockets, including mesh side storage for water bottles, as well as trekking pole straps that make it perfect for some more serious hikes.
Being a panel loader with a full U-shaped zipper, your gear within the pack is easily accessible, even if packed at the bottom.
The waistbelt can be removed if needed, and you can also add an REI Trail 2 Waistpack for more storage, but this is not included with the pack.
This daypack offers a number of nice features and decent capacity in a lightweight package, all for a very reasonable price. Perfect for someone who doesn’t want to spend over $100 on a new pack, but still wants good functionality.
The Osprey Talon 33 pack is, essentially, a bigger version of the Talon 22. The larger size makes it better for full day hikes that require a lot of equipment, or even short overnight trips.
The one downside that this daypack has when compared to its smaller sibling, the Talon 22, is that it is top loading and therefore more inconvenient to access the equipment packed inside.
Our favourite feature that this series of daypacks has is that the hydration sleeve is separate from the main compartment and waterproof, so your goods are protected from water damage should you spring a leak.
It has plenty of exterior pockets, including hip-belt compartments and side stretch-mesh pockets for easy access to water bottles.
The Osprey Talon 33 pack is perfect for a number of activities, as it is both not too big or too small. It’s fairly lightweight at only 908g, which is where it sticks out a bit over the other large packs.
Built with the intended use of 1 or 2 day ascents, the Patagonia Ascensionist 30 with 30L of space can fit everything you’ll need, comfortable with even up to 40lbs of gear packed in.
It’s got great build-quality, and holds up to the most rugged of hikes. The secondary collar that covers the top loading opening protects your gear from rough weather, and the material used is lightweight.
The framesheet is made from a strong and lightweight aluminium rod and a mesh that provides good flex.
The hip-belt has removable pads for extra simplicity, and the pack has 4 rows of exterior daisy chains that provide lashing options for a rope, helmet and pad.
Patagonia Ascensionist 30 is both stylish and functional, and does not cut back on any functionality with its exterior daisy chains and 30L capacity.
Weighing in at a mere 284g, the REI Co-op Flash 18L daypack is perfect for short hikes and general daily use. It’s extremely affordable at only $40, making it very popular with beginner hikers.
While being so light, it still has light padding on the straps and the back panel, making it reasonably comfortable to carry as long as you don’t pack it too heavily.
As a nice feature, the back padding can be removed for use as a seat, and the hipbelt can be detached if necessary.
The fact that it is a top loader has both benefits and disadvantages, being that it can be packed to the brim, but your stuff at the bottom will be largely inaccessible.
REI Co-op Flash 18L daypack is a must-have for pretty much every outdoors enthusiast, as its very affordable price, ease-of-use and versatility make it the perfect pack for a number of different activities.
A key piece of equipment needed for any outdoors enthusiast, or anyone else for that matter, is a daypack. Smaller in size than a normal hiking backpack, daypacks are used to carry light necessities to get you through the day on activities like short hikes, cycling or even skiing.
When deciding on the right daypack for your own personal needs, there are a number of variables to take into consideration.
The market for daypacks is huge, so the products differ greatly from one another and therefore some will fit your needs better than others. Generally, the more features a daypack has, the more expensive it will be, so be reasonable with your budgeting if you want an extremely feature rich daypack.
So without further discussion, here are some of the key features to look out for when buying your very own daypack.
Before you can decide what size daypack will be necessary for you, you’ll have to consider what you are going to use it for. It might be tempting to just get the biggest or the smallest one, but that might not necessarily be the best choice for your needs.
If you need a daypack for short day hikes or even just for use when exploring urban areas while on vacation, you should consider a pack between 10l and 25l, while for activities that might last the whole day or through one night you should consider between 25l and 40l.
The simple rule of thumb here is this: the longer the activity, the larger the bag. This may not necessarily always hold true, as some activities might require a lot of equipment to be carried for a short time, in which case a bigger bag might still be needed.
A daypack with around 25l is generally a good choice as it is more versatile and will be able to carry all of your necessities, such as food, water, a camera, a head torch and a first aid kit.
As mentioned, daypacks vary in terms of a number of variables. For casual use, you can consider simpler, more affordable daypacks that won’t have hipbelts, as they are more convenient.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you are taking on a long hike that requires a lot of equipment, it’s best to go for a larger daypack that has a more sophisticated suspension system that keeps the weight off your shoulders and on your waist.
Choosing the wrong daypack for a big hike is the worst thing you can do, as carrying too much weight in a bag that doesn’t have the correct hipbelt and suspension design can lead to serious back pains, and possible injuries.
Most daypacks these days will have some form of ventilation on the back panel of the pack, where your back makes contact with it.
These mesh or foam back panels provide a good method of ventilation so that there is air between your back and the pack, causing you to sweat slightly less. If this is important for you, then the cheaper daypacks that tend not to have good ventilation systems might not be good for you, while the higher-end ones will have more sophisticated ventilation systems.
General comfortability of the daypack is very important if you’re going on long hikes or carrying the pack for extended periods of time. If the bag is uncomfortable, it can make your whole hike a nightmare and completely ruin the experience.
The key things to look for here are that the pack has a hipbelt and has padding on the shoulder straps, as well as the ventilation we mentioned previously.
There are a number of other features to consider, including but not limited to the following:
Just remember to consider your price range when you decide which features you feel you need.