Criteria Used for Evaluation
When you’re out moving around outside, either for work or play, the last thing you want is to have a daypack that is uncomfortable to wear. If it doesn’t sit right on your body, it can lead to muscle strain, fatigue, and just overall unpleasant feelings.
In order to be comfortable, a daypack needs to have certain characteristics. First, it needs to be able to distribute the weight evenly across where you’re carrying it- most likely your back and shoulders. The second characteristic is that it needs to allow for proper ventilation around your back. Without these two characteristics, a daypack can quickly become awkward and uncomfortable.
Fortunately, the daypacks presented in this list fit those two criteria beautifully. Some do so by having wider shoulder straps, or a mesh material at the base of the back to allow for easier air flow, still, others have a combination of the two.
Everyone is different, and will often feel that different things should be taken on a day-long hike. Things such as food, water, a compass, and a knife are probably considered essential by most everyone, but there are other possibilities as well. Some will choose to bring an extra pair of shoes, a change of clothes, or even a two-way radio to keep in touch with the base camp. All those things can really add up when it comes to carrying it on a hike.
So in addition to distributing the weight evenly, a quality daypack must have enough room to hold what you need, depending on your situation. While each of the day packs on this list has varying dimensions and capacities, all of them had adequate capacity for the essentials used during a day trip around the woods– and some have even more.
Of course, one of the most critical features of the best day packs on the market today is their overall design. Some that we considered for this list had wonderful material, great capacity, but the way that they were put together just didn’t make any sense. For example, we saw a number of day packs where the only thing preventing the contents from spilling out during a climb uphill were a flimsy flap or ones that were designed to hold a huge hydration pack, but not much else.
A daypack that is well designed takes into account not only the quality of the material and the workmanship of putting it together correctly but also anticipates the needs of the hiker. Zippers should be reinforced or at least strong enough to withstand the rigors of outdoor trekking. The material should be tough enough to take a few drops and scrapes against the trees, etc. A hiker should be able to access things such as a compass, water, or a map easily and quickly while wearing a quality daypack.
While we did not completely agree with all the design choices made by the day packs on this list, for the most part, we agreed with the logic behind them. And who knows? Maybe what we saw as a design flaw, others would see as a benefit.
Additionally, one of the main jobs performed by the best day packs is to protect your things. This protection can either take the form of protection from the weather, from human mishaps and even animals. Most daypacks do this by providing rip-stop or rip-resistant materials, weatherproofing, or the ability to add weatherproofing. Second, quality hardware and fasteners help to keep things from spilling out unintentionally.
Thankfully, the daypacks presented here are more than capable of keeping your treasure items safe, and allowing you quick and easy access to them when the need arises.
And finally, it’s the little things that can make a big difference. You’d be amazed at how much a chest strap can help in the distribution of weight, or a hydration pack can be a source of welcomed relief. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a sleeve for a water bottle on the side of the daypack that makes it the best choice for you.
Top Ten Daypacks
1. Tenton Sports Oasis
This is a great daypack from a trusted and reliable brand. This daypack will not only carry your gear that you need to get you through your adventure but it also comes equipped with a hydration bladder to keep you hydrated if needed.Read more
This daypack from Tenton is quite comfortable and comes with the ability to adjust to fit comfortably and securely. The adjustable straps are not only on the back straps but this daypack also comes equipped with a chest buckle for extra support and to take the weight of the daypack off your back and center it. This daypack also comes with padding on the back to allow it to rest comfortably on your back and not cause irritation.
This daypack from Tenton is an 18-liter daypack. This is great as it will hold everything you need to bring with you on your day adventure but also will not be bulky and be uncomfortable on your back. This daypack also comes with a hydration pack and it will hold around 2 liters of water to give you more than enough water to keep you hydrated while on your adventure.
The hydration bladder that comes with this daypack is a great feature as it allows you to conveniently stay hydrated while on the move and still has enough room for your gear. Another great feature if you find yourself in some nasty weather, is the sewen in rain cover which will wrap around you daypack and keep it protected from the rain or snow.
2. Venture Pal
This daypack from Venture Pal is not only affordable but will offer a great daypack on your next adventure. It comes in a variety of colors and also when not in use, compresses down into a convenient carrying case. If you are in the market for a new daypack for this summer seasons adventures, check this day pack out.Read more
This daypack is comfortable for any adventure or activity you are planning on doing and need to bring some extra gear with you. It has the ability to adjust the side straps and comes with a convenient chest buckle to ensure that you can adjust this daypack for a secure and comfortable fit.
This daypack from Venture comes to you at a capacity of 35 L, which is great and allows you to pack all your gear that you will need for the day. This capacity is so good, that you will most likely have extra room after you are all done and packed.
The most notable feature about this daypack is that when you are not using it, you can compress it down into a small carrying case, that you are able to carry in your pocket. This daypack is also waterproof, so if you find yourself stuck in some nasty weather, do not fret and this daypack has you and your gear covered.
3. Oricsson Unisex
The Oricsson Unisex backpack offers a great balance between convenience, capacity, and protection.Read more
Reminiscent of the old school book bag, this daypack features quite a few compartments, both zippered and not that provide for quite a few places to store smaller, more compact items. It’s lightweight, relatively easy to carry, and versatile. This daypack is surprisingly lightweight and easy to wear for those short jaunts around the campsite or for an afternoon leisurely stroll. The shoulder straps are adequately padded, although we would have liked to see them spaced a little further apart. In addition, the lack of a waist strap was missed a little bit.
Although the bag is rated for 35 liters of capacity, we found that the numerous different compartments made it difficult to fit many things in it beyond the bare essentials used on a day hike. While it’s perfect for a small excursion, we wouldn’t suggest using it for a longer one where you need to bring a decent amount of equipment.
This daypack is made with a rip-stop nylon material that is tear and water resistant, although the zippers can be overwhelmed in a heavy downpour. This daypack also provides a smaller water-resistant pouch for storing smaller items.
4. Osprey Talon 22
This lightweight and comfortable entry to our list has an exceptional back panel ventilation for keeping cool on the trail, a customizable fit, and plenty of space to carry all your gear on the trail. This is a crowd favorite that keeps getting better every year.Read more
The design is sleek and simple, allowing you to keep your pack close to you and not weighing you down. The customizable fit ensures that this back will work for almost anyone and the ventilation system will keep you cool and dry. The breathable and padded shoulder straps and back panel are what really make this pack great. The adjustable torso length and shoulder straps ensure the load is spread well across your hips. Combined with a sternum strap, this pack should feel comfortable on your back even with heavier loads.
Despite its appearance, this backpack/daypack has quite a bit of room in its main compartment. There is also a stretch front pocket, stretch mesh side pockets, two zippered hip belt pockets, and plenty of places to attach other gear outside, including a Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment that makes storing your poles a breeze.
The Talon is water resistant but would need a rain cover for serious downpours. The nylon material stands up to average wear and tear on the trail. The extras on this bag are extensive. An external hydration pocket holds a 3-liter reservoir, an LED light attachment point, a sternum strap with an emergency whistle, stretch front pockets, and of course the amazing back panel ventilation.
5. SOG Ninja
This daily backpack won our third place based on its compact and versatile nature. It has numerous secure pockets that are easily accessible and roomy enough to fit exactly what you need.Read more
This particular daypack offers a lightweight and easy way to carry just about everything you need for a day hike, and then some. The daypack is Molle equipped, which allows the user to add other storage compartments as needed through Velcro fasteners located along the front of the daypack itself. However, this Molle system also has the drawback of attracting leaves, twigs, and burrs when hiking through the forest as the Velcro material will stick to things if it remains uncovered.
This daypack is small enough to fit in the higher portion of your back. The wide and padded shoulder straps keep it from sliding too far down the back. In addition, a well-placed chest strap and buckle help you to evenly spread the weight through the entire torso.
The interior portions of this third example of the best daypacks offer a roomy main compartment as well as a number of smaller ones. You can easily fit a change or two of clothes, extra shoes, a map, and compass, plus a snack or two in the main compartment and smaller items in one of the many side area.
This bag features a hydration compartment and hydration hose line that will fit most water bottles and hydration bladders located in the main compartment. Thankfully, it also has drainage holes that can be used when a spill occurs to quickly drain the inner compartment. This daypack does offer some protection against rips and tears, as well as a moderate amount of water resistance, making it well suited for hunting and traveling through wilderness areas.
6. Fjallraven High Coast Trail 26L
The Fjallraven High Coast Trail 26L is a sleek and versatile bag that offers a great amount of storage, an overall comfortable design, and is very durable. This bag can be used for city life, travel, and hiking all in the same day.Read more
While we would have liked to see more padding on the (detachable) waist strap, overall this daypack is a true joy to wear. The weight is evenly distributed over the whole of the back, and the shoulder straps are well padded and set far enough apart to allow for even the broadest of shoulders to move comfortably. Plus the mesh backing allows for superior airflow on your back when you need it most. This bag is said to be frameless, but there is actually a piece in the back of the bag to help it keep its shape. The overall design of this bag is very sleek. It is versatile enough to be worn in almost any situation. If you plan on traveling, the bag has compression straps and will easily fit under the seat in front of you. There are two expandable side pockets and a couple of zippered pockets, but more organization overall would have been preferable. The bag itself weighs about 2.5-pounds.
This bag boasts 26L of space, including a removable 15” laptop sleeve. This bag is a great size for city life, travel, and outdoor activities. If you plan to take the bag hiking, you can remove the laptop sleeve and replace it with a hydration reservoir.
We love the versatility of this bag and its simple design. It is made from recycled polyester and organic cotton blend, which Fjallraven has named G-1,000 Eco Fabric. This fabric is very durable, resists abrasions, and water-resistant.
Although this bag is water-resistant and durable, if you find yourself stuck in a downpour you will want to use the included rain cover to protect your items.
7. Deuter Speed Lite 20
The Deuter Speed Lite 20 Backpack offers an efficient way to carry exactly what you need into the wilderness in a comfortable way. The low weight and simplicity of this pack make it perfect for hiking or traveling.Read more
Overall this bag is designed for shorter day treks. The padded shoulder straps, relatively smaller size, and the sternum strap allow for comfort while you move around. While we would prefer that the waist strap have some padding, it still serves the purpose of helping to distribute the overall weight of the bag more evenly.
While it might look small, this pack can hold a surprising amount of stuff. The compression straps could be used to secure hiking poles or even skis on the back or they can cinch down the whole back to about the size of a hydration pack. There are also four gear attachment loops that can hold extra gear.
The 210D ripstop nylon material allows the Speed Lite to take a beating while on the trail. The PU coating helps to keep your items dry even with the thin material. This small bag can definitely withstand the elements you'll find on your adventures. While the pack itself surprisingly holds a ton of gear, the external straps and compartments help when you need to add bulkier items along the way.
8. Earth Pak Waterproof
If you’re one of those hikers that firmly believe that it’s better to have it with you and not need it, than to need it and not have it, the Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack 35L Heavy Duty Roll-Top Closure may just be what you’re looking for.Read more
While we adore the immense capacity and the waterproof design, this daypack falls a bit short when it comes to comfort. When completely full, the bag puts a pretty good strain on the upper back instead of allowing the weight to be evenly distributed across the whole of the torso. The vented back area, padded shoulder straps, and the chest brace add to the overall comfort, but there are a few things that could make this daypack a bit of a bother for some people. For example, the shoulder straps themselves are a little too close together for our taste and may be too close together for someone with broad shoulders or a larger body. Also, depending on the amount of weight stored in the daypack, the lack of a waist belt puts more strain on your upper back and shoulders than necessary.
The capacity is where this daypack really shines. If there is anything you need for a day hike, heck anything you want to bring, chances are you can fit it in this bag. The main compartment is huge and deep. A person could literally fit an entire weeks worth of clothes, a good number of snacks, a number of electronic devices, and still have enough room for a few novels for light reading around the evening campfire. It’s amazing how much you can fit within 35 liters of room
Like the Sarki daypack that took first place, this Earth Pak is designed to be truly waterproof, so it’s at home in the river, lake, or out in the rain. If used correctly, the 500D PVC dry bag features will protect your valuables in any type of weather. This particular daypack also includes a submersible and waterproof phone case so that you won’t have to leave your phone at home when you enjoy an outdoor adventure or two.
9. Unigear Hydration
Lightweight and easy to carry, this backpack doubles as a way to carry a few things along the trail and as a source of drinking water. No need to take the canteen with this one.Read more
The overall design is one that lends itself to efficiency. This is definitely not a pack for those who like to take everything with them but the kitchen sink. However, if you prefer to only take the essentials – food, water, a compass, and a map, this daypack will easily fit your needs. This daypack is clearly designed with the hiker in mind, with wide-set and padded shoulder straps, a bracing center buckle that goes across your chest, and a padded waist belt to help you evenly distribute the weight of the pack across your entire body.
While most of the inner capacity is taken up by the hydration bladder, there is still ample room for the little things that a hiker might need during a day trip. These things can include a map or two, a compass, a notebook for drawing, or a snack for the group.
While this daypack can’t claim to be waterproof, it is lightweight and splash resistant. The rip-stop nylon material and heavy duty stitching also offer protection from rips and tears.
The main extra in this particular backpack may not be considered one since it helps one of the main purposes of it. The two-liter hydration bladder fits snugly in the main compartment and is designed to keep your water source cool and refreshing no matter where your hike takes you.
10. Marmot Kompressor Plus
The Marmot Kompressor Plus is an inexpensive and lightweight option. Is highly compressible, making it great to cinch down a fully loaded pack or completely pack down into its own top pocket for easy packing while traveling. The shoulder straps and back panel provide plenty of support when out on the trail.Read more
This daypack is clearly designed with the traveler in mind, whether they are moving by vehicle or by foot. The lightweight materials offer some protection from the weather and tears, and the smaller size is ideal for use in airplanes, cars, and trains. The ability to pack into itself is a major plus when wanting to pack in a larger bag. This bag is very lightweight at only 370g. It's ideal for fast and light hikers The shoulder straps and back panel are comfortable though not outstanding for breathability or ventilation. As long as the pack isn’t overfilled, the person wearing it shouldn’t have too much of a problem.
This lightweight daypack is only designed to handle 18 liters of material, but the compression straps help to cinch down the bulk. This is a great option for travel because you can compress your essentials to fit under an airplane seat.
The Kompressor has a hydration pocket, sternum strap, internal key attachment clip, daisy chain, and trekking pole attachment. As we've mentioned, the pack can be completely packed down into itself for ease of packing for travel. However, this lightweight daypack doesn't have the most durable material. We don’t recommend this bag for strenuous hikes through rough terrain, or in environments where rain or water may be an issue.
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