Best Day Packs for Hiking

10 Best Day Packs for Hiking in 2021 – Buyer’s Guide

(Last Updated On: January 7, 2021)

Finding the best day pack is a crucial component in every hiking. For about any form of outdoor experience, whether it’s a run, a bike ride, or a day on the mountains, it’s what you grab. In fact, the ability to hold enough water and provisions for a full day out, an optional layering item or two, a first aid kit, a headlamp, and a few other items is what most people look for in a decent daypack. Daypack prices should complement basic features and hauling capabilities.

You might think you can use your everyday pack but a good day pack would be more appropriate at hikes. A decent quality day pack would be a game-changer for you if you’re used to holding a water bottle by hand or tossing into some old backpack while going out for a walk. The best day packs for hiking aren’t just some old backpack, they can be packable backpacks or they’re made with the trail and your needs in mind when hiking. It is important to choose the best day pack to suit your needs and context, from pre-work jaunts to all-day excursions.

In a Hurry? The test winners after 9 hrs of research

Osprey Talon 22 Men's Hiking Backpack

Osprey Talon 22 Men’s Hiking Backpack – Best for Men

Why is it better?

  • Small zippered mesh pouch for loose items
  • Along the back is a padded panel for a water pack
  • This bag is really light
  • Ventilation is great

Osprey Tempest 20 Women's Hiking Backpack

Osprey Tempest 20 Women’s Hiking Backpack – Best for Women

Why is it better?

  • Very lightweight
  • Additional small internal zippered pocket
  • Adjustable frame
  • Compression straps for the side water bottle holders

Best Day Packs for Hiking – Overview

A sturdy day pack for hiking will be a staple of the gear selection for any outdoor enthusiast. If you’re taking the road on a walk, commuting to work, or just getting on a train, for many years a decent daypack would serve you well. With hundreds of day-packs covering a variety of technical variations out there, it can be difficult to decide which one would be well for you. To build this list of the best day for hiking packs, we studied and checked dozens of day packs with a strong mix of comfort, ease, weight, and cost. For longer trips, you can check our guide for thru-hiking, backpacking trips, and expeditions.

Day Packs for Hiking Reviews

1. Osprey Talon 22 Men’s Hiking Backpack – Best for Men

Osprey Talon 22 Men's Hiking Backpack

Simpler is often better, and simply put this is one of the most versatile packs ever created. If you prefer going light and moving fast in the woods, mountains, and around town, the Osprey Talon 22 Men’s Hiking Backpack is the pack for you. 22L of capacity is perfect for day hikes, urban commutes, or a trip to the market. Ventilated and comfortable, the BioStretch harness and continuous wrap hipbelt combine to create an incredibly stable carry system that hugs your body so you can stay balanced on the trail, ridge or peak.

They updated the AirScape backpanel to use less material and glue while making it more breathable to keep you cool on hot days. When uphills turn technical, the Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole carries system keeps your hands free for upward movement. LidLock helmet carry achieves the same when you stop for a mid-commute coffee. Zippered hipbelts, side stretch mesh pockets, a harness pocket, and top-lid storage provide all the organization you need. Make sure you also check our selection of the best Osprey backpacks.

Key Features:

  • Stretch woven harness pocket
  • Slotted adjustable sternum strap with safety whistle
  • Dual zippered panel access to the main compartment
  • Large stretch mesh front panel pocket
  • External hydration sleeve

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 22L
  • Dimensions: 22″ H x 16″ W x 4″ D
  • Weight: 1.76 lbs
Pros
  • Small zippered mesh pouch for loose items
  • Along the back is a padded panel for a water pack
  • This bag is really light
  • Ventilation is great
Cons
  • The insert of the shoulder straps does not have the large diamond holes as in the pictures, rather they have small oval holes

2. Osprey Tempest 20 Women’s Hiking Backpack – Best for Women

Osprey Tempest 20 Women's Hiking Backpack

The Osprey Tempest 20 Women’s Hiking Backpack is the pack for you if you want to go light and go quickly in the forests, mountains, and across town. 20L is suitable for day hikes, urban commutes, or a shopping trip. The women’s unique BioStretch harness and continuous cover hipbelt blend in a ventilated and supportive manner to create an extremely secure carry device that supports your body and you can stay balanced on the trail, hill, or mountain. The AirScape backpanel uses less material and glue to keep you comfortable on hot days, thus making it more breathable.

The Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole hold mechanism leaves your hands free to push upwards when uphills turn technical. If you pause for a mid-commute cup, the LidLock helmet hold does the same. Zippered hipbelt pockets, side stretch mesh pockets, harness bag, and top-lid storage provide the structure you need. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best hiking backpacks for women.

Key Features:

  • Made of 70D x 100D Nylon Mini Shadow Brick
  • Side stretch mesh pockets
  • Stretch mesh harness slash pocket
  • Top panel zippered slash pocket
  • Lightweight and comfortable contact surfaces

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 22L
  • Dimensions: 22″ H x 16″ W x 4″ D
  • Weight: 1.76 lbs
Pros
  • Very lightweight
  • Additional small internal zippered pocket
  • Adjustable frame
  • Compression straps for the side water bottle holders
Cons
  • Lacks an integrated rain cover

3. Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack

Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack

The Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack, the most compact hiking backpack in Deuter’s range, excels in its intense lightness and purist nature, offering optimum carrying comfort and excellent ventilation in difficult terrain for athletic tours and alpine adventures. Lightweight packs from Deuter are built for anybody who wants to hike easily and comfortably without failing to bring comfort and durability.

These kits excel in endurance sports and all-day alpine experiences with a fully efficient range of features and design to keep up with the most competitive mountain athlete. From road running to day hiking to ski races, the Speedlite has been around the mountain for a time or two, super lightweight, portable and stable, you can forget you’re bringing clothes, snacks, and hydration before you need them. Our guide to the best backpacks for athletes offers more great products like this.

Key Features:

  • Athletic V-cut shape for extensive freedom of movement
  • Sunglasses loop on the shoulder strap
  • Accessory loops for gear or helmet holder attachment
  • Easy glove-friendly loops on zippers
  • Stretch side water bottle pockets
  • Zippered pocket on top

Specifications:

  • Brand: Deuter
  • Capacity: 20L
  • Dimensions: 18.1″ H x 10.2″ W x 7.1″ D
  • Weight: 1.06 lbs
Pros
  • Light and sturdy
  • Functionally “large enough” small top pocket for wallet, keys, energy bar, smal headphones, etc
  • Very comfy even when chock full with water bottles
  • The back is breathable and the chest strap helps for those heavier loads
Cons
  • No front open “shovel” mesh stash pocket

4. HIKPRO 20L – The Most Durable Lightweight Packable Backpack

HIKPRO 20L - The Most Durable Lightweight Packable Backpack

The HIKPRO 20L – The Most Durable Lightweight Packable Backpack is made with high-quality water and tear-resistant nylon material that provides long-lasting performance with the lightest weight possible. Double fabric at the bottom for extra strength. Reinforced more than 14 places with bartack process at major stress points.

Perfect for day trips, vacation, travel, day hikes, school, camping and shopping. This day pack for hiking easily folds into a small pocket. It has three zippered compartments. The main pocket is large enough to carry what you need. The outer smaller pocket is great for quick access. The inner pocket which doubles as the storage pouch is a perfect place for valuables. Two large sides mesh pockets for water bottles.

Key Features:

  • Athletic V-cut shape for extensive freedom of movement
  • Sunglasses loop on the shoulder strap
  • Accessory loops for gear or helmet holder attachment
  • Easy glove-friendly loops on zippers
  • Stretch side water bottle pockets
  • Zippered pocket on top

Specifications:

  • Brand: Deuter
  • Capacity: 20L
  • Dimensions: 18.1″ H x 10.2″ W x 7.1″ D
  • Weight: 1.06 lbs
Pros
  • Light and sturdy
  • Functionally “large enough” small top pocket for wallet, keys, energy bar, smal headphones, etc
  • Very comfy even when chock full with water bottles
  • The back is breathable and the chest strap helps for those heavier loads
Cons
  • No front open “shovel” mesh stash pocket

5. Osprey Stratos 24 Men’s Hiking Backpack

Osprey Stratos 24 Men's Hiking Backpack

The Osprey Stratos 24 Men’s Hiking Backpack is a panel-loading convenience and organization, perfect for carrying you need on a day hike. Featuring adjustable torso lengths for improved fit and comfort with updated aesthetics, the women’s specific fit Sirrus 24 is the go-to choice for those who prefer panel-loading organization on day hikes in wet or hot environments where staying dry and keeping your cool matter most.

When the weather turns, fear not – the Sirrus keeps your gear and pack protected with an integrated rain cover. Smartly organized pocketing keeps all your equipment where you need it when you need it. There is a top panel zippered stash pocket to make sure your smaller items are safely stowed away and easy to access.

Key Features:

  • Internal hydration sleeve accommodates up to a 3L reservoir (sold separately)
  • Ventilated backpanel with adjustable shoulder harness
  • Stretch mesh pockets on both sides of the pack provide convenient storage for bottles and smaller items
  • Two zippered hipbelt pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 24L
  • Dimensions: 21″ H x 14″ W x 5.5″ D
  • Weight: 2.68 lbs
Pros
  • There are two small pockets that are good for keeping little items easily accessible
  • Side pockets are great for water bottles
  • The bottom pocket holds an included rain fly which is a handy accessory
  • It’s a well thought out design for a day pack
Cons
  • The two pockets on the waist band probably wouldn’t hold a smart phone, but are perfect for holding fly boxes

6. Osprey Sirrus 24 Women’s Hiking Backpack

Osprey Sirrus 24 Women's Hiking Backpack

The supremely ventilated, featured, and durable Osprey Sirrus 24 Women’s Hiking Backpack receives a makeover that is more than skin deep for this year. Now featuring adjustable torso lengths, improved women’s specific fit and comfort with updated aesthetics, the Sirrus 24 is the go-to choice for those who prefer panel-loading organization on day hikes in wet or hot environments where staying dry and keeping your cool matter most.

When the weather turns, fear not – Sirrus keeps your gear and pack protected with an integrated rain cover. Smartly organized pocketing keeps all your equipment where you need it when you need it. The front panel vertical center zippered pocket is perfect for stashing maps or a spare pair of gloves.

Key Features:

  • Stretch mesh pockets on both sides of the pack provide convenient storage for bottles and smaller items
  • Two zippered hipbelt pockets
  • Stow-On-The-Go Trekking pole attachment allows you to quickly attach and carry trekking poles while wearing the pack
  • Integrated and removable rain cover

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 24L
  • Dimensions: 19″ H x 12″ W x 12″ D
  • Weight: 2.56 lbs
Pros
  • The hip belt carries the load well
  • The bungee loop on the backpack strap that stows your trekking poles is handy so you can stow your poles without having to take your pack off
  • The side pockets are stretchy mesh
  • Multiple ways to secure the water tube in the shoulder straps
Cons
  • The opening to the hydration tube is a bit small

7. Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack

Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack

Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack is a lightweight, all-in-one backpack that you can take on any ride. The Daylite is at home on a peak of 14,000 feet or on a ride to the nearest farmer’s market. Crafted to be added to a variety of Osprey’s larger packs and travel bags for use on day trips away from the base camp as a single pod kit, it is the ideal companion on every walk.

The wide zippered panel gives easy access to the main compartment. Side mesh pockets carry water bottles and other sundries in one safe place while a front pocket with a mesh organizer and a key lock secures small items. Backpanel with mesh-covered die-cut foam offers warmth and ventilation.

Key Features:

  • Large panel-loading main compartment
  • Attaches to a variety of compatible Osprey packs
  • Side mesh pockets
  • Front pocket with mesh organizer and key clip
  • Spacer mesh shoulder straps with integrated handle

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 13L
  • Dimensions: 18″ H x 9″ W x 9″ D
  • Weight: 1 lbs
Pros
  • Provides a comfortable carry
  • At only 1lb, it’s impressively lightweight
  • Helpful organization in the front quick-grab pocket
  • The chest strap has the standard whistle in the buckle
Cons
  • No dedicated laptop sleeve

8. Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

Sea to Summit stands for a culture of design perfectionists who develop ingenious, functionally beautiful products with an independent, free-thinking Australian attitude. They strive to create equipment that is nimble and light, but serious enough to deliver when called into duty. Gear that works just that little bit better, so you may find yourself inspired to take the less-traveled road more often.

The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack is an ideal alternative anytime you need to compact the volume without substantially increasing weight. Built from a siliconized CORDURA fabric with a 30D diamond ripstop, they can be compact to a third of the original length. Ideal for use inside your pack or travel bag when compressing clothes or voluminous soft items to make space for more important things or enjoyable holiday things.

Key Features:

  • Siliconized, high-tenacity CORDURA Nylon fabric
  • Reinforced shoulder straps to reduce bunching up when carrying heavy loads and ergonomically shaped for a better fit
  • Webbing daisy-chain on the front for a bike light
  • Ultra-Sill stuff sack with handy aluminum carabineer

Specifications:

  • Brand: Sea to Summit
  • Capacity: 20L
  • Dimensions: 4.8″ H x 2.3″ W x 2″ D
  • Weight: 0.15 lbs
Pros
  • Packs very small
  • The material it is made out of is strong but thin
  • Plenty of room for one person, and allows for more
  • Very light
Cons
  • Shoulder straps not intended for much weight

9. Roam Lightweight Packable Backpack

Roam Lightweight Packable Backpack

The Roam Lightweight Packable Backpack is available in 15 colors. Perfect gift for the adventurer in your tribe. Conveniently fit all of your gear, whether you’re hiking, camping, hitting the beach or heading to work. Constructed with the strongest ripstop nylon with unique diamond woven pattern to stop any and ALL rips, making your bag tear proof! Tested to be more than 10 times stronger than other brands.

Rain? No problem. All surfaces are rainproof! All fabric is coated with a water resistant layer! Ergonomically engineered to distribute weight over your shoulders and back, not your neck. No more sweat stains! Breathable curving contoured mesh straps for even more comfort. For hours of use in the sun without annoying sweat stains.

Key Features:

  • Bartrack stitching, abrasion resistant metal zippers
  • Breathable and adjustable mesh straps
  • Multiple front zipped pockets
  • Two side water-bottle pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Roam
  • Capacity: 25L
  • Dimensions: 17″ H x 10″ W x 9″ D
  • Weight: 0.6 lbs
Pros
  • There are two good sized front pockets with one small zip pocket on the outside
  • The zippers are good quality and don’t get stuck
  • It can be packed away neatly
  • Pockets with different sizes
Cons
  • Not a lot of padding

10. CamelBak Rim Runner 22 Hydration Pack

CamelBak Rim Runner 22 Hydration Pack

For years, the CamelBak Rim Runner 22 Hydration Pack has been a favorite all-around pack for day hikers. The updated design offers a clean, technical aesthetic, 2.5 liters of hydration, and a hip belt with cargo pockets that let you grab snacks or keys without removing your pack. It’s designed to carry enough gear for most day hikes (layers, lunch, water and essentials) without the bulk of extra features that you won’t need.

Made with high flow reservoir with an ergonomic handle for easier refilling. With an easy and intuitive, leak-proof on/off lever. Water when you want it, none when you don’t. With the removable sternum strap, you can adjust for a custom fit or remove entirely.

Key Features:

  • Breathable air mesh back panel for a lightweight, comfortable fit
  • Load bearing hip belt with cargo has open mesh
  • Main compartment and separate essentials pocket
  • Stretch overflow exterior pockets for quick stash access

Specifications:

  • Brand: CamelBak
  • Capacity: 22L
  • Dimensions: 20.5″ H x 11.4″ W x 2.6″ D
  • Weight: 2.14 lbs
Pros
  • The zippers operate smoothly
  • The adjustable straps allow for proper fit
  • Cargo space is good
  • Organizer pocket is good
Cons
  • This backpack is definitely made to be lightweight, but it just feels flimsy

Buying Guide

Waistbelt and Sternum Straps

Waistbelt and sternum straps allow you to spread your pack’s weight so it doesn’t collapse on your back and shoulders. These also help to keep the pack in place and are vital not only for camping but also for other sports that you might be using your pack for trail running or biking. We find them a must for longer hikes and, in general, they make hiking even more enjoyable.

Ventilation

Many daypacks these days should provide a sort of ventilation on the pack’s backside, where the back is in touch with the bag. This mesh or foam back panels have a good ventilation system so that there is air between your back and the pack which allows you to sweat a little less. If that is important to you, then the cheaper daypacks that appear not to have good ventilation systems may not be ideal for you, whilst the more advanced ventilation systems would be only towards the higher ends.

Capacity

Before you can determine what size daypack you’ll use, you’ll need to know what you’re going to use it do. Only choosing the largest or the smallest one might be enticing, but it might not actually be the right option for your needs. Whether you need a daypack for brief day hiking or just even for use while visiting urban areas when on vacation, you should find a pack between 10l and 25l, while you should find around 25l and 40l for trips that could last the entire day or for one night.

Rain Cover

Many daypacks contain a rain cover which can save you the hassle and expense of buying one separately. Although you should cover your daypack with a plastic garbage bag, the narrower pockets at the top of your pack are not covered where you would actually store your most important things.

Hydration Reservoir

Most day packs have space to hold a hydration reservoir in between the internal compartment and the frame. A hydration reservoir is a water-filled silicone bladder; it has a long tube attached so you can drink the water from the hydration pack while it’s in your bag rather than pulling your water bottle out. Don’t forget that there are also dedicated hydration running packs on the market.

Conclusion

We hope this guide was helpful for finding the best day packs for hiking as well as our guide on features to look for in a day pack for hiking. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this guide, feel free to let us know in the comments section.