The Best Hiking Daypacks for Every Adventure

We love the Osprey Daylite Pack for its helpful features and lightweight design.

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Amazon and Rei

A true companion for any outdoor lover, the daypack is an essential item in our gear lineup. Hiking with a comfortable and efficient backpack allows us to carry along trekking necessities such as water, snacks, and additional layers, as well as some extras like a camera or summit beers. The right daypack can come in handy for both hiking endeavors big and small and a variety of other activities, from traveling to fishing or canoeing

With such a wide array of daypack choices donning all sorts of features out there, it can be difficult to narrow down which pack is the right fit for you and your hiking needs. To help with your hiking daypack search, we researched dozens of options to find the best bags with a solid balance of weight, comfort, functionality, and cost. The Osprey Daylite Pack is our top pick for an all-around hiking daypack that gets most of the jobs done with all of these crucial features in mind. We have other favorites that excel at securely lugging tech, slipping into carry-ons, and doubling as everyday backpacks.

These are the 10 best hiking daypacks for your outdoor endeavors:

Best Overall: Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack

Osprey Daylite Plus Pack

 REI

Why We Love It: The versatile Osprey Daylite Plus is roomy enough for a full-day hike without feeling bulky on your back.

What to Consider: The hydration reservoir isn’t included, however, this daypack has space for one up to 2 liters.

We love the simple design of the Osprey Daylite Plus Pack as well as its sheer versatility for hiking, travel, or a day out and about. An upgrade space-wise to the original Daylite — a fan favorite — the Daylite Plus adds 7 liters of additional storage and more organizational features, all while still being affordable. The daypack’s multifunctional features add to the allure of this 20-liter bag: use the padded hydration sleeve for your laptop instead, remove the hipbelt if you prefer, hook it onto your luggage using the grab handle, or even attach it to another compatible Osprey pack for longer hikes.

 Crafted from recycled fabrics, this pack also has sustainability in mind. Ventilation is top notch thanks to Osprey’s AirScape™ mesh-covered, die-cut ridged foam, which is perfect for keeping things flowing when hiking works up a sweat (and it will). Storage and organization highlights include two side water bottle pockets, a myriad of zip pockets, and a clip to keep your keys secure. The main cabin space of the pack is ideal for a first-aid kit, extra layers, snacks, or any provisions you need for a day hike. The Osprey Daylite Plus is built to take the wear and tear that hiking requires, while keeping things uncomplicated and lightweight.

 Capacity: 20 liters | Weight: 1.2 pounds

Best Budget: REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack

REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack

REI

Why We Love It: The versatile Osprey Daylite Plus is roomy enough for a full-day hike without feeling bulky on your back.

What to Consider: The hydration reservoir isn’t included, however, this daypack has space for one up to 2 liters.

We love the simple design of the Osprey Daylite Plus Pack as well as its sheer versatility for hiking, travel, or a day out and about. An upgrade space-wise to the original Daylite — a fan favorite — the Daylite Plus adds 7 liters of additional storage and more organizational features, all while still being affordable. The daypack’s multifunctional features add to the allure of this 20-liter bag: use the padded hydration sleeve for your laptop instead, remove the hipbelt if you prefer, hook it onto your luggage using the grab handle, or even attach it to another compatible Osprey pack for longer hikes.

 Crafted from recycled fabrics, this pack also has sustainability in mind. Ventilation is top notch thanks to Osprey’s AirScape™ mesh-covered, die-cut ridged foam, which is perfect for keeping things flowing when hiking works up a sweat (and it will). Storage and organization highlights include two side water bottle pockets, a myriad of zip pockets, and a clip to keep your keys secure. The main cabin space of the pack is ideal for a first-aid kit, extra layers, snacks, or any provisions you need for a day hike. The Osprey Daylite Plus is built to take the wear and tear that hiking requires, while keeping things uncomplicated and lightweight.

 Capacity: 20 liters | Weight: 1.2 pounds

Most Packable: Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

 Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

Amazon

Why We Love It: It’s so compact that it packs up into its own pocket.

What to Consider: The non-existent back padding can make for a somewhat uncomfortable carry, depending what’s in your bag.

At just a whisper of a daypack, the Osprey Ultralight Stuffpack is as lightweight as its name implies while managing to be quite useful. It folds right up into itself as a neat little package, making it the perfect backpack for travel hiking, or if you need a small pack for day hikes on a longer backpacking trip. The nylon ripstop material aids in the light-as-a-feather and packable feel, though it’s not the most durable — a typical trade-off for lightweight bags. However, for the price point and purpose, it’s a fantastic value.

Although the lack of a sternum strap is a bit of a bummer, the rest of the design makes up for it with the slightly padded mesh shoulder straps, a side pocket for your water bottle, and an additional top pocket for smaller items like keys, phones, and other goodies you need the ability to grab quickly. What daypacks come down to is portability and functionality, and the Osprey Ultralight nails it.

Capacity: 18 liters | Weight: 0.2 pounds

Best Waterproof: Sea to Summit Hydraulic Daypack

Sea to Summit Hydraulic Daypack

Amaon

Why We Love It: This is a waterproof bag that’s comfortable to hike with as a backpack.

What to Consider: Although it’s waterproof, full submersion is not recommended due to the roll-top closure.

For a waterproof daypack that fits everything you’ll need for a full-day venture, look no further than the Sea to Summit Hydraulic Daypack. We love that this comes in four different sizes (35 liters, 65 liters, 90 liters, and 120 liters), with even the smallest of the capacities able to hold more than enough for a day-long endeavor. Whether you’re paddling the hours away, getting caught in an epic rainstorm, or hiking trails with river crossings through canyons, the Hydraulic keeps your essentials dry as a bone. 

This heavy-duty pack has tightly welded seams and performs in not only wet conditions but cold conditions as well. Most waterproof bags aren’t known for their high comfort levels, but with adjustable back and sternum straps, wide shoulder straps, hip belt, and removable harness, this isn’t the case with this pack. The Hydraulic pack does what it's designed to do, keeping worries about your gear at bay so you can just enjoy your outdoor experience.

Capacity: 35 liters | Weight: 2.2 pounds

Best for Large Loads: Osprey Tempest 34 (Women's)

Osprey Tempest 34 (Women's)

Amazon

Best for Large Loads: Osprey Talon 36 Pack (Men's)

Osprey Talon 36 Pack (Men's)

Amazon

Why We Love It: The lightweight design moves with you as you hike without sacrificing on extra features.

What to Consider: Since this has a top-loading design in a bigger space, items should be thoughtfully packed for easiest access.

For a sizable and sturdy hiking pack that allows you to carry larger loads, the Osprey Tempest 34 for Women and equivalent Osprey Talon 36 for Men are easy choices. Each pack has similar features, with the Talon offering a male-friendly fit. Whether you’re carrying extra gear such as snowshoes or trekking poles or want the option for an overnight, these bags can go from daypack to camping with no issues. The adjustable harness system on both the women’s and men’s bags means you can tailor the fit to your torso length for the best possible comfort level too.

 The packs’ wrapping hip belt with lumbar support, sternum strap, and maximum ventilation using AirScape technology and Spacermesh over die-cut foam makes carrying bulkier loads a breeze, even on more challenging trails. That means that although the fit hugs your body, you won’t be drenched in back sweat. A hydration sleeve, deep side mesh pockets, and attachments for extras maximize the capacity of this top-loading pack. The included rain cover is also a nice bonus.

 Capacity: 34 liters (women’s), 36 liters (men’s) | Weight: 2.3 pounds (women’s XS/S), 2.5 pounds (women’s M/L), 2.6 pounds (men’s S/M), 2.7 pounds (men’s L/XL) 

Best with Hydration Pack: Gregory Nano 18 H2O Hydration Pack

Gregory Nano 18 H2O Hydration Pack

REI

Why We Love It: It has everything you need in a daypack, including your daily water intake.

What to Consider: Shorter hikers might find the fit a bit long for their torso.

We love that the Gregory Nano 18 Hydration Pack can fit 3 liters of water and hiking essentials for a day on the trail without taking up too much space. The combination of this bag’s sleek design and the small touches that make a big difference put the Nano H20 as a win for being a true hiker’s companion, and for more than just water. Highlights include a user-friendly drawcord opening with convenience in mind for accessing your items inside, as well as reflective attachment loops — and almost any kind of pocket you’ll need. Comfort comes from the removable hip

belt, grippy zipper pulls, and tubular webbing in the handle. 

The included hydration bladder is easy to assemble and clean, with the hose clipping nicely into the system for easy carrying without feeling weighed down. 

Capacity: 18 liters | Weight: 1.4 pounds

Best for Trail to Street: Fjallraven Greenland Top 20-30L Backpack

Fjallraven Greenland Top 20-30L Backpack

Backcountry

Why We Love It: It’s so versatile you’ll only need one pack for nearly all of your daily activities.

What to Consider: The material has to be waxed for full waterproofing.

We can’t get enough of the Fjallraven Greenland pack’s stylish and waterproof design that can go trail to town with ease. A true “everyday backpack,” the water-resistant canvas can handle a hike, day at the beach, boat trip, flea market wandering, or running to and from class. The classic but up-to-date, no-frills style is simple and comfortable, with padded straps, backing, and bottom; dual side pockets; and a variety of interior pockets for keeping your things organized. The drawcord closure makes access and closure of your bag fast and easy. 

The Greenland pack fits up to 20-30 liters, depending on the “regular” or “large sizing” purchased, while managing to feel light on your back during all of your exploits. For a bag that can seemingly do it all, the Fjallraven Greenland Top 20-30L is a top example of beauty in simplicity.

Capacity: 20-30 liters | Weight: 1.5 pounds (regular), 1.7 pounds (large)

Best Lightweight: Deuter Speed Lite 25 (Men's)

 Deuter Speed Lite 25 (Men's)

Amazon

Best Lightweight: Dueter Speed Lite 23 (Women’s)

Dueter Speed Lite 23 (Women’s)

Amazon

Why We Love It: The minimalist design keeps it super lightweight so you can go faster.

What to Consider: The hydration reservoir (not included) goes in the main compartment, something to consider when packing and choosing a bladder size.

The Deuter Speed Lite, which comes in both men’s and women’s, is at the top of its class for ultra lightweight daypacks despite its many features. Its ability to stay flexible and stable while moving at the hiker’s speed, even at full capacity, makes this pack a win for day trekkers looking to leave the heftiness to the contents instead of the bag. The U frame distributes weight evenly so you don’t feel imbalanced or slowed down either. Compression straps help with your bag’s volume as well, keeping things tight and secure for your trek and avoiding the dreaded rubbing against your back. The impressive Lite back systems offer comfortable carrying conditions with a padded and ventilated AirMesh back to keep moisture out.

Tailored fit is attained with easy adjustment of straps, and storage is plentiful: accessory loops for gear such as sunglasses and trekking poles as well as zipped and stretch mesh pockets throughout are ideal for water bottles, cell phones, hats, gloves, or any other small items.

Capacity: 25 liters (men’s), 23 liters (women’s) | Weight: 1.6 pounds (men’s), 1.5 pounds (women’s) 

Best for Camera Gear: Lowepro ProTactic BP 350 AWII

Lowepro ProTactic BP 350 AWII

Amazon

Why We Love It: The bag’s four-point access means you can get to your gear faster so you don’t miss out on capturing the shot.

What to Consider: You should overestimate the room you’ll need for your camera kit as the configuration space provided isn’t always compatible with your specifics, rather it’s a general projection in the product description.

Finding a sturdy camera bag that fits all of your equipment, makes your gear easy to access, and also rides comfortably on your back for outdoor exploits is a tricky task. The Lowepro ProTactic BP 350 AWII ticks those boxes and more, with an additional sizing-up option (the BP 450) for photographers looking to tote more pieces as well. Configure the interior dividers to fit your camera kit for bodies, multiple lenses, a drone, or a combination. We like that the 350 model can reasonably hold at least two camera bodies, including one with an attached lens, making it faster to grab your camera for a quick shot on the move. Additional room for flash attachments and lenses, a laptop sleeve for travel, and included smaller compartments for batteries, memory cards, lens wipes, etc. is a must for photographers as well. Side pockets accommodating a tripod and water bottle are ideal for hikers. 

Cinch straps help form the fit to your body and padded support in the lumbar, waist, and shoulder areas with a removable hip belt aid in keeping hikers with a load of camera gear as comfortable as can be…when carrying a load of camera gear. As a bonus, the Lowepro ProTactic comes with an all-weather cover built into the bag so your gear will have decent protection should you get caught dealing with pesky wet conditions. 

Capacity: 15.9 liters | Weight: 4.9 pounds

Best Sling Pack: Cotopaxi Chasqui 13L Sling Pack

Cotopaxi Chasqui 13L Sling Pack

Amazon

Why We Love It: It's compact and easy to use.

What to Consider: The sling pack lacks outer water bottle pockets, so you’ll have to carry your hydration inside the bag.

Similar to the fanny pack comeback, sling packs are gaining popularity with hikers looking to carry their essentials close to the body and with rapid access without having to take the pack off. One shoulder strap is all you need for this lightweight yet spacious pack, though a variety of handles allow for creative carrying too. If you’re looking to break out of a traditional daypack and try the crossbody sling, you can’t go wrong with the level of organization Cotopaxi has included in this daypack. The back security pocket holds important items close, such as money, IDs and passports, and several other pockets (including a laptop sleeve) of varying size keep other items for hiking in order so you can find them in a jiff.

Wear the padded shoulder strap on your left or right side, and adjust it through the dual-sided D rings. Easy to throw on for hiking, biking, or simply running errands, sling packs are getting everyone jumping on the bandwagon for a reason, and the Cotopaxi Chasqui is a solid choice. Did we mention it’s made out of recycled materials too? Win/win.

Capacity: 13 liters | Weight: 1.1 pounds

Tips for Buying a Hiking Daypack

Make sure to get the right weight and length for your size and abilities

When purchasing a daypack, finding the correct combination of weight and height to fit not only you, but also your abilities and planned adventures is one of the top things to consider. For instance, a petite person wouldn’t want a pack that’s too long for them, as it’ll hinder their ability to move along the trail. The two main points of reference for finding an appropriate fit are in the torso and hip. Hip fit is especially important for hikers and runners to keep your pack stable and the weight distributed evenly as you hike or trail-run to your heart’s content. 

Options to purchase a gender-specific or unisex bag are helpful, and some models offer multiple sizings such as S/M, M/L, or L/XL to break it down even further for a tailored fit. To make sure your daypack fits, start by adjusting the straps and torso area to your body. With the hipbelt just above the top of your hips, check for a gap between the shoulder straps and your back. This means it’s probably too long for your torso, and vice versa if the straps land too far below your shoulders. If you’re still having an issue or feel that you’re in between sizes, purchasing a pack that has that adjustable harness piece for the torso fit will be your best bet.

One of the top features of a good daypack is being lightweight. You don’t want your backpack adding to the weight of your hiking items inside too much, as it’ll slow you down on the trail. On the other hand, the lighter it is, the less support and comfort it may present. This will, of course, depend upon the capacity you need for your day trek as well, but generally, veering towards browsing the lighter bags in the range of 1-2.5 pounds is a good start.

Plan your packing list before picking a capacity

Although our packing lists for various ventures can shift a bit, most of us have a general kit we bring on all our day hikes. When choosing a pack, it’s helpful to curate a quick lineup of the essentials you know you’ll be bringing on most endeavors. Allow for a little extra room for those random additions too, and the right sized daypack should be reasonable to find. Consider if you’re planning on toting a camera, if you will be using it in a climate that requires you to pack extra layers, or if you typically gravitate towards being a minimalist hiker. 

Of course, the length of your hike will largely impact the capacity you’ll need in your daypack as well. While you can go small such as an ultralight, supremely packable, or sling pack for shorter trails, the longer, all-day treks will likely demand a higher capacity bag for extra food, water, and clothing. In general, a solid mid-range pack between 18 liters and 30 liters will be versatile enough to tackle most trails, giving you some room to play with capacity depending on the day. Large packs, between 30-39 liters are equipped to handle larger loads, possible overnights, and extra equipment for mountaineering, if needed.

Choose features that fit your ventures

With so many daypacks on the market with a whole host of cool features, it can be a tad overwhelming to know specifically what you want and need if you’re a first-time buyer. The best method is to figure out your fundamental needs first, and then work into the specifics from there. If you need something for larger loads on the regular, a daypack with an interior frame might be in your future. Frameless packs are best for carrying lighter loads and shouldn’t limit your flexibility or pace too much on the trail. 

Another important feature to consider is access to the contents of your daypack. While most backpacks for day hikes are top-loading, some offer the ability to grab things out of the side or front compartments as well. Whether you want to bring a hydration reservoir or a water bottle is another key aspect to consider. Some packs have great side pockets fit for most sizes of water bottles, and others have a hydration bladder or at least a sleeve for purchasing one. Other things like a raincover, extra pockets for organizational purposes, camera compartment dividers, portability, padding, sternum strap, and smaller points like drawstring vs. zipper, roll-top closure, and removable hip strap can play a role in the features that fit your hiking style.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What should I pack for a day of hiking?

    The contents of your daypack for hiking will vary depending on the scope of your adventure, However, there are essentials most trekkers always include. Water is the primary item, as hydration is crucial on the trail; whether you’re going for a short forest walk, or spending the day summiting, you’ll need ample H20 with you. Bringing along snacks to keep you fueled, secure spots for keys and other important things that shouldn’t be left in your car, a first-aid kit, and an extra layer or two are all notable essentials as well. If you’ll be venturing into the backcountry, a GPS or navigational tool is a good idea to throw in your pack too.

  • What makes a backpack good for hiking?

    Finding the right balance of function, weight, fit, and comfort will help you score a good hiking daypack that can last you for years to come. In general, something with water-resistant and durable materials, support and stability that don’t weigh you down, and a decent capacity to fit your essentials is ideal. Padded, adjustable straps with ventilation there as well as in the back area can be crucial to aid in keeping comfort levels up and sweat off your body. A hip belt is another feature for stability as you hike, and packs that offer a removable option might just be the best of both worlds in terms of flexibility.

  • Are daypacks waterproof?

    Daypacks can certainly be waterproof. If you need a bag that’s completely waterproof, it’s best to search for a water bag with straps designed for hiking. However, it’s important to note that even those bags often have a roll-top closure and cannot be submerged for a length of time, but they will keep your items exceptionally dry in most situations. Packs made out of waxed canvas can often be treated to a waterproof rating as well with a spray or seam sealer. At the very least, it’s a good idea to purchase a bag that comes with a rain cover or to buy a rain cover that fits your bag for those times when Mother Nature decides to change up the conditions on your hike.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

A hiking enthusiast herself, Lauren Breedlove used her personal experience with finding the right daypacks for hiking both with and without camera gear in various conditions and climates around the world to curate this list. She also scoured the internet, researching and selecting the best daypacks for every type of trail. 

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