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HomeOutdoor GearHiking GearBest Day Hiking Backpack (Best Daypacks 2023)

Best Day Hiking Backpack (Best Daypacks 2024)

BEST MEN’S
BEST WOMEN’S
BEST KIDS
Osprey Stratos 24 Pack
Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack
Deuter Schmusebar Pack - Kids
  • 24 Liter Pack

  • 7+ pockets and trekking pole attachments

  • Lifetime Warranty

  • Women’s 24 Liter

  • 7+ pockets, rain cover, water reservoir compartment

  • Lifetime Warranty

  • Small kid-friendly 8 liter pack

  • 3 pockets + main compartment

  • Fun designs!

Wilderness Times may receive commissions for links included in articles to Amazon and other affiliate partners. We take pride in our testing and research, and recommendations are not given out lightly.

About to head out on a hike and want to know what the best day hiking backpack is? They are the Osprey Stratos for Men and Osprey Sirrus for Women

Whether you are just getting into hiking or you have been an avid hiker for years, you need a good daypack.

And not just any pack. A good pack tailored to your hiking needs is important for an enjoyable trail experience.

Carrying your water, food, and first aid kit in a way that is comfortable and lets you carry your gear without pain or discomfort makes it so you can enjoy the scenery and wildlife unimpeded.

Here are the best hiking backpacks on the market today:

Best Overall Day Hiking Backpack for Men: Osprey Stratos 24 Pack
Best Overall Day Hiking Backpack for Women: Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack
Best Day Hiking Backpack for Winter: Deuter Trail 30L Backpack
Best Travel Day Hiking Backpack: Osprey Daylite Pack
Best Sustainable Daypack: Cotopaxi Inca 26L Backpack
Best Day Hiking Backpack with Hydration: Hydro Flask Down Shift 14 Hydration Pack – 2 Litersack

Best Day Hiking Backpacks

Best Overall Day Hiking Backpack for Men: Osprey Stratos 24 Pack

Type: Men’s | Capacity (L): 24 | Weight: 2 lbs 12 oz | Dimensions: 23 x 13 x 9 in | Hydration Compatible: Yes | Exterior Pockets: 7 + main compartment | Materials: Recycled 210-denier honeycomb nylon/420-denier nylon with PFC/PFAS-free DWR (bluesign® approved)


OVERALL SCORE

8.8


  Comfort

8.5

  Quality & Durability

9


  Value

6


  Performance

9.5


  Ease of Use

9

  Packability

9.5


  User Reviews

8.8

The Osprey Stratos 24 Pack’s AirSpeed® ventilated suspension system helps keep the hikers’ back cool and distribute the pack’s weight.

The pack also has a large dual zipper main compartment with compression straps to secure your gear, and bungies lash bigger items to the outside.

It also comes with an included rain cover saving you money on buying it separately.

Pros:

  • Great ventilation
  • 7 plus pockets
  • Trekking pole attachment points
  • Rain cover
  • Water reservoir compartment

Cons:

  • Internal frame adds weight
  • Expensive for its size

Best For: A shoulder seasons day adventures.

Check Price at REI

Check Price On Amazon

Best Overall Day Hiking Backpack for Women: Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack

Best Overall Day Hiking Backpack for Women: Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack

Type: Women’s | Capacity (L): 24 | Weight: 2 lbs 12 oz | Dimensions: 22 x 13 x 9 in | Hydration Compatible: Yes | Exterior Pockets: 7 + main compartment | Materials: Recycled 210-denier honeycomb nylon/420-denier nylon with PFC/PFAS-free DWR (bluesign® approved)


OVERALL SCORE

8.4


  Comfort

8.5

  Quality & Durability

9


  Value

6


  Performance

9.5


  Ease of Use

9

  Packability

7


  User Reviews

8.6

Similar to the Men’s pack, the Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack’s AirSpeed® ventilated suspension system helps keep the hikers’ back cool and distribute the pack’s weight.

The pack also has a large dual zipper main compartment with compression straps to secure your gear, and bungies lash it to the outside.

Lastly, this backpack also comes with an included rain cover saving you money on buying it separately.

Pros:

  • Great ventilation
  • 7 plus pockets
  • Trekking pole attachment points
  • Rain cover
  • Water reservoir compartment

Cons:

  • Internal frame adds weight
  • Expensive for its size

Best for: A shoulder season day adventure.

Check Price at REI

Check Price On Amazon

Best Day Hiking Travel Pack: Osprey Daylite Pack

Best Day Hiking Travel Pack: Osprey Daylite Pack

Type: Unisex | Capacity (L): 13 | Weight: 1 lb 1 oz | Dimensions: 17 x 10.25 x 8 in | Hydration Compatible: Yes | Exterior Pockets: 3 + main compartment | Materials: Main: 300-denier recycled ripstop polyester; accent: 600-denier recycled polyester; bottom: 150-denier recycled ripstop polyester packcloth (all bluesign® approved)


OVERALL SCORE

8.4


  Comfort

6.8

  Quality & Durability

8


  Value

10


  Performance

8


  Ease of Use

8


  Packability

9


  User Reviews

9.2

This daypack is perfect for a vacation that has hiking on the itinerary. This pack is a good balance between packability and padding.

I traveled throughout the UK and Europe with this pack at the bottom of my suitcase for when I needed it.

It was perfectly suited for either a day out on the town or a hike in a National Park.

Its handle also acts as a luggage passthrough that is great for traveling with a suitcase.

Compared to traveling with an REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack, the Osprey Daylite is heavier and does not pack down as flat.

The Flash 22 Pack is not nearly as comfortable, lacking the padding that you want for a long hike.

The Osprey Daylite pack also has better pockets for gear organization and compartmentalizing.

Pros:

  • Small
  • Frameless
  • Two water bottle holders
  • Good storage space
  • Packs down well
  • Adequate cushion

Cons:

  • No storage space for trekking poles
  • Too small for cold weather hikes

Best for: A trip with a good deal of hiking on the itinerary

Check Price On REI

Check Price on Amazon

Best Sustainable Day Hiking Backpack: Cotopaxi Inca 26L Backpack

Best Sustainable Day Hiking Backpack: Cotopaxi Inca 26L Backpack

Type: Unisex | Capacity (L): 26 | Weight: 2 lbs 1 oz | Dimensions: 21 x 12 x 9 in | Hydration Compatible: Yes | Exterior Pockets: 3 + main compartment | Materials: 210D nylon ripstop shell fabric.


OVERALL SCORE

8.2


  Comfort

7.5


  Quality & Durability

8


  Value

8


  Performance

8


  Ease of Use

9


  Packability

7.5


  User Reviews

9.4

Each pack is one-of-a-kind. Cotopaxi will choose a pack for you at random.

This pack is a great technical daypack for someone that wants something colorful and fun.

Cotopaxi products are made from a collection using fabric left over from other companies’ larger production runs.

Making them some of the most sustainable products on the market.

The pack has also has Internal hydration sleeve with a hang loop zippered top pocket.

Pros:

  • Padded shoulder belt and waist belt
  • Sustainable
  • Colerfall
  • Plenty of storage

Cons:

  • Not for a lew key hiker

Best for: An eco-conscious hiker that is looking for a good technical daypack.

Check Price on Cotopaxi

Check Price On Amazon

Best Winter Day Hiking Backpack: Deuter Trail 30L Backpack

Best Winter Day Hiking Backpack: Deuter Trail 30L Backpack

Type: Men’s | Capacity (L): 30 | Weight: 2 lbs 10 oz | Dimensions: 24 x 12 x 8 in | Hydration Compatible: Yes | Exterior Pockets: 4 + main compartment | Materials: 210D nylon, 600D polyester


OVERALL SCORE

8.6


  Comfort

8


  Quality & Durability

8


  Value

9


  Performance

8.5


  Ease of Use

8


  Packability

9


  User Reviews

9.6

This Deuter pack is great for winter; there is plenty of room to fit extra layers and wither-specific gear.

It has plenty of lashing points to put hiking poles, ice axes, crampons, or whatever you need to stay safe and have fun on a snowy and icy adventure.

The ActiveFit shoulder harness provides an optimized fit and lets you tailor the pack to your body.

This internal frame pack is the best of both worlds with a nice top-loading design with a zipper opening that enables you to unzip the bottom of your pack to access all of your gear easily.

Pros:

  • Plenty of room for gear and layers
  • Ample gear access
  • External lashing points for ice axes, trekking poles, and crampons
  • More of a specialized pack

Cons:

  • Is one size fits all, so it might not be suitable for all body types

Best for: A winter hike, when you might need some more gear.

Check Price On Backcountry

Check Price at REI

Best Day Hiking Backpack with Hydration: Hydro Flask Down Shift 14 Hydration Pack – 2 Liters

Best Day Hiking Backpack with Hydration: Hydro Flask Down Shift 14 Hydration Pack - 2 Liters

Type: Unisex | Capacity (L): 14 | Weight: 2 lbs 11.2 oz | Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 7 in | Hydration Compatible: Yes | Exterior Pockets: main compartment | Materials: 210-denier mini-ripstop nylon


OVERALL SCORE

7.7


  Comfort

8


  Quality & Durability

7


  Value

7


  Performance

8.5


  Ease of Use

8


  Packability

6


  User Reviews

8.8

This hydration pack is very interesting. If you know Hydro Flask, you know their products are great at insulating beverages and food.

This pack insulates a 2-liter reservoir and will keep your water cold on your hike.

This insulated pack can keep water cold for over 4 hours.

Now, who is this pack for? This is perfect for a fan of Camelback-style hydration packs that wants an upgrade.

With the reservoir filled, you would have enough food to fit some bars and personal items, and that is about it.

Pros:

  • Interesting design
  • Insulated water
  • Unisex
  • Good for hiking and mountain biking

Cons:

  • Proprietary reservoir
  • Not a lot of extra storage
  • Doesn’t have an external water bottle holders

Best for: Someone who wants nice and cold hands-free hydration on the trail.

Check Price On REI

Check Price on Amazon

Best Ultralight Day Hiking Backpack: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Ultralight Day Pack

Best Ultralight Day Hiking Backpack: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Ultralight Day Pack

Type: Unisex | Capacity (L): 20 | Weight: 2.5 oz | Dimensions: 11 x 8 x 19 in | Hydration Compatible: No | Exterior Pockets: main compartment | Materials: Lightweight ultra-sil fabric for strength, durability & water resistance


OVERALL SCORE

7.7


  Comfort

5


  Quality & Durability

7


  Value

10


  Performance

7


  Ease of Use

8


  Packability

8


  User Reviews

9.2

This is a perfect daypack for the ultralight traveler or impromptu hiker.

This pack is made of durable and water-resistant Cordura Nylon.

The backpack packs down into its own pocket that fits into the palm of your hand and is only 2.3 ounces.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Packible
  • Cheap

Cons:

  • No padding
  • One big compartment
  • Limited use cases

Best for: The Lightweight traveler or an impromptu hiker.

Check Price On Amazon

Check Price On Sea to Summit

Best for Water Sports: SealLine Skylake Dry Pack

Best for Water Sports: SealLine Skylake Dry Pack

Type: Unixes | Capacity (L): 18 | Weight: 13.5 oz | Dimensions: 6 x 10 x 21 in | Hydration Compatible: No | Exterior Pockets: main compartment | Materials: 100-percent waterproof PVC-free materials and welded seams


OVERALL SCORE

8.7


  Comfort

6


  Quality & Durability

9


  Value

8.5


  Performance

9


  Ease of Use

9


  Packability

9


  User Reviews

9.2

If you are a water explorer this is a great pack.

If you’re into paddle boarding, kayaking or boating, this is the pack that you can feel good about taking out on the water.

This dry bag pack has a big 18-liter main waterproof compartment with a front stash pocket (see other great dry bags here).

It also has attachment points that lets you clip accessories onto the exterior of the pack.

Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Stash compartments.

Cons:

  • No back padding

Best for: A water adventurer.

Check Price at REI

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Best Kids’ Day Hiking Backpack: Deuter Schmusebar Pack – Kids’

Best Kids’ Day Hiking Backpack: Deuter Schmusebar Pack - Kids'

Type: Kids | Capacity (L): 8 | Weight: 10 oz | Dimensions: 13 x 8 x 6.3 in | Hydration Compatible: No | Exterior Pockets: 3 + main compartment | Materials: Polyester


OVERALL SCORE

8.9


  Comfort

9


  Quality & Durability

9


  Value

9


  Performance

8.5


  Ease of Use

9


  Packability

8.5


  User Reviews

9.6

An excellent first pack, this top-loading pack is competent as a school pack or a hiking pack.

This pack is best for toddlers and young hikers.

You can stick all of their snacks and water in it, that way you don’t have to have someone digging through your bag every few minutes.

Best of all, kids love having the responsibility of toting their own bag.

Pros:

  • Spacious main compartment
  • Doubles as a school backpack
  • Fun designs

Cons:

  • Compatible with a small age range

Best for: A kids first hiking backpack.

Check Price On REI

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Best Kids Hydration Backpack: Jet 18L Hydration Pack – Kids’

Best Kids Hydration Backpack: Jet 18L Hydration Pack - Kids'

Type: Kids | Capacity (L): 18 | Weight: 1 lb 3.4 oz | Dimensions: 20 x 10 x 9 in | Hydration Compatible: Yes | Exterior Pockets: 4 + main compartment | Materials: 400D Recycled Nylon


OVERALL SCORE

8.6


  Comfort

8.5


  Quality & Durability

9


  Value

9


  Performance

8


  Ease of Use

9


  Packability

8.5


  User Reviews

8.6

This pack is made for older kids and has everything they need to grow with.

With a spacious 18-liter design, with a big main compartment, a spot for a hydration bladder, a hip belt, and a ventilated back panel, this is the perfect transition to an adult pack.

Pros:

  • Grown up looking
  • Good transition pack
  • unisex

Cons:

  • No lashing points for trekking poles

Best for: A transitional pack for when your kid starts to become a more avid hiker.

Check Price On Backcountry

What to look for in a day hiking backpack?

What to look for in a day hiking backpack
The Osprey Daylite Pack is perfect for both travel and hikes!

There are so many day hiking backpacks out there. Which one do you choose? Well, here is what you should consider when looking for a daypack:

  • Size & Capacity
  • Weight
  • Carrying Comfort
  • Back Panel & Ventilation
  • Materials & Water Resistance
  • Hydration Compatibility
  • Pockets, Organization
  • Closure System
  • External Storage

Now, let’s get into all of these in much more detail:

Size & Capacity

Day hiking backpack - Size & Capacity

There is a goldilocks zone for daypacks. I believe that is between 20-30 liters.

It ensures you can have a good amount of water in your pack, some layers, some food, just the essentials, and not have too much room that you overfill it with stuff you don’t need.

With a daypack some people might be tempted to throw in an extra thing or that is unnecessary.

Having a daypack in this range is a good balance between having everything you need for a long day on the trail and being miserable and taking way too much stuff just because you have the room.

If hiking in deep snow or cold weather, you should consider getting something on that top end.

A pack between 20-25 liters is perfect for your Spring, Summer, and Fall hiking needs.

If you want to get into other activities like climbing, you should look in the 30-35 liter range.

Weight

For a comfortable experience, your daypack fully loaded, should be no more than 10% of your body weight.

A frameless pack is going to be lighter than an internal frame pack.

When looking for a pack, you have to weigh the tradeoff of the structure of an internal frame pack compared to the lightweight nature of a frameless pack.

When packing you should always pack the heaviest gear closest to your body as possible with your lightest gear further out.

You always want to prioritize the accessibility of your water, first aid kit, and an emergency communication device like a Garmin Inreach.

Carrying Comfort

best day hiking backpack

You should distribute the loud by following The 80/20 Principle: 80 percent of the weight should be on your hips and 20 percent on your shoulders.

To follow this principle, you want to look for a pack that has a good waist belt that allows you to cinch it tightly above your hip bones.

You want to look for padded sections that have some cushioning and don’t dig into your stomach or your hip.

Back Panel & Ventilation

When looking for a daypack, you want to consider if you want a frameless pack or one with an internal frame.

Internal frames are sewn into the pack and are sometimes not visible, so make sure you look at the description of the pack to verify.

They generally make the pack’s weight (the weight without gear) heavier but offer the ability to have more back ventilation, which is great to have in hotter climates.

Materials & Water Resistance

Look for Polyester, Ripstop Nylon, or Dyneema Composite Fabric.

All of them are either naturally water resistant or can be waterproofed.

You can also see packs made with cotton or waxed canvas, but they are often not technical hiking packs.

best day hiking backpack

Polyester

Polyester is a great choice for someone that wants a pack that is naturally hydrophobic, if you live in a rainy climate, this might be the pack material for you.

Polyester is naturally good at wicking away moisture and keeping gear dry.

It is also resistant to mold and mildew, so you can store your gear without worrying about pulling out a moldy pack.

Pros:

  • Natural water resistance
  • Light
  • Mold resistant
  • Stain resistant

Cons:

  • Not as durable as other options
  • Derived from plastics
  • Not that breathable

Ripstop Nylon

Ripstop Nylon does what the name suggests; it is rip and abrasion-resistant.

It can be waterproof when coated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) or PU (polyurethane).

It is made of a grid of more substantial fabric sown directly into nylon, giving it more strength.

Perfect for the light scratches from tree branches on the trail.

The grid makes it harder to cut and contains any damage to the affected grid.

Like Polyester, It is also resistant to mold and mildew.

Pros:

  • Great strength-to-weight ratio
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Nylon is naturally slightly stretchy
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Needs waterproofing
  • Might need to reapply a DWR counting over time.
  • Derived from plastics

Dyneema Composite

Dyneema Composite Fabric is the lightest weight fabric for the three and is also waterproof.

Packs made out of this fabric are often more expensive than their counterparts.

This is a relatively newer pack material and might only be found on top-of-the-line packs that are often specialized, like Zpacks, which are very popular among PCT hikers.

Initially used in high-performance maritime environments, this material is tried and tested to be waterproof.

Pros:

  • 15 times stronger than steel by weight
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Waterproof
  • ultra lightweight

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Derived from plastics

Hydration Compatibility

Hiking Backpack Hydration Sleeve

Look for packs that have at least two water bottle holders that can fit a 32-ounce water bottle.

Most hiking packs have a pocket designed for a hydration sleeve with a clip or hook that keeps a water bladder upright.

You should make sure that the packs you are looking at can have at least 64 liters of water.

Pockets, Organization

Most good packs have at least two compartments for organization, a big compartment for gear and clothing and water, and a smaller zippered pocket for personal items like a wallet and keys and other smaller items.

External Storage

Hiking Backpack External Storage

Other than water bottle holders, you might want your pack to have a couple of other features on the outside of the pack.

You want tie-down spots that let you carry trekking poles or an ice axe on the outside of your pack.

You might want some hip belt pockets to keep small items close.

Closure System

There are two main closer systems for backpacks, zippered closers, and top-loading drawstring closures with a top lid.

You might also find role-top closers, flap, hook and buckle, and velcro-style closure symptoms

Zippered backpacks are by far the most common. Typically they open with zippers that zip about three-quarters down the side of the pack.

That large zippered opening makes it easy for you to pack gear and find it easily when on the trail.

When looking at zippered packs make sure that the teeth of the zipper are plastic so they don’t rust.

Also, look at the pull tab to make sure that it is big enough that it can easily be pulled with gloves on.

In terms of zipper manufacturers, you can never go wrong with YKK.

You can also find top-loading drawstring closure with a top lid.

They are more common with internal frame backpacking packs but still show up in daypack form.

This symptom might be lighter without the added weight and complexities that zippers add to a pack.

Although because you are packing down into the pack from the top, it might be harder to get to gear, especially if it is at the bottom.

What is the difference between a daypack and a backpacking backpack?

Daypack vs Backpacking Backpack

The main difference between backpacks for day hiking and backpacking bags is size, cushioning and having more technical features.

Backpacking bags are made to carry everything you need for spending overnights in the backcountry.

They are typically going to be carrying at least twice as much weight as your heaviest pack could.

Backpacking packs are in the 40-80 liter range, and they are generally top-loading.

Compared to a daypack backpack and bags have a lot more lashing points on the bag.

That is so you can carry a tent or other gear on the outside of the pack.

Most backpacking packs also have lots of padding on the hipbelt, extending to cover the front of your hips for maximum comfort carrying heavy loads.

What should fit in your daypack?

What should fit in a hiking backpack?

When picking a daypack, you should always keep in mind the ten essentials.

Making sure you can fit them in your pack is a good mental exercise.

If the pack can’t fit all of the items, it might be a more specialized pack for a day hike on a heavily trafficked trail.

If you plan on hiking on less trafficked trails, you should have some form of the ten essentials in your pack just in case something goes wrong.

It is much better to have something and not need it, than need something and not have it.

Plus, carrying some more gear will only make you a fitter hiker and give you and your loved one’s peace of mind.

You’ll also want to ensure you have the ten essentials. They are:

  1. Something to navigate with
  2. A light source like a flashlight or headlamp.
  3. Sun protection
  4. A First-aid kit
  5. Something sharp
  6. A fire starter
  7. A shelter
  8. Extra food
  9. Extra water
  10. Extra clothing

Also see: How to Research Your Hiking Trail

What is a good size daypack?

A pack in the 20-30 liter range is going to be great for holding everything you need without overstuffing the pack.

You want to be able to access your gear without everything being cramped together.

If a pack is overfilled, it could damage the zippers and decrease the longevity of the pack.

It’s much better to use the compression straps to cinch everything to keep things from moving compared to packing the bag to its limit.

FAQs

How much should a hiking backpack cost?

Depending on the size and weight, you could be looking to spend anything from 65-200 dollars.

For a good do it all daypack that will last you a long time, I would set your budget at around the 150-175 mark.

What is the most comfortable hiking backpack?

Many hiking backpacks are gender specific. This is not just a marketing tactic to sell different color packs to men vs. women.

These differences are to account for different body structures and to make the packs as comfortable as possible for the user.

What are the different sizes of hiking backpacks?

Some backpacks have different sizes in addition to maybe having different versions for different sexes.

Ensuring that you buy the correct size backpack for your torso length. Most manufacturers will have measurement instructions and size guides on their websites for reference.

You could also go into an outdoor retailer like REI or a local outdoor store and get fitted for packs free of charge.

When looking at packs online the two most important measurements to have are going to be your hip measurement and your torso measurement.

Your torso measurement is often what might be more important because if that is fitted the hip belt should work, although it is safest to make sure.

Measuring your torso you will want to have a friend measure from your C7 vertebra down to the vertebra on the same horizontal plane as your hip bones.

When you’re finding your hip measurement, a common mistake could be that you use your pant size and just assume that your pant size correlates to a pack.

It doesn’t, you want to measure at the front top edge of your hip bone, usually a couple of inches down from your belly button.

For measuring yourself please refer to this helpful guide from REI or manufacturer-specific information like this Osprey guide.

The Final Verdict

If you’re hitting the trails or traveling to some great hiking destination, one of these packs will be perfect for you.

I love the Osprey Stratos for Men and Osprey Sirrus for Women as the perfect day hiking backpack.

With great ventilation, 7 pockets and superior comfort – it is the ultimate daypack.

Now get out there and enjoy a fun day on the trails!

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