Do you have a lot of items to carry and want to keep your hands free? If so, you should consider a day pack. Choosing the best day pack can be challenging because there are so many. Below, we have reviewed ten of the best current day packs. And here are the essential features you need:
• Durable construction that is weather resistant, but lightweight.
• Large enough to carry what you need, but not too bulky (between 20 and 45 liters).
• A Comfortable fit with easy adjustments.
• Easy to access and organize your stuff, including gear loops.
• Agua! It is great if it also accommodates your water bottle.
You will want to consider other features that are specific to activities such as hiking, snow sports, traveling and climbing, but these are the essential features we shall look at. Of course, price also plays a role in selecting the best day pack too, so let’s get started.
Organizing and carrying your stuff could not be more convenient than with the Maxpedition Falcon III. Within the median price range of day packs, this is a well known bag with a famous Y-shaped compression strap that has turned heads.
The construction of this 28L pack is 100% denier with a triple coating of polyurethane. Your Falcon III will not only keep the items inside it dry and protected, but it is durable enough to last and has a reinforced, waterproof bottom. Its form and structural integrity are enhanced by ergonomic straps that are well padded, easily adjusted and include sternum support to help prevent back pain. This pack is loaded with a large selection of compartments of various sizes. Among its most obvious features are five channels of MOLLE webbing, which allows you to add additional gear and accessories.
Though it has many positives, there are a couple of drawbacks. It doesn’t have a bottle holder, so you will have to rig something up on the MOLLE webbing. And its bulky look and feel might not appeal to everyone.
Those looking for a slender and lightweight day pack with an athletic design and feel will be impressed by the Deuter Speed Lite 20. Coming in at the lower end of the median price range of day packs, this is a back that is well suited for endurance sports, winter sports and climbers.
Weather resistance and durability are built into the lightweight material of this backpack. The straps on this pack are well padded and covered with breathable mesh material, but their most notable feature is the way that they cause the pack to hug your body. This close fit is essential for those engaged in sports where a flopping bag is not an option. Strong compression straps can attach gear such as snowshoes or a climbing pick, and this bag’s outer pockets easily fit a water bottle.
One drawback with this bag is organization: it is not compartmentalized. In addition, the sizing adjustments on this pack are a bit limited, and it has a plain, unfashionable design, which you may not want in an everyday or traveling day pack.
Another day pack designed with athletic activities in mind is the Osprey Talon 22. Mountaineering, cycling, hiking and skiing enthusiasts will love the streamlined design and close-fitting shape of this median priced day pack.
Lightweight 70D x 100D Nylon and a 420D Nylon bottom add durability to this 22L water resistant pack. The comfort and fit of this pack are its major strong points. Its padded straps and continuous hip belt add to its snug fit. Cooling mesh makes this pack a cooler wear. You get a wider range of torso size adjustment with this pack. This thing is loaded with compartments, stretchy pockets and gear loops for storing and attaching equipment, including zippered pouches on the hip belt. Hydration is taken care of with the Talon’s 3L capacity external bladder sleeve and stretchy pockets.
This is a day pack to get excited about, but the Talon lacks a rain cover, and it is set up as a specialized sporting pack, not well designed for an everyday or traveling backpack.
The Osprey Stratos 24 steps things up a notch when it comes to a sports style day pack. It has many of the same great features and benefits as the Talon 22, but it is larger and costs a bit more.
210D Nylon crosshatch and a 420D bottom make up the construction of this pack with 2L additional space compared with the Talon. The adjustment, fit, comfort, cooling and support features are the same as its little brother. You get the same compartments, stretchy pockets and gear loops with the Stratos as well. Where the two differ is that the Stratos’ 3L hydration bladder sleeve is internal rather than external, it has a vertical zippered front pocket, and it includes an integrated rain cover.
Believe it or not, the Stratos has a couple of drawbacks. Though it solves the Talon’s rain cover problem, the construction of this pack makes it twice as heavy, and it is pretty specialized as an athletic bag and not well suited for travel or everyday use.
This frame-style pack is more than .25 pounds lighter than the Stratos, which bears witness to the lightweight durability of its removable frame sheet. Comfort and support for all day hiking is a major positive of this day pack. It has a full hip belt, ergonomically curved straps and solid easy-adjustment fixtures. There is plenty of space to pack your gear and a variety of smaller pouches, stretchy pockets to accommodate smaller items and water bottles for quick access, and plenty of gear loops. An internal hydration bladder sleeve and port are also among the notable features of this pack.
For daily use on the street or for sports, the bulkiness of this pack is a big drawback. Additionally, this is a pretty pricey pack and it lacks a lot in versatility.
If you’re looking for a day pack that can be used every day, passing over the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil is a huge mistake. You will own an affordable pack that can go anywhere, whether packed on your back or collapsed.
This 20L day pack is constructed of very lightweight, siliconized Cordura fabric, making it weigh less than 2.5 ounces, but with decent durability built in. Bar tack reinforced stitching is used at all of its stress points to keep it from coming apart. It is water resistant and can be collapsed to the size of a 2” thick credit card, making it something you can carry with you in your bag, purse or brief case for use at your convenience.
We could highlight various drawbacks if we compared it with the others in this review, but we’ll just point out that this is a pack that fills a specific niche. It is not ideal for all day packing on a hiking trip or climbing a rock face, but as a convenient day bag for everyday use, it serves its purpose.
It is easy to get excited about the CamelBak Fourteener 24 if you are an outdoor sports enthusiast. You will pay a bit more for this day pack, but you get some incredible features and longevity out of it.
The 24L pack’s construction material is built to last. Featured on this pack are an NV comfort back panel, hip belt and shoulder straps, which are lined with bio-mesh specially designed for improved air movement and a cooler wear. You will have plenty of places to organize and store you gear, including a fleece-lined, protected pocket for items that need additional protection. Hydration is this pack’s strongest point, as it is equipped with a 3L capacity Crux CamelBak hydration system.
Access to some of the pouches is hindered by straps that cover their zippers. It lacks the ergonomic lines of some of the other packs, which takes away from comfort. This pack is great for outdoor sports enthusiasts; it isn’t as well suited for daily use and traveling.
Neither durability nor versatility are lacking in the design of the SOG Ninja day pack. You get a lot of value added space and storage options along with long-term wear from this budget priced pack.
The 24.2L pack’s 100% polyester canvas blend construction adds to its longevity. It features wider mesh-lined, yoke-style shoulder straps for a more comfortable, breathable wear. The Ninja is well-compartmentalized and comes with 6 channels of heavy-duty MOLLE straps for adding and configuring additional equipment. All in all, this is a versatile pack for daily, travel or outdoor sporting use with water resistance and easy access water storage.
There are a few drawbacks: the big Velcro patch at the top middle of the pack looks a little contrived, and the lack of torso height adjustment and a hip belt make this pack less attractive for longer trekking over rough terrain.
The Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 is sure to appeal to trekkers and hikers in a wetter climate. Plenty of additional, quality features also speak to the overall comfort, durability and value of this median price range pack.
Considering its heavy-duty construction and guaranteed water tight design, this pack is incredibly lightweight. It is built with ergonomically curved, padded shoulder straps, which are lined with breathable mesh for all-day comfort. The torso height adjustment for this pack is an added positive. Though not overly compartmentalized, this pack has plenty of unique pouches, pockets and loops to organize your gear. It rides well above a harness and it includes water bottle pockets making this a good hiking and trekking pack.
There is a tendency for the lid buckle to come undone when it is not fully packed. Other minor drawbacks are its lack of a hip belt, and it is designed more for hiking and not as a sporting and daily use.
A day pack that really does fit the needs of an everyday user is the Outlander Ultra Lightweight. For a budget price, you get water resistance and plenty of durability.
Constructed of tear and water resistant nylon, this 20L pack can handle daily wear and tear. Weighing less than half of a pound, the Outlander can carry your books or your laptop without killing your back. Featured on its ergonomically curved shoulder straps are layers of comfort-foam padding backed by breathable nylon mesh, which are bar-tack attached to prevent ripping. This pack includes organized storage in the form of zippered pouches and stretchy pockets to hold a water bottle for quick access.
Though billed as a hiking day pack, it lacks some of the comfort and gear loops necessary for serious hiking and climbing. Another drawback is that overstuffing this pack is likely to undo the zippers.