Best Hiking Daypacks of 2023
When you’re heading out for a fun day on the trail, it’s important to have all your essentials easily accessible. A good daypack should be comfy enough to wear all day, have convenient storage options, and provide enough support for the weight you plan to carry.
When you start your search for the perfect pack, you’ll see there are a ton of options available that all look very similar. We’ve put dozens of daypacks to the test over many years, and we’re confident that our experience and expert advice will help you find the best hiking daypack for your needs.
Check out this quick list of the best daypacks, or continue scrolling to see our full list of favorites with in-depth reviews.
- Best daypack overall:Osprey Talon 22 (men’s) / Tempest 20 (women’s)
- Best minimalist daypack:REI Flash 22
- Best budget daypack:Osprey Daylite Plus
- Best hydration pack:Gregory Citro 24 H20 (men’s) / Juno 24 H20 (women’s)
- Excellent balance of simplicity & support:Deuter Speed Lite 21
- Roomy daypack for travel & long hikes: REI Trail 40 Men’s / Women’s
- Supportive & well-ventilated pack for long hikes:Osprey Stratos 24 (men’s) / Sirrus 24 (women’s)
- Ultralight daypack with a large capacity:Six Moon Designs Wy’east
- Ultralight & packable daypack for short hikes:Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil
- Weather-resistant & durable daypack:Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak
What’s Most Important to You in a Hiking Daypack?
PRICE – A high-quality daypack can be expensive, but it’s worth the cost to get a pack that’s comfortable, has useful pockets, and is durable enough to last for years. We recommend spending a bit more if you’re able as it will be cheaper than replacing a worn out or inconvenient daypack in the long run.
- Best budget hiking daypacks
- Best mid-range daypacks
- Best high-end daypack
Capacity – For short day hikes on well-established trails, a lightweight minimalist pack with a capacity around 20L may be all you need. If you’re a peak bagger, in an area with unpredictable weather, or you like spending long days on the trail, you’ll likely want a pack with more support and capacity (30-40L).
- Best daypacks for short day hikes
- Best daypacks for long day hikes
WEIGHT – When you’re just out for the day, weight isn’t as big of a concern and you can pack along a few extra luxuries. That said, we still recommend keeping your load as light as possible to reduce strain on your muscles and joints.
Sometimes your adventure will call for heavier/bulkier gear, like when you’re heading deeper into the backcountry, traveling over snow, or carrying equipment for summiting mountains. If this describes the majority of your hiking trips, you should consider one of the more supportive daypacks below.
- Best ultralight daypacks
- Most supportive daypacks
Daypack Comparison Table
|1. Osprey Talon 22
|2. REI Flash 22
|3. Gregory Citro 24 H20
|4. Deuter Speed Lite 21
|5. REI Trail 40
|6. Osprey Stratos 24
|7. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak
|8. Osprey Daylite
|9. Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil
|10. Six Moon Designs Wy’east
Best Hiking Daypacks of 2023
BEST DAYPACK OVERALL FOR COMFORT & FUNCTIONALITY
WEIGHT: (L/XL) 2 lb. 0.6 oz. / (M/L) 1 lb. 14.6 oz.
CAPACITY: 22L / 20L
PROS: Comfortable, padded/ventilated back panel, supportive, good organization, large/convenient opening for main compartment, helmet clip for commuting, good value, durable, external hydration sleeve, inclusive sizing
CONS: Heavier than some, a bit expensive
BOTTOM LINE: The Osprey Talon 22 (men’s) and Tempest 20 (women’s) are two of our all-time favorite daypacks due to their exceptional comfort and versatility. With cushy hipbelts, padded shoulder straps, and ventilated back panels, these packs form nicely to the body and ride comfortably on trail.
The Talon and Tempest are suitable for a wide array of activities – they have plenty of room for a full-day hiking adventure, convenient storage compartments to keep you organized on trail or around town, and a bike helmet attachment for using them as commuter bags. They’re also the only daypacks on our list that have an exterior hydration sleeve. This design makes it far easier to check how much water you have left and refill your reservoir since you don’t have to pull all of your other gear out to access an internal sleeve.
While the price of the Talon and Tempest are on the higher end for daypacks, Osprey is known for producing high-quality backpacks and these two are no exception. We think they’re worth every penny if you’re after a do-it-all workhorse that can take you from forest paths to city streets.
BEST MINIMALIST DAYPACK
WEIGHT: 14 oz.
PROS: Affordable, ultralight, good organization for a minimal design, removable hipbelt, comfortable, packable, plenty of color & pattern choices
CONS: Not as supportive as some
BOTTOM LINE: We’re not kidding when we say hardly a day goes by where we don’t see at least one person rocking an REI Flash 22 on trail or around town. This daypack is incredibly popular due to its affordable price, ultralight design, and smart pocket layout. On top of that, it’s offered in a wide variety of colors and patterns to show off your personal style.
Between all of us on the CleverHiker team, we probably own about six of these and use them all the time for everything from short hikes where we don’t need to pack a lot of extras to quick grocery runs. For full-day adventures, you may want a pack with a more substantial hipbelt and carrying capacity. But we often find that a small pack like the Flash 22 is all we really need.
Despite its minimal structure, the Flash 22 is surprisingly comfortable and convenient. The water bottle holsters are easy to reach, the zippered pocket on the top lid is perfect for storing small items we need often, and there’s enough structure in the back panel and hipbelt to feel comfortable for long periods. We love this little daypack and and we think you will too.
BEST BUDGET DAYPACK
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 5 oz.
PROS: Affordable, lightweight, versatile, comfortable/supportive, durable, removable hipbelt
CONS: Compression strap design isn’t our favorite
BOTTOM LINE: The Osprey Daylite Plus is a sleek and affordable daypack with a comfortable design. Its versatility makes the price tag even more appealing since it’s well-suited for use around town, on short-moderate length day hikes, and during travel.
We find the organizational features on the Daylite Plus to be better than most other daypacks of this size. Five external pockets allow you to keep small items secure, orderly, and easy to access on the go. The construction on the Daylite is very high-quality, and its sturdy materials provide above-average durability. So it’s a standout choice for those wanting a single do-it-all bag that will hold up to hard use.
With an internal padded sleeve that works for a hydration bladder or a laptop, clip-on compatibility with many Osprey travel bags, and a durable build, there’s something for everyone to love in the Daylite Plus. Whether you’re trekking the trails or strolling the streets, we highly recommend this affordable and comfortable bag.
BEST HYDRATION DAYPACK FOR HIKING
WEIGHT: 2 lbs. / 1 lb. 15 oz.
PROS: Hydration bladder included, very comfortable, supportive, transfers weight to hips well, good organization, large/convenient opening for main compartment, durable, plus size available
CONS: Heavier than some, expensive (but includes a water bladder), side pockets are tight for wide bottles
BOTTOM LINE: The Gregory Citro 24 H20 (men’s) and Juno 24 H20 (women’s) are our favorite hydration packs overall because they have just enough support to transfer weight to your hips for a very comfortable carry. But they’re still relatively light and streamlined compared to other daypacks with a similar capacity – especially when you consider the fact that they include a hydration bladder.
They have a ton of useful pockets including large and small zippered compartments, hipbelt pockets, and a stretchy front mesh pocket to name a few. We tend to prefer daypacks with zippered main compartments like this – as opposed to backpacks with the drawstring and top lid design – since they’re quicker and easier to get in and out of.
And of course we can’t forget about the hydration reservoir. The Citro and Juno come with one of the best hydration bladders out there, the Gregory 3D Hydro. We’re big fans of this reservoir because it’s durable and exceptionally easy to keep fresh and clean.
EXCELLENT BALANCE OF SIMPLICITY & SUPPORT
WEIGHT: 15.2 oz.
PROS: Affordable, durable, comfortable, ultralight, padded back panel, removable hipbelt, large/convenient opening for main compartment, good ventilation
CONS: Front stash pocket is somewhat inconvenient to access
BOTTOM LINE: The Deuter Speed Lite 21 is comparable in size, shape, and comfort to the REI Flash 22, but it features more padding and better durability. It’s a fairly simple pack, but the lightweight design is perfect for short hikes where you’re only taking a few essentials.
The Speed Lite comes with a basic removable hipbelt to keep your load stable when scrambling, and the mesh back panel provides ample ventilation for when things start to heat up. Overall, we like the storage design of the Speed Lite with its large main pocket, but we wish the front stash pocket was a bit easier to access. The small opening on this mesh pocket keeps gear more secure, but it leaves you having to feel around for items since you can’t easily see inside.
We think the Speed Lite 21 goes toe-to-toe with the Flash 22 for the best small daypack design. If you’re after more durability and cushion, go with the Speed Lite. If ultimate simplicity and low weight is what you want, choose the Flash 22.
ROOMY PACK THAT’S GREAT FOR TRAVEL & LONG DAY HIKES
WEIGHT: 3 lbs.
PROS: Excellent pocket organization, large/convenient opening for main compartment, durable, spacious, supportive hipbelt, good value, rain cover included
CONS: Heavy, more room than necessary for short hikes
BOTTOM LINE: The REI Trail 40 (view women’s) is a great choice for those who need one pack that can do it all. This is the roomiest backpack on our list, and it’s also one of the most durable and comfortable.
The supportive hipbelt makes the Trail 40 one of the best options on our list for hikes where you need to carry a little extra weight. The wrap-around zipper on the main compartment makes it easy to pack and access your items when traveling. The Trail 40 can even work as a school backpack because of all the organizational pockets and the padding on the back.
The only reason the Trail 40 didn’t rank higher is because it’s a bit large and heavy for most casual day hikes, but it’s still versatile enough to be practical in many situations. If you’re looking for something smaller – and don’t mind less cushioning – the Trail Pack also comes in a 25L size for men and women.
SUPPORTIVE & WELL-VENTILATED HIKING DAYPACK FOR LONGER HIKES
WEIGHT: 2 lbs. 12 oz. / 2 lbs. 12 oz.
PROS: Very comfortable, supportive, transfers weight to hips well, good pocket organization, durable, excellent ventilation, rain cover included
CONS: Expensive, we would prefer a mesh front pocket over the zippered pocket, heavier than some
BOTTOM LINE: The Osprey Stratos 24 (men’s) and Sirrus 24 (women’s) have some of the most comfortable frames of any daypacks we’ve tested, hands down. Their stretch-mesh back panels feel cushy against the back and seamlessly transition into their hipbelts for excellent weight transfer.
These packs have a solid organizational system with convenient gear storage pockets, two hipbelt pockets, and easy-to-reach water bottle holsters. We’re not the biggest fans of the zippered front panel pocket, as we find stretch mesh to be more accessible. But many hikers will love this zippered design because it keeps items more secure.
Featuring Osprey’s popular Airspeed suspension system, The Stratos 24 and Sirrus 24 are exceptionally comfortable and well-ventilated daypacks built for extended adventures. If you need extra support for carrying heavier loads, these backpacks are going to be tough to beat.
ULTRALIGHT PACK FOR LONG DAY HIKES & QUICK OVERNIGHTS
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 9 oz.
PROS: Ultralight, frame is a removable sit pad, shoulder strap pockets, roomy, durable, affordable for the specs, highly water-resistant
CONS: Wide shoulder straps don’t sit well on all body types, more room than necessary for short hikes
BOTTOM LINE: The Six Moon Designs Wy’east is one of the lightest daypacks we’ve tested with this much capacity, and it’s loaded with convenient features. This pack is great for long hikes when you need to carry bulky items, and it can even work as an overnight bag for those with truly ultralight setups.
The Wy’east comes with two useful shoulder strap pockets and the frame doubles as a foam sit pad. Our one gripe with this bag is that the shoulder straps are a bit wide, so it’s not a great fit for those with narrow shoulders or small frames.
For a 30L daypack, the Wy’east is quite affordable, especially considering how light it is and that it’s highly water-resistant. Ultralight hikers looking for the perfect go-between for big mile day hikes and short overnights can’t go wrong with the Wy’east.
ULTRALIGHT & PACKABLE DAYPACK FOR SHORT HIKES
WEIGHT: 2.5 oz.
PROS: Ultralight, very compact (folds to about the size of a Clif Bar), affordable
CONS: Less durable than others, only has one pocket, no structure, can be uncomfortable if not packed well
BOTTOM LINE: The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil daypack is a different type of backpack than the others on this list – it’s essentially a nylon stuff sack with a zipper and two shoulder straps. This simple design isn’t great for long days on the trail, but it’s very convenient for travel and short hikes.
The Ultra-Sil’s best assets are how lightweight and compressible it is. This makes it easy to throw in a large suitcase or backpack when heading out on longer trips. You can then deploy this little pack when you want to leave the rest of your gear behind for a bit.
The Ultra-Sil only has one pocket and no frame, so packing it carefully is a must for comfort. We usually put a clothing layer inside the pack against our back for cushioning, and it works great. This little pack is simple, but it’s also highly packable and very useful. If you keep the load light, you’ll hardly notice it on your back.
HIGHLY WEATHER-RESISTANT & DURABLE HIKING DAYPACK
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 4.3 oz.
PROS: Ultralight, highly water-resistant, durable, large/convenient opening for main compartment, supportive/stashable hipbelt, high-quality materials/construction
CONS: Expensive, no hydration bladder pocket
BOTTOM LINE: The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak is a tough, ultralight daypack built for a full day on the trail if your gear needs are minimal. Though not fully waterproof, the Daybreak is the most weather-resistant pack on this list and will shed moderate precipitation with ease.
The Daybreak is so expensive because it’s made of DCH, but that’s also what makes it so light, durable, and weather-worthy. Though it’s listed at 23L, the Daybreak feels roomier than that. The massive front pocket provides quick access to extra layers in areas where weather can change quickly, and the main compartment opens wide for convenient storage of other essentials.
Though the cost of this pack will be prohibitive for some, the Daybreak is a well-constructed, tough-as-nails ultralight daypack.
Critical Daypack Considerations
CAPACITY– The capacity of a daypack is typically measured in liters. Most daypacks have capacities ranging from around 10L-35L. Daypacks with a 20-30L capacity tend to be the most popular because they offer enough room for a variety of outdoor adventures and have plenty of space for the10 day hiking essentials.
ORGANIZATION– Most daypacks have a large top-loading compartment for storing the majority of your gear. We prefer those that have additional organization pockets to make it easy to compartmentalize and access gear. Many daypacks also have a front mesh stash pocket, which we find very convenient for storing gear we use often, like a raincoat, water filter, or hat and gloves.
FRAME– Some ultralight daypacks with lower capacities are frameless, meaning they have little to no structure to disperse weight between your back and hips. Frameless packs are highly portable and handy for quick trips, but packs with padding, a frame, and a hipbelt are better for longer adventures with heavy loads when you’ll need more support.
BACK PANEL & VENTILATION – Some daypacks have a mesh back panel design, which allows for more airflow and ventilation on the trail. Your back is still going to get sweaty, but many hikers find those types of frames to be more comfortable. Packs with simple back panel designs (ex: Flash 22) usually incorporate foam padding for comfort and add grooves to help with ventilation. Both designs work well in our opinion.
HIPBELT– A hipbelt’s primary function is to distribute the weight of your pack to your hips, which helps alleviate strain on your shoulders. Some hipbelts also have convenient pockets, which provide easy access to items you’ll want readily available on the trial (snacks, sunscreen, lip balm, phone, etc.) Most minimalist daypacks forego hipbelts, but some have a simple nylon strap to add a bit of stability and weight transfer. For full-day excursions, we prefer daypacks with more substantial hipbelts.
STERNUM STRAP– Sternum straps are included on almost all daypacks. They give you the option to connect your shoulder straps across your chest for a more secure feel. It’s a nice touch when the sternum strap has an elastic section for a little give and the clip has an emergency whistle built in.
HYDRATION COMPATIBILITY–Water bottles and hydration bladders are the two most common ways to stay hydrated on the trail. If you prefer drinking from a reservoir (aka bladder), make sure to get a daypack that has a hydration port and a reservoir pocket. In general, we prefer the ease and convenience of water bottles, but sometimes a water bladder can be nice for day hiking. We also have a great list of the Best Hydration Packs if you want a daypack that comes with a hydration system.
WATER BOTTLE HOLSTERS – Hydration is key while hiking, so if you’re not using a hydration bladder, your water bottles should always be easy to access from your side pockets. Some minimalist ultralight packs don’t have water bottle pockets (ex: Flash 18), which is far less convenient in our opinion.
WATERPROOFING – Most daypacks don’t offer much water protection on their own. Your pack will likely shed a light drizzle with no problem, but water will seep through your backpack’s seams and work its way into your gear with prolonged exposure. Some daypacks come with pack covers, but they don’t provide full protection and will eventually fail in heavy rain too.
We recommend packing your gear in waterproof stuff sacks or Ziploc bags inside your pack. You can also line the inside of your backpack with a strong trash bag to keep all your stuff dry. The HMG Daybreak is the closest thing we’ve found to a waterproof daypack, but we still play it safe with our most important gear.
Need More Gear Advice?
If you liked this list, you’ll love the CleverHiker Gear Guide where we test and recommend tons of outdoor adventure gear from a variety of categories. here are some links to popular articles:
Why Trust Us?
We fully understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we built CleverHiker. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these guides very seriously. Here are some of the reasons you can trust us:
- Our choices are completely independent and based on personal experience.
- We’ve logged over 10,000 trail miles and test outdoor gear for a living.
- We own and field test every product we recommend, which is sadly not the norm.
- We travel to industry trade shows to learn about upcoming product innovations.
- We constantly update our guides when new products launch.
- We treat our recommendations as if they were for our family and friends.
- We’re lifelong learners and we’re always open to constructive criticism. If you think we’ve missed a product or got something wrong, we’d love to hear your feedback.
We hope this guide helps you find the perfect gear for your needs. If you have more questions or a suggestion, we’d love to hear from you! Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on our latest posts then visit our Facebook page and Instagram to join the community conversation.
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Thanks for reading and happy trails!
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