Gear Guide: Best Daypacks for Hiking
A Good Daypack Can Make or Break a Hike
Just because you’re not out backpacking and spending nights in the wilderness doesn’t mean you don’t need a good pack to bring along on a hearty day-long hike. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes most casual hikers make is opting to not bring along some kind of backpack.
From lots of water to energy bars and trail mix to even biodegradable toilet paper (if you’re really that worried about grabbing poison ivy instead), these aren’t things you’re going to casually carry in your pockets.
Things to Look for in a Daypack
Not all daypacks are created equal. In fact, if you want to get really specific, you can probably find several different daypacks that fit many needs depending on the area, altitude, terrain, and weather that you’re hiking in.
This article won’t go that deep—instead, we’re going to find a few daypacks that are all-purpose and will work for you pretty much regardless of the circumstances.
There are several qualities to consider when you’re buying a daypack:
Ultralight packs tend to be ideal for most hikers. You don’t want to take a heavy pack, then fill it with more gear (including water, which simply isn’t lightweight), and sling it over your back to go hiking for miles upon miles. Starting low is usually the way to go. However, you can’t sacrifice weight for durability.
The material of your daypack affects a lot of the other characteristics of it: weight, durability, and weather resistance. Many ultralight and weather-resistant packs will be made of composite fabrics. However, in many cases, you’ll end up paying more for these as well.
Daypacks (and backpacks in general) are measured in liters. This is because to test them, manufacturers fill them with air—which is always measured in volume. Depending on your standard hike, you may want a larger or smaller bag to get you through.
Above all, your pack has to fit you perfectly and be comfortable on you as you hike no matter the terrain. Some packs have hip belts, while others have belts you can remove if they’re unnecessary. Otherwise, you should examine the padding on the pack as well. All of the factors of how the pack fits are important. You need to make sure it works with your body.
Best Daypacks for Hiking
Horn Hunter G2 Daypack
- Weight: 5 pounds
- Capacity: 26 liters
- MSRP: $124.99
Horn Hunter packs are made specifically for hunting (hence the camo). If you’re not a hunter, that shouldn’t stop you from exploring this bag. It’s a lightweight five pounds and made for hunters who are carrying an untold amount of gear around with them in the field. And while they may (or may not) be walking and carrying it with them all day, it’s still got to be light enough and weather-resistant enough to handle anything that cooler hunting seasons can throw at it. It also comes with 17 compartments so you can make sure your energy bars are far away from your bug spray.
Osprey Talon 22 Daypack
- Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Capacity: 22 liters
- MSRP: $120.00
Osprey is particularly well known for its bags, and the Talon 22 comes highly recommended for hiking. This obviously comes in ultra-lightweight, but perfectly balances function with comfort. It’s ventilated to help your back breathe, and padded hip belts and shoulder straps mean it stays fitted closely to you without tugging or shaking around too much. It loads up with somewhere between 10-20 pounds worth of gear, so it’s ideal for a nice, long day hike.
High Sierra Loop Daypack
- Weight: 2 pounds
- Capacity: 33 liters
- MSRP: $34.99
For capacity and price, it’s hard to beat the High Sierra Loop Daypack. Especially if you’re looking for something that doesn’t have to be fancy, and still gets the job done. While still being impossibly light at just over two pounds, it’s larger than several other daypacks at a significantly lower price. While you may lose a little bit of comfort—there’s no hip belt at all, for example—it’s great if you’re going short distances or, better yet, if you’re looking for a commuter bag.
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack
- Weight: 2.5 ounces
- Capacity: 20 liters
- MSRP: $39.95
It’s not fancy. And it doesn’t have to be incredible. At a practically weightless 2.5 ounces, Sea to Summit recommends packing it up to 15 pounds and says it will still be perfectly comfortable for a nice, long hike. It packs down to the size of a tennis ball when you’re not using it, which is great when your RV is otherwise loaded to the brim, and all of its stress points are reinforced to make sure nothing comes tumbling out unexpectedly. Plus, at under $40, it’s as versatile as it needs to be.
Granite Gear Crown2 60
- Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Capacity: 60 liters
- MSRP: $199.95
It’s not the cheapest or the smallest daypack on this list, but the Granite Gear Crown2 60 is an ideal daypack for hikes-that-turn-into-overnights, whether on purpose or accidentally. With a whopping 60-liter carrying capacity and a starting weight of just 2.2 pounds, you can go and go and go, and make sure you have all the necessities with you the whole time. It’s particularly ideal if you’re hiking with small children who haven’t graduated to carrying their own packs yet. It features their Re-Fit hip belt that adjusts to fit waists of all sizes and a removable lid that helps keep your contents dry in inclement weather.