Top Daypacks Reviewed

Whether you’re hitting the outdoors for a day hike, trail running, or just out of the house working or running around town, a daypack can be a great asset for keeping your stuff together and easily accessible.

On the trail, a daypack is a great place to store things like water, snacks, phone, and any other knick-knack you need to carry.

As opposed to a bigger, more robust camping backpack, a daypack can be more convenient for shorter trips.

There are plenty of great daypacks to choose from, many of which we rank and review below.

You are sure to find a nice variety of sizes and styles to choose from.

Even if you’re not on the trail and just traveling around a good daypack can work well as an on-flight carry on, or just toting around the city running errands.

For more information on daypacks along with tips on finding the best daypack for your next adventure check out “Best Ultralight Packable Daypack For Hiking and Living in 2019“.

 

 

Top Daypacks Rankings

  1. Gregory Mountain Products Zulu 30 Liter Men’s Day Hiking Backpack

  2. Editors Rating:
    (4.9 / 5)

    Best Ultralight Option

    Weight 2.7
    Capacity 30L
    Cubic Inches 1830"
    Torso Length 21.5"
    Current Price from $89.95
    Pros Ultralight at just under 3 pounds, Crossflo suspension for better weight distribution, integrated rain cover, ,
    Cons Not enough space for longer treks, Not great for taller backpackers, , ,
    Our Take:

    The Gregory Mountain Products Zulu 30 Liter Men’s Day Hiking Backpack is a dependable lightweight backpack perfect for the hiker who does a lot of day and overnight minimalist hikes.

    The bag itself is lightweight and will comfortably hold up to 25 pounds.

    The crossflo suspension really is one of the best ergonomic designs in the industry. A lot of daypacks don’t sit well, the Gregory Zulu 30 distributes weight along your back so flawlessly you’ll be amazed at how long you can hike without feeling any strain.

    The side pocket has enough room for your water bottle, flashlight or any other smaller items you’re toting with you.

    The hip belt pocket is perfectly placed and large enough to hold your GPS, phone or pocket camera while the attachments for poles are good for helping to lug items outside the bag.

    The front stuff pocket is almost like having another half backpack with you to put all of your more essential, need-right-now items.

    This can help save time instead of losing these things in the mess inside your bag. T

    here’s also a fully integrated rain cover built into the Zulu 30 for quick cover from bad weather almost instantaneously. For a small bag, the Gregory Zulu 30 really delivers.

    Read our full review of the Gregory Mountain Products Zulu 30 Liter Men’s Day Hiking Backpack


  3. The North Face Router Daypack

  4. Editors Rating:
    (4.9 / 5)

    Best Overall Option

    Weight 3.5 lbs
    Capacity 41L
    Cubic Inches 2501"
    Torso Length 21"
    Hydration Pack No
    Current Price from $132.99
    Pros Made with tough rip stop fabric, Plenty of pockets, dedicated laptop compartment alone with other separate compartments, Great backpack for travelers,
    Cons If the laptop compartment is full the space inside becomes limited., , , ,
    Our Take:

    The North Face Router Daypack is a great backpack to use as a flight carry-on or for the student who needs space and durability.

    The outer material is made from 500D Cordura® nylon matte ripstop fabric.

    This will add some toughness to the bag’s frame to help better secure all your stuff inside.

    This Northface daypack works great for business travelers with a dedicated, lie-flat, fleece-lined laptop compartment which allows for protected, checkpoint-friendly travel.

    The main compartment offers a ton of space for notebooks, supplies, food, and clothes.

    Along with the main compartment, there’s a secondary compartment that’s perfect for books and binders.

    There are even some extra pockets on the front for smaller items like earbuds and cell phone.

    There’s also a padded, fleece-lined sleeve to put a tablet or 15-inch laptop.

    The FlexVent suspension system including injection-molded shoulder straps, a padded mesh back panel with a spine channel and a wicking lumbar panel keep the bag contoured to your back while taking pressure off your shoulders.

    For a lightweight daypack the Router offers decent water resistance.

    If you get caught in some light rain your a spill it will hold up. J

    ust don’t plan on it doing a lot in bigger storms.

    You will get years out of this bag, even despite the abuse of the road.

    Read our full review of the The North Face Router Daypack


    Weight 4 lbs
    Capacity 21L
    Cubic Inches 1950"
    Torso Length 21"
    Hydration Pack Yes
    Current Price $189.99
    Pros Plenty of space for gear, Room for a 2L Hydration Pack, Great weight distribution, Comfortable ergonomic design, Convenient firearm compartments
    Cons Pistol holders a bit far back making them reaching them difficult, , , ,
    Our Take:

    The Badlands Superday Camouflage Hunting Backpack Daypack is a great pack for the lightweight hunter who wants comfort in a backpack along with a place to carry a bow or rifle.

    There are built-in holsters for a pistol on both sides.

    Actually carrying the bag on your back is fairly lightweight thanks to the padded hip belt.

    Along with the ThermoMold Suspension, this Badlands bag will ergonomically melt into your body while evenly distributing weight to keep any straining to a minimum.

    There are plenty of external and internal pockets to help keep all your gear organized.

    Not to mention there’s enough space to hold enough for a one or 2 day trip. You can really load this pack up to the brim and not feel any more pressure on your back.

    Even with a larger load, you won’t feel any extra pressure in the shoulder harness.

    There are a lot of longer straps flapping around, but these help add to the versatility and usefulness of the Badlands Superday Hunting backpack.

    Plant of strong zippers and buckles that can handle tough jobs.

    The camo design is perfect to keep you stealth and you can even fit in a 2L hydration pack.

    Read our full review of the Badlands Superday Camouflage Hunting Backpack / Daypack


  5. Osprey Escapist 18 Daypacks

  6. Editors Rating:
    (4.7 / 5)

    Best Value

    Weight 1.75
    Capacity 18L
    Cubic Inches 1098"
    Torso Length 15"
    Hydration Pack Yes
    Current Price from $142.92
    Pros Plenty of well-placed pockets, Great pack for bikers with plenty of reflectivity and biking convenience, , ,
    Cons Zipper problems, Some don't like the small shoulder harness pocket, , ,
    Our Take:

    The Osprey Escapist 18 Daypacks is a daypack built with the outdoorsman in mind but also integrates city-folk’s needs just the same.

    The bag isn’t large, however, if you only need it for a short hike or an airplane carry-on it will work perfectly.

    There’s a number of well-placed pockets inside and outside the pack and a zipper in the front to get into the bag without having to dig around from the front.

    For your tech needs, there’s a pocket for a small laptop or a tablet.

    The Escapist day bag has a lot of reflectivity on the exterior including a specific blinker attention to keep you in sight of cars on the road.

    Perfect for bike riders.

    The shoulder straps are foam with lots of holes cut into them for good ventilation and extra comfort.

    There’s a small pocket on one of the shoulder straps that works great for keys and small items.

    The mesh hip belts help keep the weight light on your back and the mesh coating makes it so they don’t get wet and gross.

    Each side has mesh pockets to fit a water bottle or small thermos, along with an external hydration pack in the back with easy hose accessibility.

    We loved this daypack.

    Read our full review of the Osprey Escapist 18 Daypacks


    Weight 1.85 lbs
    Capacity 15L
    Cubic Inches 915"
    Torso Length 17"
    Hydration Pack No
    Current Price from $99.95
    Pros Good backpack for working outside the office, Secure technology to secure valuables, Good amount of internal space and pockets, ,
    Cons Not waterproof, Stiffer than most bags, , ,
    Our Take:

    The Pacsafe Venturesafe 15L GII Anti-Theft Daypack is a great pack for traveling and working outside the office.

    Especially if security is your number one concern then this bag has your back.

    There’s a front pocket with RFID technology that will fit your wallet, passport, etc, along with the eXomesh Slashguard to protect the frame of the pack.

    Most importantly the bag actually sits quite comfortably on your back while evenly distributing the weight along your bike.

    Not to mention with a height of 17 inches you can fit a lot inside.

    You can fit a 13-inch MacBook with other supplies. Its a good bag for the gym or anywhere else you need to store essentials securely.

    Although you might notice some water seepage if it gets caught in a rainstorm, there is some light water resistance.

    Also, 2 water bottle holders are a huge plus!

    Highly recommend this pack for anyone who needs a more professional backpack along with travelers.

    Read our full review of the Pacsafe Venturesafe 15L GII Anti-Theft Daypack


  7. The North Face Jester Backpack

  8. Editors Rating:
    (4.3 / 5)

    Best Budget Option

    Weight 1.7 lbs
    Capacity 26L
    Cubic Inches 1586"
    Torso Length 19"
    Hydration Pack Yes
    Current Price from $46.95
    Pros Good daypack for holding smaller laptops and books, Bungee cords on the outside to carry extra easy external storage items, , ,
    Cons Weight distribution is inconsistent/can be uncomfortable,, Doesn't stand up straight when on the ground, , ,
    Our Take:

    The The North Face Jester Backpack is a nice daypack that will work for both the dayhiker and college student. The 26L bag includes a spacious main compartment along with several spacious interior pockets to fit smaller items.

    Students love the space for notebooks, textbooks, and a laptop although there are no pockets specifically for a laptop.

    There’s also a water bottle holder mesh pocket on both sides of the pack.

    The 600D polyester makes the bag tough as nails.

    Feel free to wear this outside as the bag includes side pockets for water bottles and external bungee cords to hold shoes and small dirtier items.

    Good space for a 32-ounce water bladder that sits firmly in place.

    The bungee straps on the outside can fit a number of things including a neck pillow for travelers looking for a versatile carry-on.

    There is mesh on the shoulder straps for extra padding and comfort alone with enhanced ventilation.

    It also comes in a number of different colors.

    Read our full review of the The North Face Jester Backpack


  9. Osprey Escapist 32 Daypacks

  10. Editors Rating:
    (4.1 / 5)

    Weight 1.7
    Capacity 32L
    Cubic Inches 1952"
    Torso Length 21"
    Current Price from $187.41
    Pros Ultralight 32L pack, Comfortable hip belt makes the daypack easier to lug, Can hold a lot of gear, ,
    Cons Hip Belt clip sometimes sticks and makes it hard to detach, , , ,
    Our Take:

    The Osprey Escapist 32 Daypacks is a great daypack for any short distance hikers, cyclists, and travelers who need a bigger, robust bag to fit everything while keeping all your stuff organized and in a specific place.

    Inside the pack, there are also specialized storage compartments to help keep things organized.

    The main compartment is big enough to store clothes, food, a laptop, etc…

    While there’s also a bottom compartment that can be used for a sleeping bag, shoes or anything else that you want to keep separated.

    The Escapist 32 also has an integrated rain cover which is convenient when the weather gets bad.

    The included hip belt will be used to transfer most of the weight of the pack to your hips.

    This will make lugging the pack around much easier on your whole body, especially if it’s well filled.

    There’s also a number of well-placed pockets on the outside of the hip belt that is perfect for carrying smaller items like your phone, GPS, small flashlight, headlamp, earbuds, whatever.

    The hip belts aren’t padded so they can chafe a bit.

    You’ll get extra comfort from the mesh-covered ridge foam back panel which provides ventilation and comfort along your back.

    This is good for those sweaty hikes or rides to help preserve your gear and your clothes. but otherwise, for a daypack, this bag gives you everything you need.

    Read our full review of the Osprey Escapist 32 Daypacks


  11. Osprey Packs Pixel Daypack

  12. Editors Rating:
    (4.1 / 5)

    Weight 1.9 lbs
    Capacity 22L
    Cubic Inches 1342"
    Torso Length 19"
    Hydration Pack No
    Current Price from $90.97
    Pros Good space for laptops, Good bag for students and photographers, , ,
    Cons Tablet pocket only big enough for a smaller 10" tablet, Bottom pocket hard to get to, , ,
    Our Take:

    The Osprey Packs Pixel Daypack is a stylish backpack for the 21st-century long-haul commuter, photographers, or anyone carrying a laptop and cords around.

    The pack is built with storing your tech in mind.

    There’s a specific compartment that fits a laptop, another for a tablet and even a tiny compartment that can fit a smartphone.

    A 13-15 inch laptop is optimal, however, a 17 inch will fit tightly.

    The main compartment is also very spacious with plenty of room for laptop accessories, camera, or any other lightweight equipment.

    The durability of this pack is as good as most other Osprey backpacks.

    This bag has a nice modern design with a flap that covers the main storage area, as opposed to a zippered book bag.

    The buckles will keep it securely fastened.

    The front pocket with a side zipper offers extra storage for smaller, more immediate items.

    Great daypack for students.

    Read our full review of the Osprey Packs Pixel Daypack


  13. Thule Subterra Daypack 25L

  14. Editors Rating:
    (3.9 / 5)

    Weight 2.35 lbs
    Capacity 25L
    Cubic Inches 1525"
    Torso Length 18.5
    Hydration Pack No
    Current Price from $102.92
    Pros Great city slicker bag, 25L with lots of pockets, Padded side pockets, Comfy and stylish to wear,
    Cons Shoulder straps are too thin and can break easily if bag is too full, , , ,
    Our Take:

    The Thule Subterra Daypack 25L is a great daypack for city slickers who have a lot to lug and are sticklers for organization.

    At 25L this bag is perfect for photographers, architects, and anyone who needs a sizable amount of space.

    This bag will provide comfort for your shoulders.

    There are a number of well-placed pockets of all different sizes to help your organization.

    This includes smaller to medium sized pockets on the sides and the front.

    These Molded SafeZone pockets are great for storing smartphone, sunglasses and other important items.

    There are also small pockets inside for pens, pencils, etc.

    The bag itself is big enough to fit some lightweight hiking gear, a padded laptop section to fit a 15-inch laptop, light clothes, and a camera and then there are even more pockets inside to keep smaller items separate.

    My favorite part of this bag is how it opens from the side.

    This eliminates time spent digging through the daypack from the top.

    This feature will make it easier for you to find whatever you’re looking for.

    The only downside is this bag is not waterproof at all and even a light shower will leave you with a slightly damp bag. Otherwise, the size and features are great.

    Even better, Thule honors a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty. Their bags are some of the best out there.

    Read our full review of the Thule Subterra Daypack 25L


Last update on 2019-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Daypacks Buying Guide 2019

How to Pick

Here are a few features that you may find useful in a daypack:

  • Hip Belt – Make the bag work for you while not exhausting yourself. Let the belt ride just above your hips for better weight distribution while your legs do most of the hauling. Extra padding is preferred.
  • Shoulder Straps – I recommend padded shoulder straps, especially if you’re planning on adding some weight to your pack.
  • Water Resistance/Rain Cover– Rain can be a bummer, even more so if it soaks the goodies inside your pack.
  • Front Loading– Being able to open your pack from the front is almost like having x-ray vision. While a lot of old school backpackers stick with their old top loaders, I’m not a huge fan of blindly feeling around my bag for something I need at that moment. At that point, it’s almost easier to just dump everything out and repack.
  • Stretch Mesh Side Pockets– Perfect for holding water bottles. Unless you get daypack with a hydration bladder, easy access to water bottles is essential.
  • Front Stash Pocket– It’s almost like having a second backpack

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Nick P

Nick spent his mostly unsupervised youth raising hell in the woods and ponds of 16 Acres in Springfield, MA (AKA Hell's Acres). He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and loves hitting the northeast trails when his schedule allows and camping on his roof deck when it doesn't.

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