Updated on March 30, 2021

When setting out for a day hike with the kids or a trip into the mountains with friends, you’re going to need a reliable pack to carry your equipment. Preferably something light, comfortable and with enough space for your needs. But the best day hiking backpack can be hard to find.

Searching for the perfect backpack can seem like a daunting task, but fortunately, our experts here at The Adventure Junkies have picked out the 10 best day hiking backpacks for you. Read through the list below to find out which is best for your next hiking adventure.

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out the Best Hiking Backpacks

 

Quick Answer - The Best Day Hiking Backpacks

  1. Osprey Talon 22
  2. REI Co-op Flash 18
  3. Salomon XA 25
  4. REI Co-op Traverse 35
  5. Osprey Daylite Plus
  6. Deuter Speed Lite 20
  7. Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil
  8. Osprey Tempest 20
  9. Gregory Inertia 20 Hydration
  10. Osprey Stratos 24

 

Comparison Table - Best Day Hiking Backpacks

PictureNameWeightVolumeGenderPriceRating
Osprey Talon 221 lb 12.6 oz22 LMen's$$$4.6
REI Co-op Flash 18REI Co-op Flash 189 oz18 LUnisex$4.4
Salomon XA 25Salomon XA 2515.6 oz25 LUnisex$$$4.3
REI Co-op Traverse 35REI Co-op Traverse 353 lbs 2 oz (M) 3 lbs 4 oz (L)35 L (M) - 37 L (L)Men's$4.5
Osprey Daylite PlusOsprey Daylite Plus1 lb 5 oz20 LUnisex$4.7
Deuter Speed Lite 201 lb 1 oz20 LUnisex$$4.7
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil2.5 oz20 LUnisex$4.5
Osprey Tempest 201 lb 10.2 oz20 LWomen's$$$4.6
Gregory Inertia 20 Hydration1 lb 6.6 oz20 LMen's$$4.6
Osprey Stratos 242 lbs 12 oz24 LMen's$$$4.6
PictureNameWeightVolumeGenderPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - Best Day Hiking Backpacks

Osprey Talon 22

Specs
  • Gender: Men's
  • Weight: 1 lb 12.6 oz
  • Pockets: 7
  • Volume: 22 L
Features
  • External Hydration Sleeve
  • Helmet Attachment
  • Hipbelt Pockets
  • Trekking Pole Attachment

BEST DAY PACK OVERALL

Equipped with seven exterior pockets and a trademark Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole attachment — a safe place to store your poles while hiking — the Osprey Talon 22 is the perfect day hike pack for a slow moving hiker. An external hydration sleeve saves space inside while hip belt pockets allow for quick access to energy bars or a compass.  

This is a great day pack for any hiker looking to carry some extra goodies for their friends. And with additional bungee tie-offs and an ice-axe loop, you can even take this on a more adventurous expedition as well.

REI Co-op Flash 18

Specs
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Weight: 9 oz
  • Pockets: 1
  • Volume: 18 L
Features
  • Converts into a stuff sack by turning it inside out
  • Detachable hipbelt and sternum strap
  • Hydration-compatible
  • Exterior zippered pocket
REI Co-op Flash 18

BEST FOR: HIKERS ON A BUDGET

You won’t find a higher quality daypack in its class that costs under $50. The Flash 18 is frameless by design, so it lacks the rigidity some other daypacks offer. This pack features breathable mesh and enough padding in all the right places — two aspects that combine to make carrying a light load as comfortable as it can be. What we like most about the REI Co-op’s Flash 18 daypack is how well built it is for something so affordable.

Salomon XA 25

Specs
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Weight: 15.6 oz
  • Pockets: 3
  • Volume: 25 L
Features
  • Removable belt
  • 2 front flask pockets with secure loops
  • Two soft flasks included
  • 1 external zipped pocket; 1 key holder; 2 front stretch pockets; inside pocket; waterproof compartment
Salomon XA 25

BEST FOR: ULTRALIGHT HIKERS

If you’re looking for a versatile, lightweight daypack you can slim down on short jaunts and expand open on long hikes, the Salomon XA 25 is the pack for you. The Salomon brand is regarded for its excellence in crafting lightweight trail running gear — and it implemented many similar design features into this daypack. The Salomon XA 25 effectively keeps your gear dry thanks to the waterproof main compartment. What we love most about this daypack is how well it’s designed to distribute loads across your torso.”

REI Co-op Traverse 35

Specs
  • Gender: Men's
  • Weight: 3 lbs 2 oz (M) 3 lbs 4 oz (L)
  • Pockets: 8
  • Volume: 35 L (M) - 37 L (L)
Features
  • Large zippered front pocket
  • On-the go bottle pockets
  • Integrated raincover
  • Hydration compatible
REI Co-op Traverse 35

BEST FOR: HAULING HEAVIER LOADS

If you’re looking for a burly daypack that prioritizes comfort and carrying capacity, the Traverse 35 is likely to meet your needs. This daypack is made from recycled fabrics and includes a steel internal frame that stabilizes heavy loads with ease. Its wire mesh frame makes for an all-around comfortable, modular product. What we like most about the Traverse 35 is the comfortable contoured hip belt and shoulder straps that boast just the right amount of padding.

Osprey Daylite Plus

Specs
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Weight: 1 lb 5 oz
  • Pockets: 5
  • Volume: 20 L
Features
  • Bluesign®-approved recycled fabrics
  • Adjustable sternum strap with whistle
  • Attaches to a variety of compatible Osprey packs
  • Dual water bottle side mesh pockets
Osprey Daylite Plus

BEST FOR: TOWN TO TRAIL USE

This lightweight pack isn’t feature-rich, but won’t leave you wanting for much on any short hike or jaunt around town. The Daylite Plus is a simple, streamlined pack designed with a minimalist suspension that’s comfy to wear for extended periods of time. What we like most about this daypack is the included internal padded laptop sleeve and plenty of pockets for organizing all your gear.

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Specs
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Weight: 1 lb 1 oz
  • Pockets: 4
  • Volume: 20 L
Features
  • Padded Back Panel
  • Removable Hipbelt
  • Helmet And Gear Loops

BEST FOR: OUTDOOR SPORTS

With 20 Liters of storage, the Deuter Speed Lite 20 is considered by hiking enthusiasts to have one of the best designs on the market. A padded back panel and specially crafted shoulder straps make this an incredibly comfortable backpack. And an external helmet attachment loop means that you can take this backpack out on your favorite sporting adventure, whether that’s climbing, mountain biking or treacherous hiking. Overall, the Deuter Speed Lite 20 is great for both beginners and experts.

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil

Specs
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Weight: 2.5 oz
  • Pockets: 1
  • Volume: 20 L
Features
  • Two-Way Zipper Closure
  • Stuff Sack For Easy Transportation
  • Reinforced Stitching For Lifelong Durability
  • Attachment For Bike Light

BEST FOR: FAST HIKERS

There’s a reason the Sea to Summit Ultra Sil won the Backpackers Editors’ Choice Gold Award in 2017. With the ability to withstand a load up to 250 times its own weight and then pack into a tennis-ball sized pocket afterwards, the Ultra-Sil is perhaps the sleekest, most streamlined day pack out there.

A specialized silicon fabric ensures strength and durability while reinforced shoulder straps give you the comfort you need. Note that this backpack is best for minimalist hikers with heavier loads. It’s even great for taking to the grocery store too!

Osprey Tempest 20

Specs
  • Gender: Women's
  • Weight: 1 lb 10.2 oz
  • Pockets: 7
  • Volume: 20 L
Features
  • External Hydration Sleeve
  • Helmet Attachment
  • Hipbelt Pockets
  • Trekking Pole Attachment

BEST FOR: EASY-GOING LADY HIKERS

Built especially for women, the Tempest 20 L pack offers everything the Men’s Talon 22 does. Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole attachments provide a safe place to store your poles while an external hydration sleeve saves space inside. As with the Talon, hipbelt pockets provide a space for quick-access items and an ice-axe loop and bungee tie-offs make this an expert bag as well. A female specific pack like the Tempest 20 can give you that extra boost of comfort needed for a long hike, no matter your age.

Gregory Inertia 20 Hydration

Specs
  • Gender: Men's
  • Weight: 1 lb 6.6 oz
  • Pockets: 5
  • Volume: 20 L
Features
  • Included 3L Hydro Reservoir (so you never have to worry about running out of water)
  • Magnetic Sternum Strap (for added support)
  • Trekking-pole Attachment (for easy storage of hiking poles)

BEST FOR: RESOURCEFUL HIKERS

With 15 L, 20 L, 25 L and 30 L models, the Gregory Inertia is one of the most equipped packs on the market. Known for its signature 3L Hydro reservoir, which is a drinking pouch included with the pack, the Gregory Inertia will keep you hydrated all day long.

Other cool features include a magnetic sternum strap which allows easy, one-handed buckling while hiking. Five exterior pockets grant more than enough room for quick-access storage and load-lifters, which adjust the position of the pack on your back, allow for you to optimize comfort.

This pack is decked out with everything you need and more. Its design is flawless and comfort well-matched. It’s best for anyone who doesn’t want to carry a water bottle.

Osprey Stratos 24

Specs
  • Gender: Men's
  • Weight: 2 lbs 12 oz
  • Pockets: 5
  • Volume: 24 L
Features
  • Integrated Raincover
  • Hipbelt Pockets
  • Internal Hydration Sleeve

BEST FOR: MINIMALIST HIKING

At 24 L of storage capacity, the Osprey Stratos 24 is the largest day pack we have on our list. Built for durability, the Stratos will last you long into your hiking years. With five exterior pockets and an integrated raincover, the pack safe-keeps your essentials in rain or shine. Adjustable straps and easy-access pockets help keep you moving at the pace you want as well.

Versatile, durable and spacious, this pack is best for someone hiking for years to come. With the ability to store enough equipment for a family day hike or a solo overnight trip, you’ll find it has more uses than just one.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A DAY PACK

Backpacks vary on many different features, so you should always take into account these considerations to find the best day hiking backpack for you. If you’re interested is some more information, read here about how to choose the right daypack for you.

 

INTENTION

You should first clarify your hiking intentions. Do you plan to hike along the beach? Into the mountains? Across a valley or into the forest? Whatever your dream destination, certain features will best align with that location. And more notably, with the level of activity you want to exert. Fast, highly active hikers often require specialized packs whereas slower hikers may want to look for trekking pole attachments and more exterior pockets.

 

VOLUME

How much space do you need? The difference between a 12 liter pack and a 24 liter pack could be the difference between a few days of storage if you pack well. So, make sure you know how long and how far you plan on trekking. If you have kids and you’re planning to carry their lunches, you may want a larger pack, whereas if you’re a solo hiker, a 12 or 13 liter pack will probably do the trick.

 

FEATURES

Once you start searching for your new pack, you’ll realize just how many features exist. From dual-zippered hip pockets to external hydration pouches and more, each backpack comes outfitted with more features than you can imagine. Once you’ve found one you like, make sure to check out every feature. Try to envision how you’d use each one. If there’s a specific feature you desire, then make sure your new backpack includes it.

 

COMFORT

In the end, comfort is everything. If you’re not comfortable on the trail, then you could become upset. And if you’re upset, then you’re missing out on the beautiful world around you. Make sure to read as many reviews as you can about the backpack you want to buy. To ensure comfortability, buy a pack that’s catered to your gender. Certain companies create male and female backpacks and if comfort is all that matters to you, then these may be your next best friend.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

BACK PANEL

The portion of the pack that presses up against your back during a hike. This may vary between solid and mesh lining. Mesh lining is often best as it allows for breathability, letting you move fast and sweat less.

HYDRATION POUCH/SLEEVE

An area designated for the storage of a water pouch, such as a CamelBak.

STERNUM STRAP

A thin strap that stretches across your chest from one shoulder strap to the other. It often helps shift the weight off your back and onto your shoulders.

LOAD LIFTERS

These are small straps that attach from the top of your pack to your shoulder straps. Tightening and loosening them will adjust how the pack’s weight falls on your back.

TREKKING POLE ATTACHMENT

A small feature, often a loop or clip, meant to hold and protect your trekking poles when you’re not using them.

ICE-TOOL LOOP

A small strap that helps to hold an ice-axe or similarly shaped tool in place while hiking.

BUNGEE TIE-OFFS

An external cord often used to hold extra equipment in place.

HIP BELT

A thick strap that wraps around your hips and connects at the waist. It can help alleviate pressure off your back and stabilize your pack.

 

READ MORE

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About The Author

While at the University of Virginia, Nate studied Spanish literature and contemporary philosophy and started for its Division 1 lacrosse team. At 20 years old, he began writing about his experiences attempting the world’s most insane adventures. From backcountry skiing in Patagonia to living in a Brazilian favela and high-altitude ice climbing in the Himalaya, Nate sheds light on parts and cultures of the world that remain widely unknown. He’s been featured on the top-rated travel podcast Extra Pack of Peanuts and has published work in a variety of outdoor publications. Currently Nate works as a freelance writer and explorer and competes for the Israeli National lacrosse team at tournaments around the world. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Nepali and proficient in French and Arabic. This past Spring, Nate became the first ever foreigner to porter in the Himalaya.

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