Best Camping/Hiking Day Pack – Reviews and Guide 2020

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Last Update: 16.Feb.2020

Best Choice Go to Amazon Shop

Deuter Speed Lite 20

The Deuter Speed Lite 20 Backpack is an ultralight, speed-friendly pack that will hold your essentials and keep you zipping up switchbacks—you'll just have to worry about your buddies keeping up. The wraparound compression straps minimize your pack's profile, reducing excess jostling when you're going fast, and the athletic V-shape keeps the center of gravity high for optimum movement. Ventilated mesh at the back and along the shoulder straps keep you cool and dry from trail head to lunch stop, and if you need to verify you're on the right path while you're waiting for your crew to catch up, stretch pockets provide easy access to your map and an energizing snack to keep you going.
Best Choice Go to Amazon Shop

Osprey Talon 22 Pack

Whether you're in the middle of an adventure race, or just working your way through a typical weekend day, the Osprey Talon 22 Backpack is an excellent lightweight carrier for your gear and water along the way. This panel-loading backpack holds up to twenty pounds of gear, while its mesh-padded shoulder straps and hip-belt wrap you in breathable, cushioned comfort. The hip-belt's ErgoPull adjustment makes it easy to tighten or loosen on the fly, and the shoulder straps, harness position, and sternum strap can also be adjusted for a perfect fit tailored to your anatomy and load.

by Willie Test

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Last Update: 16.Feb.2020

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a daily adventurer, there’s nothing better than having a quality day pack to take with you into the mountains. The best day hiking backpack is just large enough to carry all of the gear you need without weighing you down, enabling you to take on light and fast missions in the alpine or a nice stroll through your backyard trails.

But, finding just one small daypack for your outdoor adventures is a difficult task. With so many different options out there, how do you choose just one?

Thankfully, we’re here to help. Coming up, we’ve got the ultimate buyer’s guide to the best daypacks for hiking, complete with all of the advice you need to choose the right model for your needs.

Osprey Talon 22 Pack

The Osprey Talon 22 pack will quickly become your go-to panel-loading carry solution for day hiking, peak bagging and biking.
Whether you're in the middle of an adventure race, or just working your way through a typical weekend day, the Osprey Talon 22 Backpack is an excellent lightweight carrier for your gear and water along the way. This panel-loading backpack holds up to twenty pounds of gear, while its mesh-padded shoulder straps and hip-belt wrap you in breathable, cushioned comfort. The hip-belt's ErgoPull adjustment makes it easy to tighten or loosen on the fly, and the shoulder straps, harness position, and sternum strap can also be adjusted for a perfect fit tailored to your anatomy and load.
Go to Amazon Shop
  • Technical specs

Best Use

Hiking

Bag Style

Backpack

Frame Type

Internal Frame

Weight

M/L: 1 lb. 12.6 oz., S/M: 1 lb. 5.4 oz.

Gear Capacity (cu. in.)

M/L: 1,343 cubic inches, S/M: 1,220 cubic inches

Gear Capacity (L)

M/L: 22 liters, S/M: 20 liters

Adjustable Torso Length

Yes

Material(s)

Nylon

Pack Access

Panel

Number of Exterior Pockets

7

Hipbelt

Yes

Hipbelt Pockets

Yes

Hydration Compatible

Yes

Dimensions

20 x 11 x 11 inches

Gender

Men's

Pros

External hydration sleeve

Ice-tool loop with bungee tie-offs

Comfortable

Well ventilated

Cons

Side mesh pockets are debatably small

Deuter Speed Lite 20

A great pack for adventure races, alpine climbs, short ski tours or summit pushes, the Deuter SpeedLite 20 pack makes it a breeze to get packed and move freely through rugged environs.
The Deuter Speed Lite 20 Backpack is an ultralight, speed-friendly pack that will hold your essentials and keep you zipping up switchbacks—you'll just have to worry about your buddies keeping up. The wraparound compression straps minimize your pack's profile, reducing excess jostling when you're going fast, and the athletic V-shape keeps the center of gravity high for optimum movement. Ventilated mesh at the back and along the shoulder straps keep you cool and dry from trail head to lunch stop, and if you need to verify you're on the right path while you're waiting for your crew to catch up, stretch pockets provide easy access to your map and an energizing snack to keep you going.
Go to Amazon Shop
  • Technical specs

Best Use

Hiking

Bag Style

Backpack

Frame Type

Internal Frame

Gear Capacity (L)

20 liters

Gear Capacity (cu. in.)

1,220 cubic inches

Weight

1 lb. 1 oz.

Fits Torso Length (in.)

Unavailable

Material(s)

Dynajin 210-denier nylon/closed-cell foam

Frame Material

Delrin

Number of Stays

1 peripheral hoop

Pack Access

Panel

Number of Exterior Pockets

4 + main compartment

Hipbelt

Yes

Hydration Compatible

Yes

Dimensions

18 x 10 x 7 inches

Gender

Unisex

Pros

Zippers with finger-pull loops

Lightweight

Reinforced base aids in carrying bulky loads and helps protect your pack

Cons

Front pocket is difficult to get into

Patagonia Nine Trails 28

If you can open up a trail guide, you can open the Patagonia Nine Trails 28L pack. Its U-shaped main zipper opens wide so you can get to your gear quickly without unstuffing everything inside.
You're going to need to be at the trailhead at first light if you're going to make it to the summit and back before sunset, and you're going to want the Patagonia Nine Trails 28L Backpack to haul everything you need for the long day ahead. Sized for a full day in the mountains, this pack features a clever extended U-shaped zipper that access the entire main compartment at once so you don't have to pull everything out to find what you're looking for. A large stretch pocket on the exterior of the pack keeps your rain shell close at hand, and multiple stash pockets keep sunscreen, lip balm, and headlamps in order.
Go to Amazon Shop
  • Technical specs

Best Use

Hiking

Bag Style

Backpack

Frame Type

Frameless

Gear Capacity (L)

28 liters

Weight

2 lbs. 3.3 oz.

Fits Torso Length (in.)

Unavailable

Fits Waist/Hips

Unavailable

Material(s)

Cordura ripstop nylon/polyester lining

Pack Access

Top/front

Number of Exterior Pockets

Unavailable

Hipbelt

Yes

Hipbelt Pockets

Yes

Hydration Compatible

Yes

Dimensions

Unavailable

Gender

Men's

Pros

Zipper extends down the pack for easy access

Light, durable 210-denier Cordura® ripstop nylon

Lightweight

Cons

Expensive

Advantages of using daypacks

A hiking day pack is an incredibly useful tool, but if you’ve never used one before, we understand if you don’t quite get what’s so great about them. Let’s start with discussing what a daypack actually is.

Put simply, a daypack for hiking is a small backpack that’s designed to carry your extra clothing, food, water, and survival gear for a short trip into the mountains. While not explicitly meant for overnight backpacking, some ultralight enthusiasts enjoy using lightweight hiking daypacks because they are small and don’t put a huge burden on your back.

When compared to a proper backpacking pack, daypacks are much smaller and much lighter. While the average lightweight daypack tips the scales at just around 1-2 pounds, a backpacking pack can be as heavy as 7 pounds. That’s quite a difference.

Plus, the best daypacks are often very breathable and designed for comfort. This means they can help keep you cool, even as you charge uphill during those steep climbs. Ultimately, a daypack is a great option for anyone looking to get outside without feeling weighed down by their gear.

Types of daypacks

While a daypack is an awesome piece of gear, there are actually many different types of packs out there. So, when looking for the model that’s right for you, it’s important to be well-versed in the lingo surrounding daypacks. Here are some of the most popular options:

Panel-loading

A panel-loading hiking day pack is one that looks and operates much like the kind of backpack you’d take to school as a kid. Built with a number of different compartments, each with their own large U-shaped zipper, a panel-loading daypack makes organization a breeze.

However, thanks to all these different sections, it can be tricky to pack a larger object into a panel-loading daypack. Additionally, the additional number of zippers and all that extra fabric means that panel-loading daypacks tend to be the heaviest of the bunch.

Top-loading

The top-loading style is more commonly found on larger backpacking packs but is becoming more and more popular amongst the day hiking crowd. This kind of daypack looks more like a single large tube with a cinch closure at the top.

Sometimes, these packs even have a small floating lid – called a “brain” that provides extra storage space at the top. Often, top-loading packs are some of the best day hike backpacks because their design makes loading gear very simple. But, some people dislike the lack of extra pockets in these packs, preferring the panel-loading designs instead.

Activity-specific

While some of the most popular day hiking packs are generalists, a rising number of packs are being designed specifically for particular activities. Some packs are made for climbers in mind, with ice axe loops and helmet straps, while others are for trail runners or bikers.

Our advice? Unless you’re looking to accumulate a quiver of packs, you’ll be better off with a more generalist daypack. Then, over time, you can buy new specialized packs to add to your gear closet as you get involved in a diversity of activities.

What to look for when buying a daypack

Buying a daypack is no easy feat. When you go shopping for a new pack, you need to fully understand all of the features of your gear before you spend your hard-earned money. Here are some things to look out for:

Ideal Size (Capacity)

Every daypack is built to a different size, so you’ll need to find the one that’s sufficient for your needs. Generally, the best backpacks for day hikes are between 20 and 40L in carrying capacity.

However, some day hikers can get away with a pack that’s between 10L and 20L, while climbers and mountaineers often need more space in their packs. Thus, you need to take a moment to consider your packing needs before you invest.

Weight

No one likes carrying around a brick of a backpack. That’s why some of the best day packs for hiking are made with lightweight materials that help reduce their overall burden on your body. However, it’s important to keep in mind that packs made with lightweight materials tend to be less durable and more expensive than their heavyweight counterparts, so there’s always a tradeoff.

Hipbelt and Shoulder Straps

Traditional hiking daypacks have well-padded shoulder straps that help reduce chafing and pressure on your shoulders after miles on the trail. Additionally, these packs also generally come with moderately padded hip belts that help transfer weight off of your shoulder and onto your hips.

However, many new daypacks are being designed without hipbelts to help cut weight. This is more common among backpacks that are designed more for use in urban environments than those that are purpose-built for outdoor adventure. If you’re looking to get out on longer hikes, though, a hipbelt can make a world of difference.

Daypack Frames Types

These days, daypacks are most commonly built with internal frames, which means that the structural aspects of the pack are built-into the fabric itself. This makes the packs less bulky and more lightweight, though it does mean that they tend to be less breathable around the back panel area.

Alternatively, you can get an external frame pack that has metal stays built outside the fabric to provide support. These packs are becoming less common over time, though, as they are generally heavier and bulkier than the interior frame alternatives.

Back Panel and Ventilation

No one likes a sweaty back. With a poorly ventilated daypack, however, a sweaty back is nearly inevitable. But, if you get a well-ventilated daypack, you can avoid this dreaded eventuality.

Generally, daypacks with mesh back panels tend to be more breathable than those made solely from nylon. However, these mesh back panels are often less durable than the full nylon options, so they often develop rips and tears with heavy use.

Water Resistance

Although very few daypacks are fully waterproof, there are many that are made with water-resistant materials. This can be a huge benefit to anyone that lives in a place with a wet climate as these water-resistant materials can help keep your gear dry, regardless of the weather. You will likely pay a pretty penny for that added convenience, though.

Hydration Compatibility

If you’re the type of hiker that enjoys using a hydration system, you’ll want to make sure your daypack is compatible with your system. These days, most daypacks have a small pouch along the interior back panel to hold the hydration reservoir and a hole to put the drinking tube through, but it’s worth checking out before you buy.

Pockets and Organization

For some people having a plethora of pockets and organization options is paramount in a backpack. Others enjoy packing all of their gear into one large tube in a top-loading backpack. Thus, your personal style will dictate whether you want to look for a day pack with extra accessories, pockets, and straps, or if you’d rather just keep things simple with a classic top-loader design.

Closure Systems and Access

As we’ve already mentioned, there are two main kinds of daypacks: top-loading and panel-loading. The top-loading pack is the better option for stuffing large amounts of gear into a relatively small bag while the panel-loading option is best for anyone who loves organization.

Additionally, panel-loading daypacks make it easier to access your gear, providing ample opportunity to reach into your bag and pull out that wind jacket that’s tucked into the bottom. Alternatively, top-loading packs make your gear a bit less accessible, in exchange for an easier packing process.

In Conclusion

A daypack is an essential part of any outdoor enthusiasts’ gear list. Small enough to help you move quickly through rough terrain while large enough to carry all the gear you need, a good daypack is the perfect tool for all of your adventures. With so many options to choose from, you’ll certainly find the pack that’s right for you if you keep some key features in mind.

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