This is a gear review about the best daypacks for hiking 2023.
If you want to head off on a day hike you will need a good quality daypack for hiking. The hiking backpack will need to be comfortable and big enough to carry all the items you need for the day.
With so many hiking daypacks out there, each one with different features and designs, it can be hard to narrow down the choice.
I used to manage a large retail store and part of my job was matching the right person to the best hiking daypack. Hopefully, I can do that for you here today. I’ve reviewed some of the best models according to purpose, reliability, budget, and much more. So let’s find the best day hiking backpacks for 2023.
Best Day Hiking Backpack 2023
The Best Day Hiking Backpack in 2023 are:
- Osprey Talon 22
- Deuter Speed Lite 21
- Osprey Stratos 24
- REI Co-op Flash 22
- Black Diamond Equipment Distance 15
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak
- CamelBak Rim Runner 22
- Osprey Daylite 13L
- REI Co-op Traverse 32
- Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil
Best Daypack for Hiking 2023 – Overall
Osprey Talon 22
Weight: 30 oz / 850 grams
> Hydration Compatible
> Adjustable strap on the sternum has an attached safety whistle.
> Very Comfortable
> Flexible internal pack frame
> Fabric isn’t waterproof and you will need to buy rain pack covers separately.
We’re kicking off the list with this Osprey Talon 22 pack.
This daypack includes many different features, including a suspension-style harness which is usually only found on larger packs. The padded shoulder straps incorporate trekking pole holders.
It also has a flexible frame that provides complete freedom to move around on more active hiking trails and the padded hip belt keeps your load as secure as possible, whilst also fitting comfortably on your body.
It also has an external hydration sleeve that will easily hold a 3L hydration pack. And the front stretch mesh pocket is good to store your puffy or rain jacket if needed.
The Osprey Talon hiking backpack is not waterproof but you can pop a rain cover on the daypack in wet weather.
The Osprey Talon Series of packs come in many sizes varying in size between 11L to 44L. The Osprey Talon 22 is the best compromise between size and weight with the perfect-sized main compartment.
Overall, the Osprey Talon 22 is one of the best daypacks for hiking in 2023. It is comfortable, easy to use, fully adjustable, completely dependable, and will not let you down.
Best DayPack for travel 2023
Deuter Speed Lite 21
Weight: 15.2 oz / 430 grams
> Comfortable cushioned back panel and shoulder straps.
> Great for all-sized torsos
> Packs up to a small size making it perfect for traveling
> Hip Belt is Thin and not comfortable when carrying a lot of weight
The Deuter Speed Lite 21 is a recently upgraded version of the older Speedlite 20. And like the previous model, it is a great daypack that is simple and light. It’s big enough for long day hikes and can withstand a range of different activities on the trail such as mountain biking or climbing.
It has a cushioned back panel and padded shoulder straps which means you won’t be in any pain carrying your load. The internal frame has a flexible fit to whatever your torso size. The Deuter Speed Lite 21 has a lightweight construction and only weighs 15.2 oz / 430 grams. It can be compressed to fit in other luggage or backpack if you want to go traveling with this pack which is what this day pack is best suited for.
Its small size allows you to replace your hydration-specific pack with it and you can always add extras such as an ice axe, and trekking poles.
The Speed Lite has some handy bells and whistles too, it is easy to use, reliable, durable, and safe to take along most trails in the US.
Overall, the Deuter Speed Lite 21 will be one of the best daypacks for travelers as it will compress into other luggage quite well and is lightweight.
Most Comfortable Daypack 2023
Osprey Stratos 24
Weight: 44 oz / 1247 grams
> Great for panel-loading organization and convenience.
> Comfortable and Adjustable
> Airspeed Suspension
> Ventilated mesh back panel with added adjustability to suit different torso lengths.
> Included rain cover.
The Osprey Stratos 24 is great if you want something completely adjustable and offers optimal comfort throughout your hike or whilst running errands. If carrying heavier loads this is one of the better hiking packs.
Let me be clear that this is the most comfortable daypack for day hikes. But all that comfort comes at the cost of weight. This is a heavy daypack but it has a good-sized main compartment that has easy access.
The Osprey Stratos 24 pack is complete with adjustable torso lengths, a ventilated back panel, and an adjustable padded shoulder harness with load lifters so you can dial in a perfect fit.
It comes with a removable integrated rain cover and so is perfect for wetter conditions. It is hydration compatible with a hydration sleeve that can fit any size water bladder up to a 3L reservoir.
The trekking pole attachments feature allows you to carry your poles with you wherever you go. The two hip-belt pockets which are zippered pockets keep all your essentials close by and accessible. And there is an ice axe loop if needed.
It has mesh pockets to keep bottles and even smaller personal items handy.
Overall, the Osprey Stratos 24 is one of the best hiking daypacks for someone wanting the most comfortable backpack, and the best hiking daypack for accessibility and convenience along the trail. Like many of the Osprey Day Hiking Packs, if you are looking for more carrying capacity, they come in many different sizes and capacities.
Best Lightweight Daypack 2023
REI Co-op Flash 22
Weight: 13 oz / 369 grams
> The back panel can be removed and you can remove the waist belt and sternum straps.
> Drawcord closure and lid with zippered pocket.
> Not Weather Resistant.
> You will need to buy a separate hydration system.
The REI Co-op Flash 22 is one of the best lightweight day backpacks at an affordable price point.
The mesh shoulder straps are breathable and have padding that softens the impact on your neck and shoulders and the back panel can also be removed entirely and used as a seat pad when you might want to stop for a drink and to rest up.
Though REI Flash 22 Daypack is light anyway, to lessen the load, even more, you can remove the waistbelt and sternum strap. It can be a great option for a travel daypack.
It is secured with easy-to-use drawcord closure and a lid with a zippered pocket that gives easy access to the main compartment. It also has an integral sleeve to hold a hydration reservoir, however, this is not included. And the external side pockets are big enough for a water bottle. There are also ice axe attachments if heading out on winter hikes.
You can keep your essentials nearby with stash side mesh pockets and the side exterior loops allow you to add compression or any extra gear you need.
Not only is the REI Co-op Flash hiking daypack great for those wanting a completely versatile piece of equipment made with Bluesign materials, but it also promises to protect the environment, workers, and hikers alike.
Overall, the REI Co-op Flash 22 is one of the lightest daypacks in this review. It is a packable daypack for hiking and travel.
Best Ultralight Daypack 2023
Black Diamond Equipment Distance 15
Weight: 13.9 oz / 394 grams
> Ultralight but Sturdy
> The harness system is adjustable and the shoulder has padding.
> Reflective tick and secure ice tool holder.
> Water bladder is sold separately.
The Black Diamond Distance 15L Hiking Daypack is designed to take on anything from rocky mountain terrain to alpine adventures to day hikes down canyons.
The hybrid pack is a pack designed with running vest technology that blends with the company’s knowledge of alpine pack systems to carry heavy loads. So if you are a trail runner and wanting a hiking backpack this could be for you. Add to that it is lightweight and comfortable.
It is built with UHMWP 10x Rip stop Yarns which means it is completely tear-resistant and is ten times stronger than steel. It won’t rip or break when you’re out in the wild, however, is still built light enough to float on water.
The Black Diamond Distance 15L Day Backpack offers great comfort for the user with taping technology for comfort on the breathable mesh shoulders as well as the flexibility to move around a lot.
The main opening has a slash pocket to tuck in excess cording and the dual side compression even has a reflective tick to ensure you’re always spotted in darker conditions. There are no external pockets on this pack.
Overall, the Black Diamond Distance 15L Day Backpack is one of the best ultralight daypacks for hiking. If you want something safe, and durable yet ultra-lightweight, this could be the hiking daypack for you.
Best Waterproof Daypack 2023
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak
Weight: 21 oz / 577 grams
> Large External Front Pocket
> Fully Adjustable
> Hip belts can be removed
> Buckles to compress the pack
> Waterproof material.
> Waterproof YKK Zip
> Hip belt not padded enough.
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak is has a main compartment capacity of 17L with a further 6L of storage in the front stash pocket and a great two-angle side bottle pocket.
It is perfect for day hikes and will provide enough room for an adequate hydration system, snacks, and lunch, as well as clothing changes, trekking poles, a headlamp, and more.
It has a very big external front pocket as well as a shock cord system, making it easy to store essential items and allowing quick access to these items.
The pack material is weatherproof and it features a water-resistant YKK zipper that allows easy access no matter the conditions.
The HMG Daybreak has a lightly padded hip belt, you can store this away when not in use and the sternum straps are adjustable. You also have an integrated back panel for comfort, as well as hardline Dyneema shoulder straps which have daisy chains if you want to attach gear to the straps.
Overall, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak is the best waterproof hiking daypack and one of the best hiking daypacks overall, especially when the weather turns bad.
Best Hydration Daypack 2023
CamelBak Rim Runner X22
Weight: 28.2 oz / 800 grams
> Ventilated- Breathable air mesh.
> Comfortable and Adjustable- Removable chest strap and adjustable features.
> Included Hydration Pack.
> Heavy, but it does include the weight of the hydration bladder so not that bad
The CamelBak Rim Runner 22 is a great pack for keeping comfortable and organized throughout your adventure and with breathable air mesh, it also promises adequate ventilation.
A promising feature of this hydration daypack is the tube trap management which allows you to keep your hydration tube secure and it comes with a hydration bladder and plenty of pockets for storage including zippered hip belt pockets.
The CamelBak Rim Runner 22 also comes with a load-bearing hip belt that transfers the weight to your hips for comfort and stability. There are a range of adjustments such as the sternum strap you can remove makes it perfect for those wanting to save a bit of weight. The shoulder straps are padded and comfortable. They also have attached daisy chains if you want to clip something to the straps.
Finally, it comes with cargo compression to keep your gear close by and increase your stability further. Stable, durable, and with an included hydration bladder, this pack is an excellent choice for those wanting a comfortable pack built to provide you with everything you might need along that tough trail.
Overall, the CamelBak Rim Runner 22 is one of the best hydration pack for hiking and trail running.
Best Packable daypack 2023
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil
Weight: 2.5 oz / 71 grams
> Packs down to the size of a tennis ball.
> Durable- Made with siliconized Cordura Nylon.
> Two-way zipper closure with webbing loops so you can attach a bike light.
> Material is not Waterproof.
The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sill Daypack is great for both hikes or even carrying groceries.
Its ultra-small compressed size allows it to fit onto your keyring or in your jacket pocket when not in use but the shoulder strap is not padded. This is for lighter loads with the maximum weight being no more than 15lb / 7kg in pack weight.
However, this is still 250 times more than the weight of the pack and the innovative design and performance of such a small pack are outstanding.
It weighs less than 3 ounces which is much less than the other packs. The Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Pack is made from durable and water-resistant materials such as Cordura Nylon. It also has a two-way zipper closure and webbing loops to attach a bike light and promises to equip you with all you need whether you’re running errands, riding your bike, or hiking down canyons.
I used the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sill Daypack for several years as an ultralight daypack for short day hikes, grocery shopping, and more. While it is light and packable it has no padding on the back and requires careful packing to prevent sharp objects from sticking into your back from the main compartment.
Overall, this is one of the best daypacks for travel, hiking, grocery shopping, and more.
Hiking daypacks – More Options
Osprey Daylite 13L
Weight: 17 oz / 481 grams
> Multi-functional sleeve to hold a hydration reservoir or tablet.
> Comfortable and Ventilated
> Can attach other Osprey bags.
> Built with sustainable materials.
> Can be too long for smaller people.
The Osprey Daylite 13L is simple, comfortable, durable, and lightweight, making it not only great for a quick day hike but also for running everyday errands.
It is made with sustainable, recycled materials means you’ll be doing your bit for the planet, as well as being made from Bluesign materials, GRS-certified nylon, and a PFC-free DWR coating. It is totally versatile, allowing you to attach a range of different bags, and is built to last.
The Osprey Daylite 13L has stretch-side mesh pockets that allow for additional storage and the front zippered pocket has a mesh organizer and key clip. The large panel provides excellent accessibility to your items and if you want to stay organized whilst protecting the planet, this pack is for you. And let me also mention there is a good choice of colors so you are sure to find one that suits you.
Overall, the Osprey Daylite 13L is a good daypack for someone who wants to use a pack for day-to-day use at home or at work and take it hiking on the weekend.
REI Co-op Traverse 32
Weight: 41oz / 1162grams
> Versatile- Can be used for longer or shorter hikes.
> Adequate Storage- Main compartment, trekking pole keepers, hip belt pocket, water bottle pockets.
> Trustworthy Design- Made with Bluesign materials.
> You will need to buy a separate hydration reservoir.
> You cannot adjust the torso length.
From long epic adventures to day hikes, the REI Co-op Traverse Pack is perfect for all occasions. Made of Bluesign recycled materials and nylon, it’s built to last and is good for the environment.
REI Traverse 32 Pack comes with a padded shoulder harness and hip belt for comfort all day and night long and the compression straps which are included can run from loop to loop to sculpt the shape of your load.
With hip belt pockets, an outer stash pocket, water bottle side pockets, compression straps, and trekking pole keepers, you are prepared for everything and it even has an included rain cover that is easily accessible should you find yourself in a sudden storm. The design is hydration compatible and we promise this pack won’t let you down.
Overall, the REI Co-op Traverse Pack is a nice hiking day bag for someone on a budget.
More Hiking Pack Options
Here are a couple more hiking day packs that you could consider:
- Osprey Scarab 30L: the Osprey Scarab 30L is a good hydration backpack.
- Black Diamond Bolt: The Black Diamond Bolt 24 is another good option that I am yet to test and may be added to the list soon.
- REI Co-Op Trail 25: The REI Co-Op Trail 25 is another good budget daypack.
Daypack Comparison Table
|Osprey Talon 22||30 oz / 850 g||22L||Yes||No||7|
|Deuter Speed Lite 21||15.2 oz / 430 g||21L||Yes||No||7|
|Osprey Stratos 24||44 oz / 1247 g||24L||Yes||Yes||7|
|REI Co-op Flash 22||13 oz / 369 g||22L||Yes||No||3|
|Black Diamond Equipment Distance 15||13.9 oz / 394 g||15L||No||No||6|
|Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak||21 oz / 577 g||17L||Yes||No||3|
|CamelBak Rim Runner X22||28.2 oz / 800 grams||22L||Yes||Yes||6|
|Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil||2.5 oz / 71 g||20L||No||No||0|
|Osprey Daylite 13L||17 oz / 481 g||13L||No||No||5|
|REI Co-op Traverse 32||41 oz / 1162 g||32L||Yes||Yes||6|
With so many factors, it can be hard to find the perfect daypack on your own. This buyer’s guide will guide you on what you should be keeping an eye out for whilst researching.
Features and Comfort
The features listed below in the next couple of sections will all work in partnership to determine how comfortable your hiking daypack will be. The relationship between the shoulder straps, hip belt, sternum strap, frame, back padding, ventilation and more will all hopefully marry up into a package that is super comfortable when you wear the pack.
Arguably, the shoulder straps on the daypack are one of the most important features. They will tell you straight away if the pack is comfortable or not. But with a bit of adjustment, they should fit perfectly. Padded straps are preferred over non-padded straps but they come with more weight.
The shape is also important. There are ‘H-shaped’ shoulder straps and ‘S-Shaped’ shoulder straps. Both have a different feel but work well. Some of the more compact daypacks designed for travel have very little padding and are not suited for carrying a heavy load all day.
The hip belt becomes an important feature when you want to carry any amount of weight in your daypack. If only carrying a set of keys and a jacket they are not so important. But if you are carrying several liters of water, lunch and snacks, clothing, and more then the best daypacks for hiking have a padded hip belt. It is best when carrying a heavy load to have most of the weight on the hips rather than the shoulders. This is when a nicely padded hip belt comes in handy but that is not the only feature to look for. Hip belts that have pockets are also a good idea for super accessible items such as sunscreen, keys, snacks, and more. Some hip belts are women-specific and offer a better fit for women’s daypacks.
Overall, if you plan to carry heavy loads and be out all day then a padded hipbelt is best.
The sternum strap is the thin strap that joins the shoulder straps at the front. This assists with keeping the straps across the shoulders in the optimum position and preventing the straps from sliding to one side or the other, particularly when trekking on technical terrain, climbing, or scrambling. It also helps when carrying a heavy load. As with some other features they are not necessary but appreciated and better suited for carrying a heavier load in technical terrain. Some feature an emergency whistle in the male part of the buckle.
Some daypacks have a mesh panel on the back of the pack that is separate from the pack and usually supported by a frame in the pack. These are usually only found on technical daypacks. By allowing airflow between your back and the daypack it can assist in preventing sweat and keep you cooler. It will usually add to the weight and complexity of the pack and does not work as well as the marketing will make you believe. It also makes it more difficult for the daypack to be packable as it needs a frame to hold the ventilation structure in place.
It is more common to have back padding that is an open weave and padded to allow air to circulate with the padding as you hike. This option is less complex, cheaper, and most of the time just as comfortable and breathable as having a back ventilation panel.
Frame or Frameless Daypack
Most daypacks for carrying a heavy load will have some form of the frame to stabilize the pack and allow it to keep its shape with the larger loads. A daypack for light loads doesn’t need a frame to keep its shape. Usually, the padding on the back will be sufficient to keep the pack balanced.
When you come to buying a hiking pack, you don’t want something that is going to weigh you down on the trail. Look at its weight of it and consider that weight on top of the load you will already be carrying.
If it’s too heavy for you, consider opting for a lighter day hiking backpacks that might hold slightly less, your back and shoulders will thank you.
Some designs even have technology that transfers the weight to your hips so if you struggle to carry heavy loads, this might be something to keep an eye out for too.
Most of the packs in this review are not waterproof daypacks but they are all water resistant. While the fabrics generally have a good ability to prevent water from coming inside the packs, the weak points are the zips and stitching.
All the hiking daypacks in this review will withstand a light rain shower or drizzle but nothing more. Packing everything into waterproof stuff sacks inside the pack or using a rain cover is a good idea if heading out on a hike in questionable weather.
Each pack will be designed for a different activity and a different length of the hike.
Moreover, an easy-to-access main compartment is useful along the trail for whichever activity you end up doing and so have a look at how you access this before buying any day hiking backpacks.
Does it have two zippers? Does it have mesh storage pockets on the side? These are all things to find out before making that all-important purchase.
Short Day Hiking Pack
For shorter hikes will only need small packs, you might want one of the small frameless packs that are lightweight and minimalist. But it should be big enough to hold all that you need for the day. Exterior pockets are a good option on most of these packs for gear that needs to be easily accessed or to store wet gear.
If you’re climbing to the summit or you like going on overnight hikes you might want something with more support and something with a larger main compartment. It should also be more durable and built to last in harsher weather conditions.
How long your hike is will also determine the size of your daypack. If you’re staying overnight, you’re going to need to pack for carrying extra gear. Usually much more than if you were going hiking for a few hours.
The larger pack the pack, the more room there is in the main compartment for your gear. It may have a dedicated sleeping bag compartment for those light and fast overnight trips. Almost all will have padded hip belts and a comfortable padded shoulder strap. And a mesh back panel is handy to store a wet rain jacket or other gear after rain.
Unlike a backpacking pack, most of these larger daypacks will be too small for heavier loads and all your backpacking gear. Only an ultralight minimalist hiker with a light load will be able to fit everything in.
Some people like myself like to use my hiking backpack as a commuter bag when in town. I like it when I can use the hydration sleeve as a laptop sleeve. And many daypacks have internal pockets for pens or keys. A versatile pack that can double as a work bag is another thing to consider. I also want a place for water bottles when hiking and when walking around town.
When you are looking for a hiking daypack you will need to carry water. Most packs have some form of water storage. Will you use a water bottle or a hydration bladder?
Most daypacks in this review have an internal sleeve to fit a hydration bladder. The best hydration bladders are universal and can fit into any of the packs that have a sleeve. You do not need to buy the one that is made by the manufacturer of the backpack.
Most people need to carry water bottles. Whether it is a water bottle with a filter or a cheap bottle that you have reused 100s of times, they need to be stored somewhere when hiking.
Mesh pockets on the side are a good option, especially if they have some sort of clip system to lock them in place. Most daypacks have side water bottle pockets that are perfect for water bottles. If not, they may have to go inside the hiking pack.
Size and Fit
Just like clothes, a hiking daypack is designed for different-sized people. You may get an option to pick a size and this will be according to the buyer’s measurements, so check these first.
The measurements are usually referring to a buyer’s torso and the ranges vary from manufacturer and by gender. Hip belts also accommodate a range of waist sizes and so ensure you measure this too.
They usually range from mid-20 inches to around the mid-40s. Finally, the load lifter straps and sternum strap should fit correctly on a daypack and form a 45-degree angle between the shoulder straps and the pack.
The chest strap boosts stability and ensures you don’t fall over on rough terrain. Often it is removable and adjustable.
Women Specific Daypacks
While most of the packs in this review are unisex and have enough ability to adjust the packs to fit either men or women, some manufacturers have women’s specific daypack models. The fit, shape, and design of women’s daypacks involve using women-specific hipbelts, shoulder straps, and hipbelts as well as different torso lengths. Some men with a short back length or men that are particularly thin can often feel more comfortable wearing a women’s daypack. Often women’s daypacks are a couple of liters smaller in the main compartment than men’s daypacks.
Overall, there are a lot of great daypacks for hiking and short trips. It is safe to say that you should be happy with any of the day backpacks from the list below.
Here are the best daypacks for hiking in 2023:
- Osprey Talon 22
- Deuter Speed Lite 21
- Osprey Stratos 24
- REI Co-op Flash 22
- Black Diamond Equipment Distance 15
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak
- CamelBak Rim Runner 22
- Osprey Daylite 13L
- REI Co-op Traverse 32
- Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil
Frequently Asked Questions
A day Backpack is a smaller version of a large backpack that is usually lightweight, but big enough for essential items to take on day hikes or sometimes overnight trips.
This will depend on what you are using the daypack for, but if it is for hiking, we recommend a spare change of clothes, water, snacks, lunch, sun protection, and a first aid kit as the bare essentials.
For everyday hiking a day pack is vital. You want to find something that is small and lightweight, durable and sturdy, and designed to take on many different weather conditions.
For most people, a 20L hiking daypack is a good size. If you are going on a full-day hike and are carrying lots of gear then a 24L could be a good option.