Everybody who enjoys the outdoors oughta have a trusty backpack. Packing your essential gear comfortably and conveniently for the trail starts to feel like second nature once you own a pack that you know and love. When it comes to day trips and hiking close to camp, owning a smaller size backpack is ideal. We’ve put together a top ten list including some of the best day packs for hiking available.
With so many features and styles to choose from these days, there’s quite a few backpacks that will no doubt suit your needs. We’ve included some pretty rad choices here, from vintage looking rucksacks to near weightless ultralight backpacks, as well as a few highly economic options. Make sure to check out the pros and cons of each pack to really get an idea of what sort of features you’re looking for.
1. ZOMAKE Water Resistant Hiking Daypack
This is a sweet little affordable pack that might be all you need to load up and hit the trail. This is a great multi purpose backpack that can fold up to nearly pocket size. It could be an ideal bag to stuff in your suitcase or backpacking pack to have on hand for day trips where you’ll only be needing a few things. Constructed with water and tear resistant nylon material, this is a pretty rugged bag for the price.
I wouldn’t count on it to keep your gear truly dry in a pouring rain, but having some waterproof coating on your day pack is a big bonus none the less. Between the front zip, mesh side pockets and main compartment, there’s pretty decent organizational potential to this 20 liter pack. A simple and highly affordable backpack, this one by ZOMAKE will have you covered on the trail.
Price: $15.99 & Free Shipping on orders over $25
- Water and tear resistant
- Folds up nicely for storage into a larger pack or suitcase
- Super affordable!
- Wide selection of color options available
- The strapping on this is not very high quality if you plan on a lot of rigorous hiking with a fair amount of loaded weight
- The side mesh pockets will not fit larger water bottles (24 oz) and canteens
2. Teton Sports Oasis 1100 2 Liter Hydration Backpack
I really like this pack by Teton Sports. This is an excellent bag for the avid hiker who wants a highly efficient, hydration compatible day pack that will last for years. This bag is loaded with features; it includes a rain cover, a bungee cord system for stowing gear, a butterfly opening ideal for accessing clothing and of course, a hydration bladder!
Customer reviews insist that the two liter bladder, sip tube and cushioned bite valve included with this pack are of good quality. This backpack is designed to have a low profile athletic cut, and is adjustable for all frames including men women and children. This one will stay out of your way while trekking the most burly terrain while still providing you with the gear storage you need. If you’re looking for a reliable, quality hiking pack then definitely check this one out. Considering the quality of the materials used and the included hydration bladder and rain cover, this 18 Liter bag is a sweet value at just $40.
Price: $32.16 — $39.99 & Free Shipping (up to 20 percent off MSRP)
- Includes rain cover and two Liter hydration bladder (with hose and bite valve)
- Pretty light weight at just 2 pounds unfilled
- Great array of pockets and external strapping for stowing gear and gadgets
- Variety of color options available
- Customer review complaints about the zippers malfunctioning
3. Quechua X-Sports Decathlon 10L Daypack
This smaller sized, ten Liter backpack by Quechua is another highly affordable, yet reliable option for hiking. Made from water and tear resistant material, it’s a pretty solid pack that should keep your gear from getting soaked in at least a mild rain. At only five and a half ounces, it’s a super light pack with a decent amount of space.
The straps are adjustable and even a bit padded, pretty sweet for such a budget pack. Unfortunately there’s no external storage on this one, so the one zippered pocket and main compartment is all you get. If you only need to bring along a gear load consisting of something like a fleece, water bottle and a few small gadgets, then this pack is a great one to have on hand. For the cost, this product by Quechua is a nice item to have in your outdoor gear locker.
Price: $7.45 — $12 & Free Shipping on orders over $25
- Super affordable at just $13
- Adjustable strapping is according to customer reviews suitable for both children and adults
- Water and tear resistant
- Comes in nine different two-tone color schemes
- Only a ten Liter capacity, so don’t buy this expecting to fit a ton of gear, its a smaller pack
- No external storage space or pockets
- Material although water and tear resistant is quite thin, so I imagine it won’t hold up after a lot of heavy use
4. Gootium High Density Thick Canvas Rucksack
I really dig the look and style of this classic rucksack by Gootium. This pure cotton thick canvas backpack is built pretty dam tough and has a real rugged appearance. The material is solid and the fastenings are all metal — making this pack the real deal. The design includes three external pockets and one large internal pocket. There’s also a nifty zippered pocket within the main compartment perfect for tossing in your phone or wallet.
If you enjoy owning old school style gear that is made reliably, then this is a great option. All eight color choices to choose from are pretty bad ass, but who doesn’t love that classic khaki look? For around $40, this is a good buy given how tough the build is on this pack. Make sure to consider that it won’t keep your gear dry in wet weather, but for those sunny days on the trail this is one rad rucksack.
Price: $38.99 – $42.99
- Built with tough fabrics and metal fastenings
- Pretty high capacity (33L) for carrying gear between all the external pockets and main compartment
- Drawstring style closure to the main compartment may not be secure enough for some highly rigorous activities
- Gootium recommends NOT machine washing this pack
- A few customer reviews complain the straps don’t stay adjusted and need to be tied secure
5. Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack
This is another super lightweight and portable backpack for packing soft and hiking hard. Osprey is a top quality outfitter renowned for their well made backpacks. Dual zippers allow you to grab what you need from different points on the pack, and stretch mesh side pockets can accommodate water bottles or any other smaller gear you are comfortable stowing externally.
The air mesh construction of the strapping makes for a very breathable and comfortable fit — ideal for those more intense hikes when you don’t want to be stuck to your pack once you heat up. This bag is less than half a pound, and packs down into its own carrying case, so it’s a great day pack to take with you traveling. A reliable, effective and reasonably priced backpack by Osprey.
Price: $34.99 & Free Shipping
- Very lightweight and portable (collapses into its own carrying case)
- Well made, breathable strapping ideal for the active hiker
- Decent organization potential between the external zippered pockets, mesh side pockets and main compartment
- No dividers inside the main compartment
- Main material is pretty thin and susceptible to tear
- Chest straps are a bit snug for people with a larger than average build
6. Osprey Talon 18 Backpack
This pack by Osprey is quite a bit more heavy duty than the ultralight stuff pack. Sporting both a chest strap and a waist strap, this bag is quite supportive and designed to feel like its not even there. A few external clips and side pouches give you some space to stow some extra gear on top of the 18 Liter main compartment. There’s also a space for a hydration bladder to be mounted inside this pack. The Talon does not come with a rain cover, but Osprey does make one compatible with this model.
The sleek design of this pack makes it a fan favorite — there’s a lot of favorable reviews raving about how this pack feels great on your body. If you want a small daypack, but have some heavier equipment on your gear list, the support of this pack might be just what you need. For the serious hiker, this is a solid bag worth looking into.
Price: Starting at $180 & Free shipping
- Nice quality chest and waist straps for added support
- Sleek design moves well with your body, reviews insist this pack feels good on the trail
- Water bladder and rain cover compatible
- Takes a bit more time than a lot of other packs to get in and out of
- Not a ton of external storage space
- If you want to pair this pack with a rain cover you’ll have to purchase it separately
7. Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil 20 Liter Day Pack
This is a seriously ultralight day pack for hikes that you want to feel totally free on. This bag by Sea to Summit will pack down to fit into a purse or even a pocket it’s so portable! The total weight is less than two and a half ounces so its practically weightless packed in your luggage or larger backpack. It’s a simple, streamlined design that’s meant to be super low profile and allow you great range of motion.
Despite its exceedingly light construction, this bag has bar tack reinforced stitching on all of the stress points, so it should hold up fairly well as long as you don’t fill it with an unreasonable amount of weight. I think the two zipper closure is a nice feature for such a portable bag. There’s no external storage space, or padding of any kind within the main pocket, so this bag is really a minimalist pack for highly active hiking. The material is fairly water resistant and breathes well, making it a reliable and sporty pack for the trail.
Price: $31.73 & Free Shipping
- Super lightweight! Excellent daypack to stuff in your regular backpack or luggage
- Collapses into a tiny little stuff sack
- Fairly water resistant
- Has a large capacity (20 Liters) for such a light and portable bag
- Only has one main pocket- no external storage or internal dividers
- Fabric is very thin and susceptible to tearing due to its ultra light weight
- At $33, this is a fairly expensive pack considering the lack of features — you’re paying for portability and super lightweight materials with this one
8. Thule Departer Daypack
The Departer Daypack by Thule is a great all around backpack that is perfectly suitable as a hiking pack. This nylon backpack has a pretty unique shape and design, so you’ll stand out with this one. There’s a sweet array of internal sleeves and slip pockets for effectively stowing all your different gear. There’s compartments that nicely fit a laptop or a tablet, and dual mesh side pockets on either side of the bag to create some additional external storage.
A custom molded attach point for a carabiner or flash light is a nice added feature for customizing your backpack for the trail. At about two pounds, it remains pretty light weight while still maintaining a pretty tough build. Customer reviews agree this is a really functionable day pack that fits comfortably and has great organization potential. All in all, this is a very practical bag that’s ideal for comfortably loading up a good bit of gear.
Price: $59.95 & Free Shipping
- Padded laptop and tablet pockets
- Nice array of internal pockets and external storage space
- Unique shape and color scheme that will turn heads on the trail
- Convenient front clip for adding a light or carabineer
- Not a very low profile backpack, may feel a bit cumbersome for the more active hiker
- Straps are not made of breathable material
- This backpack may be a bit wide for people with a particularly narrow build
9. G4Free Ultra Lightweight Hiking Daypack
Another highly affordable daypack with a solid list of features for the money. This bag by G4free is made of a water and tear resistant nylon material, and weighs less than a half pound. The material is easily foldable, so this is another daypack that is suitable for packing in your luggage or larger backpack. There’s a zippered pouch on the front of the bag in addition to the main compartment, and also mesh side pockets for stashing smaller items. An inner zippered pocket is ideal for tucking away valuables. With nine different color options available, there should be one that suits you. The straps on this pack seem decent enough, and the zippers appear to be well made. At just $13, this pack by G4Free has some pretty solid stats.
Price: $8.99 — $11.99 & Free Shipping on orders over $25
- Water and tear resistant
- Interior zippered pocket perfect for stashing valuables
- Super inexpensive!
- Material is foldable and packs nicely in a suitcase or larger backpack
- Mesh side pockets don’t hold water bottles very effectively
- Nylon material pretty thin and susceptible to tearing
10. Osprey Radial 26 Daypack
The Radial daypack by Osprey is a pretty standard looking backpack, but equipped and designed to be an ideal hiking bag. There’s a great array of pockets and dividers within the two main zippered compartments making this pack effective for stashing your gear in a well thought out, organized manner. This backpack sports a padded laptop compartment and also a zippered padded tablet compartment, so if you like to bring your more sensitive electronics on the trail this could be a good option for you.
The Radial backpack has a built-in high visibility rain cover, ensuring your gear will stay dry during even heavy rains. The strapping and back of the pack are designed with a high quality breathable mesh making it a pretty comfortable bag to hike with. I personally enjoy the very basic design of this backpack knowing that it is built with the trail in mind. The strapping and organization potential of this bag is what makes it an attractive option to me.
Price: $160 & Free Shipping
- Comfortable and breathable strapping that keeps the bag snug to your body
- Includes a full, high-visibility rain cover for when the weather turns nasty
- Tab on the front base of the pack is perfect for clipping a carabineer or flashlight onto
- Great array of pockets and compartments for customized organization
- May not feel like a “small” backpack to hikers with a small build
- Despite the nice quality of the materials used, this pack is pretty expensive
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