The Best Daypacks of 2023

Best Daypacks Hero

Daypacks are simple pieces of gear, but it can be tricky to find the right one based on style, fit, and your needs. We’ve broken down the best daypacks into a few different categories to help you choose.

What we love most about all of these best daypacks is their versatility. Grab one when taking your dog on a walk, heading into the office or the classroom, or hitting the mountains for a day hike, bike ride, and more. The trick is to find one that hits these four criteria: comfort, fit, included features, and ideal price.

For review purposes, we considered and tested the best small backpacks that hold between 15 and 30 liters. To choose the best of the best, we ranked each pack on quality, feedback from our testing, and price.

Read on for our best daypack selections as well as our daypack buyer’s guide. And for help with any hairsplitting decisions, check out our comparison chart and FAQ sections.

The Best Daypacks of 2023

Best Overall Daypack

Deuter Speed Lite 25


  • Material 100D and 140D high-tenacity 100% recycled polyamide
  • Pockets Three external stretch
  • Suspension style Deuter’s Lite System, a tensioned Derlin U frame
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 3 L
  • Ideal use Any and everything
  • Weight 1 lb., 9 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Carries weight well
  • Bluesign-certified body fabric


  • Frame limits packability for travel
  • Shoulder pocket a bit too small to hold phone

The Speed Lite series from Deuter has been a tester favorite around these parts since their introduction, and now newly updated to incorporate a running-vest style harness system, a more breathable back panel, and everything we loved about the previous models, the Deuter Speed Lite 25 ($120) stands above the rest as our choice of best overall daypack available today.

Let’s start off with the big changes: the suspension system. While the smaller volume versions of the packs retain S-style pack straps, the 25-liter versions and above have now adopted a well-executed vest-style harness. In recent years we’ve come to really appreciate this style of strap system on lower-volume packs, and Deuter does it excellently. Each strap spreads out the load across the upper torso, and sports stretch mesh pockets to port along essentials like snacks or shades.

Turning to the body of the pack, you get a slimmed 25-liter capacity that balances well with the hip belt fins and Derlin U-frame suspension. 25 liters is just about the limit of where we like to see some type of frame involved in a daypack construction, and Deuter again nails it here. During our test hikes, we felt well supported — even with a pack filled all the way to the brim.

Rounding out this do-it-all daypack are a number of small features that we’ve come to feel naked without, such as a trekking pole attachment system, stretch-mesh back and side pockets, and an interior valuables compartment. We will note that while the zippered shoulder strap pocket is likely meant to carry your phone, most modern phones are just too brick-like to make for a comfortable carry.

Perfect for anyone who wants a daypack that leaves little on the cutting room floor, the Deuter Speed Lite 25 jams in all of our favorite features, and carries it all with an updated vest-style suspension system that we can’t live without now. If you’re in need of a bit more room, the Speed Lite series also offers a 30liter and 28-liter women’s version, and if you’re feeling more spartan, there are also smaller 17-liter and 21-liter options.

Best Budget Daypack

REI Co-op Flash 22


  • Material Recycled ripstop nylon
  • Pockets 1 main compartment, 1 hydration sleeve, 1 small zippered pocket on front, 2 water bottle pockets on each side
  • Suspension style Frameless foam back panel (removable)
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 3 L
  • Ideal use Trail to town
  • Weight 14 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Budget price
  • Packability


  • Lower capacity
  • Not much structure

The REI Co-op Flash 22 ($60) weighs just 14 ounces and has a drawcord top closure, detachable sternum and hip straps, a hydration reservoir compartment, and two side pockets. It’s made with recycled materials and ripstop nylon, and at a budget price of $60, it easily lands as our top budget daypack.

The Flash 22 offers great quality for the price and during testing, we found it to be a great “town-to-trail” option. There’s no bulky padding or internal frame, which helps keep the weight down and makes it a fairly packable option. This is an excellent pack to ball up and toss into a larger pack or luggage for quick forays out from a base camp. The back panel pad can even be removed and used as a sit pad while eating lunch on a long hike.

Newly updated, the Flash 22 is now made with recycled Bluesign-approved nylon, and we greatly appreciate that REI is on top of continual updates to make this pack even better. At 22 liters, it isn’t the largest daypack, and our testers reported a need for careful packing in order to avoid an uncomfortable carry. But for the price, it’s hard to beat for a budget pick. 

Stuffed away for quick deployment, the Flash 22 makes an excellent day pack for side trips on longer backpacking or travel trips.

Best Runner-Up Daypack

REI Co-op Trail 25


  • Material Recycled ripstop nylon
  • Pockets 2 mesh side pockets, 1 main compartment, 2 zippered pockets, 1 pocket for hydration bladder
  • Suspension style Internal HPDE framesheet
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Day hikes, around town
  • Weight 1 lb., 15 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Comfortable
  • Affordable
  • Lots of useful features
  • Good quality materials


  • No padded waist belt
  • Pockets can make the front flap of the pack top heavy

Affordable, comfortable, with plenty of pockets and some nice design features, the REI Co-op Trail 25 ($80) is a great runner-up pack to our top pick. Our testers have found that 25 liters is the sweet spot for a daypack, being just enough room for some snacks and layers, plenty of water, sunscreen, bug spray, a book, and any other accessories you might need for the day. This size also ensures you won’t pack your bag too heavy, keeping it light for your day hikes or bike rides around town. 

One of the metrics we measure a daypack by is how easy it is to quickly grab things out of it, and the stretchy mesh pockets on the sides make it easy to carry a 32-oz Nalgene bottle for frequent sipping. There is a compartment in the back of the pack that will fit a 3-liter hydration bladder as well, and an interior and exterior zip pocket keeps your smaller accessories organized. One issue our testers found, however, is that since both of the smaller pockets are located at the top of the front flap of the main compartment, they can get heavy and make the pack awkward to open and close. This isn’t as much of an issue, however, if the main compartment itself is full enough. 

With some of the plushest back padding and straps in our review, an included rain cover, and straps to stash trekking poles, the Trail 25 is a great choice for any avid day hiker.

Best Commuter Daypack

Salomon Trailblazer 20


  • Material Polyester, polyamide, elastane, polyethylene
  • Pockets 1 belt zippered pocket, 1 main compartment, 1 pocket with lateral zip access, 1 internal bladder sleeve, 1 top pocket with key holder, 2 side stretch pockets, 1 belt stretch pocket
  • Suspension style Padded back system with padded hip belt
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Daily driver
  • Weight 14.6 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Good size for daily use
  • Many pockets
  • Comfortable padded hip belt


  • Small shoulder straps
  • Not great for running or fast mountain pursuits

The Salomon Trailblazer 20 Pack ($70) is a unisex daypack and a great all-arounder and daily driver. Its 20-liter size is the sweet spot for bike commuting, gym-going, short errands, and day hikes. This pack is easy-to-use, with one main compartment along with stretch side compartments for water bottles or other accessories. 

Something our testers really loved about this pack is that the waist belt features its own zip pocket, which adds to the overall versatility of this pack. Most small packs have minimalist, unpadded waist belts, and we appreciated that the Salomon has this pocket feature as well as padding for extra comfort, making it a cut above the rest.

Although this daypack looks simple, it has even more features that make it a great commuter pack. A hanging computer sleeve provides storage as well as extra protection preventing shocks from the bottom. And extra loops allow for clipping small accessories to the outside.

While this pack is great for many things, it isn’t a great hybrid running pack. 20 liters is a bit too big to comfortably run with, and it lacks the running-vest style of other daypacks that are made for more technical adventures. But as an all-arounder for the city to the trails, look no further than the Trailblazer.

Best Hybrid Running Daypack

Arc’teryx Aerios 15


  • Material 100-denier CORDURA nylon; 210-denier CORDURA nylon with twisted 200-denier LCP grid
  • Pockets Main compartment, one small front-access pocket, two side access zippered pockets, internal security pocket with key clip, breathable shoulder harness with 2 zippered pockets to accommodate soft flasks
  • Suspension style Highly breathable AeroForm back panel with anti-barreling frame sheet
  • Hydration-compatible No
  • Ideal use Trail running and day hikes
  • Weight 1 lb., 8 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Comfortable shoulder harness with zippered pockets and pouches
  • Double set of stretchy chest cords to keep pack from moving too much
  • High-quality materials


  • Pricey
  • No hydration sleeve
  • Side pockets not the most secure

Looking for a pack that is more substantial than a running vest but won’t slow you down? Look no further than the Arc’teryx Aerios 15 ($130). Arc’teryx is a brand that is known for its high-end technical gear, and something they don’t do is skimp on quality. Made with lightweight, CORDURA nylon fabric with a liquid crystal polymer ripstop grid ensures durability on the trail. And a main compartment, quick-access front pocket, two side pockets, one internal security pocket, and two attachment points for trekking poles make this a simple yet functional pack. 

The feature set that makes this a great hybrid running pack, however, has to be the shoulder straps. Seemingly inspired by running vests, the shoulder straps on the Aerios 15 are wide and stretchy with pockets for small water flasks as well as zippered pockets to fit your phone or some small snacks. A double set of stretchy cords go across your chest and can be cinched down to keep the pack from bouncing around too much.

This pack does not have a sleeve inside for a hydration bladder, which may be a con for some. But our testers found that while running, they preferred to have some soft bottles in the vest pockets instead of a heavy bladder sloshing around on their back anyways. The pack itself also weighs 1 lb., 8 oz., and isn’t as light as a running vest, so you won’t want to stuff it too full or it might slow you down. But because of its useful features and great shoulder straps, this is an obvious choice for the hybrid runner and hiker.

Best Technical Daypack

Black Diamond Pursuit 15


  • Material 100% recycled polyester
  • Pockets 1 zippered and 3 stretch pockets on the shoulder straps; 1 large stretch-woven front pocket; 2 quick-access side pockets; 1 interior zippered pocket with key clip
  • Suspension style Frameless foam back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Scrambling or summit pack
  • Weight 1 lb., 8 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Comfortable suspension system with seamless wing construction that hugs your body
  • Lots of pockets
  • Easy access trekking pole storage


  • No ice ax loop
  • Pricey

The Black Diamond Pursuit 15 ($150) is a new model in Black Diamond’s lightweight mountain pack lineup. While the popular Distance 15 is lighter weight and built more for runners and mountaineers who are super weight-conscious, the Pursuit 15 is a bit heavier with more features making it a better choice for general lightweight mountain scrambling, summit tagging, and mountain trail running. 

The most welcome new design feature is the BD Continuous Fit Harness, which has a seamless wing construction for comfort on the move. These wings are wonderfully soft and stretchy, and also feature large, wraparound mesh pockets that are perfect for snacks or other items you might want to have easy access to. These wings keep the pack snug against your body as you move, making it comfortable as you go from hiking uphill to breaking into a run on the downhill.

A large, mesh front pocket is helpful for stashing a wind layer, sunscreen and snacks, while a zip pocket on the front chest strap can fit a smaller phone, and additional mesh pouches are great for gels and bars or small hydration bladders. 

Something that sets it apart from the lighter Distance 15 is the lack of an ice axe loop on the front of the pack. For a technical mountain pack, this is an important feature depending on the terrain you find yourself in, and is something to consider when purchasing the Pursuit 15. Overall, this is a fantastic, comfortable pack for fast pursuits in the mountains.

Best Women's-Specific Daypack

Osprey Tempest 20


  • Material 210D/420D recycled ripstop nylon
  • Pockets Three external stretch, one external zippered, and two hipbelt
  • Suspension style Frameless foam back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 3 L
  • Ideal use Hiking, biking
  • Weight 1 lb., 15.6 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Feature-rich
  • Highly adjustable hip belt and harness
  • Multisport ready


  • Expensive

Osprey’s Tempest 20 L ($160), a sister to the Osprey Talon (men’s) pack, won our best pick for women’s-specific pack. This pack garnered high marks from all of our female testers, thanks to features like its breathable back panel, lumbar support, padded hip belt, and accurate (and adjustable!) fit around the torso and hips.

Osprey equipped this women’s pack with a BioStretch hip belt (seamless fabric) and wrapping harness, allowing both to be adjustable. There’s also an adjustable sternum strap to fit different size chests.

On top of the perks of a women’s fit, testers also really like this pack’s stretch mesh pocket on the shoulder strap and good-size hip belt pockets. Trekking pole and bike helmet attachment points (plus other loops and pockets for stashing a variety of gear), as well as an external hydration bladder compartment (works with a 2 or 3-liter bladder), round out this pack and make it a fantastic do-all option.

You will pay for the feature-richness, as the Tempest 20 L was close to the most expensive daypack in our testing. Added recently, the Tempest also comes in a new size (24 L), if you’re looking for a bit more room.

Best of the Rest

Gregory Nano 22 Daypack


  • Material 210-denier CryptoRip honeycomb nylon
  • Pockets Large zip-access main compartment, quick-access zippered front pocket with key hook and organization sleeves, front mesh pocket and two mesh side pockets
  • Suspension style Die-cut foam back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Around town, day hikes
  • Weight 1 lb., 1.6 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Wide, comfortable shoulder straps
  • Die-cut foam back panel for enhanced breathability
  • Comes with a hydration bladder
  • Lots of pockets


  • Hip strap is only a thin piece of webbing
  • Too big to be a running pack

A comfortable and spacious daypack, the Gregory Nano 22 ($89) is another great all-arounder that has a lot of the same features as other packs in our review, but still is worth taking a closer look at. The most significant features in our testers’ minds that make this pack a good pick are its broad, comfortable shoulder straps and breathable mesh back panel. 

Shoulder straps seem to come in all shapes and sizes in our daypack lineup, and these straps don’t skimp on support as some others seem to do. The die-cut foam back panel also takes an extra design step to ensure good airflow for sweaty activities, and makes this pack versatile for bike commuting around town or going on a brisk hike. 

The hip strap is a basic thin piece of webbing, which isn’t as impressive as some of the other padded waist belts seen in our lineup, and it is too bulky of a pack to go running with. While there aren’t enough features in this daypack to really make it a cut above the rest, it is a great, affordable, high-quality pack that can be used for a variety of occasions.

Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Del Dia Pack


  • Material 100% repurposed ripstop nylon
  • Pockets One external zippered
  • Suspension style Frameless
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 2 L
  • Ideal use Travel, commuting
  • Weight 10.6 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Sustainable
  • Price
  • Slender profile for commuting


  • Fabric colors sometimes aren’t as advertised
  • Requires careful packing

This simple and durable no-frills pack is one of our favorites factoring in comfort, price, and style. The Luzon 18 L pack ($60) is comfortable to wear when commuting by walking and biking, and it also works as a great travel pack with one main compartment (no loose pockets or sleeves).

Cotopaxi makes the pack with a ripstop nylon shell fabric, a top-loading drawstring compartment, an adjustable sternum strap, and mesh shoulder straps.

On top of all the physical features, each Luzon pack is 100% unique, as they’re made from cuts of repurposed fabric. We like that the pack is on the more slender side but doesn’t get too chunky when carrying a variety of items, which makes it ideal for bopping around the city on the way to work.

In addition to this pack, Cotopaxi uses its scrap fabric to make other gear items (like its Teca Half-Zip windbreaker). While using repurposed fabrics earns the Luzon top marks for sustainability, some purchasers online have noted that the fabric colors they received didn’t quite match what they expected. Read more about this top commuter pick in our in-depth review.

Gregory Citro and Juno 30L Hydration Packs


  • Material 210D/420D ripstop nylon
  • Pockets Three external stretch, one external zippered, two hipbelt
  • Suspension style Frameless foam back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 2 L
  • Ideal use All around
  • Weight 2 lbs., 1.4 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Lots of external storage
  • Hydration-friendly


  • Heavier for a day pack
  • Price

These packs are another popular option for day trips, whether you’re running, hiking, or biking. The Gregory Citro (men’s) and Juno (women’s fit) 30-liter packs ($180) focus on hydration design and ease of access to gear.

These packs made it on our list because while Gregory has tons of iterations of hydration packs, these stood out in our testing. It’s compact and has great features like a ventilated back panel and magnetic bite valve attachment for properly storing that hydration hose out of the way.

Daypacks that prioritize hydration will often need to contend with added water weight, but the Citro and Juno do it with style. An ActiveFlex harness keeps the load close to your back, and is one of the most supportive in our review.

Gregory’s Citro and Juno packs also come in a 24-liter size.

Matador Freerain22 Packable Daypack


  • Material 50D ripstop nylon, with 100D Robic wear panels
  • Pockets Two external stretch, One external zippered
  • Suspension style Frameless
  • Hydration-compatible No
  • Ideal use Travel
  • Weight 10.6 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Great packability
  • Waterproof fabric
  • Rugged wear panels


  • No foam back panel or frame in a larger volume pack
  • Uncomfortable pack straps

“Packable” is in the name, and for good reason. We’ve taken the Freerain22 Daypack from Matador ($100) snowshoeing, running, hiking, to and from the office, and more. The waterproof exterior and roll-top closure are especially great if you get caught in rainy or snowy weather — all your layers and pack contents will stay dry.

It’s also great for travel or impromptu adventures. Packed down into its tiny pocket sleeve, you can stash this bag just about anywhere. Matador has achieved the near-impossible with this pack — offering storage for 22 liters of gear while packing down to just 6 by 4 inches and weighing only 10.6 ounces.

Recently updated, the Freerain22 now sports high-wear panels of durable Robic ripstop nylon, as well as a number of new attachment options and gear loops. These added features come at a price, adding weight over its predecessor and slightly dulling the pack’s first-class size-to-weight ratio. The packed size, however, continues to impress.

Several of our editors have used the Matador Freerain22 pack, and all had positive feedback. The only con we had was from our female tester: the shape of the wider mesh shoulder straps makes it harder to find the right fit across the chest compared to other packs. Due to this, the straps aren’t as comfortable. Still, its packability won us over.

Osprey Hikelite 18 Pack


  • Material 100D/420D recycled nylon
  • Pockets Two external stretch, one zippered
  • Suspension style Alloy wire frame, breathable mesh back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 3 L
  • Ideal use Backpacking, travel
  • Weight 1 lb., 8.7 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Breathable back panel and straps
  • Plenty of color options
  • Integrated rain cover


  • Limited external attachment options

This pack is not only a popular and trusted option but also came close to taking the best overall designation. The Hikelite 18 Pack from Osprey ($95) has a foam back panel, a durable 100D/420D recycled nylon exterior, and a large main compartment that swallowed our kit during testing.

The Hikelite series of packs from Osprey builds on their popular Daylite packs (which we have given high marks to in the past) but bulks up the suspension system to create a daypack that carries any load with ease. A light alloy hoop frame works in tandem with the tensioned mesh back panel to create both a strong and ventilated support system.

The pack comes in a variety of colors and has thoughtful features like an emergency whistle built into the sternum buckle. It also has compression straps on the side to secure water bottles or extra gear when your pack is on the fuller side. And rounding out the thoughtful hiking-minded features: an integrated rain cover that deploys from a secret pocket below the pack body.

While this 18-liter pack is on the smaller side, it can pack in more than you think and is plenty big enough to carry an extra layer, water, and a first-aid kit — the minimal day hiking basics. The downside of a streamlined exterior is the paucity of a larger stuff pocket for things like a wet rain jacket, but for quick jaunts in the hills, you’ll likely forget the need.

Osprey’s classic go-to Hikelite has garnered an excellent reputation among our GearJunkie testers. If you’re looking for a pack with a few more storage options, the Hikelite also comes in a 26-liter, 28-liter, and 32-liter capacity, with the latter two sizes including two separate torso lengths for a perfect fit.

To read more about our best runner-up daypack choice, check out our in-depth review.

Patagonia Altvia 28L


  • Material 100% recycled nylon
  • Pockets Three external stretch, one zippered
  • Suspension style Frameless foam back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes, up to 3 L
  • Ideal use Day trips that require a lot of gear or might run long
  • Weight 1 lb., 12 oz.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Comfortable mesh backpanel
  • Hydration compatible
  • Integrated rain cover


  • Hipbelt pockets are a bit shallow

As part of a lineup of capable daypacks from Patagonia, the Altvia 28 L ($149) lands as the second-largest and is just about the goldilocks size for us when it comes to day trips that might edge into evening adventures.

Built for comfort, the Altvia 28 L is built around a removable frame sheet and spacer mesh back panel that easily supported our loads during testing. 28 liters is just about the point where we begin wanting the support of a hip belt, and we were happy to see one included on this pack, along with small stretch hip belt pockets that are perfect for keys, lip balm, or a small trail snack.

The closure style of the Altvia 28 L is reminiscent of the drawstring collar-turned lid that graced the previous generation of Patagonia’s alpine-focused Ascensionist packs, and it’s still one that we find just plain works. We will note that this lid has two buckle straps available to it to cinch down the load, depending on how full or empty your pack is.

At the front of the pack, a deep stretch mesh pocket swallows up wet rain jackets or items we’re grabbing throughout the day, such as a GPS or water filter. And sitting side-saddle to that are two stretch water bottle pockets that were accommodating to even the largest of our insulated bottles. If bottles aren’t your thing, there’s also an internal water bladder sleeve and routing port for your hydration hose.

Maybe our favorite part of this pack was one we didn’t expect: a full-sized pack cover deploys from a hidden pocket at the bottom of the bag, meaning that surprise showers had nothing on us. 

Also available in 14-liter, 22-liter, and 36-liter sizes, the Altvia series of daypacks are a versatile set of bags that can take you from the trailhead and back, no matter how long your day trip takes. Check out our thoughts on the largest of the Altiva packs in our deep-dive review.

Osprey Talon 22


  • Material 210D/420D recycled ripstop nylon
  • Pockets Three external stretch, one external zippered, and two hipbelt
  • Suspension style Frameless foam back panel
  • Hydration-compatible Yes
  • Ideal use Multisport days
  • Weight 2 lbs.
The Best Daypacks of 2023


  • Many attachment features
  • Cushy suspension system


  • On the heavier end

Osprey’s Talon 22 is pricey at $160, but its durability and lightweight might be worth it. This pack earned glowing reviews from our daypack testers, who raved about this pack’s nearly perfect fit and performance across a variety of terrain. Its volume is also on the upper end, with a capacity to store 22 liters of gear.

We added this pack to the list because of its lightweight construction, an abundance of pockets (including the harness strap stash pocket), and Osprey’s excellent reputation. In our own testing, we found the hype to be real, highly valuing the fine-tuned suspension system and various attachment options. This does, however, mean the pack has put on a few ounces compared to other, more svelte models.

You should definitely consider this pack if you’re looking for something more sport-specific like biking or climbing — the pack has a helmet attachment point as well as a trekking pole and ice loop attachments.

There’s also a dizzying number of different volumes available in the Talon line, from a fast and ultralight 11-liter to a light, overnight-ready 44-liter.

Daypack Comparison Chart

Daypack Material Pockets Suspension Style Hydration-Compatible Weight
Deuter Speed Lite 25
100D and 140D high-tenacity 100% recycled polyamide 4 total Deuter’s Lite System, a tensioned Derlin U frame Yes 1 lb., 9 oz.
REI Co-op Flash 22
Recycled ripstop nylon 5 total Frameless foam back panel (removable) Yes 14 oz.
REI Co-op Trail 25
Recycled ripstop nylon 6 total Internal HPDE framesheet Yes 1 lb., 15 oz.
Salomon Trailblazer 20
Polyester, polyamide, elastane, polyethylene 8 total Padded back system with padded hip belt Yes 14.6 oz.
Arc’teryx Aerios 15
100-denier CORDURA nylon; 210-denier CORDURA nylon 7 total AeroForm back panel with frame sheet No 1 lb., 8 oz.
Black Diamond Pursuit 15
100% recycled polyester 8 total Frameless foam back panel Yes 1 lb., 8 oz.
Osprey Tempest 20
210D/420D recycled ripstop nylon 6 total Frameless foam back panel Yes 1 lb., 15.6 oz.
Gregory Nano 22 Daypack
210-denier CryptoRip honeycomb nylon 5 total Die-cut foam back panel Yes 1 lb., 1.6 oz.
Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Del Dia 100% repurposed ripstop nylon 2 total Frameless Yes 10.6 oz.
Gregory CitroJuno 30L  210D/420D ripstop nylon 6 total Frameless foam back panel Yes 2 lbs., 1.4 oz.
Matador Freerain22 50D ripstop nylon, with 100D Robic wear panels 4 total Frameless No 10.6 oz.
Osprey Hikelite 18 100D/420D recycled nylon 4 total Alloy wire frame, breathable mesh back panel Yes 1 lb., 8.7 oz.
Patagonia Altvia 28L
100% recycled nylon 5 total Frameless foam back panel Yes 1 lb., 12 oz.
Osprey Talon 22
210D/420D recycled ripstop nylon 7 total Frameless foam back panel Yes 2 lbs.
From town to the trail, we saddled up these daypacks for the ultimate test; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Why You Should Trust Us

Our GearJunkie testers are a multisport bunch who take every opportunity to sneak out for the types of brief adventures that daypacks shine in. And, we’ve put our heads together here to drum up the best daypacks on the market in 2023.

Nick Belcaster is a Washington-based trail hound who knows well the “get-it-while-you-can” aspect of adventuring in what is sometimes known as the Pacific North West. His exploits range from car-to-car alpine adventures in North Cascades National Park to ripping around on mountain bikes just outside of town, and in doing so he’s cultivated a taste for what makes a daypack the one

Our other chief daypack tester, Miya Tsudome, lives in the high desert of Bishop, Calif., at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. She spends the majority of her time in the summer climbing, backpacking, and going on day hikes, and knows what she is looking for in a daypack for navigating mountain terrain. 

The beauty of a daypack is in its absolute versatility, and we’ve used ours to tackle everything from single track to toting the laptop into the urban jungle. For this list, we looked at daypacks across the spectrum — from packable and travel-friendly rucksacks to full-featured hiking and riding packs — and sent them out for proving on bite-size adventures across the country.

Each backpack on this list was put through real-world tests by our trail-loving pros; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Daypack

Whether you’re choosing a pack to take you from work to the mountains or a daypack that can fill one specific use, let’s break down the best way to choose the right daypack for you.

Pack Size

One of the most important items on the trail is your pack — it’s how you’ll carry all your gear and support yourself on the trail. For this review, we included daypacks from 15 to 30 liters, but that’s a huge range.

Consider what gear you’ll want to carry: the basics like water, a first-aid kit, wind/rain layer, snacks, glasses, and a cellphone. You might also carry extras like your kids’ layers, a doggie bowl, sun hat or sunscreen, camera, trekking poles, and water reservoir.

You’ll only have space for the essential items with an 11-18 liter pack, but these are usually a little more versatile for daily use. This is a good size if you’re commuting or going on a shorter hike or bike ride, which the Cotopaxi Luzon 18L is a good choice for. 

While interior space is where you’ll stash most of your kit, don’t count out exterior lashing points; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Meanwhile, a daypack of around 20-30 liters, like the Deuter Speed Lite 25, allows you to bring more water for longer trips in hotter environments or extra food and heavier layers if it’s spring or fall. Packs of this size are also better for quick overnights and multi-activity trips like hiking and climbing or short-term travel.

Larger packs can also be a good choice if you’re traveling in alpine terrain and need more space or features— like headlamp pockets, trekking pole sleeves, ice axe loops, a hip belt, and a helmet compartment or exterior stretch pocket. Although some technical mountain packs like the Black Diamond Pursuit 15 keep it light and small at only 15 liters, but with many of the features you look for in a technical mountain pack so you can stay nimble.

Bigger isn’t always better, and the Black Diamond Pursuit does a lot with the 15 liters it’s got; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Apart from the volume, or carrying capacity, of a pack, there’s also pack sizing for your body. Daypacks are usually one size, as they’re meant to be adjustable and versatile yet streamlined. We had multiple testers of different body types try on these daypacks for comparison.

Any good daypack will have adjustable straps that help with fit. And even though they are daypacks, many have sternum straps or hip belts as well.

If a pack does come in multiple sizes (usually S/M or M/L size ranges or plus or tall sizes), make sure to check the brand’s size chart. Measure your torso or back length and find a pack that will fit your size and height. Things to look for: packs with sternum straps or a removable hip strap.

The duration and intensity of your trip will help determine which pack size you should go with; (photo/Mary Murphy)

Frame Styles and Straps

Because the loads they carry are often lighter, daypacks don’t benefit greatly from the complicated frames of larger backpacking packs. More often, foam sheets are employed to provide some rigidity to the back panel and better distribute the weight.

Packs like the Gregory Citro and the Osprey Talon 22 or Tempest offer the greatest amount of support while remaining frameless. Some packs will also make their foam frame sheets removable, offering a cushioned seat on the go like with the REI Co-op Flash 22.

A frameless pack will have an upper comfortable limit when it comes to weight, and will need to be packed with care to avoid being poked in the back with your kit. We try to stay below 15 pounds maximum when saddling up a daypack for an extended jaunt.

The addition of a minimal frame can greatly increase the carrying capacity of a daypack, such as the tensioned Derlin U frame of the Deuter Speed Lite 25, but when you’re hauling the lightweight loads associated with day trips, it often isn’t a necessity.

Shoulder straps also play an important role in providing support for a day on the trail. These are typically available in three flavors: J-style straps are the original, S-style straps accommodate those with large chests, and running-vest style straps are preferred for light loads and active movement. Look for shoulder straps that provide a good amount of cushioning foam and fit your torso appropriately.

The shoulder straps on the Arc’teryx Aerios 15 also feature zippered pockets and stretchy pouches in a running-vest style; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Typically a requirement on backpacking packs, hip belts on daypacks can afford to be less supportive due to the lighter loads they carry. The most minimal style features simple webbing belts, and can even be removable, like on the Arc’teryx Aerios 15.

More supportive hip belts incorporate spacer mesh and foam to disperse the weight across the hips. If you’re looking to tack on the miles or just want a more cushioned ride, springing for a full-featured hip belt is well worth it, and you won’t be disappointed by the uber-comfortable one on the Black Diamond Pursuit 15.

The highly breathable, ventilated AirSpeed back panel of the Osprey Hikelite; (photo/Mary Murphy)


Daypacks don’t often see the abuses of larger bags, and are commonly constructed of lighter fabrics to minimize weight and cut down on bulk. All of the daypacks on our list are tried and tested, and they’ll work for most outdoor activities.

That being said, if you want a pack to put through the paces year after year, consider one with a higher-denier material (like tight-weaved polyamide, polyester, or ripstop nylon). Deniers from 100 to 200 are a great sign a pack will be durable in the long run. The Arc’teryx Aerios 15 does not skimp on quality, and is an example of a pack made with 100, 200, and 210-denier materials. The REI Co-op Trail 25 is also made with recycled materials which is a nice feature to look out for as well.

Both of the REI Co-op packs on our list, the Flash 22 and Trail 25, are made from 100% recycled ripstop nylon; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

The material of the back panel in particular can be the difference between smooth sailing and a sweaty back. Daypacks that use spacer mesh and die-cut foam patterns in their back panels will breathe much better than their flat-back counterparts.

Back Panels

Most daypacks will rely on some type of foam and mesh to provide cushioning on your back, as well as promote airflow and breathability. In the pursuit of cutting ounces, daypacks on the ultralight side of the spectrum may exclude this altogether, meaning that perspiration can’t escape as easily.

The upside to this is that these packs compress down impressively, meaning they disappear into luggage or a larger pack.

Because daypacks often lack the bones of a frame to support weight, cushioned back panel design helps to shore up the structure and provides additional support, while keeping the weight close to your back.

A spacer mesh or segmented back panel will keep air moving and hopefully your shirt dry. We were impressed by the ventilation provided by the Deuter Speed Lite 25, as well as the Osprey Talon 22 and Tempest daypacks.

Osprey leads the pack when it comes to suspension systems, and their daypacks are no exception; (photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Features, Pockets, and Closures

What features does the pack offer? Look for how many pockets the pack has or if it has internal pockets or compartments. These features are great to have when it comes to organizing your gear. Is there an exterior pocket? Are there side pockets?

Things to look for: Our first thought when we examine a new pack in testing is to look for where we’ll store our water source, whether that’s a reservoir or bottle. Also, check to make sure the pack’s internal sleeve will fit your reservoir (which can run anywhere between 0.75 and 3 liters).

The second thing we check is the back panel. Almost all the packs that made it on our list have ventilated mesh or breathable back panels — this is a really great feature for almost all adventures.

The closure style of a day pack can have a big impact on how quickly accessible it is. Main compartments that open with a drawstring are a snap to pop open and closed, but aren’t the most secure or waterproof.

A pack with enough room for the 10 essentials; (photo/Mary Murphy)

Roll-tops, like the Matador Freerain22 Packable Daypack, offer the best protection from the elements, but can be slow to unravel on opening. Zippered closures are seen on the more feature-rich daypacks, and can even be watertight, but will need to be cared for more, as grit and sand can damage their sliders and cause them to split if neglected.

Sport-specific features, like a bike helmet lashing system or an ice axe loop, will often dictate the best usage style for your daypack. It’s often worth considering what you’ll be using your daypack for the most and purchasing a dedicated pack, or one that is feature-rich and can be used for many different outings. Some packs will have attachments for trekking poles on the outside, like on the REI Co-op Trail 25 or the Arc’teryx Aerios 15 which frees up valuable side pocket space. Some of the more technical packs like the Arc’teryx Aerios 15 and the Black Diamond Pursuit 15 also have pouches on the front of their shoulder straps for water flasks or quick access to your phone or some snacks. 

The REI Co-op Flash 22 has a drawstring closure which makes for easy access, but not great weatherproofing; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Hydration Compatibility

Keeping your water accessible is the best way to ensure your thirst is quenched, and H2O systems like the Platypus BigZip EVO or Osprey Hydraulics Reservoirs make an excellent pairing with a daypack for extended trips. Many daypacks provide hydration compatibility, though not all, so choose based on your expected usage.

Hydration-oriented packs will have separate compartments for bladders, sometimes with insulated sleeves or hooks for securing a bladder, and routing for a hydration tube. Some packs, like Gregory’s H20 Series, have magnetic or quick clip attachments for easy sippin’ on the go. Hydration tube ports allow for drinking tubes to exit the interior of the pack.

Gregory’s H2O series is built around the hydration bladder, and makes for easy integration; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

You’ll want to check the sizing of your daypack with the size of your bladder. For example, a large 3-liter bladder might not fit in a 16-liter pack. See what the brand recommends and check the sizing.

It’s also worth mentioning that water can be one of the heaviest things you carry in a daypack, and choosing a pack with a more robust suspension system to accommodate it will keep your back happy. A pack without a frame like the Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia Pack isn’t likely to haul a full 3 liters of water nearly as well as one with a more robustly supportive frame. The Arc’teryx Aerios 15 is a pretty technical pack but lacks a hydration sleeve which is also something to keep in mind.

Hydration bladder hoses route out of a port on the pack body, and mount to your shoulder straps for easy access; (photo/Mary Murphy)


Do you live in a climate where there’s lots of rain? Are you looking for a daypack that’s more durable and can stand up to travel and use in different places? Check the waterproofing on the pack.

Look for a DWR coating, polyamide, or PU abrasion resistance coating (these packs will be more durable), taped seams, roll-top closures, and waterproof or sealed zippers. Daypacks that incorporate a number of these features, like the Matador Freerain22 Packable Daypack, will have a high level of waterproofness and keep afternoon storms at bay.

You can also employ a pack cover or liner to keep items like an insulated jacket or electronics dry for when you need them most. Some packs, like the Patagonia Altvia 28L, even come with integrated pack covers that deploy from a hidden pocket.

Don’t forget to check the quality of the zippers and zipper pulls as well as the overall construction of the pack. Also, check the material on the pack bottom for durability.

Women’s-Specific Daypacks

Women are built differently than men. Women’s packs tend to have a shorter torso length, narrower shoulder-width straps, and different hip measurements to reflect that. For some, having a women’s pack makes all the difference.

Unfortunately, many smaller volume daypacks are often only available in one unisex size, which means you’ll get less of a customized fit. Larger volume daypacks tend to see increased loads, and some on the market will be offered in a Small/Medium, Medium/Large sizing, or include a women’s-specific model.

Be sure to check to see if a brand offers a pack series in men’s/women’s-specific, and see which measurements or size offerings will best fit you. The pack we zeroed in on as the best women’s-specific was the Osprey Women’s Tempest. Black Diamond also makes a women’s and men’s specific version of the Black Diamond Pursuit 15 with different fits and colorways.

Certain daypacks, like the Arc’teryx Aerios 15, come in both a Men’s and Women’s version, to better accommodate different shaped torsos; (photo/Miya Tsudome)


Daypacks run the gamut in terms of cost, from budget-minded sacks to high-end bags for in-a-day adventures. The best bang-for-your-buck daypack we’ve encountered has been the REI Co-op Flash 22.

A good rule to follow is the broader your horizons, the more you’re likely to spend. Additional features add up quickly, and the daypack that can do it all certainly comes with a price tag. More budget-minded options will also likely have a limited lifespan, so treat them with care.


What is the best daypack?

The best daypack is hard to define because the sizing will vary based on your needs. Some days, we’ll reach for our trusty 22-liter REI Flash. On other days, we might need a 24-30 liter pack depending on the activity.

That being said, the Deuter Speed Lites, REI Co-op Trail 25, and Black Diamond Pursuit 15 packs were some top staff favorites.

Got a technical day trip in mind? The Black Diamond Pursuit 15 is up for it; (photo/Miya Tsudome)
What is the difference between a backpack and a daypack?

Simply, size. A daypack is meant to comfortably carry all of the essentials you might need on a daily outing and are typically between 12 and 30 liters. A backpacking pack will have additional space to accommodate all of the equipment needed for an overnight trip or a more technical outing like rock climbing.

What size pack is good for day hiking?

As we mentioned in the intro, you’ll want a 15-30 liter day pack for hiking. Any larger, and it will be a heavier load to carry; any smaller, and you won’t have room for the 10 essentials. Based on experience and what’s on the market, 20-24 liter packs tend to be the most popular choice.

20-25 liters is just about the sweet spot for three-season hiking day trips; (photo/Miya Tsudome)
What should be in a daypack for hiking?

Great question — we’ve got an article on this exact topic, with a handy, comprehensive list you can even print out!

But you can expect to always start with the basics: extra layers or a rain layer (depending on the season), water, food, a small first-aid kit, and sun protection.

What should I look for when buying a hiking daypack?

For the daypack itself, look for durable — maybe even water-resistant — fabric, a breathable back panel, straps or loops for securing gear, and a good mix of internal and external pockets.

Other features that are great to have on a daypack are a hip belt, sternum strap, key clip, hydration sleeve, and attachment points for trekking poles.

Now that you have all the tools you need to choose the right pack, get out there and enjoy the outdoors!

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