We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!

WHAT IS A HIKING DAYPACK?

The hiking daypack market is so packed (…terrible pun) with options it can be easy to get lost in the sheer volume of styles and accessories. Traditionally a daypack is used for single-day adventures, either into the mountains or an urban escape. They come in all shapes and sizes and each tries to differentiate from the other using new accessories, pockets, or construction. Do you need to carry lots of water? Is the weather quite variable and you need to be able to adapt on the fly with lots of layers? In this article we break down the main features to look for in a hiking daypack and review ten of the top packs on the market.
Best Hiking Daypack Review 2020
The packs that will be reviewed in this article are all created for hiking and getting away from the urban jungle. Most of the packs will absolutely succeed in both environments (like the Gregory Miwok 24) but they were created to help you explore and get off the beaten track. If you would like a daypack that is more suited for commuting check out our article on Everyday Carry Packs.

SIZING

You may be wondering why every daypack on the market has a number beside the name. That is the amount of storage in Liters that they are manufactured to carry. Hiking daypacks will normally fall within the 20-35-liters range, any larger and you end up carrying extra gear and weight that truthfully you do not need. Packs below this range often lack many of the accessories that are helpful for a hiking day pack, for example: hiking pole loops, integrated hydration bladder pocket, and hip belts. For this reason all of the packs in this article will fall within the 20-35l range. 

Gender Specific Daypacks

 

Most backpack companies now design packs for men and women. The female built packs have harness systems that are built with a female figure in mind. This allows for greater comfort while wearing a pack for the whole day. Occasionally the same pack design is named something different for each gender, for example the Gregory Miwok 24 is designed for men, while the Gregory Maya 22 is basically the same pack but built for a female form. This is something to look out for while shopping for daypacks, to ensure you get the best fitting pack for your figure.

 

 

Pro tip: If you are struggling to find the perfect fit in a pack, consider trying those for the opposite gender. Sometimes, smaller framed men and more muscular women find that a pack designed for the opposite sex fits better. Meanwhile, women’s specific packs sometimes have more curved shoulder straps, which men with large pecks find to fit more comfortably.
Best Hiking Daypack: Gregory Miwok 24 - Gear Hacker

VENTILATION AND SUSPENSION

The 3 main areas to look for in a daypack’s construction are: suspension (shoulder straps, and hip belts), back panel, and material. These three parts will have the greatest impact on the amount you are able to carry and the level of comfort you will feel while using the pack. The shoulder straps will often include load lifters, straps near the top of the pack, and a sternum strap to help customize the fit. Most daypacks now include some cushioning on the shoulder straps to reduce pressure on the shoulders which helps to improve comfort while wearing the pack. 
Best Hiking Daypack: Osprey Talon 22 - Gear Hacker
The hip belts are as, if not more, important than the shoulder straps. They will carry the majority of the load of the pack and reduce the load carried on the shoulders. Daypack hip belts vary from minimalist strap styles, which are light but lack comfort, to padded hip belts, which can support more weight while remaining comfortable. Larger hip belts also often include some type of pocket system to help store and carry small valuables (i.e. a multi-tool, or snacks). These pockets are great and let you get at some things without having to remove the pack, saving time and keeping you on the go! 
Best Hiking Daypack: Osprey Talon 22 - Gear Hacker
The back panel is equally important for load-bearing and ventilation. In daypacks you will see back panels vary from metal or plastic supportive panels (which are heavier but will breathe better and support more weight), flexible foam panels (lighter, less breathability and support), to no panels for support at all. The style of the back panel impacts comfort, breathability (to reduce sweaty back syndrome), and the amount of weight you’ll be able to comfortably carry. The material of packs is also slightly variable, with many companies going for lightweight nylon fabrics. The fabric will play a role in the durability and overall weight of the pack. However, unless you’re going for extremely fast and lightweight missions, the addition of a few ounces for a more durable, longer-lasting fabric should go unnoticed. 

HYDRATION

Most daypacks come with some type of integrated hydration bladder pocket. These allow you to carry a bladder centered behind you to keep the pack weighted evenly while supporting the heaviest item, a full water bladder, right on top of the hip belts. Hydration bladder pockets will be able to accommodate up to a 3l bladder, either inside the main compartment or in an integrated sleeve. Our favorite option is an exterior hydration bladder pocket like the ones found  in the Camelbak Fourteener 26, or Gregory Miwok. The external pocket allows for the removal and addition of the bladder without having to completely unpack your pack, which depending on how much gear you are carrying can be quite a pain. 
Best Hiking Daypack: Camelbak Fourteener 26 - Gear Hacker

STORAGE

The real excitement of the daypack is the number of pockets or ways you can organize it. Traditionally, there will be a “main compartment” with either a zipper, draw string, or roll-top closure system. Packs featuring zippered openings create a front-load/duffle bag style opening for easier access to your gear at the bottom of the pack. This zipper style can be found on the Kelty Redwing 32 or the Mystery Ranch Scree 32. The style of the opening system is a personal decision, though most packs today feature zippered closures. They are secure and fast compared to the roll-top style, which are extremely secure but require extra time to open and close when you need to access the interior of the pack. 

Other pocket types and styles to consider are: side water bottle pockets, hip belt pockets, top stash pockets, or stretch mesh exterior pockets like those found on the Patagonia Nine Trails 28. Pockets are highly personal. If you are a minimalist and only want a few pockets or someone who craves maximum organization and is looking for a separate pocket for their lip balm, there will be a pack for you. The trade-off of bells and whistles is the weight. The more zippers, clips, layers of interior fabric to divide the pack, the heavier the pack will be. Again, if you are not going for the fastest-known-time on the Great Divide Trail, the additional weight will be worth having the extra snack pocket. 

HOW WE JUDGED

Judging a pack for single-day adventures is very personal. The varieties are endless and every company is trying new ways to differentiate and create the perfect pack. It is important to try on the packsif you can⁠—before you buy. Go to your local outdoor store, such as REI, which will have a large selection of brands and pack styles. Buying from an online retailer that allows free returns, like Backcountry.com, if you’re unable to get to a store to try on packs will help as well. It will take a bit more time, but this will ensure that you end up with the right pack for your adventures and body!

With that being said, we judged these packs on 3 main features. Firstly, comfort and ventilation: can this pack be worn for an entire day with a full load? How does it move with you while you are on the go, and does it keep the load weight where it needs to be? How well built is the harness system, how do the shoulder straps and hip straps help in managing load and overall comfort? Secondly, storage and convenience: how well organized can you stay while on the trail? 

Finally, we looked at weight and durability. Though this one is not as important as the previous three, it is good to know if your daypack will be long-lasting and reliable over many, many uses. While weight is another factor to take into account, we typically recommend the more comfortable packs over those that sacrifice comfort for weight savings.

Best Hiking Daypack 2020

 

Top Picks

 

Deuter Speed Lite 24: Best Overall Daypack

Osprey Stratos 24: Most Comfortable Daypack

Kelty Redwing 32: Best Pack for the Highly Organized

Gregory Miwok 24: Runner Up for Best Daypack

Camelbak Fourteener 26: Best Hydration Daypack  

REI Co-op Flash 22: Best Budget Daypack

 

 

Best Hiking Daypack: Deuter Speed Lite 24 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Srorage 90% 90%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Pros

External Gear Loops

Stash Pocket

Good Hip Belts

Cons

Maybe Too Long for some Torsos.

Dimensions: 22” x 11” x 7.1” / 56 x 28 x 18 cm

Weight: 794g

Best Hiking Daypack: Osprey Stratos 24 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Great Harness System for Size

Integrated Rain Cover

Cons

Sticks Out Far from the Body When Fully Packed

No Stash Pocket for Layers

Dimensions: 22” x 12” x 12” / 56 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm

Weight: 1247g

Best Hiking Daypack: Kelty Redwing 32 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Sierra.com

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Accessories 70% 70%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Great Price

Good Back Padding

Shoulder Straps

Cons

Too Many Pockets

Dimensions: 22” x 14” x 11” / 56 x 35.5 x 28 cm

Weight: 907g

Best Hiking Daypack: Gregory Miwok 24 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Pros

Lightweight

Slender Construction

Cons

No Internal Frame

Dimensions: 20.5” x 10.5” x 9” / 52 x 26.5 x 23 cm

Weight: 822g

Best Hiking Daypack: Camelbak Fourteener 26 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Storage 70% 70%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 50% 50%

Pros

Innovative Hip Belt System

Hydration Reservoir Included

Cons

Weight

Bulky Build

Dimensions: 21.3” x 11.8” x 10.2” / 54.1 x 30 x 26 cm

Weight: 1275g

Deuter Speed Lite 24

Best Hiking Daypack: Deuter Speed Lite 24 - Gear Hacker

Best Overall Daypack

 

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Srorage 90% 90%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Price: $105

Dimensions: 22” x 11” x 7.1” / 56 x 28 x 18 cm

Weight: 794g

What We Like: External gear loops, stash pocket, and good hip belts.

What We Don’t: Maybe too long for some torsos. 

The Deuter Speed Lite 24 came in as our daypack of the year for many reasons. Compared to the older Speed Lite 20, it is a major improvement and includes several additional accessories. The Speed Lite 24 has a well-constructed harness system with a V-shaped back panel to really balance the weight of the pack onto the center of the user. The variety of gear loops on the exterior and price helped the pack earn our pick as the Best Daypack of 2020. 

Osprey Stratos 24

Best Hiking Daypack: Osprey Stratos 24 - Gear Hacker

Most Comfortable Daypack

 

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Price: $140

Dimensions: 22” x 12” x 12” / 56 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm

Weight: 1247g

What We Like: Great harness system for size, integrated rain cover. 

What We Don’t: Sticks out far from the body when fully packed, no stash pocket for layers. 

The Osprey Stratos 24 is without question one of the more comfortable daypacks on the market, thanks to its stretch mesh suspension system, which creates support and excellent ventilation. There are excellent storage pockets and small accessories that help the Stratos stand out. The price is a bit high for a smaller pack. However, the comfort and lifetime guarantee offered by Osprey makes this a pack that you will be using for the rest of your life. While the Osprey Stratos 24 is a male designed pack, the Osprey Sirrus 24 is the female design of the same pack. It’s equally as comfortable. The Sirrus utilizes a shoulder strap and hip belt system designed to fit females better. That’s why the Osprey Stratos is our Most Comfortable Daypack.

Kelty Redwing 32

Best Hiking Daypack: Kelty Redwing 32 - Gear Hacker

Best Pack for the Highly Organized

 

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Accessories 70% 70%
  • Weight 60% 60%
Price: $100

Dimensions: 22” x 14” x 11” / 56 x 35.5 x 28 cm

Weight: 907g

What We Like: Great price, good back padding, and shoulder straps.

What We Don’t: Too many pockets

The Kelty Redwing 32 is a minimalist’s nightmare. That being said, for hikers who love organization and being able to have an area for everything on their gear list, it is perfect. The price of the Redwing is also impressive for what the pack offers. The padding on the shoulder straps and back panel is comfortable but may not breathe as well as other packs on the list. This pack is a workhorse and will keep you very well organized if you remember where everything went. With all of the pockets and the extremely reasonable price, the Kelty Redwing earned our Best Daypack for the Highly Organized designation. 

Gregory Miwok 24

Best Hiking Daypack: Gregory Miwok 24 - Gear Hacker

Runner Up for Best Daypack

 

  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 80% 80%
Price: $120

Dimensions: 20.5” x 10.5” x 9” / 52 x 26.5 x 23 cm

Weight: 822g

What We Like: Lightweight and a slender construction.

What We Don’t: No internal frame. 

 

The Gregory Miwok has been a great pack for years and every new iteration unveils some new technology. The Miwok is minimalist and built well. There are smart pockets, and the harness system has been built to breathe and move well with the user. There is no solid frame in the pack, which does cause problems with the pack when it is set down. A few great additions help the pack stand out, such as the glasses holder and plastic hydration hose holder on the shoulder straps. The Gregory Miwok 24 is also offered in a female specific variant as the Gregory Maya 22. Overall, the Gregory Miwok is our pick for Runner Up for Best Daypack.

Camelbak Fourteener 26

Best Hiking Daypack: Camelbak Fourteener 26 - Gear Hacker

Best Hydration Daypack

 

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Storage 70% 70%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 50% 50%
Price: $155

Dimensions: 21.3” x 11.8” x 10.2” / 54.1 x 30 x 26 cm

Weight: 1275g

What We Like: Innovative hip belt system, hydration reservoir included.

What We Don’t: Weight and bulky build. 

The Camelbak Fourteener 26 is one of the most innovative daypacks on the list. Camelbak has added dual wing hip belts to the Fourteener. This design serves multiple purposes by creating support with the inner belt while the outer belt wraps around the pack creating compression. The outer hip belt also includes additional storage. With an included hydration reservoir and extra space for even more water if needed, the Fourteener is our Best Hydration Daypack. Unfortunately, the weight and bulky design are areas that need improvement for this Camelbak pack to become a true contender, especially for its price. 

REI Co-op Flash 22

Best Hiking Daypack: REI Co-op Flash 22 - Gear Hacker

Best Budget Daypack

 

  • Comfort 50% 50%
  • Storage 60% 60%
  • Accessories 70% 70%
  • Weight 90% 90%
Price: $55

Dimensions: 18” x 10” x 8” / 45.7 x 25.4 x 20.3 cm

Weight: 368g

What We Like: Extremely lightweight, very inexpensive.

What We Don’t: Limited support, thin shoulder straps and hip belt.

REI is well known for making affordable but highly functional equipment, and the Flash 22 is no exception. The pack has an easy to use drawcord closure system and few external pockets to keep the price low. The lightweight hipbelt and sternum strap can be removed for a day in the city, and the minimalist design will keep you looking trendy on the streets or the trails. Weighing in at a featherweight 368g and costing only $55, the REI Co-op Flash 22 earned our Best Budget Daypack of the season. 

 

Osprey Talon 22

Best Hiking Daypack: Osprey Talon 22 - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Storage 70% 70%
  • Accessories 90% 90%
  • Weight 80% 80%
Price: $120

Dimensions: 20” x 11” x 11” / 51 x 28 x 28 cm

Weight: 793g  (M/L) 595g  (S/M)

What We Like: Lightweight, biking centered accessories.

What We Don’t: Harness system

Osprey has taken over the trails in the last few seasons, and with packs like the Talon 22 this is no surprise. The Talon is well built, will carry everything you need for a day on the trail, and even has some specially built accessories for cycling. It’s a well-rounded multi-sport option and its price point is quite reasonable. It does lack in overall comfort, but it is lightweight and built to last. The Tempest 20 offered by Osprey is the female equivalent of the Talon 22. The only difference is a harness system made to fit a female figure more comfortably. 

Mystery Ranch Scree 32

Best Hiking Daypack: Mystery Ranch Scree 32 - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Price: $189

Dimensions: 26” x 14.5” x 11” / 66 x 37 x 28 cm

Weight: 1406g

What We Like: Opening system, internal storage, and gear loops.

What We Don’t: Price and limited external pockets.

The Mystery Ranch Scree 32 is one of the larger packs on the list, making it one of the heaviest too. It has a great opening to the main compartment, which allows the backpack to be opened either via top-loading or through a duffel bag style opening along the front. There are also internal pockets that help create storage in the main compartment. For the unique style and zipper design, it did miss an opportunity for external storage pockets. All in all, the pack is very well built, but we felt the Kelty Redwing 32 offered similar performance at a lower price point. 

Patagonia Nine Trails 28

Best Hiking Daypack: Patagonia Nine Trails 28L - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Accessories 70% 70%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Price: $160

Dimensions: 20.8” x 9.8” x 6” / 52.8 x 25 x 15.25 cm

Weight: 992g

What We Like: The main compartment opening system and hip belt construction.

What We Don’t: Fragile exterior mesh material and no trekking pole loops.

The Nine Trails 28 is Patagonia’s larger hiking daypack. It is made in the way that stands true with their brand: simple, well built, and effective. Made with soft and durable nylon and a well-constructed hip belt, the Nine Trails 28 easily moves with your body as you move through the backcountry. The stretch mesh pocket and large main compartment opening allow great gear access. Where the pack does miss the mark is the lack of trekking pole accessories. It is also on the more expensive side of the price bracket⁠—though Patagonia is one of the most environmentally-friendly gear companies on the planet and they stand by their gear for life. For many, this makes the brand worth the premium that it commands.

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!