The 9 Best Backpacks for Day Hikes

Published on 05/22/2023 · 8 min readA good day pack is an essential piece of gear for any hiker! Check out this list of the top 9 Expert recommended day packs for your hiking adventures!
Hunter Reed, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Hunter Reed

Photo by Ryan Stone

tl;dr When it comes to hiking, having the right gear is essential for a successful and enjoyable day on the trail! While most hikers invest a significant amount of time in selecting the perfect hiking boots, clothing, and other essentials, one item that often gets overlooked is the backpack—or when referring to a backpack that’s primarily suited for day hikes, a daypack. However, choosing the right daypack is just as crucial, as it will carry all your essentials and provide comfort throughout your hike!

In this article, we will talk about the top most recommended daypacks for hiking, factoring in capacity, comfort, features, and durability. Whether you're about to hit the hiking trails for the first time, or if you’re a seasoned hiker, having a reliable daypack that suits your needs will make your experience all that much better. With the right pack on your back, you can confidently hit the trails, knowing that you have reliable and functional gear that can withstand the rigor of the outdoors!

Some Key Considerations

Before we get into our list, let’s talk about a few key things to think about when looking at hiking backpacks. If you have questions on any of these points, reach out to a Camping and Hiking Expert here on Curated and we would be happy to dive into them more.

  • Capacity: Determine how much gear and supplies you'll need to carry for a typical day hike. Daypacks usually range from 20–35 liters in capacity. If you don’t tend to bring a lot of gear on hikes, the lower end of this range would work, but if you tend to bring a lot of extra layers and snacks, you might want to go larger. Before deciding on a capacity, make a note of the essentials that you bring on a hike. These will include things like water, snacks, extra layers, a first aid kit, and any other personal items you might want to bring such as a camera.
  • Comfort and Fit: Look for a backpack with adjustable straps and a supportive suspension system. The pack should distribute weight evenly across your shoulders, back, and hips. Opt for padded shoulder straps and a waist belt to reduce strain and enhance comfort during long hikes.
  • Accessibility: Consider the accessibility of the backpack's compartments and pockets. Look for multiple entry points, such as top-loading, front-loading, or side zippers, to easily access your gear without having to unpack everything.
  • Organizational Features: Similarly, pay attention to the pack's organizational features, such as pockets, loops, and attachment points. These can help you keep your gear organized and easily accessible throughout the hike. I also like packs with some external pockets that are easy to access while hiking, and compression straps on the side if I want to attach a wet rain jacket to the outside of my pack so it doesn’t get the rest of my gear wet.
  • Hydration Compatibility: Ensure the backpack has a dedicated hydration bladder, water bladder sleeve, or a compatible water bottle holder. Staying hydrated on the trail is crucial!

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into our list of the top daypacks for hiking.

1. Arc'teryx Brize 25

The Arc'teryx Brize 25 is a sleek and lightweight daypack designed for hikers who value simplicity and versatility. Its clean, minimalist design hides a host of practical features. The pack offers a spacious main compartment, zippered pockets for organization, and side pockets for water bottles or snacks. The Brize 25's adjustable shoulder straps and supportive back panel provide excellent comfort, while its durable fabric ensures long-lasting performance. Whether you're exploring a local trail or tackling more challenging hikes, this pack offers a balance of functionality and style.

2. Black Diamond Speed Zip 22

If you're looking for a daypack that can handle rugged terrain and technical hikes, the Black Diamond Speed Zip 24 is it. Built with durability in mind, it features a reinforced Dynex body that withstands abrasion and resists tearing. The pack's clamshell-style opening provides easy access to your gear, and its numerous attachment points allow you to carry extra gear or trekking poles. With its spacious capacity, rugged construction, and thoughtful design, the Speed Zip 24 is a top choice for adventurous hikers who desire durability and accessibility.

3. Deuter Speed Lite 21

Built for those who value speed and agility, the Deuter Speed Lite 21 is a lightweight and compact daypack. Its streamlined design and close-to-body fit make it perfect for dynamic movements on the trail. The pack features a minimalist yet functional layout, with a main compartment, stretch side pockets, and a valuables pocket. It has a small hip belt and a sternum strap buckle. The Speed Lite 21 excels in breathability, thanks to its AirMesh back system that promotes ventilation and keeps you cool during intense hikes. With its durable construction and attention to detail, this pack is an excellent choice for hikers who prioritize lightweight performance.

4. Deuter AirComfort Lite 21

The Deuter AirComfort Lite 21 combines comfort and breathability for an enjoyable day-hiking experience. Similar to the Speed Lite, but with better ventilation, the AirComfort back system on the AirComfort Lite incorporates a mesh panel that allows air to circulate, reducing perspiration and keeping you dry. The pack offers a well-organized layout with a large main compartment, front pocket, and stretch side pockets for water bottles or snacks. The AirComfort Lite 21 also features a removable rain cover, ensuring your gear stays dry during unexpected downpours. With its excellent ventilation and thoughtful features, this pack is an ideal companion for day hikes in various climates.

5. Gregory Citro 30

The largest of the packs on this list, the Gregory Citro 30 is a feature-rich daypack that combines comfort, organization, and versatility. Its spacious 30-liter capacity offers ample room for gear, layers, and food for longer day hikes with heavy loads The pack features a dedicated hydration sleeve, multiple pockets, and a front stretch pocket for additional storage. The Citro 30 boasts Gregory's VaporSpan ventilated suspension system, which provides excellent airflow and moisture management for enhanced comfort on the trail. With its thoughtful design and well-padded shoulder straps, the Citro 30 is an excellent choice for hikers seeking a balance between functionality, comfort, and capacity.

6. Gregory Juno 24

Specifically designed for female hikers, the Gregory Juno 24 offers a comfortable and ergonomic fit for day-long adventures. Its women's-specific design features an adjustable suspension system that conforms to a variety of body types. The pack includes a large main compartment, zippered pockets, and stretch mesh water bottle pockets on each side for convenient organization. The Juno 24 utilizes Gregory's Aerolon suspension system, which combines lightweight construction with exceptional ventilation to keep you cool and comfortable. With its tailored fit and thoughtful features, the Gregory Juno 24 is an excellent choice for female hikers seeking a well-designed and comfortable daypack.

7. Mammut Lithium Speed 20

The Mammut Lithium Speed 20 is a compact and ultralight daypack designed for hikers who prioritize speed and agility. With its minimalist design and clean lines, this pack offers a sleek and streamlined profile. The Lithium Speed 20 features a spacious main compartment, zippered pockets for organization, and external attachment points for gear or trekking poles. The pack's Contact Vent suspension system ensures optimal airflow and comfort, even during high-intensity hikes. The Mammut Lithium Speed 20 provides a great balance of weight, functionality, and durability for fast paced hiking or strenuous summit pushes!

8. Osprey Sirrus 24

Tailored specifically for female hikers who seek a comfortable and well-fitted daypack, the Osprey Sirrus 24 has a women's-specific design which includes an adjustable harness and hip belt, with comfortable foam padding, providing a customized fit and enhanced load stability. The pack features multiple pockets, including a hydration sleeve, stretch mesh side pockets, and a front panel stash pocket for quick access. The Sirrus 24 also incorporates Osprey's AirSpeed suspension system, allowing for efficient ventilation and moisture management. With its thoughtful design and attention to detail, this pack offers women hikers a reliable and comfortable option for day-long adventures.

9. Osprey Talon 22

One of the most popular daypacks over the last 10 years, the Osprey Talon 22 is a versatile daypack designed for hikers seeking comfort and functionality. With its ergonomic design and adjustable harness system, it provides a precise fit and excellent load stability. The Talon 22 has multiple pockets, including a hydration sleeve, stretch side mesh pockets, hip belt pockets, and a front shove-it pocket for quick access. Its lightweight construction and breathable back panel make it ideal for fast-paced treks or warmer days. The Talon 22 also includes Osprey's signature Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole attachment, allowing you to easily stow or retrieve your trekking poles without removing the pack.

Chat With a Real Expert

Photo by Lucas Clara

Selecting the right daypack for your hiking adventures can be overwhelming with all the options, but is an important decision that can greatly impact your overall experience on the trail. A reliable daypack not only ensures that your essentials are conveniently accessible but also provides comfort and support throughout your outdoor excursions. The top-recommended daypacks mentioned in this article offer a variety of features to suit different preferences and hiking styles.

If you think the pack’s on this list aren’t tailored to your individual needs, feel free to reach out to a Camping and Hiking Expert here at Curated. We would be more than happy to give you some personalized advice, and help you narrow down your search!

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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