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What are the Best Hiking Daypacks?

Hyperlight Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Backpack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Backpack

What are the qualities that define a great hiking day pack? We asked Section Hiker’s readers what they thought and here are the attributes that they value the most:

  • Backpack organization
  • External attachment points
  • Capacity between 20 Liters up to 40 Liters
  • Good fit and comfort
  • Light weight
  • Indestructible construction

While there is a great deal of variety in the day packs Section Hiker readers use, here are the most popular day hiking packs they listed. You can’t go wrong with one of these packs.

Check out the comments below for a complete list.


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  1. The Gossamer Gear Gorilla (circa 2012 version) has been my go to backpack. Its both my day and overnight pack. The easy detachable hip belt, wide side pockets help hold larger water bottles and the back netting provides quick access to jackets. I usually bring half a Thermarest pad to fill out the pack and hold a few other items in the middle.

  2. I have an REI Traverse 30 that I have used for several years. It is heavy compared to newer packs out there but it holds everything I need, has a nice sized hip belt pocket, mesh pockets that are big enough to hold water bottles that I can pull out without taking the pack off, enough pockets that I can keep things organized and it’s built like a tank. I keep trying to find something to replace it but this one has everything I need and it’s like an old friend that’s been along with me on a lot of great adventures.

  3. The Women’s Redtail 22 is my day pack of choice. What is particularly appealing to me is that it is lightweight (1lb 6oz) and very comfortable. The air mesh shoulder straps also fit nicely and since the pack is designed for a woman, it fits very well and is not bulky.

  4. The daypack I use is a basick Camelback I got a few years ago. I like how it has a slot for my water bladder, and there are tons of pockets all around it to carry food and extra things.
    I actually haven’t tried using any other daypack a cause this one has worked really well for me so far.

  5. My favorite daypack is the CamelBak Rim Runner (24L). I got it five years ago for a mission trip to Haiti and have loved it since. It is a simple, lightweight pack with two compartments and is the perfect size for day hikes. It also works well as a cragging pack. I can easily fit my harness and quickdraws in it as well as my 4L MSR Dromlite hydration bladder and some nutrition bars and gels.

    The suspension on the pack is comfortable and easily adjusts, although there is no hipbelt.

    Overall, I am very happy with this pack and intend to continue to use it for many more adentures.

  6. I have a small woman’s osprey – most comfortable pack.

  7. I use an Osprey Talon 18. It is lightweight, comfortable, durable and has the Osprey lifetime guarantee. I used to carry a much larger daypack before I went light and this truly carries only what I need.

  8. My daypack of choice is the Gossamer Gear Murmur. Fantastic weight (8.4oz), great size, comfortable, and splendid features (even with a sit pad) all in a well-sized daypack.

    I’ve gone with day packs that are extremely light, but they lack features and comfort. Packs that are richly feature-filled, have bomb-proof materials, and are usually in box-box retailers aren’t my cup of tea — overkill (and sometimes expensive). The Murmur fills a nice niche for me as a day pack.

  9. REI Flash 20 (gen 2) is my favorite daypack. It’s simple light holds 10 essentials snacks & pullover. Better than my go lite that is just a little too big.

  10. I’ve had an REI Flash 18 pack for 5 years now, that I love. Other day packs usually have too many “features” that are unnecessary and only make the packs heavier. The Flash 18 pack carries extremely well when practically empty AND when stuffed to the nines with puffies. Plus it’s cheap!

    Highly recommended!

  11. I use aarn packs for 2 years now, the mountain magic is my favorite. I like it because it balances the weight front to back (it’s more like a bodypack), puts no weight on your shoulders (it even pivots while you move) and it is reasonably light considering it has internal drybags. The front packs are super handy for reaching gea, food and maps on the go…

  12. I love my flash 18 because its super light , fits everyghing i need plus i can use it as a stuff sack when i wanna set up a base camp and do some peak bagging, beats the heck out of my old low albine which even when empty you knew it was there….

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