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10 Best Hiking Daypacks of 2024

The best hiking daypacks are functional, fit well, and durable. They have to be because they’re your home away from home, carrying all of your essentials including outdoor gear, food, water, and survival gear. Many daypacks are also good for multiple sports including mountain biking, climbing, skiing, or snowboarding. You can also use them for commuting or travel.

Men's ModelSizingWomen's Model
Osprey Talon 22Adjustable TorsoOsprey Tempest 20
REI Flash 18Fixed LengthREI Flash 18
TNF Borealis 28Fixed LengthTNF Borealis 27
Osprey Stratos 24Adjustable TorsoOsprey Sirrus 24
Deuter Speed Lite 21Fixed LengthDeuter Speed Lite 21
REI Trail 25Fixed LengthREI Trail 25
Gregory Zulu 30Adjustable TorsoGregory Jade 28
Gregory Nano 22 H2O PackFixed LengthGregory Nano 22 H2O Pack
Deuter Trail 30Fixed LengthDeuter Trail 28 SL
Mystery Ranch Scree 33Adjustable TorsoMystery Ranch Scree 33

But with the hundreds of daypacks out there, it can be hard to determine which are the best for hiking, overnight backpacking, or other sports. That’s why we created this list of day packs that we recommend to hikers, backpackers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. No matter your goals or passions, there’s a backpack on this list that will fit your needs and should be on your shortlist.

1. Osprey Talon 22 Daypack

Osprey talon 22
The Osprey Talon 22 is by far the most popular daypack sold today. It has an adjustable length torso so you can dial in a great fit, with a wrap-around mesh hip belt that really hugs your hips and provides ventilation for your back. There’s an external hydration sleeve that makes refilling a hydration bladder super easy, along with a front stretch mesh pocket and side mesh pockets to hold extra layers and drinks. The Talon also makes a great cycling pack with a helmet holder and blinking light attachment, doubling its utility. The large main compartment is amply sized to hold stuff sacks and bulkier items like sweaters or insulated jackets. The women’s version is named the Tempest 20.

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2. REI Flash 18 Daypack

REI Flash 18 Daypack
Small but mighty, the REI Flash 18 Day Pack is a highly portable and ultralight backpack (9.5 oz) that has plenty of room to carry all your necessities for summit attempts from base camp or for everyday use. A single-handed, quick-pull drawcord with a small weather flap seals the top,  an external zippered pocket holds valuables, and an internal reservoir sleeve and hose port make the pack hydration-ready.  The back panel is lightly padded with a removable sitpad while breathable, stretch-mesh shoulder straps have fold-over padding that softens contact with your neck and shoulders. Frameless, the Flash 18 folds down small making it easy to pack, and can even be turned inside out to serve as a stuff sack.

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3. The North Face Borealis 28

The North Face Borealis 28
The North Face Borealis is a 28-liter daypack that can span both urban and backcountry pursuits. Its standup design makes it easy to load with a top handle for easy grabbing when commuting or on the move. It has a large main compartment and three large zippered pockets, including a padded laptop sleeve, an organizational pocket with numerous tabs and holders, and a fleece-lined pocket for your sunglasses. The exterior features two stretch water bottle pockets and a bungee system great for strapping a jacket to the pack for compressing internal storage. The suspension has articulated shoulder straps, a removable waist belt, a sternum strap, and 360-degree reflective details for safety. The women’s model features a women’s specific suspension and is 27 liters in volume.

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4. Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack

Osprey Stratos 24
The Osprey Stratos 24 is an adjustable-length backpack with a ventilated mesh back panel that helps keep your shirt dry in hot or humid conditions. It has 7 pockets including two closed pockets in the top lid, one in the front with a center zip instead of an open stretch pocket, and two large zippered pockets on the hip belt. A rain cover, ice ax loop, shaft holder, and trekking pole holder are included. The women’s model is called the Osprey Sirrus 24.

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5. REI Trail 25 Daypack

REI Trail 25
The REI Trail 25 is a multi-sport backpack that’s ideal for day hikes, commuting, and travel. The Trail 25 is a panel loader, with a large U-shaped zipper that opens up the front of the back to make it easy to pack or find gear at the bottom of the pack. Two external daisy chains, ice ax loops, and shaft holders make it easy to strap trekking poles or ice tools to the pack exterior. The pack is hydration system compatible and comes with a rain cover. Read the SectionHiker REI Trail 25 Review.

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6. Deuter Speed Lite 21 Daypack

Deuter Speed Lite 21
The Deuter Speed Lite 21 is a unisex daypack that features the lightest, most minimalist back system available from Deuter with an athletic V-shaped pack body allows for extensive freedom of movement. Its hydration-compatible design includes a zippered top valuables pocket, large front stretch pocket, and elastic mesh side pockets that can expand to fit bulkier items. Ergonomically shaped shoulder straps with full ventilation, a removable hip belt, supple hip fins & a precision-adjustable sternum strap create a snug fit with zero load wobble and distribute the weight evenly between the hips and shoulders. If you want more volume, we also recommend the Deuter Speed Lite 30. 

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7. Gregory Zulu 30 Backpack

Gregory Zulu
The Gregory Zulu 30 is an adjustable-length pack with a ventilated back panel and wrap-around hip belt that provides comfort and a dynamic carry that won’t weigh you down. It has two side mesh water bottle pockets, a front stretch pocket, two internal pockets (one includes an optional rain cover), an interior zippered pocket for valuables, and two hip belt pockets. A U-shaped zipper provides clamshell access to the main compartment which has an internal hydration sleeve. The women’s model is called the Gregory Jade 28. Read our Jade 33 review. 

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8. Gregory Nano 22 H2O Hydration Pack

Gregory nano 22 H2O Hydration pack
The Gregory Nano 22 H2O Hydration Pack includes a 3 L quick-drying Hydro reservoir in a separate zippered compartment to help you stay hydrated on the move. It has plenty of pockets to stash your must-have items including a top zippered pocket with a key clip, a zippered side stash pocket, and a side mesh water bottle pocket. The padded shoulder straps have a magnetic sternum buckle and integrated hydration routing with a removable waistbelt for fast and light hikes, while a grooved foam back panel allows air to flow freely, keeping your back cooler.

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9. Deuter Trail 30 Daypack

Deuter Trail 30
The Deuter Trail 30 is a serious hiking pack designed for alpine environments. It’s a top-loader with front panel access, a large zippered side pocket for securely storing gear, and an elastic side pocket. The padded back has a large air channel for ventilation, well-padded shoulder straps, and a wide foam hip belt that provides a great wrap around the boniest hips. Load lifters help ensure proper posture when scrambling, and a pull-forward hip belt adjustment ensures a secure fit. An ice ax loop, trekking pole holder, and dual shaft holders also let you carry extra technical gear with ease. A rain cover is also included. The women’s model is called the Deuter Trail 28 SL. Read our Trail 30 Review.

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10. Mystery Ranch Scree 33 Daypack

Deuter Speed Lite 21
The Mystery Ranch Scree 33 is a technical daypack built for rough and tough adventures. It’s also a favorite with professional guides because it offers fast access to the top of the pack or its contents with its three-zipper design. The main compartment has three internal pockets for gear organization and hydration system storage, there are two additional pockets on the top lid, and two on the hip belt. Two daisy chains on the back of the pack and wrap-around compression straps make it easy to strap on extra gear. The torso length is adjustable and the hip belt is also removable for use with a climbing harness. All of the zippers are urethane coated for durability and added water resistance, making the Scree one tough pack. A Women’s Scree 33 is also available. Read the SectionHiker Scree review.

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Hiking Daypack Buying Guide

Consider these variables when buying a backpack for day packing:

Daypack Volume

How big should a daypack be? Most daypacks range in size from 20L up to 35L in volume. The size you need depends on the length of your hikes and how much clothing and gear you need to carry to protect yourself against wind, rain, or snow. While a lower capacity backpack is sufficient for 1/2-day hikes, we recommend sizing up in the 30L to 35L range for all-day hikes, peak bagging, or hut-to-hut trips where you need to carry extra food, clothing layers, water, and the 10 Essentials. See our article, How to Size a Backpack: Daypack and Backpack Volume Guide, for a more in-depth discussion.


Daypacks are a lot less expensive than multi-day backpacks, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $50 to $200, at the high end. You can usually find a good daypack in the $100 dollar range, but expect to pay more for more volume or an adjustable length frame. Many backpack manufacturers update their backpacks once a year, so we recommend checking in the outlet section of your favorite retailer for last year’s model. Previous year daypacks are usually just as good and considerably less expensive. Check out the REI Outlet to find the best selection.


Most daypacks can be used for multisport activities including hiking, mountain biking, climbing, skiing, or snowboarding. For example, if you intend to use your pack for hiking and mountain biking, look for ones with a helmet holder, a blinky light attachment, and reflective accents. For hiking and climbing, look for daypacks that can carry extra climbing gear, including ropes, can be worn with a climbing harness, and have a place to hold your helmet. For hiking and skiing or snowboarding, look for daypacks that have an insulated hydration pocket, straps to hold skis or a board, and a place to stash a shovel, avalanche beacon, and probe.

Adjustable Length

Backpack sizing, like clothing size, is usually the most important variable in whether a daypack feels good to wear or not. Backpacks are sized by something called torso length, which measures the distance between your hips and the tops of your shoulders. An adjustable-length backpack lets you resize a daypack so it fits you exactly, like a custom-tailored suit. It’s a premium feature and very desirable. Fixed-length backpacks are sized to fit a range of torso lengths, something like 16″-19″, which can result in a bad fit if your torso length is at the end of the sizing range. We recommend that beginner day hikers buy an adjustable-length backpack so they can experiment with different torso lengths and dial in a proper fit.


If you hike in hot or humid weather or sweat a lot, consider getting a ventilated backpack that increases airflow behind your back. It can make a real difference in your comfort level by keeping your back cool and your shirt dry. Backpack ventilation varies widely though. Some packs have a mesh-covered cavity, that provides extra airflow. These work best. Still, others have air channels that run between the back padding or foam cutouts in the pack frame to encourage airflow.

Rain Cover

Many daypacks include a rain cover, which can save you the hassle and expense of buying one separately. While you can line your daypack with a plastic garbage bag, they don’t protect the smaller pockets at the top of your pack where you probably store your most valuable items.

Pockets and Organization

The biggest difference between backpacks lies in the way their pockets and storage are organized. Most backpacks have open pockets exposed to the elements and closed pockets to keep items clean and dry. Open pockets are good for frequently accessed items like a jacket, sweater, snacks, water bottles or a water filter. You don’t want to stop and dig around your backpack every time you need one of these items. Open pockets are also good for storing damp items, so they dry and don’t make the gear inside your backpack damp too.  Closed pockets including the main compartment, are good for storing items you need less frequently and want to keep dry and safe, like your keys, cell phone, first aid kit, an insulated jacket, or a laptop. Most backpacks will have a combination of these.

Here are a few things we look for when choosing between daypacks:

  • If you carry water bottles instead of a hydration system, make sure you can reach bottles stored in the side pockets without taking off your backpack.
  • If you plan to store electronics or valuables in a hip-belt pocket, look for daypacks that have solid hip-belt pockets, not ones covered in mesh, because they’re more durable and water-resistant.
  • Backpacks with top lids usually have excellent pockets for the smaller items that you want frequent access to.
  • A front stretch mesh pocket is good for stuffing layers in for three-season hiking, but a front pocket made with solid material is better for winter hiking because it’s more durable and water-resistant.

Hydration Compatibility

All daypacks and backpacks are hydration system compatible, so that shouldn’t be a concern. Most require that you purchase a hydration system, however, which can get expensive. To save money, look for backpacks with mesh side pockets that can be used to carry water bottles instead.


The weight of a daypack is less important than the weight of a multi-day backpack because you can’t carry as much gear, food, or water. While it’s always good to carry less weight, don’t compromise your personal safety to do so. We recommend that you get a daypack that won’t collapse on itself when packed and rides on your hips and not on your shoulders. Look for packs that weigh 40 ounces or less. That’s a good weight limit that should still provide you with plenty of choices.

Hip Belts

Daypack hip belts vary in the amount of padding they provide. Some daypacks don’t come with hip belts, some come with a thin webbing strap, and others come with lots of padding and pockets. Simple unpadded hip belts are used to keep a daypack from bouncing against your hips and back when you walk, while hip belts with more padding are designed to take the weight off of your shoulders and shift it to your hips. Proper fit is very important when fitting a padded hip belt. See our article How Should a Backpack Hip Belt Fit? for an in-depth explanation.

Shoulder Straps

Shoulder strap thickness also varies by daypack volume with larger volume packs having more padding. Here are a few things we look for:

  • The sternum strap should be easily adjustable. Sternum straps connected to a rail are the easiest to adjust.
  • If you plan to attach accessory pockets to your shoulder straps, look for ones that have webbing loops that you can thread a clip through.
  • High-volume daypacks should have load lifter straps. These can help shift more weight off your shoulders and onto your hips. They’re particularly good for carrying heavier loads, for winter hiking, climbing, or skiing & snowboarding.

Women’s Daypacks

We believe that women should have the option to use a female-specific backpack instead of one designed for a man (what passes for unisex.) Women’s backpacks are available in smaller sizes, they have shoulder straps that wrap around breasts instead of smashing them flat, and hip belts that wrap around curvy female hips instead of the square boxy ones needed by men.

More Questions?

If you have any questions, leave us a comment below and we’ll be sure to respond. Our mission is to help people and we make a point to respond to all reader questions.

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  1. I have a Deuter Speed Lite 21 “summit pack” which appears identical to the pack reviewed except coloration, the one I still use is black and gray with yellow interior. Mine has a plastic support inside which truly helped distribute a relatively light load. My pack was acquired circa 2008 but the design is the same. In any event, the Deuter performed so well for me with exception of lateral stability that I will buy another once the original, which is currently partly duct tape, serves no purpose and is retired. In terms of lateral stability, your loads are going to shift left or right if you stuff the pack as you move side to side, say, by navigating boulders, and it can be a bit annoying. This is true in my experience even if you strap down to the max. Just trying to add some tidbit that may be useful somebody somewhere sometime.

  2. I’ve seen some videos about NEMO’s Resovle daypack…looks promising. I like that they are a New England based company

  3. If I may suggest an addition. I LOVE my Mountainsmith Zerk 40 as a daypack. So many clutch features. But Mountainsmith has just released a 25 liter version with the same features that should fit the bill for most people. I would love to see you give it a review.

  4. Thanks for this article. I’m hoping to find one that will fit underneath the airline seat for international travel and use the overhead bin for a small roller bag.

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