TOP GEAR PICKS

Best Daypack for Hiking: A Guide to Your Short-Term Hiking Gear

John C. Porter
Written by John C. Porter

Having the right equipment when you are out hiking is crucial when you are in need of a comfortable and safe trip through the wilderness. In this case, having the best daypack for hiking is no exception. The backpack is where you will be storing most of your equipment, and if it lacks the right amount of space or it does not provide the required comfort, it can be difficult for you to make it smoother on your outdoor adventure.

It is imperative to remember your needs and stature, when searching for the right daypack gear. If you are in need of a bag you will use for short hikes, consider going for a smaller compact bag. If you are going on a backpacking tour, you may need a bigger pack, but compact designs are well suited for a day’s hike.

three hikers on the trail with their daypacks on

With a myriad of options available in the market, it’s hard to pick a bag that would suit your needs. Not all bags are designed equal. Therefore, it is imperative to ascertain your needs before you can begin shopping.

Here in this article, we are going to show you the important features you need to know when it comes to finding short term hiking gear. You will also see several reviews of products that you can find on the market currently! Now, let’s get started!

Our Top Picks

Product NameWeightDimensionsMaterialPrice
Kelty RedWing 443 lb12 x 22 x 15 inPolyesterCheck price on Amazon
Camelbak M.U.L.E.2 lb17.9 x 8.7 x 8.9 inPolyesterCheck price on Amazon
The North Face Jester2.01 lb19.69 x 13.39 x 7.48 inPolyesterCheck price on Amazon
Teton Sports Oasis2 lb2 x 12 x 19 inPolyesterCheck price on Amazon
MountainSmith Red Rock1.56 lb12.25 x 19.25 x 7.5 inNylonCheck price on Amazon
Osprey Stratos2.5 lb21 x 14 x 6 inNylonCheck price on Amazon
High Sierra Classic2.43 lb21.5 x 12.75 x 9 inNylonCheck price on Amazon
Sea to Summit Hydraulic 2 lbUnknownNylonCheck price on Amazon
Deuter ACT2.6 lb18 x 16 x 17 inPolytex, NylonCheck price on Amazon
Doleesune Performance2.65 lb24.4 x 9.4 x 13.4 inNylonCheck price on Amazon

Features to Consider Before Buying

There are a lot of factors which must be considered when choosing the right pack to suit your requirements, these include:

Suspension system

The suspension system of a bag is what stabilizes, balances, and distributes the weight across your hips, so the back doesn’t carry the entire load.
When choosing your rucksack, its suspension system should be able to place the weight over the COG to assist with balance.

Deuter's Speedlite (right) and Ascensionist (left) daypacks

This aspect is particularly important on rocky, hilly inclines or declines where you may easily lose your balance. The suspension systems come in various makes, so it would be imperative to choose a system that will be suitable for your body.

Capacity

Another factor you will need to consider when looking for a daypack is the size of the bag, that is, how big do you want it to be. This depends on what the uses are going to be, and the amount of load you will carry in the bag. Therefore, when looking for a rucksack, choose one whose size is proportional to your intended application.

The Fit

It is imperative that the daypack can fit you perfectly to enhance the issue of comfort. This aspect depends on your back length and build (but not your height).

Three different types of daypacks on the ground

Most bags of this nature come with back straps you can adjust (larger backpacks can also have adjustable chest straps) to ensure the pack fits comfortably and securely. If the bag sits too low, even after adjusting, it means the rucksack is too big for you.

Compression Straps

These straps can be pulled tight to help minimize the size of the pack and reduce the movement of items inside it. The adjustable straps can be found on the side, top or bottom.

Back and Chest Straps

To ensure a good fit, it is important that your bag comes with adjustable straps. The chest straps are essential in ensuring that the pack is well secured and assists in distributing the weight of the bag.

Two aduls wearing daypack hiking with their childrens

For larger packs, you can adjust the straps’ height depending on your back’s dimensions. The good thing about the straps is that they can be padded for extra comfort, an added bonus for heavy packs.

The materials

Since you are looking for a sturdy bag that will not tear with ease, you need to look for durable materials such as:

  • Nylon
  • Cordura
  • Hypalon
  • Polyester
  • Ripstop fabrics

These materials can be reinforced using coatings such as:

  • Silicone, an excellent protection against tearing, but is not water resistant
  • Polyurethane – Tear resistance and good for water, but is heavy.

Top Product Reviews

In this section, you are going to see several reviews of products that you can take with you on your outdoor adventures. From here, you should be able to successfully choose your gear with confidence.

Kelty Redwing 44 Kelty Redwing 44

Price: Approx. $110

Weight: 3 Pounds

Dimensions: 12 x 22 x 15 inches

Special features: Full access u-zipper, hydration compatible, dynamic airflow back panel, dual density foam waist belt

Best use: Biking, hiking, outdoor adventures, travel

Description: Highly utilitarian, the Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack has all the organization and features required for a simplified travel or a trek over the night. Its Full access U-zipper operates at the panel and top loader and adding convenience to your adventure.

Organization is the word you can use to describe the Redwing with zippered stash, side pockets, large front pocket with compartments for small items, and a huge pocket on the pack’s top.

With this hydration compatible design with a water bottle pocket, you will remain hydrated throughout your adventure. While on the move, the carry handle makes it easier for you to grab the bag out of the stowed area. Finally, this bag is designed for comfort throughout the entire day. The load is removed from your shoulders, and the single aluminum stay and frame sheet (HDPE) provides the support required.

Other features that will keep you cool when you are on the go include the dual density foam waist belt and the dynamic Airflow back panel. The load lifters, sternum straps, the hip belt stabilizer straps, and the waist buckle help in customizing the fit and keeping the load closer to the center of gravity.

PROS:

  • Great for day long hiking
  • Aluminum frame sheet
  • Waist buckle

CONS:

  • Only comes in 2 colors
  • Still have to dig for some items

Check the price on Amazon

Camelbak M.U.L.E. Camelbak M.U.L.E.

Price: Approx. $50

Weight: 2 pounds

Special features: Independent suspension shoulder harness, easy access mp3 pocket,

Best use: Biking, hiking, outdoor adventures, travel

Description: The Camelbak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack  is a lightweight, compact day pack with a three-liter water reservoir which is excellent for biking, hiking, and travel. When it comes to outdoor adventures and short-term hikes, you need to look for a rucksack which is multifunctional.

While the Camelbak M.U.L.E. rucksack is designed for mountain bikers, it is an excellent option for day hikers and can be used a carry-on or travel bag.

At the front of its reservoir region is the main compartment which holds a lightweight layer, winter traction aids, and first aid kits. As the center, is a stretch pocket with straps that can be used to adjust how the pack opens. This is terrific to stuff a hat, gloves, or anything you might need quick access. When empty, the bag cinches flat.

The bag has two outer zippered pockets. The outer pocket is larger and is divided into compartments. This section is suitable for small items, a compass, and even that small container for your antibiotics. This degree of organization makes it ideal for serving as a carry-on bag. The smaller zipper at the top can fit your phone, sunglasses, and tissues.

There are no bungee strings for lashing items from the pack, and no mesh pockets to keep the extra water bottles, but this rucksack does not need these features. The Camelback Products M.U.L.E. will not disappoint you when it comes to your daily outdoor expeditions.

PROS:

  • Compact
  • Center of pack has stretch pockets
  • Two outer pockets with zippers

CONS:

  • Some say it can leak
  • Tube can crack

Related: Need a cleaning kit for your bladders? The Tagvo Hydration Bladder Cleaning Kit is a set of items that will keep your bladders clean for when you need to use them outdoors!

 Check the price on Amazon

The North Face Jester The North Face Jester

Price: Approx. $65

Weight: 2.01 Pounds

Dimensions: 19.69 x 13.39 x 7.48 inches

Special features: The Flex Vent™ suspension system, floating padded 15″ laptop sleeve, 360-degree reflective bike-light loop

Best use: Biking, hiking, outdoor adventures, travel

Description: The completely re-designed The North Face Jester Backpack from the North Face is a suitable option when it comes to organizing and protecting your items.

Designed with 2 large zip compartments, the bag is designed with a primary compartment that incorporates a floating, padded fifteen-inch laptop sleeve and a front compartment that incorporates an internal organization panel for storing smaller items.

Lash some extra equipment to a bungee cord that crisscrosses the pack’s front to keep them accessible. Features include the FlexVent suspension system and a padded air-mesh back panel. The secondary compartment is internally organized with a secured zippered pocket, pen pockets, and hook-and-loop pocket.

You can choose from an array of colors to match your personality! For approximately $65, you are getting a durable backpack from The North Face that includes 360 degree bike light loop that is reflective! Not only that, but it made of all polyester fabric!

PROS:

  • Made of polyester
  • Front elastic bungee
  • Many colors to choose from

CONS:

  • Can tear in some spots
  • Plate makes it hard to stand up the bag

Related: Consider an external battery pack for the times you are outdoors and need a charge for your cell phone! The Anker PowerCore 10000 External Batteries is 10k mAh, compact and fast!

Check the price on Amazon

Teton Sports Oasis TETON Sports Oasis 1200

Price: Approx. $55

Weight: 2 Pounds

Dimensions: 2 x 12 x 19 inches

Special features: Comfort-taped straps, t-channel ventilated back panel, chest shock absorber,

Best use: Biking, hiking, outdoor adventures, travel

Description: The TETON Sports Oasis Backpack will carry food, gear, fluids, and a change of some fabrics. Even the helmet of your bike can fit in this compact-sized hydration rucksack.

At 1120 cubic inches, this bag is even bigger than the highly-rated Oasis 1100. Additionally, it is loaded with extra features such as the T-channel ventilated back panel with thick paddings which fit tight to reduce bounce.

The ventilation features also keep the air flowing even in high humidity and temperatures. Both small and large bodies can adjust chest, shoulder, waist, or chest straps to obtain an excellent fit. This bag is designed with excellent grip handle which makes the cleaning and filling of the bladder easy.

With this kind of daypack, your short tours to the wilderness will be easy, lightweight, and comfortable. Therefore, when considering comfort, choose the TETON Sports Oasis 1200 3 Liter Hydration Backpack.

PROS:

  • Has rain cover
  • 3 Liters
  • Affordable

CONS:

  • Bladder can leak
  • Hard to twist the sip-line

Related: If you are hiking, you can consider getting some trekking poles. The BAFX Products Trekking Trail Poles come in 3 colors, are affordable and made of aluminum.

Check the price on Amazon

Mountainsmith Red Rock Mountainsmith Red Rock

Price: Approx. $60

Weight: 1.56 Pounds

Dimensions: 12.25 x 19.25 x 7.5 inches

Special features: Removable 1 inch waist belt, Side ”V” compression straps, a fully featured 25L daypack, Hydration compatible with single exit port

Best use: Biking, hiking, outdoor adventures, travel

Description: The Mountainsmith Red Rock Backpack is an excellent go-to rucksack for your everyday adventures in urban landscapes or the great outdoors.

The Mountainsmith Red Rock 25 is made from Duramax which has a high-quality feel and look. Its tear-resistant effect makes this daypack a great option for those who are hard on their gears.

Also, the bag comes with numerous pockets to provide a range of options for you to store your items. The two main compartments in the rucksack are top loaders. The back section has an extra mesh pocket with a zipper that provides a great space for you to store your snacks and lunch. The middle section, which is also spacious, has an organizer sleeve that is multipurpose.

Designed with numerous organizational accessories and pockets, this durably constructed bag is all you need for to have for your next adventure. Made from nylon, you are sure to get a durable product.

PROS:

  • 1,120 cubic inches
  • Vents well
  • Grip handle

CONS:

  • Mouth piece is not designed well
  • Valve system is not the best

Related: While outdoors hiking, you should always have a first aid kit with you. The Lifeline Trail First Aid Kit has 57 pieces of first aid items that you will need in any situation.

Check the price on Amazon

Osprey Packs Stratos Osprey Stratos

Price: Approx. $120

Weight: 2.5 pounds

Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 6 inches

Special features: Zippered fabric pockets, dual mesh woven side pockets, integrated removable rain cover

Best use: Biking, hiking, outdoor adventures, travel

Description: The Osprey Stratos Backpack offers unparalleled features and design in a ventilated pack. The fit has been simplified to match the appropriate range of gender-specific styles.

Materials and styling have also been upgraded to give you a much better experience on your day tour. The Stratos 24 is full-featured and ultra-comfortable, offering versatility for a wide range of adventures.

Made from nylon, this durable backpack has zippered pockets on each side of the hip belt. It even has an attachment for trekking poles, if you choose to bring a set.  There are also dual mesh woven side pockets that even let you secure items to them.

Overall, this pack is sturdy, stable and easy to carry. Users like the pockets and that they can attach items to their pack for a hands free experience.  While the price is a little high, this pack is well loved and comes in a bright Solar Flare Orange color.

PROS:

  • Nylon
  • Lots of pockets
  • Tool attachment system

CONS:

  • Costly
  • Only comes in one color

Related: Osprey makes the Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir that allows you to put a whole reservoir into your backpack. It has a pour shield and magnetic bite valve included.

 Check the price on Amazon

High Sierra Classic

Price: Approx. $75

Weight: 2.43 PoundsHigh Sierra Classic

Dimensions: 21.5 x 12.75 x 9 inches

Special features: 30-liter panel load main compartment, padded backpack straps, adjustable waist belt

Best use: Biking, hiking, outdoor adventures, travel

Description: The High Sierra Classic Backpack offers serious features in a lightweight package.

Weighing only two pounds, this bag delivers a generous thirty liters of compartment capacity in addition to other features such as a hydration-ready design, soft lashing hardware for hiking poles and ice ax, and a strap-mounted media pocket.

There is a large zippered front pocket that has an inner mesh divider that helps in keeping content separate. The Molded foam back panel that features AIRFLOW™ channels help in keeping your back dry and cool.

In addition to that, the adjustable waist belt that has a VAPEL™ mesh AIRFLOW™ padding helps to wick out the moisture. Made of nylon, this backpack is durable, strong and will serve you well on your hiking adventures! Users like this because it is light in weight, gives 30 liters of capacity, and is affordable!

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Vapel Mesh Airflow
  • Media pocket

CONS:

  • Hard to find

Related: You might consider the High Sierra 6875-2.0 Reservoir which is made of polyurethane, has a hands free bite valve and is under $20!

Check the price on Amazon

Sea To Summit Hydraulic Sea to Summit Flow

Price: Approx. $220

Weight: 2 Pounds

Special features: Waterproof, abrasion resistant, stretch mesh side pockets

Best use: Biking, hiking, outdoor adventures, travel

Description: The Sea to Summit Hydraulic Backpack is made of TPU laminated, 420D nylon with seam sealed construction. The Sea to Summit pack is the obvious choice for your adventures into wet, snowy, or rainy terrain.

They are meant for water events such as canoeing, kayaking, and rafting – but you do not have to be on a large river to utilize or appreciate the features of this bag. Its sleek design is also suitable for canyoneering, climbing, commuting, mountain biking, lightweight travel, and hiking. The top loading chamber comes with a waterproof roll with side straps that help in maintaining a streamlined and compact design.

The perforated and ventilated shoulder straps, ergonomic back shape, and removable waist strap offer comfort even with heavy loads. Its inside is white to provide better visibility, and the zipper pocket prevents smaller items from disappearing to the pack’s bottom. Users like the top loading chamber and white interior that helps them see better.

PROS:

  • Waterproof
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Made of strong nylon

CONS:

  • Not to be submerged

Related: If you are looking for a dry sack, the Sea to Summit eVAC Dry Sack is 3 liters, is waterproof and is affordable.

Check the price on Amazon

Deuter Act Deuter ACT

Price: Approx. $129

Weight: 2.6 Pounds

Dimensions: 18 x 16 x 17 inches

Special features: Wet laundry compartment, hydration system compatible, deuter aircontact trail system

Best use: Biking, hiking, outdoor adventures, travel

Description: Light, clean, and versatile, the Deuter ACT Backpack now appears in a sleek and fresh look. These sports all-rounders provide top Aircontact comfort and other smart details which make them suitable for hiking.

The two-way zip at the front makes it possible for you to access the well-buried item. The Lid pocket, one zippered side pocket, internal valuables pockets, and one stretch side pocket offer a wide range of storing solutions. Other included features are the wet laundry compartment, and the ice ax as well as hiking pole loops.

Apart from the above, the Deuter Act Trail 28 SL Backpack has loops for helmet holder, is SOS labeled, has a detachable rain cover, and is hydration-system compatible. Its AIRCONTACT Trail System Stabilizer straps make it possible for you to position the bag according to your preference.

The AIRCONTACT pads carry out a pump effect where any movement prompts air exchange, leading to optimum back ventilation. The result of this is fifteen percent less perspiration compared to the previous body-contour bags. The flexible, tensioned frame, offers stability with additional weight.

On average, the women’s packs are not as long as men’s. Thus, the SL carry system is slightly shorter compared to the Deuter’s standard rucksack. For that reason, the SL series models are the best choice for males with shorter backs.

PROS:

  • Nice colors
  • Air Contact Trail System
  • 28 Liters

CONS:

  • Fabric feels cheap, some say

Related: Do you need a hydration pack? The Deuter Streamer Hydration Pack is leak proof and has is taste free, plus it weighs only 7 oz!

Check the price on Amazon

Doleesune Performance Doleesune Performance

Price: Approx. $55

Weight: 2.65 pounds

Dimensions: 24.4 x 9.4 x 13.4 inches

Special features: Powerful bear breathable system, top load main compartment, powerful AIRCOMFORT futura pro ventilated back system

Best use: Biking, hiking, outdoor adventures, travel

Description: The Doleesune Performance Backpack is easy to fit, lightweight, comfortable bag that is ideal for the weekend out. It comes with numerous features like yet Powerful AIRCOMFORT Future Pro Ventilated system and the breathable perspiration to help make your tour comfortable and less cumbersome.

With the powerful Bear Breathable System, it is easy for the heat to spread out, preventing uncomfortable situations such as extreme perspiration.

Made for all seasons, this pack weighs under 3 pounds and holds 42 liters of space! Even shorter people, around 5 feet tall, had no trouble using this pack! Some users say you can store extra items behind the netting of the bottom of the pack. Overall, users like this pack for the amount of storage, and the fair price. Plus, the comfort level. Some have taken it on short and long backpacking trips and it really held up well!

PROS:

  • Comfortable
  • Spacious
  • Light weight

CONS:

  • Some users had a back rip, but it was replaced
  • Some say there are too many straps

Related: Take a headlamp with you if you are going to be hiking at night or at dusk. The Lighting EVER B005F Headlamp LED is great for camping, hiking and more, and it takes 3 AAA batteries.

Check the price on Amazon

Concluding Thoughts

Whatever you are searching for, be certain to purchase the best hiking backpack, which will get you through your trip without any difficulties. An excellent daypack should keep you comfortable as you trek through the wild all day. If you are not certain what you would pick for your short trip, you should consider the products outlined in this review.

So, are there other daypacks you think should be included in the list? Let us know. Opinions and suggestions can be posted in our comment section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John C. Porter

John C. Porter

John is passionate about hiking long distances. His record is over 65 miles in one day with backpacking gear. John hiked over 10 thousand miles, tried over 100 hiking shoes and visited 56 countries so far. His favourite hiking route is West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.