Readers Poll: What’s the Best Daypack for Travel?

Readers Poll: What’s the Best Daypack for Travel?

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Choosing the best daypack for travel is very important. Your travel daypack is your number 1 companion that’s by your side at all times during your adventures.

Best Daypacks: Quick Answers!

Most backpackers to Southeast Asia choose to take two bags. The first, a larger backpack where they keep all of their clothes, toiletries and other items. (See our article on the best bigger backpacks here.) The second, a smaller travel day pack where they keep their valuables when they’re in transit in airports, train and bus stations.

Unless you pack super light and you’re able to fit everything in one small rucksack that you can take as hand luggage on flights and you’re able to tuck it under the seat in front of you on buses, then taking two bags is essential.

For safety reasons, you’ll want to keep your valuables on your body at all times.

Your larger rucksack will go in the luggage compartment on planes and be stored under the bus (or sometimes on the roof of the bus) when you’re travelling locally. Your day pack (which contains expensive items such as your camera, phone, passport, kindle, laptop, credit cards etc.) will stay within your grasp, on your back or on your lap.

Once you’re settled in a place that you want to explore for a few days. Your daypack will also double up as the bag that you take with you sightseeing or hiking. At these times, you’ll lock your valuables away in a locker at the hostel, or safely in your hotel room, and you’ll repack your daypack with essential items for your day exploring; money, your phone, camera, water bottle, sarong, rain jacket, etc.

As you can see that your daypack is a piece of luggage with great importance. With its two functions; the protector of your precious items, and your daily object holder, the bag will need to have several features to ensure it’s up to the task.

What features are important when buying a travel daypack?

Lightweight

Most people prefer to look for an ultralight daypack that’s super comfortable to carry around. After all, unlike your main backpack, your daypack will stay on your back, day in day out, whether you’re exploring an urban jungle or an actual leafy jungle! Most bag manufacturers these days know that it’s important to create a lightweight daypack – that’s under 500g if possible. However, it’s possible to find bags that weigh less than 100g. Our opinion is, the lighter the better!

Packable 

There will be times while you’re travelling when you’ll want to do away with having two bags and pack your daypack within your larger backpack. If you want the option of doing this, then you’ll need to look for a ‘packable daypack’ that compresses down small enough to fit into your main rucksack.

If you are looking for a packable daypack specifically, we have made life easy for you by separating them into their own list. Just scroll down and you’ll find one to suit you! 

Concealed and/or Lockable Zips

As we mentioned earlier, your daypack is the bag that you’re going to rely on to keep all of your precious valuables safe. Some backpack brands make safety their priority and conceal the zips making them more difficult for a criminal to access. Zips that are lockable with a small padlock are also a good idea.

Guy wears a travel daypack with a badge saying 'facts matter'.
It’s important to know the facts when choosing the best day pack for travel.

Splash-proof Material

Another thing to look at when you’re assessing the bag in terms of safety and security is the type of material that the bag is made out of. Some backpacks these days are made out of slash-resistant fabric which means that a thief isn’t able to slash open your bag with a knife. (A rare occurrence in Southeast Asia but more common in other parts of the world.) If you are concerned about safety, check out our anti-theft backpacks guide on our sister site, South America Backpacker.

Lots of Pockets

The more organised travellers amongst you will love a bag that has lots of pockets for sorting your belongings. If you are the kind of person who likes to know exactly which pocket contains your phone, wallet, pens or snacks then make sure you check to see if the daypack you have your eye on can facilitate this kind of packing. I must admit, I love a bag with lots of compartments making it much easier to access your stuff.

A Place to Attach a Water Bottle

Keeping on the topic of organisation, a place to attach a water bottle is a great feature to have on a backpacking daypack. Who’s had the experience of putting a cold water bottle inside your bag only to have it wet all of your stuff because of the condensation? Having a place on the side of your bag to attach your bottle is much better and means easy access when you need a drink!

Waterproof Cover

This is essential if there’s any chance that you may be travelling during the rainy season in Southeast Asia. Some daypacks come with a removable waterproof cover that tucks neatly inside the bag when it’s not needed so that you can make sure you’re prepared for all weather. A good waterproof cover will ensure that important electrical items like your phone and camera aren’t damaged or broken in a downpour. If you are taking valuable electrical equipment with you, such as cameras, phones or laptops, it may be a good idea to consider a waterproof backpack as your main day pack. 

Comfortable

I’ll save the most important one until last. Of course, it’s massively important that your daypack is comfortable and fits your body perfectly. As every person’s body is different, choosing the right pack is a personal choice. It’s wise to try the bag on in the shop and have the staff adjust the straps to fit you perfectly.

A good bag should have adjustable shoulder, chest and hip straps. Hip straps are very important because they evenly distribute the weight across your hips, rather than having the bag pressing down on your shoulders.

If you’re buying online, when the bag arrives at your home, make sure that you fill it up with as much weight as you plan to carry and take a walk to the local shops. You’ll soon be able to tell if you’re going to be comfortable carrying that bag around the streets of Southeast Asia!

Dave Wears a Standard Luggage Daily Backpack
A daypack is a backpackers best friend!

Warranty

Whenever you buy an important or expensive item, it’s essential to check out the guarantee that’s offered by the manufacturer. Some of the brands below, like Osprey, have an excellent reputation when it comes to the product guarantee. When shopping for a daypack you’ll see a variety of warranties offered, from a lifetime guarantee to 5 years to one year. Generally, the better the brand (and the more expensive the backpack), the better the warranty.

What is the best size for a travel daypack?

Daypacks can range anywhere from 10-35 litres, with the average size being around 20 litres. Which size bag you go for depends on your preference, the size of your belongings and the activities that you are planning on doing.

General sightseeing and city exploring? 15-20 litre bags will generally do. At this size, the bag is large enough to fit a water bottle, camera, phone, wallet, sarong, rain jacket, book and other essential items. There’s some extra space if you pick up some souvenirs, but you’re not carrying around extra weight that you don’t need.

Planning for trekkingIf you plan to use your daypack as a hiking daypack, where you’re on a trail for several days or more, then you might want to consider a larger size. In this case, 25-30 litres may be better. You may want to pack several changes of clothes, additional water, some snacks and a spare pair of shoes, along with your other essential items.

Assess what you will be using the bag for and that should give you an indication of what size you will need.

How much should you spend on a daypack?

Over the years I’ve been backpacking, I’ve learnt a lot about travel gear. I’ve gone from a cheap-ass traveller who tried to scrimp and save every penny on equipment, travel insurance and other travel essentials, to someone who understands the statement: you get what you pay for!

Whilst a daypack may seem like a trivial item, it is the one thing that you’re going to have on your body at all times. It’s responsible for keeping your valuables safe and secure, keeping your body comfortable, not injuring your back or shoulders and carrying everything you’ll need for the day around with you. It’s a pretty important purchase.

Honestly, when I first went backpacking, I bought a daypack from my local Decathlon for around $15 USD. It did the trick. However, it wasn’t waterproof, there were only a few compartments, nowhere to attach a water bottle, no anti-theft features whatsoever, and I definitely got a very sweaty back when I carried it around for too long!

I replaced the bag with another similar cheap model every two years or so and after a while, I realised that my habits as a cheap disposable shopper were not doing myself (nor the environment) much good. Some of the bags in the list below are lifetime investments. Yes, they may be more expensive than what you can pick up in your local sports store, but they are built to endure rough and tumble travel for the rest of your life. And the lifetime guarantee offered by brands like Osprey is a testament to this.

Daypack sits on mountaintop.
There are so many brands of daypack to choose from!

Like with other outdoor equipment (a larger rucksack, hiking boots, rain jacket, head torch etc.) my new motto is – purchase the best quality item once and you’ll never have to purchase again! It will save you money in the long run and help to rid the world of the fast, cheap and low-quality shopping culture that has become the norm.

What are the trusted brands for daypacks?

We asked our readers to tell us about the brands that they trust when it comes to finding the best travel day pack and these are the brands that get consistently mentioned…

Osprey – The Osprey brand is consistently mentioned when it comes to backpacking luggage. From the best travel backpack to backpacks with wheels, travellers LOVE this brand. Bags by Osprey are made to perfection with adventurous travellers in mind. Plus, the lifetime guarantee is a massive bonus for the budget traveller. Although Osprey bags are not cheap, buying one of them is a lifetime investment. You’re never going to need to buy another bag again!

Pacsafe – This is a brand who have made safety and security their number one priority and they make the best anti-theft daypacks in the world. If you’re concerned about the safety of your belongings or are going to be travelling to some dodgy areas, then this is the brand for you! They have a guarantee of 5 years on all their backpacks.

Tortuga – Tortuga is a trusted bag manufacturer renowned for the quality of its products. Started by two travellers, Fred and Jeremy, it’s clear that they put a lot of thought and passion into the design of their products. Tortuga has a warranty they call the common decency guarantee. If there’s something wrong with the bag and it’s their fault, they’ll fix it, simple as that.

Lowe Alpine – A much-loved outdoors brand started by three brothers and outdoor-enthusiasts; Greg, Mike and Jeff Lowe in the 1960s. (Jeff Lowe who was a legendary rock climber recently died at age 67.) Over the years, the brand has become a trusted manufacturer of outdoor gear such as backpacks and trekking gear and their products are consistently well-made and great value for money. A favourite amongst adventurous travellers.

Of course, these aren’t the only brands selling good quality daypacks but they are some of the longest-lasting with consistently high customer satisfaction reviews. 

Man wearing daypack walks next to river.
Although daypacks can be expensive, backpackers need to consider product durability.

The Best Daypacks for Travel!

Best Standard Daypacks!

The following bags were recommended by our readers. Each bag on the list offers something a little different, a unique feature that may make it particularly suitable for your style of travel. So, without further ado…

Osprey Daylite Plus

  • Size: 20L
  • Weight: 450 grams
  • Price: Approx $65 USD
  • Best Feature: Lifetime Guarantee.
  • Worst Feature: It’s not waterproof.

Many long-term travellers say this is THE perfect travel daypack. It’s lightweight (450 grams), durable, comfortable and the price tag isn’t too bad either. The bag is unisex and comes in 11 different colours so you can find the perfect colour to match your personality!

What’s so great about the Osprey Daylite Plus?

1. Variety of pockets and compartments – The bag consists of a spacious main compartment, side mesh pockets, a front mesh pocket with organiser and clip, an interior sleeve that fits a laptop, tablet or even a hydration reservoir, a front panel and so-called ‘shove- it’ pocket and a zippered front panel slash pocket. All in all – if you like organising your belongings into separate compartments, you will love this bag!

2. Attaches to a larger backpack – The Osprey Daylite and Osprey Daylite Plus are designed to attach to the larger Osprey packs. (Specific bags they attach to are the Aether/Ariel, Volt/Viva, Ace 75, Sojourn, Farpoint and Porter.) So, if you’re lucky enough to already have a big Osprey rucksack, why not get the whole set!

 

3. Comfort – The straps are padded with mesh foam and the chest and hip straps are adjustable, meaning that you can alter the bag to suit the shape of your body. One reader told us that once it’s set up properly on your back, you hardly know it’s on!

4. Ventilation –  The back panel is made with high- quality, mesh-covered, die-cut foam for that important breathability factor. While many larger rucksacks have a frame that allows the bag to sit away from your bag (and therefore avoid sweaty back syndrome), often daypacks are not large enough for such a system. Plus, their main aim is to be lightweight, which means a metal frame is a no-no. For a smaller pack, the Osprey Daylite takes ventilation into consideration and they’ve done a good job in keeping the air flowing as you walk around. This aspect alone makes the bag a perfect match when travelling in the hot and humid temperatures of Southeast Asia!

 

5. Lifetime guarantee – We mentioned it earlier when talking about the Osprey brand but it really does deserve to be mentioned again! Osprey calls it the ‘All Mighty Guarantee’. On their website, their founder, Mike Pfotenhauer, states “we will repair any damage or defect to the bag free of charge whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday!” Now, that’s a guarantee!

Any downsides?

On its own, the bag is not waterproof, which means that you will have to invest in a waterproof cover. Osprey has their own waterproof cover for this particular bag available, which is $23 USD.

Other sizes: The Osprey Daylite Plus is a larger model of their original version, the Osprey Daylite, which has a capacity of 13 Litres as opposed to 20 Litres. If you’re looking for a smaller bag, then this could be a great option for you!

Osprey Escapist 18

  • Size: 18L
  • Weight: 790g
  • Price: Approx $100
  • Best Feature: Built in rain cover. 
  • Worst Feature: Less capacity in the smaller torso model.

If the Osprey Daylite isn’t for you but you have your heart set on an Osprey, then maybe the Escapist is the bag for you.  

What’s so great about the Osprey Escapist 18?

1. Integrated rain cover — Whilst the bag itself is not waterproof, the integrated rain cover means you can quickly change that, should you get caught out in adverse conditions. It weighs very little and tucks away into its own pocket near the base of the bag. This is a super useful addition and it’s nice that it is actually included with the pack. Usually you have to buy Osprey’s rain covers separately.

2. Lightweight — Sure, it weighs more than the Daylite Plus we have already spoken about but that doesn’t mean the Escapist 18 is a heavy pack. It still comes in at well under a kilogram and this is thanks in part to the lightweight shoulder and hip straps. Both are made from a breathable mesh material that weighs very little but still provides great levels of comfort. The hip straps will not take a really heavy load but that is not what this lightweight daypack was designed for. Keep it reasonably light and you will be comfortable for miles of walking!

 

3. The perfect amount of pockets — When it comes to daypacks, or any backpacks for that matter, some companies go mad for pockets and organisation. Whilst this can be really useful, I find that too many compartments can make it harder to pack bulkier items. The Osprey Escapist 18 has one large main compartment that is not split up or divided in any way. The smaller pockets are compartmentalised for storing smaller gear like cables, tablets or note pads. There is also a great sized pocket on the shoulder strap that sits around your chest level. You can fit a phone or mp3 player (does anyone actually use those anymore?!) comfortably inside this pocket for quick access. Finally, it also has a non-scratch pocket near the top for your sunnies or any other items prone to getting scratched!

4. The All Mighty Guarantee — As with all Osprey’s, this daypack comes with that amazing guarantee that means it will last a lifetime!

 

Any downsides?

There is very little to detract from how good this day bag is. The only real thing to look out for is that if you are buying the small/medium torso size of this pack, then you will lose 2 litres of capacity. This is because the whole pack is slightly smaller to fit a smaller torso. On most of their packs, Osprey change the strap placement and leave the rest of the bag as is for different torso sizes. The Escapist is an outlier in this regard. 

Other sizes: If you are in the market for a slightly larger daypack for travelling then check out the 25-litre and 32-litre variants, which both come with a few more bells and whistles.

Pacsafe Venturesafe

  • Size: 25L
  • Weight: 880 grams
  • Price: Approx $120 USD
  • Best Feature: Amazing security measures.
  • Worst Feature: Heavier than the other bags on this list.

This bag is for those who are concerned about the safety of their belongings. If you have an expensive camera or other valuable electrical equipment, are travelling to somewhere with a reputation for being dangerous, or simply want to invest in a secure backpack that will last you a long time, then you’re going to love this bag!

What’s so great about the Pacsafe Venturesafe?

1. Security – The Pacsafe is made out of eXomesh Slashguard fabric – which involves a lightweight, stainless steel wire mesh lining around the entire bag. This  prevents thieves from slashing through your pack with a knife.

With turn-and-lock security hooks on the straps and zipper-clips, this bag beats all others in terms of preventing pick-pockets from getting their hands on your precious stuff! Not only that but the bag’s pockets are made from RFID blocking material meaning that those clever thieves won’t be able to scan your credit cards by just standing next to you. (Although many experts now claim that RFID crime is not real.)

 

2. Spacious compartments – The main compartment is very spacious and there’s a padded interior sleeve that’s large enough to fit a 15″ laptop. The front pouch is great for smaller items and has organisational pockets for your phone, wallet and pen, as well as a key holder. The bag also has two pockets on the side for water bottles.

3. Comfort – The bag has adjustable padded shoulder straps, as well as chest and hip straps so you can alter it to fit your height and body shape. When scouring the reviews on Amazon, some women with smaller frames do say that they found it difficult to get the bag to fit them snugly so if you’re a small woman (like me) then do your research before buying this bag.

 

Any downsides?

The Pacsafe is almost double the weight of the Osprey Daylite (450 grams). Those extra security features, like the wire mesh slash-proof material, must put the weight up! The bag is also twice the price of the Osprey, again, likely because of the security features.

Again, the bag is not waterproof and you’ll need a waterproof cover to protect electrical items. All in all, great for security, but other than that, the bag is pretty basic for the price.

Other sizes: The bag also comes in a variety of sizes for those wanting to use the bag for different purposes – 10L, 25L, 30L, 40L and 60L.

Tortuga Outbreaker Daybag

  • Size: 21L
  • Weight: 500 grams
  • Price: Approx $99 USD
  • Best Feature: It’s waterproof.
  • Worst Feature: Too simplistic for some.

A versatile, durable and lightweight daypack that can be used for hiking, taking to the beach, travelling on aeroplanes or carrying a laptop to the cafe… The Tortuga Outbreaker appeals to the minimalistic traveller as it’s simple, yet quality design makes it a wise choice for those who want to use the bag in all walks of life, not just as a day bag for travel.

What’s so great about the Tortuga Outbreaker?

1. Compression – The bag packs down flat so it’s great for those of you who, at times, will want to pack the bag in their larger rucksack and just have one bag. It fits into most carry-on bags very easily.

2. Waterproof – The only bag on this list that’s waterproof! The bag is made out of X-Pac sailcloth, an incredible weather-resistant fabric that almost feels like paper to touch. This makes it a great bag for digital nomads or those carrying around a laptop, camera and/or other electronic equipment. No additional waterproof cover needed! The material is also very lightweight (500 grams) and durable.

3. Compartments – The bag is designed with simplicity in mind. The manufacturers haven’t gone overboard with pockets, but the ones that are there are useful and well-made. The larger compartment is spacious and easily fits a 15″ laptop. There’s an easy-access front pocket with a key-holder, as well as two water bottle holders on either side. For the security-conscious amongst you, you’ll be pleased to hear that the zips are lockable.

4. Comfort – The back of the backpack is structured to be as breathable as possible with ‘sweat-wicking’ shoulder straps made out of the high-tech fabric Ariaprene. The bag has a chest strap to help take the load off your back when you’re carrying heavier items.

Any downsides?

To quote Henry Ford: “A customer can have any colour as long as it’s black.” The lack of colour variations of the bag may put off some of the more fashion-conscious travellers. Another strange thing about the Tortuga Outbreaker is that some people complain that it’s a ‘noisy bag’. The crinkly sail-cloth sounds like you are scrunching up paper when you touch it which may make you unpopular in the dorm room!

Other sizes: If you want a larger rucksack, the Tortuga Outbreaker also comes in 35L and 45L.

Lowe Alpine Edge II

  • Size: 22L
  • Weight: 530 grams
  • Price: Approx $70.00USD
  • Best Feature: Tons of pockets.
  • Worst Feature: Not the most stylish bag.

This lightweight and durable bag is the perfect companion for a hiking trip. For those of you who love to have lots of different compartments to organise your belongings, this bag is a dream come true.

What’s so great about the Lowe Alpine Edge II?

1. Specific Trekking Features – The bag has clearly been designed with hikers in mind. There are two deep stretchy mesh side pockets to fit different sized water bottles. There’s also a specific storage spot for walking poles. There’s even a fixture to hold an LED light if you’re trekking in the dark.

 

2. Pockets Galore – The small front pocket is great for storing a small guide-book, a paper map (if you still use them!) or documents that you need to access easily when in transit – boarding pass etc. There’s another larger front pocket that consists of (yes you guessed it!) another mesh pocket that’s perfect for securing more precious items such as a passport or wallet. The larger compartment is spacious and can fit a picnic, rain jacket, first-aid-kit and other items that you may need when you’re trekking.

3. Comfort – The back of the bag has good ventilation, which means you won’t get such a sweaty back when trekking in the jungles of Southeast Asia. (Some sweat is inevitable sadly!) There’s a chest strap and a hip strap, perfect for distributing the weight while you’re walking. (The hip strap even has its own pocket, perfect for snacks!)

 

4. Compression – The compression straps pull the bag together to make it smaller when there’s less stuff inside and allow for more space when you need it.

Any downsides?

The bag is quite narrow and fitting in a laptop, depending on the size, could be a squeeze. Those of you who are more into city-slicking than trail-hopping may want a bag that is a bit more stylish.

Other sizes: The bag also has a smaller 18L version.

Standard Luggage Daily Backpack

  • Size: 18L
  • Weight: 998 grams
  • Price: $119 USD
  • Best Feature: Very easy to organise your things and make sure that nothing gets creased.
  • Worst Feature: Pretty small for the price.

Standard Luggage’s Daily Backpack is definitely more for those of you wfho have chosen to make travel your profession and want a daypack in which to carry your laptop from beach to trendy cafe and all the other places you like to take Instagram shots of your ultra-desirable “location-independent lifestyle”! Not only for backpackers, you can use this backpack in your ‘normal’ life too! Whatever that may be…

What’s so great about the Standard Luggage Daily?

1. Designed with techies in mind – Standard Luggage have designed a durable and stylish bag that focuses on the gadgets used by digital-nomads. The main pocket has a laptop sleeve into which you can slide most 15″ laptops on the market. There are pockets for cameras, ones for notepads or books (that are kept very nice and flat). There are even a couple of pen holders!

More surprising still, is that the bag comes complete with a built-in USB charger, so that you can charge up your phone safely inside your bag. They really have thought of everything!

2. Safety is a priority – Aside from keeping your phone safe, the laptop compartment is also very difficult for third parties to access whilst the bag is worn. There is also a valuables-pocket that has an opening on the back-side of the bag, which is very well hidden from sneaky hands. If you frequently carry around expensive items like cameras, laptops and phones, you’ll feel real peace of mind when they’re in your Daily!

Dave gets on the metro wearing the Standard Luggage Daily Backpack
The Standard Luggage Daily Backpack is a great choice for digital nomads.

3. Not to mention safety from the rain – Unlike the other bags on this list, the Daily Backpack comes with its own waterproof rain cover which can be compressed to a very small size and carried around inside the bag. Very handy!

4. Comfort / Ease of use – The bag is designed to leave a gap between your back and the material to prevent that sticky sweaty back that plagues those of us who choose to work in hotter climates. On top of this, the sturdiness of the design makes it feel like your back is literally straightened in the process of wearing it.

In addition, the bag has a band on the strap side that allows you to attach the daypack to the handle of wheelie luggage, meaning you can incorporate all of your baggage into one easy to pull piece. Check out the review we did here of their carry-on luggage!

5. Versatility – As is the case with other bags by The Standard Luggage Co., this one operates in three different formats (the straps for each of these formats are detachable). You can use it as a standard rucksack, a shoulder bag or carry it like a briefcase.

Downsides?

The Standard Luggage Daily is certainly not the cheapest bag on the market.

The North Face Jester Backpack

  • Size: 27L
  • Weight: 900g
  • Price: Approx $70 USD
  • Best Feature: The sheer amount of colour options!
  • Worst Feature: No hip strap.

The North Face have struck gold again with their Jester Backpack. Used most commonly for school or college, this daypack is as durable as it is versatile.

It is worth noting that there is also a Jester backpack specifically designed for women, with different shaped straps and back panel. 

What’s so great about the North Face Jester Backpack?

1. Durability — As with all North Face products, the Jester Backpack is built to last. The material used is 600D recycled polyester, so not only will it keep you going for many trips but it is also good for the planet!

 

2. Pockets for days! — The main pocket has a floating compartment, specifically designed for a 15” laptop but of course, a smaller laptop will fit fine. This pocket does not go down to the bottom of the bag, instead, it is designed in a way that leaves plenty of space between the bottom of the pocket and the bottom of the pack. If you drop the bag, your computer will not hit the ground! The front pocket of the bag is compartmentalised and has specific spots to store your phone, pens and notebook. There is also a bungee system on the front of the day bag that can be used to synch the pack tight when it is not full, or they can be used to store items on the outside of the bag.  

3. Comfort — The thick straps and back panel do cause this rucksack to weigh slightly more than some of the others on this list but that is a price worth paying for the comfort they provide. 

Downsides?

The bag has a tendency to fall over when placed on the floor or a flat surface. If you load the pack correctly, this does not occur but when travelling, it is not always easy to pack all your heaviest items at the very bottom of your bag.

There is also no hip strap so if you’re carrying a lot of gear it can be quite tough on the shoulders.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack

  • Size: 20L
  • Weight: 2kg
  • Price: Approx $260
  • Best Feature: Modular internal compartments.
  • Worst Feature: Expensive!

Whilst it is costly, very costly in fact, the Everyday Backpack from Peak Design comes with a range of features that justify the price tag.  

What’s so great about the Peak Design Everyday Backpack?

1. Compartments — The large internal pocket of this bag is split up into a lot of smaller compartments using velcro dividers. These dividers can be moulded and moved around so you can have the compartments exactly how you want them! 

2. Anti-theft Features — Anti-pickpocket loops make this bag hard for potential thieves to get into. After zipping the bag shut, these loops can be buttoned so the bag cannot be opened without you noticing!

 

3. Dual Side, Weatherproof Zips — The main pocket of the bag can be accessed via the top, or for quick access to camera gear, you can use the zips on each side. Each different way of setting up the compartments will affect on how useful these openings are but when used correctly, they make a great way to access items quickly!

4. External Straps — There is a number of external straps hidden in different pockets around this daypack. These can be used to attach larger items such as a camera tripod, walking poles (although this is definitely not a day hiking pack) or even a large water bottle. 

Downsides?

Aside from the steep price of this day bag, the main downside is the overall weight. Coming in at 2kg, it is easily the heaviest bag on this list. There is also an issue surrounding the shoulder straps. Once loaded full, the straps can be quite uncomfortable to wear over long periods. 

Other sizes: There is also a 30 litre version of this pack available for around $290 USD but it is a little large to be used as just a daypack.

Loctote Flak Sack Sport

  • Size: 12L
  • Weight: 680g
  • Cost: Approx $100 USD
  • Best Feature: Theft-proof
  • Worst Feature: Drawstring

The Loctote Flak Sack was originally created to be a portable safe, once you have locked it shut and attached it to a solid object, there is no way anyone is getting into it or running away with the whole bag. 

The new Flak Sack Sport is a lighter version of the original, which still has amazing anti-theft properties that are sure to leave any would be thieves scratching their heads. 

What’s so great about the Loctote Flak Sack Sport?

1. Anti-theft — The Flak Sack Sport is made of a highly anti-slash material that even the most determined thieves will be unable to deal with. The drawstrings are also cut-proof and after synching the pack closed, it can be locked shut using the combo lock that is included.

 

2. Small — Although the bag is not actually packable, like the bags further along in this article, it does roll down really small. When you are not using it, you can throw it in your main pack without too much bother, which certainly makes it appealing for those travelling with carry-on only!

3. Weather Resistant — This daypack is not completely waterproof, it has a drawstring closure after all! Providing liquid doesn’t get into the top of the bag, the external material is water-resistant enough to keep your gear dry even in the toughest downpours. 

 

Downsides?

For its size, the Flak Sack Sport weighs a lot and when packed full, this is even more obvious. The drawstrings that also make up the straps can be quite uncomfortable if it is worn for long periods. I wore mine for 5 days of trekking to Machu Picchu and whilst it served me well, I did get quite sore towards the end of a 20 mile day.

The drawstring can also be quite tough to close initially. Once the bag has been used a few times and has stretched out it is fine but be aware that it will be stiff for the first month or so of use.  

Best Packable Daypacks!

Outlander Lightweight Packable Daypack

  • Size: 20L
  • Weight: 230 grams
  • Price: Approx $18 USD
  • Best Feature: Price.
  • Worst Feature: Not the most durable bag.

Starting at just $17 USD, this is the cheapest bag on the list and you’ll be surprised at how many features it has! As well as being the lowest cost, it’s also the lightest backpack, and it’s packable too. While cheapest isn’t always the best, the 7,000+ excellent reviews on Amazon of this product suggest that it gets a whole lot right. Perhaps not a bag that will be your lifelong companion, but perfect for a shorter backpacking trip.

1. Packable and compact – While this backpack holds a surprising amount of belongings, it also packs down to the size of ‘a large hamburger’, or so the manufacturers say. The packable daypack comes with a zippered pouch that fits the entire backpack inside which is great when in transit. Being super lightweight (less than 230 grams!) means that you can pack the bag in your larger rucksack when you’re not using it and hardly even notice it!

 

2. Weather Resistant – While weather-resistant does NOT mean waterproof, it does mean that the bag will go some way in keeping the rain off your belongings if you’re caught in a light shower.

3. Compartments – The bag has a spacious main compartment, as well as two zipped pockets on the front of the bag for smaller items and a zipped inner pocket for securing more valuable items. There are two mesh pockets on the side of the bag for water bottles.

4. Carabiner – The bag comes with a carabiner clip so that you can attach the bag when it’s in pouch form to a larger backpack, or attach things to the bag itself when you’re out and about. Carabiners are a backpacker’s best friend!

Any downsides?

Some active travellers have complained about the durability of the bag, saying that after only a few months the fabric of the backpack and the straps started to fray, making the bag look shabby. For rugged outdoorsy types, this bag may not be the lifelong companion you’re looking for. Although the manufacturer claims a ‘lifetime warranty’, many customers have had very disappointing experiences in getting items repaired and/or replaced. (That’s why an Osprey is rated as our favourite daypack!)

Other sizes: This same backpack also has a 33L version.

Marmot Kompressor Plus

  • Size: 20L
  • Weight: 255g
  • Price: Approx $65
  • Best Feature: Water bladder sleeve.
  • Worst Feature: Not waterproof.

Marmot’s Kompressor Plus is a great daypack that is specifically designed with hikers in mind but that is not to say it’s not suitable for use in towns or cities. With a really lightweight, yet durable design, this is a bag that will see you through many adventures!

What’s so great about the Marmot Kompressor Plus?

1. Lightweight — Everything about this daypack is designed to be weight saving without compromising on quality. The shoulder straps are made of a thin ‘air mesh’ material which allows them to breathe as well as reducing weight and the plastic buckles are as small as they can be without giving up their strength.

Sure the material used in the main construction of the bag is thinner than your average daypack, so it will not last as long as something like the Osprey Daylite but it is as tough as any packable daypack out there. 

 

2. Packable — As this bag is in the ‘Best Packable Daypacks’ section, it should go without saying that it is packable. Rather than packing into a front or internal pocket, which is the norm for most packable bags, this one packs into its own lid! Once packed down, it is easily small enough to cram into your main pack or even into a jacket pocket.

3. Water Bladder Sleeve — The Marmot Kompressor has a built in sleeve for carrying a water bladder of up to 3-litres. This should be more than enough to see you through day hikes or even shorter overnight trips!

 

4. Hiking Pole Attachment — You don’t always want to use your trekking poles when on a hike and the Kompressor makes it easy to store them on the outside of the pack. Alternatively, if you have any carabiners, you can use these to attach all manner of items to the hiking pole attachment point.   

Any downsides?

There is very little to dislike about this pack however, the main complaint among users is that the mesh pocket is a little short if you are using a water bottle larger than 1 litre. 

Tortuga Set Out Packable

  • Size: 19L
  • Weight: 225g
  • Price: Approx $39 USD
  • Best Feature: Water-resistant coating
  • Worst Feature: Sternum strap can cause the shoulder straps to bunch.

Having such a big name in the world of travel backpacks comes with a certain amount of pressure and with their Set Out Packable, Tortuga did not crumble under that pressure! 

They have created an ultra-lightweight bag that will last you for many trips to come!

What’s so great about the Tortuga Set Out Packable?

  1. Water-Resistant — It is certainly not completely waterproof but the Tortuga Set Out Packable is water-resistant enough that it doesn’t matter if you get caught in the odd shower. 
  1. Padded Mesh Straps and Back Panel — It is unusual for a packable daypack to have any padding at all but the Set Out Packable has just enough for it to make a difference, without creating a heavy, bulky bag. The straps have a thin layer of padding, which you will be glad for when carrying heavier loads. The back panel also contains a padded frame sheet to offer some protection to your back as well as giving the bag some shape. Most packable bags do not have this so cannot be stood or hold their shape when empty.
  1. Lightweight — As with all packable daypacks this one weighs very little, less than a quarter of a bag of sugar! That means when not being used it takes up barely any of your baggage allowance and if you’re really tight on space, you can just tuck it into a jacket pocket.

Any downsides?

The obvious downsides for all packable daypacks is the thickness of the fabric. Being really lightweight means they are also really thin. Whilst the Set Out Packable is more durable than most, it will not last a lifetime and therefore, will need replacing more often than your main travel pack.

Active Roots Lightweight Daypack

  • Size: 34L
  • Weight: 283g
  • Price: Approx $35 USD
  • Best Feature: Large mesh front pocket.
  • Worst Feature: It is hard to find any bad features. 

When looking for a daypack you really want to know that it has been tried and tested by travellers just like yourself. Active Roots have taken this one step further. The company is partly owned by none other than the Broke Backpacker himself, Will Hatton. Not only is this product tested by travellers but also created by them!

What’s so great about the Active Roots Lightweight Daypack?

1. Large Mesh Front Pocket — Having a large expandable front pocket may not seem important but once you’ve owned a bag that has one, you are constantly craving it when the bag must be replaced. It can be used to store any number of items depending on the situation, from raincoats to packed lunches it is large enough for whatever you need.

 

2. Plenty of Space — At 34 litres this is one of the largest daypacks on this list. Even so, it doesn’t feel like it! With so much space , you would think it easy to overload the bag but as long as you are sensible and not carrying out an Italian job, you will be hard-pressed to overload it. There is just enough pockets inside to keep items organised but not so many that it’s hard to remember where you have stored your headphones.  

3. Charitable Donations — For every daypack sold, Active Roots donate a portion of the money to one of several charities they work closely with. Whether it’s supporting elephant conservation projects, or helping provide clean water to people in developing nations, you can be sure that by choosing to buy this pack your money is going to a good cause. 

Any downsides?

The only real downside of this packable daypack is the same as every other packable daypack. The material used is really thin, so although durable for what it is, it will not last you forever.  

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack

  • Size: 20L
  • Weight: 68g
  • Price: Approx $33 USD
  • Best Feature: Size and Weight
  • Worst Feature: Very noisy

By far the lightest daypack on this list, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil daypack is a favourite amongst those travelling light who do not want to sacrifice quality.

There is also a fully waterproof versionfully waterproof version of this pack, available for around $60 USD, which has already made our list of the best waterproof backpacks!

What’s so great about the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack?

1. The Weight and Size — 68 grams. I can practically hear the ultralight travellers among you clicking straight through to order the Ultra-Sil Daypack. As well as weighing practically nothing, this day bag packs down to the size of a bar of soap. There really is no reason not to include this pack in your travel arsenal.

 

2. Durable — The ripstop nylon used in the construction of this bag means it is incredibly durable for a packable daypack. Some users claim to have used this bag every day for up to four years without any wear and tear showing. The bag can also carry up to 20kg without issue, that is more than 250 times its own weight. Be warned though, your back and shoulders probably won’t take the weight as well as the bag does!

3. Versatile — As well as being super strong and lightweight, this daypack is highly water-resistant and comes in four different colour options. There is also a small set of loops, known as a daisy chain, on the front of the bag so you can attach a light or any other object to the outside.

 

Any downsides?

The only real downside of this pack is the noise it makes, it is practically impossible to pack this bag without waking up your roommates so make sure you pack it the night before if you are off out for an early start!

How to Choose A Daypack – Things to Think About

Before you go ahead and order the daypack you like the look of, make sure it is right for you by answering these questions and seeing if the pack fits the bill!

  • Does it need to be packable?
  • Does it need to be waterproof/water-resistant?
  • Is weight super important to you?
  • How large do you need the bag to be?
  • Do you need a lot of pockets or is one large compartment enough?
  • Do you require any extras like compression straps, water bottle holders, external loops for carrying larger items?
  • How much can you afford to spend? 

When travelling your daypack will quite quickly become your most used item, whilst it can be tempting to skimp on quality and buy the cheapest thing you can find, this is often a bad idea. 

I asked some of our readers whether they would use cheap or expensive daypacks and everyone came back with the same answer. Here is just a sample of what they had to say:

‘Go for a durable and versatile option. We have one that’s both and also really lightweight. I can really recommend Osprey.’ – Mariska.

‘Go for the quality, especially if you plan on being on the road for a long time. If money is a real issue, see if you can find a used one. Sometimes you can get a great piece of gear really cheap.’ – Todd.

‘I did a cheap one and it lasted for 2 months so I needed to buy a new one in Thailand. Next time I will go for an expensive one. My last one was a collapsable but I never did that. So I will also just buy a small rucksack’ – Hannes.

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  • After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since the incident, he has travelled in South East Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and is currently backpacking around South America. His first book ‘From Paralysis to Santiago’ chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident that changed his life and will be released later this year.