The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022

Choosing the best hiking daypack can sometimes be more complex than choosing a larger one for mountaineering. The reason is that you need a daypack for single-day hiking trips, which may be easy ones or demanding. Thus, it must have the capacity to fit in the necessary things while being comfortable to wear and not damage your back or shoulders.

As we hike a lot, we, too, had that dilemma in the past. We ended up having specific hiking daypacks that weighed less and fit all the gear we needed. Some think that “more pockets” is the key to choosing a daypack, but it isn’t. Size is just one of the factors but not the only one.

Read our research and all the essential information you need to know on the factors that primarily influence your choice for the best hiking daypack for your needs.

Comparison for the Best Hiking Daypacks

IMAGE PRODUCT
The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 1The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 2 1. Osprey Stratos 24 Men’s Hiking Backpack
  • 24L
  • Ventilated with raincover
  • 210D Nylon crosshatch
Check Price
The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 3The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 4 2. Kelty Redwing 36 Backpack
  • 36L
  • Spring Steel, HDPE
  • Poly 420D SB Stafford
Check Price
The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 5The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 6 3. CamelBak Fourteener 26 Hiking Hydration Pack
  • 26L
  • 3L Hydration Tube Trap
  • 420-denier Oxford nylon
Check Price
The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 7The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 8 4. Deuter Speed Lite 16
  • 16L
  • Athletic V-line cut
  • Breathable 3D Air Mesh
Check Price
The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 9The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 10 5. Kelty Redwing Backpack, Hiking and Travel Daypack
  • 22L
  • Exterior Mesh pocket
  • Poly 420D SB Stafford
Check Price

Best Hiking Daypacks

Here we examine and highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the five selected (from a long list) daypacks for hiking. If hiking is a new thing for you, read our long and detailed post for hiking for beginners that include tons of information for all aspects of hiking, even warm-up.

Read (and bookmark) our popular post for after-hike recovery. Together with our gear reviews and tips, these two provide you with all the knowledge you need.

1. Osprey Stratos 24 Men’s Hiking Backpack – Top Selection

The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 11The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 12

Osprey Stratos 24 is a highly breathable daypack with an internal hydration sleeve for up to 3L of water. There are side stretch pockets and two more in the cushioned hip belt.

The clever Stow-on-the-go poles attachment system makes it very easy to fit, carry and reach that gear while wearing the daypack. That is one of the most convenient features if you want to avoid putting on and off your daypack.

With the adjustable straps, you can adjust the daypack to your torso. The ventilation mesh back panel system will keep you cool as the daypack does not stick directly to your back. For either summer or winter, that is a plus.

You do have top loader access and a zippered sleeping bag compartment. The metal frame may cause less storage compression when you want to fit it in a suitcase, but that is a minor thing compared to perfect torso fit and stability. With the metal frame, the daypack weight is shifted towards your hips, where it should be, instead of your shoulders.

For a little more weight, you get lots of hiking comfort.

Specifications

Weight2.76 Lbs
Capacities24L
Dimensions 25 x 17 x 6 inches
HipbeltCushioned
FrameAlloy
Pockets5 exterior

Features

  • AirSpeed™ ventilated trampoline
  • Adjustable torso length
  • Two zippered hipbelt pockets
  • Sternum strap with emergency whistle
  • Ice axe loop
  • Compression straps
  • Vertical zippered pocket
  • Suspended mesh backpanel
  • Hydration sleeve
  • Integrated raincover
  • Trekking pole loops

What We Like

The breathable mesh technology is a huge positive point for this hiking daypack. We like that it has all the bells and whistles needed for a simple to complex full-day hiking trip. There are pockets, loops, and a rain cover. Thus you can hang and store lots of things, even an ice axe, and trekking poles. The weight difference (compared to others) is not that much, especially with all these features.

What We Don’t Like

It is heavier than others, but that is comparable only across similar daypacks. Another thing is that it can’t be compressed due to its frame; thus, it will occupy more space in a suitcase.

Pros

  • Excellent choice for full day trips
  • Excellent back ventilation.
  • Plenty of features.
  • Very good value for money.

Cons

  • Heavier than others.
  • Can’t pack down due to the frame.

2. Kelty Redwing 36 Backpack

The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 13The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 14

The Kelty Redwing Backpack is ideal for all those who want to have tons of interior and exterior pockets to organize every little thing in “its place.” You will either love or hate that feature as long as you remember where you placed everything.

Either way, the “many pockets” concept is a Kelty Redwing one. There are pockets, stash pockets, zippers that reveal more pockets. The day pack comes in men’s and women’s sizes, so each can get the one suitable to their torso.

The ventilated pack uses Amp Flow ventilated back panel to keep you cool in hot weather conditions or simply because you walked way too much. On top of that, the Aluminum Stay in the external frame will keep you balanced and comfortable while hiking.

Hiking will become less complicated by choosing a suitable daypack and adjusting the straps to sit on your hips. The shoulder straps have excellent padding along with the sternum strap. You can’t exactly claim the hip belt padding as extra comfortable, but they will do their work. We prefer more padding through.

Specifications

Weight2 Lbs 9 oz
Capacities36L
Dimensions23 x 17 x 10 inches
HipbeltSemi-padded
FrameHDPE frame sheet
Pockets6 exterior

Features

  • AMP-Flow ventilated back panel
  • Front stretch mesh pocket
  • Zippered side pockets
  • Top lid pocket with key fob
  • Top-load access
  • Perimeter frame for superb stability

What We Like

We liked the improved breathable back mesh and adjusted shoulder straps—this helps to let a hiking daypack sit comfortably on your hips.

What We Don’t Like

We would prefer to have more padding at the hip belt, fewer pockets, and thus more free space, plus a better system to fix trekking poles on the daypack.

Pros

  • Good back breathable mess.
  • Adjusted shoulder straps.

Cons

  • Way too many pockets.
  • Not too firm pole loops.

3. CamelBak Fourteener 26 Hiking Hydration Pack

The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 15The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 16

The CamelBak Fourteener Hydration Pack is a hiking daypack where the brand name perfectly fits the capabilities.

The included hydration container and tube remove 3 liters of storage space from the 26, but you would buy a hydration container, right? So, it is a 2-in-1 day pack.

The extra “cushions” at the hip belt add some comfort but make it a bit bulkier, and we are not sure that much is necessary.

The hip belt area must generally sit on the hips, so sides with less comfortable padding would suffice.

A better back panel for increased ventilation would be nice to have.

Specifications

Weight2.4 Lbs
Capacities 26L
Dimensions21 x 12 x 10 inches
HipbeltExtra padded
FrameInternal Frame
Pockets8 exterior

Features

  • Extra padded hip belt
  • Dual Wing Belt with Cargo
  • CRUX™ Reservoir
  • Air Support™Back Panel
  • Adjustable Sternum Strap
  • Rain Cover
  • Close to Body Cargo Compression
  • Trekking Pole loops
  • Tube Trap
  • Increased stability

What We Like

We like the included hydration system, the pockets, and the relatively efficient air support back panel.

What We Don’t Like

We don’t like having a bigger daypack than our body side areas. The lack of top-load access is not that good, as the daypack then seems to be more of a laptop carry case in terms of functionality.

Pros

  • Hipbelt extra padding adds comfort.
  • Included hydration reservoir.
  • Tube strap.

Cons

  • Heavy for its features
  • Too bulky for no reason.

4. Deuter Speed Lite 16

The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 17The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 18

The Deuter Speed Lite is a slim sport V-cut choice for a hiking daypack if you prefer such options. It even has a sunglasses loop on the shoulder strap, plus loops for gear or helmet holder.

The less bulk, minimalistic compact design features a padded back with ventilated 3D-AirMesh, that ventilates well and has the necessary trekking pole holders.

It is made from robust polyamide fabric with 210D. Shoulder straps fit well, although some extra padding would be lovely, especially for long hikes.

The same padding would be ideal in the hip belt, which is cushioned but not that much. The daypack is free of per- & polyfluorinated chemicals.

Specifications

Weight2.4 Lbs
Capacities16L
Dimensions17.72 x 9.84 x 6.3 inches
HipbeltCushioned
FrameDelrin U-frame
Pockets3 + main compartment

Features

  • Lightweight
  • Anatomically shaped shoulder straps
  • U-frame with flexible, lightweight support
  • Close-fitting padded back
  • Elasticated inner compartment stores
  • Compatible with a 2-liter reservoir
  • Valuables compartment
  • Adjustable sternum strap
  • Removable waist belt
  • Rear light loop
  • Helmet attachment loops

What We Like

It is incredibly lightweight and, with lots of external loops, is a plus.

What We Don’t Like

It would be best to have more exterior pockets and cover longer torsos. Our research noticed that people close to 6-foot had length issues, and the daypack was not sitting well on the hips.

Pros

  • Plenty external gear loops.
  • Good stash pocket.
  • Good hip belts.

Cons

  • Very few exterior pockets.
  • Non-padded belt.
  • Double-check size for long torsos.

5. Kelty Redwing 22 Backpack, Hiking and Travel Daypack

The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 19The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2022 20

The Kelty Redwing 22 is a more straightforward solution for a daypack, with fundamental features suitable for short day trips. It belongs to the Redwing family but with fewer capabilities than its “brothers.”

However, the materials used in this one are also good, i.e., the Poly 420D Small Back Stafford and the HDPE frame.

Specifications

Weight1 Lb 3 oz
Capacities22L
Dimensions20 x 14 x 7 inches
HipbeltPlain strap
FrameHDPE frame sheet
Pockets3 exterior

Features

  • MP-Flow ventilated back
  • Front stretch mesh pocket
  • Zippered side pockets
  • Zippered top lid pocket
  • Zippered top-load access

What We Like

The exterior mesh pocket is quite handy, but it can be an issue when it rains. The AMP flow will work relatively well for back ventilation.

What We Don’t Like

The non-padded shoulder straps and the same for the hip belt. More exterior pockets would be nice to have.

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Top-load zippered access.

Cons

  • Few pockets.
  • Lack of shoulder and belt pads.

Our Choice for a Hiking Daypack

We understood that the Osprey Stratos 24 is the best hiking daypack solution with all that above in mind. It combines the best features, construction, materials, back support technology.

Its weight is not far from the others and is an all-weather daypack for hiking.

What Is A Hiking Daypack?

The “interpretation” is that it is a backpack to use for single-day hiking or single trips anywhere. Although “half” of the features you read relate to outdoor activities, it is not solely for hiking.

If you are into hiking, we suggest that to be your primary reason for selecting the best hiking daypack for your needs. You can use it for carrying your hiking clothing and gear or for a walk in the city. Ideally, in such a daypack, you must be able to fit and “hang” all the items you need for summer hiking or even winter trekking.

Even your snowshoes can be adequately hung at the left and side of the daypack, along with trekking poles and helmets.

We think the best daypack for hiking fits best for such a selection is the Osprey Stratos 24. It is a bit heavier, but not that much.

Things To Consider Before Buying Hiking Daypacks

Volume/Capacity

That is usually measured in liters. The 21-35 liters range is the norm for daypacks. Any more than that will result in space in the daypack and extra weight to carry. You don’t need that. Most good backpack companies design different-sized daypacks for men and women, as the form and female build is different.

Suspension and Ventilation

These two relate to four of the essential factors for daypack selection. The factors are:

  • Shoulder straps and sternum straps
  • Hip belts
  • Back panel
  • Materials

Shoulder straps and sternum straps must be adjustable. Shoulder straps must be able to adjust on their top (load lifters), and bottom ends. The top-end adjusts the load and angle of the daypack according to how much weight you carry. The bottom end affects how well the daypack sits on your hips.

The sternum strap needs not be very tight. Its role is mostly for stabilization, to avoid excessive pendulousness.

Hip belts are great when they have extra padding and pockets. The extra padding is more comfortable when you move, especially on hot days, unlike non-padded belts. It also adds to the overall daypack side stabilization. The belts will carry most of the weight, not the shoulder straps.

Materials must be excellent, not only for durability. Especially with the straps’ buckles, you don’t want any to break during a trip.

The back panel design is crucial. There are different options, and the ones that anatomically support your back while allowing the air to flow are the best. They may not compress too much when you want to pack them in a suitcase, but what do you want?

Fit

Most people don’t notice any pain when they start hiking with the wrong daypack, but that will show up after a few hours, especially if these factors are not present or are not well adjusted when they exist.

Proper fitting is essential no matter the weight you carry. You need to know your torso size to find the best one for you. In our research, we provided the sizing per backpack. Here are the instructions.

How to find the torso length to buy a daypack
  1. You need the help of another person to perform an accurate measure.
  2. Stand straight so your spine is straight.
  3. Find the iliac crest on your hips. It is the ilium’s top border on the top of your pelvis.
  4. Place your palms on it, one on each side. The thumbs now point to the beginning spot.
  5. Put a measuring tape at that spot.
  6. Slightly tilt your head front and tell your friend to locate the top thick knobby bone at the top of the spine (that is C7 vertebrae)
  7. That is the end point.
  8. Measure that distance and you have the daypack length you need.

Not all torsos are the same, of course. So you may not see an accurate depiction of your spine length to a backpack height. But it usually is in the middle part of 2 sizes.

Organization

While you need a good number of pockets, too many pockets or too many interior pockets can be a confusing thing when you hike. Daypacks usually come with a main compartment and 6 to 8 exterior pockets.

Some come with an exterior mesh and elastic cords. You also need loops for trekking poles. It is good to have top-loader access, and belt pockets are convenient for small things like small snacks.

Hydration is another thing. Many have a hydration sleeve to carry such a flask with a tube. Depending on the daypack, it may fit 2 or 3 liters of water. You can always put 1-liter water bottles at the exterior side pockets, but you won’t use a tube. Plus, what will you do in winter with the water getting cold? Speaking of winter, a daypack with an ice axe loop is also handy.

Have summer and winter time in mind when selecting a daypack.

Materials

Most daypacks are made from the same or similar materials. The differences are mainly with the Denier factor (the weight/thickness of the fiber yarn) of the fabrics and the materials used in the frame and back panel suspensions.

Frame

The frames usually differ between internal frames and no frames. Internal frames help to support your back and allow air to circulate. Lack of frames results in lightweight daypacks, but weight is not balanced well, plus everything sticks on your back. If you plan to carry very little weight (far less than your daypack capacity), the difference is negligible.

Waterproofing

Almost all good daypacks come with a waterproof cover that you can take on and off. However, that does not make your backpack entirely waterproof. Only waterproof materials and such water-tight zippers and internal liners make it waterproof. Typically daypacks are not waterproof in that sense.

FAQs for Hiking Daypacks

What’s the difference between a hiking backpack and a regular backpack?

A daypack is usually smaller than a backpack and is used for short single-day hiking trips or in the city. A backpack (despite being bigger) usually has two main compartments and comes in larger sizes. The materials are also different as backpacks are used for mountaineering and such activities.

What is a good size for a hiking daypack?

The ideal size range is 21-35 liters. The typical and usual hiking daypack can fit food, snacks, and electronic equipment in that range.

Are frames important for daypacks?

Suitable frames stabilize the daypack on your back correctly. They are critical factors, and yes, they are essential. Right frames with great design allow more air to circulate through your back and, as such, reduce sweating.

Should the daypack fit on hips?

Any good daypack or backpack has adjustable straps to reside on your hips. This is how you carry any weight and not with your shoulders. Its length (daypack body and straps) must be enough to allow such fitting.

If you tried other daypacks, we would love to hear your feedback.

If you liked this article about the best hiking daypacks, consider checking out our other reviews below:

Leave a Comment