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Home » Gear » best travel daypack

The 11 Best Travel Daypacks – EPIC Round Up (2024)

In the symphony of travel, a daypack is your most reliable instrument, harmonizing convenience with adventure as you navigate from bustling city streets to serene nature trails. And believe me, after 11 years on the road I have jammed with a lot of different daypacks.

And this is exactly why I wrote this definitive guide to the best daypacks for travel! A travel daypack is a truly essential piece of kit for any backpacking adventure and it’s important to get it right. Don’t scrimp and get something cheap. Believe me, you’ll thank me later.

Our EPIC round-up of the 11 best travel daypacks is more than a list; it’s a gateway to finding your perfect travel companion. These daypacks are not just about carrying your essentials; they’re about enhancing your travel experience, ensuring every item you need is just a zip away. Join us as we explore the top picks that are sure to make your next journey as seamless as it is memorable.

Osprey Daylite Backpack

Quick Answer: What are the best daypacks for travel?

  • The Best Urban Daypack – Nomatic Backpack
  • Best Daypack for Long Hikes – Osprey Daylite Pack
  • Best Compressible Daypack – Osprey Remnants Packable Daypack
  • Best Travel Daypack for Electronics – AER Travel Pack 3
  • Best Recycled Daypack – LOJEL Niru Daypack
  • Lightest Travel Daypack – Deuter Speed Lite
  • Best Backpack For a Day Hike – Osprey Stratos 24
  • Best Packable Daypack – Outlander Packable
  • Sexiest Travel Daypack – Osprey Talon 22
  • Best Anti-Theft Travel Daypack – Pacsafe Metrosafe
  • Jump to -> The List of the Best 8 Daypacks

My Favorite Daypacks for Backpacking

How to choose the best travel daypack, faq about the best travel daypack, in conclusion: the best travel daypacks.

Here it is: the ultimate list of the best daypacks for travel! Tested, considered deeply, and then ordered in a way that’s gonna make you go “ Hmm, oh yeah, that’s a nice choice. ” What a finely pruned list of traveling day packs!

In a rush? Check out a quick overview of our favorite daypacks just below! After that, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty and the reviews.

Osprey Daylite Pack

Osprey Daylite Pack

  • Feature Highlights >
  • > The All Mighty Guarantee!
  • > Comfortable

best minimalist backpack

Nomatic Backpack

  • Feature Highlights: >
  • > Sleek Design
  • > Always useful

travel daypack reddit

Osprey Remnants Packable Daypack

  • > It compresses!
  • > Padded shoulder straps

aer travel pack 2 backpack

AER Travel Pack 3

  • Feature Highlights > Very durable
  • > Top access laptop compartment
  • > Well organized, designed

travel daypack reddit

LOJEL Niru Daypack

  • > Multiple color options
  • > Expandable size options

Deuter Speed Lite 21 Pack

Deuter Speed Lite

  • > Weighs just 15.2 ounces
  • > Great for trail running

Osprey Stratos 24 Pack - Men's

Osprey Stratos 24

  • > Most comfortable hiking pack
  • > Lifetime guarantee

outlander daypack

Outlander Packable

  • > Fold to 8.5 x 8.5 x 1.2 inches
  • > Only weighs .7 lbs

Osprey Talon 22 Pack

Osprey Talon 22

  • > Feature-rich

Fjallraven Kanken 15” Laptop bag

Fjallraven Kanken

  • > Simple yet useful
  • > Tougher than it looks

Pacsafe Metrosafe X Anti-Theft 20 L Pack

Pacsafe Metrosafe

  • > Anti-Theft Design

#1 Osprey Daylite Pack – The Best Daypack for Hiking

Osprey Daylite Pack

The Osprey Daylite Plus is a versatile and lightweight backpack, renowned for its durability and comfort. With a 20-liter capacity, it’s designed for daily use or short adventures, featuring a spacious main compartment, a front pocket with mesh organizer and key clip, and dual side mesh pockets for water bottles or quick-access items. Its ventilated and padded back panel and shoulder straps ensure comfort, even during extended wear. The Daylite Plus also offers hydration compatibility and multifunctional attachment points, making it a popular choice for hikers, commuters, and travellers seeking a reliable, compact pack that doesn’t compromise on functionality.

Osprey also offers an ‘ all mighty guarantee ‘ which means they will repair any damage that occurs to your pack. However, newer versions of the AMG are less comprehensive and now exclude both wear and tear and airline damage. Personally, I swear by Osprey packs. I’ve been travelling with the same 7-litre backpack for nine years now.

Check out our full review of the Osprey Daylite plus for more details.

  • The All Mighty Guarantee!
  • Comfortable
  • Great for hikers or travelers
  • No inner zipper pockets
  • Not ideal for digital nomads
  • On the smaller side (can be pro or con)

Is the Osprey Daylite the best travel daypack for you?

Osprey Daylite Backpack

Whether you are exploring a city or jungle, this lightweight daypack packs some serious punch for its size and weight. There is a lot of storage inside including a padded sleeve that can be used for either a tablet or a hydration reservoir so you can convert it into a hiking hydration daypack . This is a tough, highly versatile daypack that will be more than adequate for most travelers needs… 9.5/10

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#2 Nomatic Backpack – The Best Urban Daypack

Nomatic Backpack

If you are after a go-to backpack for everyday use, then meet the Nomatic Backpack. It’s built from high quality materials and is intended for everyday, urban use; this is reflected both in its sober but stylish design aesthetic and the packs layout.

The storage capacity is 20 – 24l making this a great commuter bag and it can also be carried as a briefcase in case you need to go to a business meeting or something. Several members of our team own and love Nomatics and each new generation of their packs seem to get better and better. However, when I took this pack out hiking, it was not the most comfortable but it does perform much better for transit, taking down the gym or trips into town.

To find out more about how we tested this pack, check out our full review of the Nomatic Backpack for more!

  • Sleek design
  • Well comparmentalised
  • Suitable for business use
  • Not available in Europe
  • Not suitable for hiking
  • It’s pricey

Is the Nomatic Backpack the best travel daypack for you?

Nomatic Travel Bag 40 L

Note that Nomatic do not ship to Europe so if you are in Europe, then no this bag is not for you. Beyond that, this is solid choice for those in need or an Urban commuter backpack. If you want something durable with minimal storage then this is you pack.

If you need something with a bit more room (for gym shoes or something) then look for a 28-30L pack. This backpack is also not suitable for day hikes so if you like to get outdoors, go choose yourself an Osprey.

#3 Osprey Remnants Packable Daypack – The Best Compressible Daypack

travel daypack reddit

The Osprey Remnants Packable Daypack is possibly the coolest travel daypack on this list. Why? That’s easy – it looks awesome, carries a ton of gear, is durable… and it COMPRESSES!

That’s right, this bad boy is a perfect daypack for travelers. The fact that it compresses and it’s lightweight nature make it very easy to transport. At 17 liters, this is one of the best travel bags for day trips. The Osprey Remnants Packable Daypack is made from ripstop nylon, is air mesh, and features YKK zippers in its construction.

Along with it’s durability is its comfort – the Osprey Remnants Packable Daypack has padded mesh shoulder straps, and a well designed breathable back panel. Furthermore, it’s priced at only $30 making it one of the best cheap daypacks on the market especially considering that the compressible case is included.

Prefer Tortuga backpacks? Check out their kickass Setout Laptop Backpack.

  • It compresses!
  • Lightest pack on this list
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Back ventilation
  • Not an ideal hiking daypack
  • Not everyone loves the look of Osprey bags

Is the Osprey Remnants Packable Daypack the best travel daypack for you?

While all the bags on this list are awesome in their own way – it’s tough to beat the Tortuga Setout Daypack. Due to it’s durability, size, and compressibility this backpack is the ultimate daypack for travelers looking to travel super light… 9.5/10

#4 AER Travel Pack 3 – Best Travel Daypack for Electronics

aer travel pack 2 backpack

The AER Travel Pack 3 is a highly functional and stylish travel backpack, designed to meet the demands of modern travelers. With its 35-liter capacity, it’s perfect for short trips, offering a meticulously organized design with a spacious main compartment, multiple pockets, and dedicated spaces for a laptop, shoes, and other travel essentials. The backpack is crafted from durable, water-resistant materials, ensuring your belongings stay safe and dry.

Its ergonomic design includes padded shoulder straps, a ventilated back panel, and load lifters for optimal comfort and support. The Travel Pack 3 also features a lay-flat design for easy packing and unpacking, lockable zippers for added security, and a sleek, urban aesthetic that makes it a favorite among city dwellers and digital nomads alike. The Travel Pack boasts a dedicated laptop compartment that can accommodate a laptop up to 15″. It’s easy to access, which is great when you’re constantly getting in and out of your backpack.

Finally, the AER is tough, crucial for keeping your gear safe. Though it’s technically waterproof, the nylon and tarpaulin material is resitant enough to keep most water out. Just don’t walk out into a rainstorm without a cover.

  • Very durable
  • Top access laptop compartment
  • Well organized, designed
  • Rain cover is sold separately
  • Water bottle pocket is a bit small
  • Could’ve been more internal straps

Is the AER Travel Pack 3 the best travel daypack for you?

A stylish daypack from a stylish company, it’s padding and frame are built for ultimate comfort, and the additional dedicated laptop section makes it enticing for anyone traveling with tech … 9.0/10

#5 LOJEL Niru Daypack – The Best Recycled Daypack

travel daypack reddit

Nothing makes a hippy traveler’s heart flutter quite like the words eco-friendly and recycled . Well, I can think of a few other things, but let’s focus on the backpack for now. The Niru Daypack is constructed from 100% recycled nylon fabric and uses 100% metal for the components. Just incase you need another reason to love this daypack, LOJEL even ships the backpack to you in corn-based, home-compostable packaging!

This 20 liter daypack uses a unique side access main compartment, allowing you a different look inside your bag. In doing this, LOJEL was able to include extra internal pockets the length of the bag, giving you more organizational options to pack however you please.

This lightweight daypack is designed to adjust to your everyday life and needs, no matter what they may be. Featuring three adjustable sizes, the backpack can slim down to hold a single journal and some documents or expand to hold a couple of days worth of clothes and your laptop. Overall, LOJEL brings an eco-friendly, highly functional backpack to the table without too large of a price tag.

Want some more ideas? Have a look at the epic range of travel luggage from LOJEL .

  • Recycled material construction
  • Large side-access main compartment
  • Multiple color options
  • Expandable size options
  • Not waterproof
  • Not great for long-days hiking around
  • Thin shoulder straps

#6 Deuter Speed Lite – The Lightest Travel Daypack

Deuter Speed Lite 21 Pack

First things first, this day bag is definitely not the right daypack for the average backpacker but if your primary concern is weight, this is the best lightweight daypack on the market, weighing in at just 1 lb 1 oz! This pack is extremely versatile and light and is perfect for ultra-runners, hikers and other types of athletes. If you are planning on going on plenty of adventures with your pack, this may be the right choice for you. I’ve been a big fan of Deuter packs for a while and I tested a Deuter Speed Lite whilst hiking in Pakistan in 2017.

What I really like about the Speedlite is that it has quick-access mesh pockets along the front meaning you can easily grab a protein bar on the go. The padded back panel is comfortable and ventilates well, even in scorching heats. The Speedlite includes a hydration reservoir sleeve which is rare for lightweight daypacks, but super handy if you want to drink on the go.

The Speed Lite does have one major disadvantage – this is a lightweight daypack designed for moving fast, and the manufacturers have done everything in their power to keep the weight down, this means you get zero paddings on the removable hip belt.

  • Lightest daypack on the market
  • Perfect for athletics
  • Quick-access mesh pockets
  • Comfortable and well ventilated
  • Not as practical for non-athletes
  • Zero padding on belt
  • Bungee chords prove to be fairly useless (for me at least)
  • Not good for digital nomads

Is the Deuter Speed Light the best daypack for travel for you?

For smaller loads and day hikes, the Speed Lite is widely regarded as the best ultralight daypack on the market and has a cult following amongst hikers, climbers, and mountaineers. As the most effective lightweight travel daypack on the market, this is an obvious choice if weight is your primary concern and you want a daypack that won’t weigh you down whilst running or climbing… 9.5/10

travel daypack reddit

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#7 Osprey Stratos 24 – The Best Day Hike Backpack

Osprey Stratos 24 Pack - Men's

First things first, this is a day hiking backpack . That doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a hiking daypack for thru-hikes. This a seriously comfortable, stylish and innovative pack which is widely considered to be the best Osprey daypack for hiking. The Stratos 24 includes an integrated rain cover, internal hydration reservoir sleeve and a stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment. This feature rich pack kicks ass and is probably one of the most comfortable daypacks around.

The dual side stretch mesh pockets and front panel storage pocket provide you with plenty of places to store water bottles, snacks or other bits and pieces. This is one of the most expensive packs on the list and it also is not especially light. It can’t pack down like foldable or compressible daypacks but if you want the most comfortable, reliable daypack for your travels then this is it.

The Stratos range by Osprey comes in several sizes so you could consider upping the size and picking up a 34 litre version instead. If you wanted go bigger (it’s better sometimes, right?) Osprey makes a 36-liter version of this pack. Read our review of the Stratos 36 and see if it’s a better fit for you!

  • Phenomenal for hikers
  • Style points
  • Integrated rain cover
  • Trekking pole attachment (or possibly a spear)
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve
  • Very pricey
  • Does not pack down well
  • Pocket accessibility is just ok

Is the Osprey Stratos 24 the best travel daypack for you?

If you are looking for a stylish daypack and don’t need something ultralight, then the Osprey Stratos 24 is a keeper. Hikers in particular will find this bag awesome, and although it wouldn’t be my first choice for the best daypack travelers, I can see the appeal. It looks sexy, and Osprey still kicks ass… 9.5/10

#8 Outlander Packable – The Best Packable Daypack

best foldable daypack and travel bag

The Outlander is one of the smallest daypacks for travel and it folds up to become even more compact so you can pack it in your main backpack when needed. Besides the multiple compartments, this bag has an internal security zippered pocket to protect valuable items. It’s an extremely water resistant daypack and it is reinforced to be ultra-durable to abrasions too.

It is also very lightweight hiking daypack (weighing in at just 0.7 lbs) but please note that it does not boast any of the comfort or functionality of the best hiking daypacks. This is a great daypack for wandering around town and one of the best backpacks for day trips but it’s not comfortable to wear whilst hiking. The Outlander is only $20 so if you’re looking for a cheap packable day bag to explore cities with, then this is a good choice.

This is probably one of the best small daypacks for the cost of entry but it doesn’t come with a lifetime guarantee… Oh, I almost forgot! The Outlander comes in different colours, in case you’re all about that style.

  • Smallest pack on the list
  • Compact – a bag that folds up!
  • Multiple compartments
  • Water resistant
  • Not for proper hikes/athletics
  • Simple style
  • Not many accessories when compared to competition
  • Little comfort
  • No lifetime guarantee

Is the Outlander Packable the best travel daypack for you?

If you are the type of traveler that is looking to travel as light as possible – even at the sacrifice of hiking comfortably – then the Outlander Packable could be a good pick for you. Ultralight travelers, you’ve met your match! Hikers, digital nomads or anyone with camera gear, please seek elsewhere… 8.5/10

#9 Osprey Talon 22 – The Stylish Daypack for Travel

Osprey Talon 22 Pack

I’ve been using Osprey packs for nine years now and my current hiking daypack is the Talon 22. And it’s the goddamn tits! This is one of the best value lightweight hiking daypacks on the market and comes complete with an airscape back to keep you cool and comfortable, plenty of pockets, a whistle on the chest belt, a padded hip belt and external hydration access.

For day hikes and other adventures, the Talon 22 is hands down one of the best travel daypack around. Another great lightweight option (although not as ultralight) is the Osprey Apogee which comes with similar features. This particular model is ideal because it has THREE exterior pockets and a mesh pocket for water bottles. It is also one of the most durable options out there, specially made for rough use. The pocket on the hipbelt is a nice touch and a good place to keep your phone or snacks.

Like all Osprey products, the Talon 22 comes with the Almighty Guarantee meaning that Osprey will repair or replace your pack, no matter what. If you want an upgrade, there’s also a 33-liter Talon backpack as well!

  • Perfect for hikers
  • Good for travelers
  • Plenty of pockets
  • You get to be like me!
  • Not for digital nomads
  • If you don’t hike, look elsewhere
  • Runs a bit small in size
  • Not the cheapest option

Is the Osprey Talon the best travel daypack for you?

In my opinion, this is the best Osprey daypack on the market right now however I admit that it’s a better fit for travelers who plan on doing plenty of hiking and might not meet your requirements if you have a laptop you want to carry around in your daypack… 9/10

#10 Fjallraven Kanken – Another Urban Daypack

Fjallraven Kanken daypack

The Fjallraven is a timeless backpack. Seriously, I don’t think you could walk on the streets or venture anywhere without seeing one of these bags, at least once in your life. They’re immensely popular and, contrary to what some people may think very useful bags.

Right of the bat, I’m going to say this: Fjallraven makes pretty minimalist backpacks . The most classic version essentially has just two main compartments and a couple of handles. You don’t get any hidden pockets, extra accessories, or wild new technology when buying a Fjallraven.

What you do get is a bag that works. Fjallravens are very hearty backpacks – I’ve seen people take these things to the ends of the earth and back and put them through hell in the process. The bag is mostly made from vinyl which does a great job of standing up to the elements. The look of the Fjallraven is also unquestionable. Boxy, minimal, angular, and a bright red logo; these bags haven’t changed their look in decades. Honestly the look doesn’t have to change either. Vintage is always in vogue and the Fjallraven doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.

  • Simple yet useful
  • Tougher than it looks
  • Immediately recognizable
  • Brand is a bit pricey
  • Nothing flashhy

Is the Fjallraven Kanken the best travel daypack for you?

Looking for a bag that doesn’t seem to go out of fashion and doesn’t lose its usefulness? The Fjallraven Kanken is that bag. Those in need of the best urban daypack will find a lot to love in the Fjallraven – it won’t break easily and can look good on just about any person. It’s just one of those pieces of kit that is able to stand the tests of time.

#11 Pacsafe Metrosafe – The Best Anti-Theft Travel Daypack

Pacsafe Metrosafe X Anti-Theft 20 L Pack

We recently reviewed the Pacsafe Venturesafe  and were thoroughly impressed. This tough anti-theft daypack features anti-slash material, lockable zips, hidden pockets and even a slash-proof strap which you can use to connect your backpack to heavy furniture. We’d recommend this as the best urban daypack for travel.

Whilst this anti-theft daypack does have its drawbacks (read the review to learn more), it’s definitely one of the toughest daypacks around, performs fairly well as hiking daypack, and if you want absolute peace of mind for your electronics and valuables, then the safest way to transport them whilst on the road is almost certainly going to be in the Metrosafe 20 litre daypack. If safety is a large concern for you, check out our epic guide to the best sling packs !

#12 Wandrd Veer 18 Packable Bag

WANDRD VEER 18L Packable Bag

Packable daypacks are now a thing and this is by the best packable daypack that we have tried. OK, focused on hauling high-quality equipment since 2017, the innovative backpack brand Wandrd made this packable daypack out of weather-resistant materials that stay lightweight to help modern travelers get more out of their trips. The packable bag weighs 14 ounces and will take up to 17 liters of gear wherever the journey takes you.

Two exterior pockets let you store your passport and phone without having to dig through everything when you’re going through security. Comfortable padded shoulder straps on the model make the packable bag suitable for day trips, and the back panel inflates for flexible support.

Not quite ultralight, this unit is best for travelers looking for a bag that can carry heavy equipment and still stow down with ease while traveling.

travel daypack reddit

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So give the adventurer in your life the gift of convenience: buy them an REI Co-op gift card!  REI is The Broke Backpacker’s retailer of choice for ALL things outdoors, and an REI gift card is the perfect present you can buy from them. And then you won’t have to keep the receipt. 😉

Osprey Daylite Backpack

Everyone travels differently, so the most important thing to consider is YOUR travel style and needs.

Do you have a lot of electronics? Are you keen to head on day hikes? Is a space-saving foldable backpack adequate for your needs? How heavy should your daypack be?

Let me run you through the top factors to consider when picking out the best travel daypack for your needs…

Size of your travel daypack

Size is the most important feature when it comes to choosing the best daypack for you. You want to make sure that your day bag is big enough to carry your everyday essentials but you don’t want it to be so large that it’s a hindrance… Choosing the right size will depend on how much stuff you plan on cramming into your daypack.

For most backpackers, a twenty litre daypack will provide ample space. The best travel daypack shouldn’t be larger than 30 litres unless you want to try and travel with a carry on-only backpack as your only piece of luggage. If you do decide to go that route, check out our review on the Osprey Farpoint 40 , one of the best carry-on travel backpacks.

stowing trekking poles inside daypack

Weight of your travel daypack

The best travel daypacks are going to be lightweight enough for you to hike through urban jungles, real jungles, and up into the mountains.  These days, most daypacks are pretty light – North Face and Osprey both do a great job of creating truly lightweight daypacks.

The comfort of your daypack

You and your small backpack are going to become best friends so comfort plays a huge role when choosing the best daypack for your travels. If you choose the right size and weight, you are already halfway there. I strongly recommend picking up a backpack with a ventilated back to keep you from getting a super sweaty back. A padded hip-belt is also well worth having if you plan on doing plenty of hiking.

To make sure that your bags feels just right on you, learn how to adjust it properly with this handy fitting guide from REI.

A man hiking with a lightweight daypack

Just as important as the size, security is an attribute you don’t want to overlook when searching for the perfect soul-pack. More than one backpacker friend has returned to their hostel only to discover that his or her wallet was stolen whilst getting pissed at the bar.

Although a slash proof daypack is ideal, you can get by with a pack that has double zippers which you can lock together. One feature I really like about Osprey packs is that the chest belt comes with an inbuilt whistle… Perfect for emergencies. If security really is your number one priority, check out our review of Pacsafe’s Venturesafe backpack.

A woman with one of the best urban daypacks

Your daypack – be it a city daypack or hiking daypack – needs to be resistant and lightweight to make it easier to carry around. Water-resistant material is a plus. Although the daypack doesn’t need to be completely waterproof, make sure that it can take some drizzle without getting all your stuff soaked.

A dry-fast material is also ideal, that way you won’t be stuck with a musty bag. All of the daypacks reviewed in this post are made from high-quality, water-resistant, materials so you don’t need to stress.

Multiple Compartments

Multiple compartments are essential to make your day travel bag more practical. Having just one compartment will mix all of your belongings together and it’d be a pain in the ass to try to find one particular item if you are in a hurry. Having several pockets will help you to get your stuff organised and separated. Ideally, the best travel daypack should have between three to five compartments to keep everything in place.

Mountain Bikers with small daypacks

Still have some questions? No problem! We’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions below. Here’s what people usually want to know:

What does a daypack backpack need?

A daypack backpack needs to fit your belongings that you use daily. We’re talking phone, wallet, power bank, snacks, maps, and so on. A bonus point is an extra department for your water bottle.

What is the lightest day backpack?

The Deuter Speed Lite might not be the biggest daypack, but it’s definitely the lightest. With weight of 1 lb 1 oz, it’s impressively sturdy and stylish.

What is the difference between a backpack and daypack?

A daypack is normally a little bit smaller and a hell lot lighter than a standard backpack. It’s for daily use which requires less volume, hence the smaller dimensions.

Are there any waterproof daypacks?

The AER Travel Pack 3 is pretty much waterproof, however, if you’re carrying expensive electronics with you, you might want to opt for an additional rain mat.

travel daypack reddit

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Osprey Stratos 24

Once you hit the road, you will quickly fall in love with travel so it’s important that you stretch your money as far as possible… Therefore, I strongly recommend picking a pack that comes with a lifetime guarantee.

It was a tough call, but the Osprey Talon is the best daypack for travelers. Designed by backpackers for backpackers, they know exactly what you need from your travel daypack. I’m a huge fan of mine. It’s gone a long way and seen a lot of skies.

The Talon might not be cheap, but you are really getting your money’s worth with it. This is the same pack that I’ve been using for seven years and it is simply the best hiking daypack. In my opinion, this is the best travel daypack for adventurous travelers and will suit most people on the road.

However, it is really tough to fit a laptop inside and everything else you may need to transport on a bus. Therefore, my second recommendation is the North Face Borealis .

The Borealis is a tough, innovative travel daypack which can handle hikes and also stow your laptop away safely in the padded laptop sleeve. This is the most comfortable hiking daypack I have found which still has a padded laptop sleeve.

Both of these packs are more than adequate for hiking and for hanging around town and, crucially, both of these daypacks come with lifetime guarantees.

So that’s it! Get yourself a pack, amigos, get packed, and go packing. Over and out!

A man in the mountains with his best daypack for hiking

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Will Hatton

Will Hatton

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How To Choose The

Best Daypack For Travel

The minimalist's guide to selecting the best travel daypack for one bag carry-on travel and beyond.

  • 01. Introduction
  • 02. Considerations
  • 03. Traditional
  • 04. Packable
  • 05. Expandable
  • 06. Alternate
  • 07. Packing It All Up

Think you know all there is to know about daypacks? Think again.

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Choosing the best Daypack for Travel and Beyond

The humble daypack: simple in form, but oh so valuable in function. Daypacks are the bread and butter of the backpack world, allowing us to enjoy all of what life has to offer while keeping the essentials handy.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25 In Detroit

Unlike travel backpacks —which are at home in airports, buses, and hotels—daypacks are found in nearly every facet of life and travel. From daily commutes to grocery store trips, coffee shops, and dog walks—daypacks are an essential part of most people’s lives. (Even if they might not realize it!)

In a travel sense, daypacks are ubiquitous with adventure and intrigue. From waterfall hikes in Thailand to exploring Portuguese side streets or relaxing with a few beverages on an Australian beach—daypacks are ready to hold all of your essentials as you live life to the fullest.

So, that begs the question… How do you choose the right one?

(Spoiler alert: You read this guide!)

Different Types Of Daypacks

Choosing the best daypack is a tricky—and loaded—question that doesn’t have one definitive answer. Much like travel backpacks, there are many different options that all get the job done. But in the end, we’re fairly confident there is no “best” daypack for everyone. It all depends on your personal preference and what you’re planning on doing with it.

If you want to skip ahead and just see some options already, check out the video below.

Here’s what you can expect

In this guide, we’re going to help you figure out how to choose the best daypack for your situation. We’re going to dive into all the different “categories” of daypacks and explain what you can expect with each as well as the pros, cons, and recommended use-cases.

We’re also going to provide some specific recommendations for each category, in addition to going over what you’ll want to look for and avoid in each case.

Aer Go Pack Luggage Pass Through

Finally, we’ll be going over some more general “pro tips” like how to efficiently pack a daypack, how to travel with a daypack and other luggage, and how to travel like a pro in a more general sense. (Although, we like to think that all of our content covers that last point.)

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Forget the “best” daypack. What kind of pack do YOU want?

Let’s get a few things straight before we dive into finding the best daypack for your situation. There are a few key considerations you should be thinking about when choosing a daypack, which we’ve outlined below. As we progress through this guide, we will continue to come back to these questions. If you can get clear on your answers here, we are confident you will be able to find the perfect daypack for your needs.

So, the first question you should be asking yourself is…

This is the most logical place to start in your quest for the perfect daypack. Choosing what daypack to buy will be most influenced by what you’re going to use it for! Here are some common examples of daypack-related activities that will require different types of packs:

  • Traveling the world with a carry-on travel backpack and a personal item.
  • Going on a day hike.
  • Traveling with roller luggage.
  • Bringing your laptop and tech gear to work every day (although we have a separate laptop bag guide for this).
  • Holding groceries on your way home from work.
  • Having a stylish accessory for travel or days out with friends.

Lowe Alpine Aeon ND20 In Javea, Spain

The type of activities you plan on doing with your daypack will have a massive effect on what kind of bag is best for you. Obviously, there are many additional scenarios you may find yourself in outside of the ones on this short list, but we hope that by the end of this guide you’ll have the knowledge to make an educated decision on your own.

We should also mention that we are strong advocates for having multiple daypacks for different scenarios. As a bunch of self-proclaimed minimalists, we don’t tend to endorse consumption for consumption’s sake, but having two to three specialized daypacks can be enough to cover just about any scenario you find yourself in. You could get by with one versatile pack for every occasion, but you’re going to have to make some compromises. (But we don’t particularly like compromises.)

The next question you should be asking yourself is…

While your answer to the first question may heavily impact the answer to this question, we still think it’s worth discussing on its own. Think of this in more general terms—are you the type of person who likes to have everything they could ever need for a day out? Do you love being prepared for any kind of weather that may hit? Are you “that person” who is prepared to spend a night in the woods every time you go for a hike?

Walking With The Topo Designs Daypack

Additionally, consider how many people you tend to be around. If you’re more of a solo adventurer or if you need a bag for commuting by yourself, you can probably get by with a smaller daypack. But if you tend to travel with large groups of people or you’d consider yourself a “social butterfly,” you may want to consider going for a larger daypack. You’ll thank us when you become the hero of the group after carrying everyone’s water bottles and jackets. Hell, you may even get a free beer or two out of it if you play your cards right.

The gist here is that if you think you’ll be carrying a decent amount of stuff while you’re out and about, you’ll want to opt for a daypack that has a larger capacity and an ample harness system to handle that extra weight.

If you’re a bonafide minimalist or you hate the idea of carrying a pack over five pounds, you’ll want to opt for a smaller and lighter bag. In this case, you can also get away with a more minimalistic harness system. We’ll get into all that (and more) later.

Yes, yes—there are certainly more things you’ll need to consider when choosing a daypack. Here’s a quick run-down…

Budget: Obviously, you’ll want to consider how much you’re willing to spend. In a general sense, as you spend more, you can expect to see higher-quality materials, better craftsmanship, more accessories, and better styling.

Lefrik Handy Backpack On 5'7" Rebecca (Left) & 6'4" Nathan (Right)

Body Type: Your height and torso length will dictate what type of bags fit you best—and the fit is crucial. Some daypacks come in men’s (larger) and women’s (smaller) versions. Regardless of gender, you’ll want to make sure the pack fits your body type. Luckily, this doesn’t tend to be as much of a problem with daypacks as it is with larger travel backpacks.

Durability: This can change depending on personal preference or the type of activity you’re doing. Daily commuting is going to be tougher on your pack than quick trips to your neighborhood coffee shop. You’ll want to consider how often you plan on using this pack, and how long you’d like to have it.

Weight: If you’re concerned with the overall weight of your pack, certain types of daypacks will be drastically lighter than others. Drastically. Lighter.

Tortuga Setout Divide Backpack Water Bottle Pocket

Extras: Between hip belts, compression straps, water bottle pockets, laptop compartments, and a slew of other add-ons…there’s a lot to consider here. If there are certain backpack features that you feel like you can’t live without, it might restrict you to certain types of daypacks.

The daypack we’ve all come to know and love.

What is a traditional daypack?

The traditional daypack is just what you’d assume—a daypack that functions well for daily use. This is the O.G. daypack. Remember that JanSport pack you and everyone else brought to school as a kid? Well, that would fall into this category. Although we’re happy to say there are plenty of alternatives nowadays, and of varying qualities.

Osprey Daylite Plus In Porto, Portugal

These types of daypacks function well and offer a ton of variety—this is actually the category where you’re going to see the most variety by far. We’re pretty confident even the pickiest gear nut could find something that fits the bill here. With a wide array of materials, color schemes, and styles—there’s something for everyone.

Aer Pro Pack 24L

The Aer Pro Pack 24L is a prime example of efficient allocation of space. Whereas a lot of daypacks struggle with gear settling at the bottom of the main compartment (leaving the top unoccupied), the Pro Pack lets its other compartments fill that void. You can either use that otherwise wasted space by packing its valet pocket and admin panel or stacking as much gear as its roomy main compartment can handle—the choice is yours.

Traditional daypacks can come in a wide variety of sizes but, in general, most packs will have a capacity between 10 and 25 liters. Usually, you’ll find one large compartment with a few other smaller pockets around the bag. But there is a ton of variety in the traditional daypack department, so that’s not all you’re going to find—there are plenty of traditional daypacks out there that offer loads of organization. Really, you can find bags at any end of the spectrum—from zero organization to a boatload to a happy medium.

Topo Designs Daypack In Detroit

Now, we should clarify that while we love ourselves a good old-fashioned daypack, they do have their drawbacks. In fact, we’d argue that the drawbacks encountered on traditional daypacks are what eventually caused backpack manufacturers to start looking into other types of daypacks (like the ones you’ll find in the rest of this guide). More on that later. For now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Materials & Durability

These types of daypacks have by far the most extensive variety of fabrics and materials. In fact, you can find a traditional daypack made with just about every backpack material out there. Here are some common examples of fabrics you might encounter on a pack like this:

  • And everything else under the sun…

If we had to recommend a few of these fabrics, we’d probably point out Ballistic and Ripstop Nylon. These are the heavy hitter backpack materials that we love to see because they’re incredibly durable over the long term, they’re rip- and abrasion-resistant, and they’re mostly weather-resistant. The CORDURA® name also tends to be a good one to look for, as it signifies that the fabrics have been held to a certain level of quality. In terms of specific CORDURA® materials, you’ll mainly find polyester and nylon.

Topo Designs Daypack Slash Pocket and Lash Tab

We generally recommend avoiding polyester, canvas, and leather for travel. Polyester is lightweight but it lacks long-term durability, and it can rip and scuff easily. Canvas and leather can certainly be high quality, but they tend to be very heavy. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve seen great packs that use these materials, but if you’re looking for the “best” materials out there, we’d recommend opting for some of the other options on this list.

Aer Flight Pack 3 Zippers

Outside of fabrics, you’ll likely find a variety of other hardware and zippers on these types of packs. We always recommend YKK or SBS branded zippers as they have long track records of providing high-quality zippers that stand the test of time. Zipper sizes range on a scale from one (small) to ten (large), and most of the packs in this category will have at least a #5. We’d recommend looking for something a bit higher, though—some of our favorite daypacks have #10 YKK zippers, which are super beefy. In general, anything between #8 and #10 will be sturdy enough that you won’t need to worry about anything breaking anytime soon. (By the way, this should go without saying, but avoid plastic and unbranded zippers at all costs!)

Tom Bihn Synapse 25 Sternum Strap

Additionally, you’ll find various types of hardware—in the form of buckles, adjusters, and straps—on these packs. Duraflex , Woojin , and ITW are good brands to look out for. If you don’t see a brand name on the buckles of a daypack, you might want to look elsewhere. The reality is that plastic buckles are one of the easiest things to break on a bag—you can easily snap one in half just by setting the pack down abruptly—so sticking with a high-quality, trusted brand here is absolutely worth the extra couple bucks you’ll likely have to throw down.

Curious about what other materials you can expect on a pack like this? Here’s a quick overview:

  • DWR coating: This is a coating that can be applied to many fabrics which increases water-resistance. It will by no means make the pack completely waterproof, but it will help quite a bit by providing some added weather-resistance.

Who (and what) is it good for?

The traditional daypack is useful for people who need a pack for daily use and aren’t concerned about traveling light. We’re of the firm belief that any commuter or city-goer who does a lot of walking or regularly takes public transit should have a traditional daypack they love. Actually, scratch that—everyone should have a traditional daypack they love.

Arc'teryx Blade 28 Backpack In Northern Michigan

This type of pack is excellent at holding tech gear, groceries, clothing, and everything in between. It’ll hold everything you need for those longer-than-expected days at work, short hikes, weekend trips, and whatever else you may encounter in your day-to-day life.

As far as travel goes, this pack does hold some value, but it’s not exactly “optimized” for travel. If you’re looking for a pack that you can cram into your one bag travel pack, this isn’t going to be your best bet. It might be doable, but there are way better options out there (which we’ll get into soon).

Aer Flight Pack 3 Back Handle

However, if you plan on using roller luggage or a duffel, a daypack like this can be a perfect addition to your travel kit. If roller luggage is your style, we’d recommend grabbing a pack that has a luggage pass-through, like the Aer Flight Pack 3 , so you can toss your pack onto your suitcase and stroll through the airport like a total boss.

This is a pack that we think virtually everyone should have in their closet. Even if you don’t plan on using it regularly, it’s great to have for quick trips and days out of the house. It can replace totes, duffels, and reusable grocery bags while offering a whole lot more functionality because, like all backpacks, you can have both hands free while wearing it!

Once you grab one that fits your style and has some quality materials, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

This backpack is good at most things, but it’s not quite as specialized as some of the other packs we’ll highlight in this guide. Essentially, Traditional Backpacks are versatile packs that will function well in 8 out of 10 situations. But for those other two instances, you’d be better off with something else.

Traditional backpacks offer impressive materials and harness systems that allow you to comfortably carry heavy or bulky gear for long periods of time. They also offer the most purchasing options, meaning you can opt for a pack that provides a boatload of additional functionality, a pack that is sleek and minimal, or something in between. The same goes for style and size. One crucial point is that you’ll see longer-lasting and more durable materials on these types of packs because weight and bulkiness aren’t as much of an issue.

YETI Tocayo In Detroit, Michigan

These bags also tend to have the most “structure,” which means they’ll be good for holding more valuable or fragile gear and you can easily organize the contents inside. Because they have more structure and lots of accessories, you’ll also find that these types of daypacks often have multiple carry options—allowing you to carry the pack in “briefcase mode” or “duffel mode” or some other mode entirely. That provides some nice versatility that can be good for some use-cases or specific situations.

And finally, the wide variety of packs in this category means you can spend as much or as little as you’d like. There’s something for every budget, which isn’t entirely true for the other categories on this list.

If you’re looking for something extremely lightweight and minimal, this type of pack isn’t going to be your best bet. You can find light daypacks here, for sure, but a packable daypack may suit you better. Traditional daypacks also tend to be a bit on the bulkier side, so if you’re looking for a pack that you can toss into your larger travel pack, there are better options out there.

As we’ve mentioned, the traditional daypack is king when it comes to versatility—but, by definition, that means it’s not king when it comes to specialized use-cases. As you’ll see later in the guide, there are a variety of packs for specific niches that will go above and beyond what a traditional daypack is capable of.

The Verdict

If you’re looking to carry stuff efficiently or you want a versatile pack that will last a lifetime, this is what you need. In fact, even if you don’t think you need this type of pack you should still probably have one on hand. It’ll come in handy more often than you think.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25

But if you have other, more specific considerations, you might want to keep reading…


Aer Flight Pack 3

The Aer Flight Pack 3 is a reliable and functional mid-sized daypack from a trusted brand. It’s got a sleek, minimal look and it uses high-quality materials that have held up well during our testing. If you’re looking for the ultimate daypack, you’ll want to check this one out.

Topo Designs Daypack Review

The Topo Designs Daypack is a stylish little backpack that isn’t really so little. At 20 liters, it’s a reliable daypack that can handle weekend trips or bulky items with ease. Although it might look simple, there’s a lot going on inside this heritage style pack—including some high-quality, durable materials.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25 Review

We love Tom Bihn because they put a ton of care, effort, and detail into the decisions they make when creating packs. The Synapse 25 is no exception. With some excellent organization, customization options, and great materials—this bag is a winner and could be a great option for longer trips.

Are packable daypacks the future of the backpack world? We’re not sure, but we’re definitely into them.

Video Overview: 9 Packable Daypacks For Minimalist Travel & Why You May Need One In Your Carry-On Backpack

Feel free to watch this guide overview in video format. We’ll go more in-depth in the written content and keep this page up to date.

Be sure to subscribe to Pack Hacker on YouTube and never miss a video.

What is a packable daypack?

Packable daypacks are the latest, greatest, and most innovative item to hit the daypack market for some time. Over the past few years, we’ve seen packable daypacks explode in popularity, and for good reason. They’re ridiculously lightweight, super compressible, and they solve a problem that almost everyone has faced at some point in their lives.

YNOT Deploy Packable Daypack

If you’ve ever arrived in a new city with a big ole’ piece of luggage and thought, “If only I had a smaller bag I could use for the day,” then you are in luck. The packable daypack was built to solve that problem, and for that, we love it.

The way packable daypacks work is pretty straightforward (it’s also, like, in the name—but we’ll clarify). They’re usually built with extremely thin and lightweight materials, which allows you to compress the bag into a small ball, just like you might do with a plastic disposable shopping bag. But it’s not just thin materials we’re talking about here. Everything on a packable daypack is light—from the shoulder straps to the zippers to the buckles. It’s all purpose-built to compress, so you’ll rarely see thick shoulder straps, beefy zippers, or extra features on these bags.

Tortuga Setout Packable Daypack Compressed Size Comparison

Most bags compress into a pocket on the pack or a small compression pouch. Basically, you pack the bag into the pocket or pouch, zip it up, and you’ve just compressed a backpack down to the size of a soda can (or sometimes, even smaller).

From there, you can toss that can-sized pouch into your larger travel bag, your desk at work, your car, or just have some fun and play a game of catch with your friends! There are no rules when it comes to packable daypacks, people.

Packable daypacks can vary in size, but you can generally expect them to fall between 10 and 25 liters in capacity when expanded. When compressed, smaller-sized packs will take up less room, but the materials and design also play a significant factor. We’ve seen 24-liter daypacks that compress smaller than 15-liter packs. So it’s vital to do your research on each bag before you purchase and consider how important the expanded and compressed sizes are to you.

As far as compartments go, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a packable daypack with more than two or three pockets. The majority of these bags have one large compartment with a small quick-grab pocket—and that’s about it. As you’ll see, these types of bags are pretty barebones (because they have to be).

When it comes to packable daypacks, thin and light is the name of the game. Everything on a packable daypack is purpose-built to allow the pack to compress to less than a quarter of its initial size. But let’s be honest, compressing is the easy part. After all, you can compress a plastic grocery bag or a Ziploc bag pretty easily.

The hard part is creating a bag that can do all of that while still holding up for years to come. Using a backpack to carry heavy or bulky items can put a lot of stress on it, but even more importantly, compressing a bag can put an incredible amount of pressure on the seams and materials. So, how do you create a backpack that is strong enough to hold up to all of that while still being extremely thin and lightweight?

Tortuga Setout Packable Daypack Ripstop Fabric

Well, thanks to #science and years of fabric innovation, we now have a handful of materials that are up to the challenge. Here are some of the most common materials you’ll find on a packable daypack—and keep in mind that these materials are similar to what you’d find on other backpacks, they’re just going to be much thinner versions of the same fabric.

  • …and that’s about it!

As you can see, there’s a pretty select number of materials that you can use when making a packable daypack. And really, all of these materials are incredibly similar—they’re all thin, lightweight, and have an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio.

Now, with all this talk about super thin, super durable materials… we know what you’re thinking. “Okay, but how durable can these things ACTUALLY be?” Well, if you’re skeptical, you should be.

Mystery Ranch In and Out Packable Daypack

Here’s the deal. A packable daypack is likely never going to be as durable as a full-fledged, traditional daypack. With materials this thin, you’re always running the risk of creating small punctures, abrasions, rips, tears, and more. While 30D Ripstop Nylon is exceptionally durable given its weight, that’s just the thing—it’s so thin and light that it’s never going to be as durable as, say, 1000D CORDURA® Nylon.

What we’re trying to say here is that given the limitations of packable daypacks, they’re incredibly durable. Let’s not beat around the bush here—they’re certainly not the most durable packs money can buy. In fact, you’ll want to be careful with your packable daypack—even putting bulky items in can be cause for concern.

But as far as we’re concerned, as long as you put some thought into how you pack your bag and you treat it well, you’re going to be okay. And the pros of a packable daypack truly cannot be understated.

Packable daypacks are extremely small when not in use, but still quite functional when in use. As you can imagine, there are a lot of situations where this can be helpful!

We mainly use packable daypacks for travel. If you’re traveling with one large travel backpack, you can bring along a packable daypack to use once you arrive at your destination. The benefit here is that it takes up little to no space in your pack while you’re traveling, and then you don’t have to use your enormous travel backpack for a day out in a new city.

Packable Daypack Size Comparison

Some packable daypacks are even small enough where you can toss one in your jacket pocket and carry it around with you just on the off-chance you might need a backpack at some point during the day. Pretty awesome, right?

There are many uses for packable daypacks outside of travel, as well. You may want to keep a packable pack in your desk at work, in case you need to hit the grocery store on your way home. You could keep one in your car or a saddle bag on your bike. Or, for the ultra-minimalists and tiny apartment dwellers, you may want to just save space in your closet and use one of these as your only daypack!

Putting The Matador Freefly16 In A Jacket Pocket

Packable daypacks are great for anyone on the go. They allow you to be prepared to carry “stuff” (whatever that may be) at any moment, without having to lug around an empty backpack. They’re also great for minimalists, or anyone who’s looking to remove bulky items from their life.

Alright, this won’t take long (we promise).

Packable daypacks are thin, light, and allow you to be prepared for anything. …And that’s why they’re great! We really cannot understate how nice it is to have a backpack that compresses to the size of your fist. It’s truly awesome.

Lightweight Packable Daypack

But, let’s be honest, there are some downsides…

Now that we’ve talked at length about why packable daypacks are amazing and everyone should have one, let’s get real for a minute. There are downsides to these bags—quite a few, in fact. And while none of them are necessarily dealbreakers, you should be aware of them.

Matador Freefly16 Daypack In Use

A packable daypack is likely never going to have as much structure and rigidity as a traditional daypack or any of the other daypacks we’ll be mentioning in this guide. That is, unless some new, amazing fabric technology comes out. The reality is that because these bags are so thin and so lightweight, the material is not going to stand up straight or hold its shape like a regular backpack would.

As a result of this and some other factors, packable daypacks do not carry nearly as well as a traditional daypack. Because they have to be so thin and light, they generally have extremely minimal harness systems (although we’ve tested a few that excel in this department, they’re few and far in between). Usually, you’ll find extremely thin straps—which tend to get twisted as you’re using the bag—with minimal zippers and buckles. No matter how you slice it, packable daypacks aren’t great for carrying heavy loads over long distances.

Matador Freefly16 Daypack Stitching Coming Loose

As we mentioned earlier, durability is another thing to consider with packable daypacks. Super-thin ultralight materials are never going to be as durable as the thick, heavy stuff. You are far more likely to experience a puncture, tear, or rip with a packable daypack than with a traditional one. Although, if yours is made with ripstop nylon, those rips won’t get any bigger, which is nice. For this reason, they’re not the best for sustained, heavy use.

Packable daypacks serve a specific purpose, and they do it very well. They allow you to be prepared for anything—whether that’s in the travel context, at work, or on your commute. If you need something that will take up virtually no space when not in use while still being functional when in use, there’s nothing better. But all that comes with downsides. A packable daypack is not suited for heavy, daily use—and it’s not the most comfortable thing to wear, either.

Tortuga Setout Packable Daypack

As far as we’re concerned, those aren’t dealbreakers. In fact, if we could only choose two packs off this list, a packable daypack would surely be one of them. For one bag travel, they’re practically indispensable. And for everything else, they’re pretty damn convenient.

Tortuga Setout Packable Daypack Review

The Tortuga Setout Packable Daypack is a classic. It’s lightweight and compresses to the size of an aluminum can, but it’s still got a 19-liter capacity when expanded. It also pairs well with other gear in the Setout line.

Mystery Ranch In & Out Daypack Review

This is the packable daypack that is the exception to the norm. Why? Because it looks and feels like a regular backpack! It’s got robust materials, a bunch of pockets, and some accessories that you just never see on packable daypacks. But it’s also heavy and bulky as a result.

Matador Freefly16

Matador is known for making extremely packable gear, and the Freefly16 is just one of their packable daypacks. We like this one because it’s pretty versatile and offers a decent harness system without sacrificing space when compressed. That being said, we’ve had some durability issues during testing.

It’s a travel pack! No, it’s a daypack! No, it’s an expandable backpack! (And it’s the best of both worlds.)

What is an expandable backpack?

If you’ve been reading carefully, you may have noticed something different about this section. Here, we’re not going to be discussing a daypack, specifically, but an expandable backpack.

What’s the difference, you ask? And why is this thing that is supposedly not a daypack in a guide called The Daypack Guide?

Knack Large Expandable Pack Compressed (Left) Expanded (Right)

Well, an expandable backpack is part daypack, part travel backpack. This is a bag that can function as either, and it does so by expanding or compressing accordingly. Does it compress as much as a packable daypack? No, not even close. And that is why it has its own category!

Expandable backpacks give you the best of both worlds (at least, in theory) by providing you with a fully-capable travel backpack that you can use for extended one bag travel. The idea is that you can use this bag for long journeys—like flights or train rides—and then remove the contents of the pack once you get to your destination.

Aer Travel Pack 3 In Arizona

Once you’ve removed a majority of the contents, you can compress the bag down to daypack-size and head out on the town. You won’t stick out nearly as much as you would with a massive travel backpack, although we’re not going to lie, it will certainly look a bit more cumbersome than a traditional or packable daypack.

These types of packs often have high liter-capacities, up to 35 or 45 liters when fully expanded and in “travel pack mode.” When compressed, the size can vary—but expect to lose between 10 and 15 liters of capacity. Some bags are built in a way that there are two different “modes” with different capacities and little to no wiggle room in between. These usually use some kind of compression zipper that will run around the length of the bag, allowing you to compress it by zipping up excess fabric.

Tortuga Setout Divide Backpack Expanded & Compressed

Other bags may be built in a way where you can simply compress them down to whatever size you’d like. These usually use simple compression straps, meaning you can often compress the bag to be extremely thin, or compress it just a little bit from its fully-expanded size.

Expandable backpacks tend to have the same kinds of materials you’d find on a travel backpack because, well…they are travel backpacks! This means you’re going to encounter some pretty durable and high-quality fabrics.

Could you find similar materials on a traditional daypack? Absolutely. However, with expandable backpacks, you’re going to see higher-quality materials across the board, as opposed to traditional daypacks where you’ll find a ton of different materials of varying qualities.

Aer Travel Pack 3 Brand

The majority of expandable daypacks are going to be made with some kind of nylon. That might be Ballistic Nylon, Ripstop Nylon, CORDURA® Nylon, or some other version. These are all super durable fabrics that can put up with daily use and long term travel for years to come. And while you might notice that these are similar to the materials we mentioned in the Packable and Traditional Daypack sections, they’re generally going to be much, much thicker. A packable daypack might have 30D Ripstop Nylon, while an expandable daypack is more likely to have 1000D Ripstop Nylon.

You could still find a variety of materials here—anything from polyester to canvas, sailcloth, and more—but in general, we tend to encounter nylon on these bags. And quite frankly, given the wear and tear that is likely to occur with a bag like this, we’d recommend going for something strong like a Ballistic or Ripstop Nylon over pretty much anything else.

And just like the traditional daypacks we covered in the first section, you’ll find a variety of other materials on these bags. Here’s a quick run-down if you need a refresher:

  • DWR coating

Expandable backpacks are great for minimalist travelers. They can fit everything needed for a year of perpetual one bag travel while still functioning well as a daypack when out and about in a new city. The general concept with expandable backpacks is very similar to packable daypacks, only in this case, instead of having a travel backpack and a daypack, you’ve got one that pulls double-duty.

Knack Large Expandable Pack Flat Lay

One potential problem with this system is that you do need a place to store the extra contents of your bag when not in use. Presumably, you’d be able to toss most of your stuff into a dresser in your hotel or Airbnb, or into some kind of locker at a hostel. If you don’t have a place to store your stuff, that could be a bit of a problem—unless you’re cool with stashing the contents of your bag in an alley, or maybe under a bridge or something. (Sorry, we don’t have much experience with this.)

We should also mention that packing cubes can be a huge convenience here. If most of your stuff is packed into two or three packing cubes, you can simply pull them out, compress the pack, and you’re good to go. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with a whole mess of clothes and other unorganized gear.

This type of backpack is fantastic for someone who is looking to travel minimally, or especially someone who’s on a budget. Most expandable backpacks are priced similarly to your average travel backpack, so you can save a good bit of money by buying just one expandable backpack instead of both a travel backpack and a daypack.

As we mentioned in the durability section, these bags are generally going to hold up longer and be capable of handling more wear and tear than your average daypack. After all, they have to function as a travel backpack and a daypack—meaning they’re going to see a whole lot of use. They also need to be able to hold up to the pressures of compression.

Peak Design Travel Backpack in Minneapolis, Minnesota

And because they need to function as a travel backpack, they also have more robust harness systems, meaning you’ll be able to carry heavier loads for long periods of time while remaining comfortable. Ultimately, the best thing about expandable backpacks is their versatility. And for that, we love them.

Throughout this section, we’ve been explaining how expandable backpacks can function as both a travel backpack and a daypack. But if you’re anything like us, you might be wondering how well they perform in both of those roles…

We’re not going to sugarcoat this—expandable backpacks rarely function as well in “daypack mode” as a bonafide daypack will. No matter how much you compress an expandable backpack, it’s still going to have the length and width of a travel backpack, meaning it’s going to look and feel pretty large on your back. While some packs handle this problem well, most expandable daypacks are going to look a little awkward when you’re wearing them. Let’s just say no one’s going to be fooled by your “daypack.”

Knack Large Expandable Pack In Its Expanded State

Expandable backpacks are also heavy, but that’s to be expected when you’ve got a travel backpack and daypack in one package.

If you’re on a budget or you hate the idea of having two backpacks, an expandable backpack is an obvious choice. It will function well as a travel backpack and pretty well as a daypack once you get to your destination. As long as you can find a place to drop off your stuff, you’ll be all set for perpetual travel with one pack.

Tortuga Setout Divide Backpack Review

The Tortuga Setout Divide is built specifically to function as an expandable backpack. It has two capacities—34 and 26 liters—depending on which mode you’re in, and it compresses with one large compression zipper that runs the length of the pack.

Aer Travel Pack 3

The Aer Travel Pack 3 is one of our favorite travel backpacks, and it also happens to work very well as a daypack. With a robust set of compression straps and a design that collapses well onto itself, it’s one of the few travel packs you can rock as a daypack without looking totally ridiculous.

Peak Design Travel Backpack Review

The Peak Design Travel Backpack is another travel backpack with a compression system that does a great job of converting the pack from travel mode to daypack mode. In fact, this is one of the more innovative compression systems we’ve seen—it uses a large compression zipper and several compression buttons instead of straps.

There are a lot of daypacks out there. Some would say, too many. We think that’s ridiculous.

We’ve gone over the three main categories of daypacks. But there has to be more, right?

Yes! There are many other types of daypacks. In this section, we’re going to briefly run through some of the other daypacks you might encounter in the wild. These are packs that have niche use-cases or are slight variations of some of the other packs we’ve mentioned in this guide.

So, without further ado, let’s check them out.

Waterproof Daypacks

Waterproof daypacks are pretty self-explanatory. Unlike other backpacks that may be “water-resistant” or “weather-resistant,” these packs are truly impervious to water.

Matador Freerain24 2.0 Rolltop Buckles

Waterproof daypacks usually use some type of nylon that has been coated with DWR, Hypalon, or some other waterproof coating. But what really makes these bags stand out is their waterproof zippers and closure systems. Truly waterproof zippers are much different than weather-resistant zippers, and they’re pretty hard to come by.

Most bags will opt for a rolltop closure system for the main compartment, and a few waterproof zippers for other areas of the pack (if there are other areas). If done right, a rolltop closure system will be completely airtight. All you need to do is keep folding it onto itself, and then buckle it up.

Submerging The Matador Freerain24 In Water

If you need a waterproof daypack for whatever reason, we’d recommend testing it out before you truly put it to use. Before you bring it into the wild, throw some paper towels or toilet paper into it, close it up, and submerge it in a bathtub for a few minutes. If the paper towels are still dry afterward, you know it’s totally waterproof.

Waterproof daypacks usually have just one compartment, although they may have a few smaller pockets with waterproof zippers. And we’re pretty sure we don’t need to tell you what these bags are good for, or who would benefit from them…right? It kind of goes without saying.

Matador Freerain24 2.0

Matador is known for making a bunch of packable gear, and this bag pulls double-duty as a packable daypack that’s also waterproof. Well, it’s fully waterproof minus the front zippered pocket. And yes, we’ve tested this ourselves.

Mini Daypacks

There’s no getting around it—these little packs are super cute. We tend to think of mini daypacks as a more stylish and slightly less-functional alternative to packable daypacks.

These packs tend to just be miniaturized (cuter) versions of traditional daypacks. You’ll find similar materials, although everything’s going to be slightly more minimal. You can expect a minimal harness system and only a few pockets in addition to the main compartment (or maybe none at all).

Fjallraven Kanken Mini Mekong Delta

The great thing about a mini daypack is that it looks great and can still be squished down to fit inside a larger travel backpack. But you’re sacrificing quite a lot with a bag like this. It’s still going to take up a lot of space inside your larger bag, it isn’t going to provide the best carry, and it won’t be able to hold many things.

That being said, if you want a stylish little bag and you don’t intend on carrying more than a few items on your days out, a mini daypack just might be the ticket.

Fjallraven Kanken Mini

This mini daypack is quickly becoming a classic. The Fjallraven Kanken Mini is stylish, cute, and comes in about a million different colors. We love the way it looks, and it functions well given its size. We’d recommend grabbing a pair of the shoulder strap pads for some extra comfort.

Lay-Flat Daypacks

Lay-flat daypacks are pretty much just traditional daypacks that you can lay flat at the base of your travel backpack or roller luggage.

We don’t usually see these types of packs explicitly marketed as “lay-flat daypacks”—they’re typically just traditional daypacks that happen to work well for this use-case. To lay flat, this type of pack needs to be made with somewhat “flimsy” or thinner materials. That also means that it’s not going to have the rigidity and structure of your average daypack.

Aer Go Pack Laying Flat Inside The Aer Travel Pack 2

These types of packs can be useful for people who don’t like the idea of a packable daypack or don’t like how they look/feel. The main issue is that it will still take up a significant amount of space in your pack, even if it lays flat really well.

If you are looking for a pack like this, we’d recommend reading some reviews (like ours) before you buy. It can be pretty hard to tell how well a pack lays flat without testing it yourself.

Aer Go Pack

The Aer Go Pack is labeled as a “packable” daypack, but it’s really more of a lay-flat daypack. This pack is made with thin materials and has very little structure when empty, so it will take up minimal space when laid flat in a suitcase or backpack. You also have the option to roll it up, if you are so inclined.

Cotopaxi Batac 16L

A lay-flat daypack that will add a pop of color to your adventures, the Cotopaxi Batac 16L is a durable, ultra-lightweight pack you’ll want to show off. It has minimal features—but has a comfortable enough carry to work well for long days out and about.

Budget Daypacks

Budget daypacks are mostly just traditional daypacks that have been made with cheaper, lower-quality materials like polyester, canvas, or even cotton. You can expect a barebones daypack with a couple of pockets, and that’s about it. But that’s why it’s so cheap!

Lefrik Handy Backpack In Essex, England

These packs are not going to last a lifetime, they may not look as fabulous as you’d like, and they’re not going to carry very well. But they’re cheap! If you’re on a budget and need to carry stuff while still using two arms—boom! These packs will do that. But be warned—you might encounter some issues in the middle (or beginning) of your trip.

Uniqlo 3-Way Bag

Uniqlo is known for making low-priced clothing and accessories that are still stylish and fairly durable given the price. This 3-Way Bag, which can be carried in backpack, messenger, and briefcase mode, is no exception.

Lefrik Handy Backpack Review

While not ideal for bulkier items, the Lefrik Handy Backpack is a lightweight and affordable everyday bag that will be right at home in the city. Plus this bag is made of 100% recycled polyester from discarded PET bottles—so environmentalists rejoice!

Camera Daypacks

Camera daypacks are built specifically for carrying cameras and all the accessories that come with them. From lenses to SD cards to tripods, photographers need to lug around a lot of stuff to their shoots.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L (V2) Side Access

A camera daypack is going to be a bit more minimal than a full-fledged camera bag, as the goal is to hold just enough stuff for a couple hours of shooting. You can expect a bag with plenty of organization, some internal padding, and enough room to hold a camera, one or two lenses, and all the batteries, cords, and memory cards you need for a day out.

Taking the F-Stop ICU out of a Thule Subterra 34L

In our experience, camera daypacks aren’t entirely necessary unless you’re dead-set on having a daypack specifically for shooting. We tend to use camera inserts—like the F-Stop Small Shallow ICU —to convert a traditional daypack into a “camera daypack,” or add a camera compartment to our larger travel pack.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L V2

Made of durable materials and full of features, The Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L (V2) is a solid choice for all photographers and videographers. But its classic aesthetic and nice internal layout will also make digital nomads and one bag travelers pretty happy too.

Chrome Niko F-Stop Camera Backpack

Ideal for gearheads, The Chrome Niko F-Stop Camera Backpack has enough space and organizational features to fit a few camera bodies, a handful of lenses, and some additional accessories. Chrome is known for their quality craftsmanship—and their camera pack is no exception.

Secure Daypacks

Secure daypacks might look like a traditional daypack, but they’ve got a whole lot going on under the hood. These packs are built to repel any potential thief and keep all of your belongings safe and sound.

Loctote Flak Sack II In Detroit, Michigan

You can expect to see some pretty cool tech on these packs—from tear-proof fabrics to lockable zippers to metal cables that you can use to lock the bag to fixed objects. These bags are great for travel, where security is always an issue. Having an ultra-secure pack means you can doze off on that long train ride or walk through crowded markets without having to worry about pickpockets.

These daypacks will usually be on the heavier side, thanks to their additional security measures, and that’s fine with us. Knowing your stuff is safe is pretty damn valuable, and we’ll take that over a few saved ounces any day of the week.

Loctote Flak Sack II

The Loctote Flak Sack II is an extremely tough bag that’s slash-proof, RFID blocking, and lockable—both to itself and a fixed object (so you can leave it behind without worrying about your valuables). It is on the heavier side—but for a bag built for security, it really should be.

We’ve done our bit. Now it’s your turn! Let’s make this daypack thing happen.

Hooray, you’ve made it to the end of our guide! Congratulations, you are now a daypack expert. Hopefully, at this point, you have a good idea of what to look for in a daypack, and you’ve got enough knowledge to find the right daypack for you and your unique situation.

Different Types Of Daypacks

Now that you’ve got the daypack figured out, it’s time to put it to use. We’re not going to do an exhaustive guide on how to use a daypack (as much as we’d like to) because we’re pretty sure it’s self-explanatory. However, there are a few quick tips that we’d like to highlight before we close this thing out.

Next time you get ready for a day out in a new city, think of these tips when loading up your daypack:

  • Use packing cubes for larger items: We recommend using packing cubes in most travel backpacks, and the same principles apply to daypacks. A few small packing cubes or pouches let you organize all the contents of your bag and give you easy access to whatever you need. The best thing about using packing cubes with a daypack is that, if you plan right, you can grab a fully-loaded packing cube from your travel pack and toss it in your daypack. These are great for clothing and medium-sized pieces of gear.

GORUCK GR1 Main Compartment

  • Use pouches for smaller items: When it comes to tech gear, toiletries, and other small items you’d like to keep organized—pouches are a lifesaver. Unlike packing cubes, which tend to be one large compartment, pouches tend to offer plenty of organization for smaller items like thumb drives, SD cards, and pens that you might not find on your daypack. We love using pouches in coffee shops and coworking spaces to easily pull out all our tech-related gear for the day.

Trakke Laggan Pouch At The Coffee House

  • Keep your laptop safe: We always recommend using a padded laptop sleeve to keep your laptop safe in transit. Even if your bag has a laptop compartment—and even if it’s padded—it’s always worth throwing it in a padded sleeve for peace of mind.

Hopefully, these tips will take your packing to the next level. And if you have any other pro tips you’d like to share, feel free to drop us a line! We’d love to hear about them.

Concluding Thoughts

So, here we are. We’ve finished our long tour through the world of daypacks. We’ve learned some stuff, seen some interesting packs, and had a few laughs. We hope this guide has opened your eyes to what kind of daypacks are available, and why you might want to opt for one style over the other.

Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack In Detroit, Michigan

But we’d like to close this one out by reminding you that choosing the “best” daypack is not only impossible but not a big deal. At the end of the day, you should go with a bag that will not only suit your needs but that you LIKE! There’s no point in buying a bag that you don’t actually like, no matter how many features and durable materials it has.

So whether you opt for an ultralight packable daypack or a retro leather bag, just be sure to get out there and use it while you enjoy the world—whether that means making your commute just a bit less stressful or enjoying a day in a new city.


Author: Aidan DiPrima

Aidan is a writer, editor, gearhead, and New England native that currently calls Boston, MA home. When he’s not mountain biking with his Aussie Shepherd or traveling around the states, he’s making sentences as concise as possible—a challenge he doesn’t take lightly.

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Day Bags What is the Best Day Pack for Travel by JetSettingFools.com

Day Bags: What Is The Best Day Pack For Travel?

Welcome to JetSetting Fools, here you will find our best travel tips for destinations worldwide. Some of the links on this site are Affiliate Links and if you use them to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. For more information, read our Disclosure Policy .

A good day bag is essential when traveling. As full-time travelers, our daypack bags are one of the most important items we carry; we never explore a city or go on a hike without them. As we prepared for our initial Around the World Trip in 2014, we were tasked with finding the Best Day Pack for Travel.

We were overwhelmed by the numerous choices of travel daypacks – there are so many styles and sizes to choose from! However, before we could determine the best daypack for travel, we had to seriously consider how we would use it.

Why Use a Day Travel Pack?

Before we talk about why you would use a small daypack for travel, we should answer the question, What is a Day Bag?

A travel daypack is a small bag that is carried while sightseeing, hiking or adventuring on day trips. For many travelers – ourselves included – a travel day bag also doubles as carry on luggage for both buses and long haul flights . 

A day travel bag is responsible for containing all of the things you would typically want (or need) while out exploring or sitting in a seat while traveling.

We use a small travel daypack anytime we leave our accommodations . In it, we carry necessities – like a wallet, DSLR camera , phone, keys, a small notebook, pen and a water bottle . Additionally, there are specific pockets in my bag where I stow hand sanitizer, hand lotion, sunscreen and lip moisturizer. In another compartment, I store toilet paper, tissues and feminine products. Odds and ends – like a bottle opener, safety pins, band-aids and extra hair ties – reside in my day pack as well.

Read our tips for 14 Everyday Items for Traveling !

Depending on where I am – and where I am going – there is also room in my travel day pack for a foldable bag (if I’m going to a market), a guidebook (if I’m in a new destination), a scarf or light hoodie (if it might get chilly) and my laptop (if I need to go somewhere to work).

Basically, day bags for travel are a catch-all, carry-all for travelers – yet, they are small and compact. The best travel day bag will provide organization so that tourists can sightsee at ease knowing everything they need is within easy reach.

Features Of The Best Travel Day Packs

While almost any bag could work as a daypack travel bag, the best travel daypacks are designed with a few specific elements. These features hold true whether you are looking for the best daypack for travel in Europe or if you are seeking the best day trip backpack for hikes. 

Compartmentalized Travel Day Bags

A key feature for the best travel day pack is that it has internal compartments (and sometimes, external ones, too!). Yet, the best travel bag will have at least one large main compartment for stowing bigger items. 

Using a day pack for travel that only has one or two compartments is not sufficient; there should be several zippered or separated sections inside the bag. You don’t want to have to dig your dirty hands through your entire bag to locate your hand sanitizer – it should be kept in a compartment that is easy to get to.

Furthermore, segmented compartments help to keep items from spilling out of your bag. For instance, when you want to quickly grab your camera out of your day pack, you don’t want to inadvertently pull other items out of your bag, like your wallet, with it. Compartments keep everything in place and make it a cinch to find whatever you are looking for.

Having external water bottle pockets and an internal padded laptop sleeve are two common day bag travel pack features that you might want to consider. 

Protection from Pickpockets

Another trait of a good day pack travel bag is an anti-theft design. Unfortunately, some of the most popular cities in the world (like Barcelona , Rome and Ho Chi Minh City ) are crawling with pickpocketing thieves that target tourists. Therefore, the best travel daypack for Europe and Southeast Asia (or anywhere around the globe where pickpockets are a problem) is one that is specifically designed to deter thieves from accessing your personal possessions. 

Top anti-theft elements include RFID blocking panels and slash-resistant straps, which are useful in cities where theft runs rampant. That said, zipped bags (or zippered compartments) should be used in any city as a way to ensure pickpockets don’t get their sticky fingers on your belongings and valuables. 

Keep in mind that money, credit cards, wallets and cell phones should never be kept in an open area or outside, unzipped pockets (which are better used for water bottles and guidebooks); not only can they be snagged by opportunistic thieves, but they could simply fall out of your bag.

Durable and Water-Resistant Daypack

The best daypacks for travel are made with quality materials and craftsmanship. Ideally, your day pack travel bag will be constructed with durable fabrics (like ripstop nylon) designed to withstand inclement weather conditions. Additionally, the material should be stain-resistant – and it also helps if it is washable.

Water – in the form of rain, sea or even splashing by the pool – is also something to be concerned with; it can ruin expensive electronic devices, like phones and cameras (which can put a big damper on your trip!). However, a water resistant or waterproof travel daypack can keep that from happening.

Beyond all of the technical aspects of a well-designed day pack, one thing to seriously consider before purchasing a travel bag is comfort. Not only does the bag itself need to be comfortable to wear physically (padded shoulder straps are a must!), but it should be a pack that you are also at ease with regarding accessibility and style.

For example, a travel day backpack (rather than a sling bag) may not be the best bag for sightseeing if you are someone who constantly reaches for contents inside your bag. And, while a fanny pack for travel is suitable for some tourists, if it is simply not your style then you should choose a different type of bag.

The Best Travel Day Packs by JetSettingFools.com

Types of Day Bags

Before choosing the best day bag for travel, think about what type of day pack best fits your style, comfort and needs. There are 3 distinct styles of day packs to consider: Backpack, Cross Body Bag and Fanny Pack.

Backpack Daypack

A backpack is one of the most popular options for a small daypack. Top reasons to use a day backpack is that the weight is evenly distributed over both shoulders. Because of this, it is possible to carry more items with ease (like a pair of comfortable travel shoes to switch into after a long day walking or hiking). A backpack is not only balanced, but it stays out of the way when sightseeing and hiking. 

However, there are a few drawbacks to even the best day backpacks for travel. As already mentioned, accessing the contents of a backpack can be cumbersome to the wearer. Anytime you need something – your camera, Chapstick, a map, a sip of water – you have to take the backpack off to reach it.

In addition to that, carrying day backpacks on your back leaves you vulnerable to pickpockets, especially in crowded attractions or on public transportation.

Pro Tip : If you opt to carry a small day backpack, you can always wear it backwards – on your front – in overcrowded places where you think pickpockets might be lurking.

Cross Body Daypack for Travel

Cross body bags – or sling daypacks – are one-strap bags, like messenger bags and women’s travel day bag purses, that are worn across the body from one shoulder to the opposite hip. Travelers who use a cross body travel day pack do so for a couple of really good reasons.

First, there is less threat of pickpockets, because your hand naturally falls on the bag, making it easy to grasp onto in crowded places. Second, items are literally at your fingertips; there is no need take it off to access the contents like you would need to with a day backpack for traveling.

On the other hand, there are a few disadvantages regarding sling day bags that might not make them the best day bag for sightseeing. The weight of the bag lands squarely on one shoulder. While this might not be bothersome for some travel activities, it can cause neck and shoulder pain if you spend long days wearing it while sightseeing. This is especially true if you carry a lot of heavy items (like a DSLR camera, large water bottles or heavy guidebooks).

Pro Tip : A crossbody day pack is ideal for travelers who carry travel backpacks (rather than suitcases); the sling pack can be worn across the body, under the backpack on travel days. 

Fanny Pack Day Bag for Travel

A Fanny Pack is a waist pack for travel that is fastened around your hips outside of your clothing. A waist pack travel bag is a mini day pack, which can be absolutely freeing, but also limiting.

The pros of using a fanny pack travel bag is that it is attached to you – ideally to the front of you – which is well out of range of thieves. Because it is worn at the waist, it eliminates carrying weight on your shoulders (although it is now somewhat fashionable to wear it across your shoulder as a chest bag, especially in some parts of Europe). And, although small, even the best fanny packs for travel have organized, zippered compartments.

That said, the downside of only carrying a fanny pack travel waist pouch is that space is limited. There should be plenty of room for essentials, but DSLR cameras and most ‘just in case’ items will likely not fit. However, some fanny packs do include a convenient water bottle compartment.

It should be noted that, if traveling to the UK, NZ or Australia, it is best to refer to your Fanny Pack as a Bum Bag…as the word fanny has a completely different meaning there!

Pro Tip : A daypack backpack and fanny pack can be worn at the same time – and may make the most sense for travelers. Items in the hip pack are within easy reach and larger items can be carried in a small backpack. 

Concealed Day Packs for Travel

A concealed sightseeing bag is meant to be used in conjunction with one of the best daypacks for traveling. 

A flat fanny pack for travel – also called a  Money Belt – is an item that is ideal for securing items beneath your clothing. Extra cash, an extra credit card and possibly even your passport are all items the can be carried in the multi-zippered bag. In our opinion, money belts are the best travel bags to wear to ensure your money and important travel docs stay secure. 

Likewise, a bra stash  – a small pocket for cash and credit cards that is attached to a bra and worn under a shirt – is the best small bag for travel for women.

In addition to our day packs, we wear money belts (or a bra stash) in cities notoriously known for pickpockets.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that while money belts and bra stashes are some of the best day packs for travel, they are only useful to deter pickpockets if you, in fact, keep them concealed under your clothing. 

Day Bags Best Day Pack for Travel by JetSettingFools.com

The Best Day Pack for Travel

As a full-time traveler, I actually travel with all three styles of day packs: Backpack, Messenger Bag and Fanny Pack. That said, most travelers will only need to choose one small day bag for a one- or two-week long trip. 

Choosing the best day pack for traveling is an important consideration for any trip. Because small travel daypacks come in so many different styles, we are featuring our personal favorites – as well as those highly rated by fellow travelers.

For each travel day bag on our list, we include a description of the day pack benefits, as well as a link so that you can shop, check price, read a full review and buy the perfect day bag for your trip!

Best Day Pack Travel: Backpack Style

When it comes to the best backpacks for day travel, they can be sporty, casual or ultra-lightweight. One thing these small daypacks for travel have in common, however, is that they are all functional.

Osprey Daylite Plus Travel Backpack Daypack

The reliable travel luggage brand, Osprey, makes an entire line of day backpack travel bags. The Osprey Daylite Plus, however, is a small lightweight backpack that ranks supreme over other travel backpack daypacks. With a spacious 20L volume, multiple interior and exterior compartments (including a water bottle pocket), padded mesh shoulder straps and a ventilated back, it is clear why many travelers claim that it is the best backpack for day travel. Buy it here!

BACKPACK WITH DAYPACK – Osprey also offers a full-size travel backpack with detachable daypack, which is what Kris uses for our travels. The Osprey detachable day pack that comes with the Farpoint backpack is similar to the Daylite Plus. One of the many benefits of a backpack with removable daypack is that the day pack can be secured on the back of the full-size backpack or over the chest by attaching it to the shoulder straps. If you are looking for backpack luggage for your trip, we highly recommend the Farpoint Osprey backpack with daypack combination.

North Face Backpack Daypack for Travel

There are two different styles of North Face day bags – the North Face Borealis Mini Backpack and the North Face Jester Backpack – that are good for travel. The Borealis Mini is a small 10-liter bag that has Flex Vent technology and organizational pockets. However, it is on the small side – especially if you intend to use the backpacks for day trips or need to carry larger items. See the specs here.

The North Face Jester Day Bag was designed with school in mind – but it works well as a travel day bag, too. Top features that rank it as the best travel day backpack are the segmented interior compartments and padded sleeve for laptops. Plus, with 27 liters of space, it is excellent to use as a carry on and a bigger travel day pack. Buy it here!

Modoker Vintage Backpack

We like the look of vintage backpacks – but what we love about the Modoker Vintage Backpack day pack is that it is loaded with key features for travelers. Multiple zippered pockets, convenient USB charging port and cushioned straps make this pack the best urban daypack (and one of the best travel daypacks for Europe!). Buy it here!

G4Free Foldable Daypack

Highly rated as one of the best packable daypacks, the G4 Free 20L is a lightweight daypack that only weighs 6 ounces and easily folds to the size of a sandwich. Made of scratch- and water-resistant material, the daypack is designed with 2 zippered compartments and 2 open pockets, which is why we think it is the best foldable daypack for travelers. The bag can be packed in your luggage and used as a day trip backpack during your vacation or worn as a carry on for plane travel and then packed away on arrival to your destination. Buy it here!

Pro Tip: Need more organization in your day pack? The Grid It Organizer is a fabulous way to keep all of your small items arranged and easy to find within the large compartment of your travel bag!

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Best Daypack Travel: Sling Style

Just like backpacks, cross body day packs come in a variety of styles to suit every traveler!

Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag

Although the Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag is designed with bike messengers in mind, I think it is the best day pack for travelers. I started using a Timbuk2 Messenger Bag as a day pack in the early 2000s – and it has been my travel day pack since we became full-time travelers in 2014.

Featuring numerous interior zippered pockets and compartments, there is a place for everything inside this messenger bag. The quality is top-notch (the bag I currently use is nearly 20 years old…and only recently starting to show signs of wear) and the airmesh strap makes it comfortable to wear, even on long travel days. Buy it now!

Travelon Essential Anti-Theft Bag

When it comes to anti-theft bags, Travelon is the trusted brand. Keeping your contents safe is at top of mind for their line of stylish daypacks. The Travelon Essential Crossbody Messenger Bag has two large zippered compartments (with locking zippers!) and internal compartments for storing smaller items – making it one of the best travel daypacks for women. Buy it here!

Gootium Canvas Cross Body Bag

The rugged Gootium Canvas Sling Bag is fantastic day bag for Europe and worldwide destinations. The casual travel bag has a large capacity main compartment that can fit a laptop or large camera – and there are several smaller zippered compartments and pockets, as well. It works well as a men’s day bag for travel, but can be used by women, too! Buy it here!

Best Travel Daypack: Fanny Pack

If you are looking for a small and ultra-lightweight daypack for travel, then a fanny pack may be the perfect style for you! I personally think hip packs are one of the best day bags for travel.

ENGYEN Fanny Pack

Similar to the fanny pack that I own, the ENGYEN hip pack is convertible and has multiple zippered pockets – which makes it the perfect travel bag! This fanny pack even has room for a water bottle, so it is excellent for all day sightseeing or taking on the trails. 

JanSport Fifth Ave Fanny Pack

Classic, simple and functional, the JanSport Fifth Ave Waist Pack gets rave reviews as the best fanny pack for travel. With an adjustable waist strap and two easy-to-access zippered pockets, it is all that minimalist travelers will need. Buy it here!

SoJourner Stylish Fanny Pack

SoJourner fanny packs are not only fashionably fun, they are functional, too – which is why it ranks as the best waist pack for travel! Designed with the traveler in mind, the SoJourner bum bags have three high-quality zippered pockets and are made of water-resistant materials. Buy it here!

Tips for Finding the Best Bags for Travel

Finding the right bag for your trip is both important and personal. As full time nomads, we have spent ample time searching high and low for the best day travel bags – and have succeeded in finding day packs that fill our needs. 

We have shared our top picks for the best small day pack for travel – but our choices are, perhaps, not exactly they style or function you are looking for in a travel bag. 

If you are still on the search for the best day bag for travel in Europe or the best bags for sightseeing on USA Weekend Getaways , find more top choices on Amazon . We think it is the best place to buy travel daypacks for the wide variety of options. 

More Travel Packing Tips

  • Travel Hacks: Get all of our Best Travel Hacks For Packing to make sure you have everything you need for your trip!
  • Join The Debate:  Backpack Vs Suitcase ? We break down the pros & cons and share which works best for what we pack !
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The Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks

A person standing outside in a light blue short sleeve shirt wears the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L backpack, in black with a gray llama-head logo and aqua accents.

Opening up your favorite carry-on travel backpack—with all of your stuff in the right place and easy to reach—should feel like you’re opening the door to a well-organized closet or sitting down at a clean desk.

This is a moment to center yourself, no matter how chaotic the journey.

What we considered

A 45L bag maximizes overhead space but can get heavy when fully packed; 35L bags tend to be more manageable.

Clamshell designs open like a book and are easiest to pack, but bags that open traditionally tend to have more structure.

Ideally, a travel backpack has handles on all sides, especially the bottom, for pulling it out of overhead bins or from under seats.

Some internal pockets are useful, but major organizing is better managed on your own with packing cubes.

We spent six months testing 22 bags and flying across the country with all of our picks.

In the end, we chose two as our top picks: the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L (for most trips) and the larger Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L . Both bags are exemplary carry-on travel backpacks that are designed for comfort, durability, and organization.

Though these backpacks are great as companion bags for any trip, they’re designed to ultimately replace all of your other luggage and become your exclusive bag as you travel.

This is not a style of packing that’s for everyone, but once some people try it , they’re forever hooked. However, finding the right bag is a personal choice, and no single bag will appeal to everyone.

That’s why we have picks that are great for people traveling for work , others designed to be carried over long distances , picks for maximizing your packing space , and budget options for travelers who want to give the one-bag strategy a try.

The research

Why you should trust us, best small carry-on bag for most situations: cotopaxi allpa 35l, best large bag for most situations: peak design travel backpack 45l, best bag for document organization: topo designs global travel bag 30l, best bag for long journeys on foot: osprey farpoint 40 and fairview 40, best bag if you need a large suitcase on your back: tortuga travel backpack 40l, best affordable large backpack: ebags tls mother lode weekender, other good carry-on travel backpacks, who this is for, how we picked and tested, what to look forward to, the competition.

I’ve been covering aspects of luggage and travel bag design for Wirecutter for nearly a decade and have personally researched, tested, and compared hundreds of bags in that time. And as members of a remote organization, our editors and writers travel a lot and are continually testing the gear we recommend—our travel gear guide remains a perennial favorite among staff members. I personally try to do most of my travel with a single backpack whenever possible. I spent nine months roaming around Hawaii with not much more than that and another six months nomadically couch-surfing in New York City.

In addition to documenting our own experiences, I reached out to experts and writers who specialize in traveling the world carrying everything they need in a single bag. Eytan Levy is the owner and operator of the Snarky Nomad travel website, which combines travel guides and tips with in-depth gear reviews. James Feess is the founder of The Savvy Backpacker and author of The Savvy Backpacker’s Guide to Europe on a Budget . And Sharon Gourlay is the writer of the Where’s Sharon? travel website. I also spoke with moderators of Reddit’s r/onebag and r/heronebag forums, as well as with Chase Reeves, bag fanatic, reviewer, and owner of Matterful .

The shiny, one-piece back of the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L on a tester's back

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L

A versatile small pack for a week or a weekend.

The Allpa’s clamshell design makes organizing your things simple. The strap design lets you easily wear this durable bag on your back or carry it in your hand while you’re on the move.

Buying Options

Get this if: You want an easy-to-organize, comfortable-to-carry bag with a rainfly for downpours or you want to support a B-corp and its related social and sustainable missions .

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L features an easy-to-pack clamshell design and highly adjustable straps that make it a great all-around bag for any traveler who’s dedicated to packing light, or for a smaller person who wants less to carry. Handles on all four sides of this bag make it easy to grab no matter where you’ve stowed it. It’s also protected by a full lifetime warranty and has the build quality to back that up. After more than four years of testing, this single backpack (plus a personal item ) has replaced nearly every travel bag or piece of luggage I use.

Cotopaxi also makes the Allpa in 28 - and 42 -liter sizes. But the 35 liter is, for us, the best. At 42 liters, this bag becomes heavy for most people to carry when its fully packed, and for a bag that big, we’d prefer that it had a more-robust hip belt. At 28 liters, the bag becomes a touch small for most people, and its internal organization feels fussy for any shorter trip, such as an overnight. Cotopaxi also makes a hip pack that’s designed to fit snugly into the Allpa’s front top compartment. It’s a neat little addition to the bag, and it is worth getting if you like wearing fanny packs while you travel.

The Allpa has a clamshell design, which means it opens like a hard-sided suitcase: A large YKK zipper runs around three sides of the bag, letting it fall open into two halves when unzipped. On the right side is a deep compartment, spacious enough for two large packing cubes or half a suitcase’s worth of clothes (which you access through a mesh zippered flap). On the left, there’s space for one more medium-size packing cube behind a zippered flap. Above that are two smaller pockets with high-visibility backing—useful when you’re looking for hard-to-differentiate personal items.

The Cotopaxi Allpa open to show the zip-up compartments on both the left and right sides filled with clothes, packing cubes, and other gear.

The Allpa’s hip belt, which can be removed while the bag is on your back, is substantial enough that it’s comfortable to wear when you need it. With or without the hip belt, the Allpa is decently comfortable over long distances. However, folks who have longer torsos (over 19 inches) may find that the waist belt sits a little high off the hips, unless you fully extend the shoulder straps. Speaking of, unlike the shoulder straps on our other picks, the Allpa’s straps are contoured to fit people who have large or small chests. It’s not a specifically gendered design, but our female tester noticed the improvement right away.

The Allpa has two side-access zippers—great for on-the-go access, especially when the bag is hanging from your shoulder. One of these reveals a flat computer pocket with a padded false bottom, so if you drop the bag, it won’t land on the corner of your computer; the other reveals a “secret” pocket with a hidden zipper and access to the main compartment. All of the main compartment zippers are protected by security loops, which you thread the zipper through at the end of its run. This prevents anyone from subtly or quickly grabbing a zipper and opening your bag when you aren’t paying attention.

The Allpa is made with 1680-denier ballistic nylon, similar to the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag or the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 . This feels similar to a strong canvas, but it has a more prominent weave. The Allpa is the kind of bag you can toss as easily into an overhead compartment as you can into the back of a rusty pickup truck. Uniquely in this category, the Allpa also includes a rainfly.

A person holding a gray Cotopaxi Allpa backpack in front of themselves by gripping the side handles.

Flaws but not dealbreakers The Allpa has a minimal amount of administrative organization—places to keep pens and papers, spaces to hold tickets, and so forth. This is where a good personal item comes in handy. However, if you want to travel with just this one bag, there are a few nooks you can hide things in. The front organizer is deep enough that you can also fit several small organizing pouches, if you want, or the aforementioned fanny pack.

Cotopaxi does enjoy playing around with fabrics and colors. Sometimes the company has released the Allpa without the TPU-lined front panel. The TPU panel improves water resistance, but we’ve found after many years of travel with our bag that the TPU layering can begin to flake in spots. We’d love to see the all-nylon option return at some point, for people who prefer the added robustness and don’t mind sacrificing a bit of rain coverage.

Capacity: 35 liters Weight: 3 pounds, 5 ounces Main compartment access: Clamshell opening Style: Adventurous Colors: Assorted

A person in a gray tshirt and red shorts stands between a solid wooden fence and tall shrubs while wearing the 45 liter Peak Design Travel Backpack.

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

An easily customizable large bag for long trips and expensive gear.

This bag was built with photographers in mind, but most travelers will appreciate its easy accessibility, clever tuck-away straps, and the elegant way the bag expands and contracts. The accessory cubes cost extra, though.

Get this if: You travel often with expensive camera gear and need easy access and many storage pockets, or you just prefer a backpack-based packing system with plenty of adaptability and customization.

Some bags in this category are built to do one thing extremely well—be luggage on your back. But the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L is built to adapt. It’s the Swiss Army knife of backpacks: adjustable, customizable, and (if you spring for the extra cubes and organizers) an almost perfect system for a photographer or gearhead on the move. Most bags’ expanding mechanisms aren’t worth the extra zipper they’re built on, and they look about as attractive as a boiled ham splitting out of its plastic packaging. Not so with the Peak Design: It looks just as good fully packed at 45 liters as it does compressed to a 30-liter daypack.

You can access the bag through a back panel, which doubles as a computer and tablet pouch, as well as a front one, if you unzip the pass-through divider. You can also get into the main compartment via two wing-like trapezoidal flaps that run along each side of the pack. In its natural shape, the Travel Backpack holds 35 liters, but an expansion zipper lets the bag swell to 45 liters. If you want to use the bag as a daypack, you fold in the top corners and snap them down, reducing the bag’s volume to a slim 30 liters. It will still feel larger than a normal daypack in this configuration, but we think that’s a small compromise for being able to use one backpack as both your travel bag and your daily explorer. The bag itself consists of 400D nylon and polyester fabrics. It feels tough, but not as tough as some other bags we’ve tested, such as the Cotopaxi Allpa .

The Peak Design lets you tuck its shoulder and hip straps away when you’re not using them. But unlike any other bag we’ve ever tested, this pack has magnetic flaps on the back panel that open and close with an almost magical snap. Once you’ve played with them, you’ll wonder why every backpack doesn’t have something similar. A small, childish part of me still gets excited about tucking away the straps when I put the Peak Design into an overhead bin. Although the straps are thin, they’re comfortable. The hip belt isn’t quite as plush as the one on the Tortuga ; still, even when the Peak Design is fully loaded, the belt doesn’t pinch or dig into the body.

If you travel with a camera, you don’t have to use Peak Design’s camera cubes , but they do make carrying that gear a whole lot easier. The cubes come in three sizes, and if they’re situated properly in the bag with the provided clips, they line up with the Travel Backpack’s side-access flaps for quick access. Caleigh Waldman (the photographer for this piece and, full disclosure, my spouse) took this bag across the country for a wedding shoot. “I want this backpack,” she said after three weeks of travel. “I want to travel with it everywhere. With my cameras. Without my cameras. It doesn’t matter. I want to travel with it.”

Peak Design also makes a line of ultralight packing cubes . They’re good cubes, and they compare well to the ultralight Eagle Creek Pack-It Isolate Cube set, our pick for light packers . However, the Peak Design cubes are sized specifically for this bag and fit just so inside it, especially when combined with other Peak Design gear cubes and accessories, like the toiletry bag . (Chase Reeves has done an in-depth video review of these cubes; it’s a good resource for anyone who’s on the fence about buying them.) After testing the cubes (and this is not a mark against the Eagle Creek or the Peak Design ultralight cubes, both of which are excellent), I personally still prefer the more-rigid Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal set, one of our longtime picks .

Flaws but not dealbreakers The Travel Backpack has few flaws. It is expensive—especially if you commit to the entire system of packing and camera cubes. The adjustable design and multiple zippers do add complexity, and complexity adds potential weaknesses. Peak Design covers all of its bags with a lifetime warranty , which should alleviate most people’s concerns. But if you’re particularly hard on your gear and still need to carry as much as possible, you might consider the Tortuga instead.

Capacity: 45 liters Weight: 4½ pounds Main compartment access: back-panel loader Style: minimalist and unobtrusive Color: Black, Sage

A person in a black jacket walks across a brick plaza while carrying the Topo Designs 30 liter travel bag over their shoulder with the optional shoulder sling. The bag is olive green with bright yellow and red accents.

Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L

Combines more organization with a simple interior.

This bag’s open interior makes packing easy. Those who travel for work will appreciate the Topo’s accessible front pockets and holders for organizing books, papers, and assorted miscellaneous items.

Get this if: You travel often for work and prefer a bag that’s much easier to work out of than most of our other picks. The front panel and assorted pockets are like a small traveling office space.

Of all the bags we recommend, the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L comes closest to the style of an everyday carry backpack, due to its small size and minimal external features. This bag is perfect if you have to travel to a work event, get off the plane, and then use it as a daily backpack without drawing too much attention to yourself. Topo also includes built-in attachment clips, if you want to piggyback a smaller daily-carry backpack to your Travel Bag. I know people who love to do this. I personally do not. But it’s a good feature, especially if you’re committed to Topo gear in general. However, given its basic strap system and flat nylon back, the Topo is not built as well as our other picks for longer hikes.

The Travel Bag is one of the simplest bags we tested, with a main compartment and some basic document organization in the front pocket. This bag is a front-panel loader (which we find very easy to pack), organized around a main pocket that can fit two large packing cubes. Inside, the lid of the bag also has two mesh dividers, for a small amount of organization. Outside, the bag has two small zippered pockets for travel accessories (such as earbuds and a passport) and a larger organizer pocket for books, tickets, and snacks. The Topo is constructed with heavy YKK zippers and, similar to the Cotopaxi Allpa, has built-in zipper security loops (strong loops of fabric that secure your zippers when the bag is shut), if you want a touch more security.

Similar to our other picks, the Travel Bag is backed by an excellent lifetime warranty and repair program from Topo. However, Topo’s gear is made from 1000D nylon (a dense and very tough fabric) and built like a tank; it has rigid padding throughout, and there is an attention to detail (particularly in the stitching around the zippers and handles) that’s a mark of quality to any savvy bag enthusiast. The point is, you would really have to get into some trouble to need the repair program. But it’s there if you do need it.

If you want to carry as much as possible, the Travel Bag also comes in a 40L model . It’s a fine bag at that size, and it does include a small yet stowable waist belt to help carry the weight. But we prefer our larger picks, like the Tortuga (more carrying capacity) or the eBags TLS Mother Lode (less expensive).

The Travel Bag has a built-in laptop compartment that fits most 15-inch laptops and is situated close to your back; this protects the computer and keeps its weight closer to your body. The Topo is well padded on all sides, and it is stitched in a way that keeps the edge of your computer from the bottom of the bag and should protect your computer from all but the worst drops. This bag, like most of Topo’s gear, is designed to work with Topo dopp bags , accessory bags , and packing cubes . Fully packed, it can carry two large packing cubes, two medium accessory bags, and a dopp kit.

Flaws but not dealbreakers Despite its travel-document organization, the Topo bag lacks the large internal pockets of our other picks, and the bag’s main compartment isn’t quite as spacious as that of our other picks. People who like a deeper main compartment might prefer the Cotopaxi or Tortuga bags. The Topo bag’s compartment is a little tight for large laptops, so it isn’t the best when going through security. We’d love to see a little more attention paid to the back contouring and straps of this bag, to make longer walks more comfortable.

Capacity: 30 liters Weight: 2 pounds, 10 ounces Main compartment access: front-panel loader Style: retro Colors: Navy, Black, Clay, Charcoal, Olive

A tester from behind, wearing the Osprey Farpoint

Osprey Farpoint 40

For long distances on foot.

A great starter option for one-bag travel, the Farpoint is easy to pack, adaptable to most situations, and sturdy enough to take with you as you travel the world. And it’s backed by a lifetime warranty.

May be out of stock

travel daypack reddit

Osprey Fairview 40

For smaller torsos.

A scaled-down version of the Farpoint, the Fairview has shoulder straps that are slightly lower, to keep the bag’s bulk more aligned with smaller torsos.

Get this if: You’re starting out with one-bag travel and aren’t sure which style of bag is best for you, but you want one that’s easy to carry over long distances.

The Osprey Farpoint 40 is well made, easy to pack, and comfortable to carry over most mid-length distances—such as walking across a city for an afternoon. (For simplicity’s sake, everything we say here about the Farpoint applies to the Fairview as well.) Osprey makes excellent backpacks for hauling around, and its lifetime warranty is renowned within the industry . The Farpoint also has an optional messenger bag–style strap, which offers some flexibility when you’re maneuvering tight spaces like subways or crowded city centers.

If you’re just starting out with one-bag travel, or you aren’t sure what type of travel bag best suits your needs, the Farpoint is an excellent first choice.

The Osprey backpack opened to show its neon-green interior mesh pocket on one side and a bright red packing cube strapped in to the other side.

The Farpoint is easy to pack. Opening the bag reveals a clamshell design; it’s deep enough to accommodate most large items, without your having to fumble awkwardly with zippers once it’s time to close up the bag. The feeling you get is not unlike packing a bit of sturdy luggage, which is something we love about bags like this—especially when you pack with packing cubes . Osprey says this bag, when fully packed, can carry 40 liters. But after using the Farpoint for a few years, we’ve decided that its rounded shape seems to cut into that theoretical packable space more than other bags do. In practice, the available space in the Farpoint is closer to—but still less than—that of the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L .

Like all Osprey bags, the Farpoint has very comfortable shoulder straps. The years of design and consideration that Osprey has put into its line of hiking backpacks are quite evident in the Farpoint. After more than six years of long-term testing this bag, we’re still surprised by how great it feels to put on when it’s fully packed. Crucially, the straps of the Farpoint stow away neatly behind a zippered panel. However, when you’re using the shoulder straps, the design forces you to also use the hip straps. Though this isn’t a huge issue, if you prefer a sleeker look or would rather have the option of using shoulder straps without hip straps, the Cotopaxi Allpa is more flexible and lets you hide the waist straps while the bag is on your back.

A black Klean Kanteen water bottle in the mesh water bottle pocket of an aqua colored Osprey backpack.

As some reviewers have pointed out, smaller individuals may appreciate the lighter weight and more-compact design of the Farpoint or the Fairview (which basically have the same design, but the Fairview is made for someone with a more-diminutive torso). On both, the chest-strap clip is also equipped with a small security whistle that’s surprisingly loud. It’s a handy feature for anyone traveling in unfamiliar environments.

Flaws but not dealbreakers For a smaller carry-on travel backpack, this one has little not to like. However, we do wish Osprey would trade some of the sleeker contours for a little more interior space.

Capacity: 35 liters Weight (Farpoint): 3 pounds, 3 ounces Weight (Fairview): 3 pounds, 2 ounces Main compartment access: front-panel loader Style: active Colors (Farpoint): Gopher Green, Tunnel Vision Grey, Muted Space Blue, Black Colors (Fairview): Winter Night Blue, Zircon Red, Night Jungle Blue, Black

A traveler wearing a black backpack

Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L

A suitcase to carry on your back.

For dedicated single-bag travelers, this water-resistant, durable bag is easy to pack and to travel with. And it’s comfortable to wear over endless miles—as long as you don’t mind the heavier weight.

Get this if: You want to maximize your packing space in a bag that’s durable, customizable to fit most torso lengths (there’s also a 30L version ), and water-resistant, and that has organizational features to suit any digital nomad.

The Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L is built to occupy the maximum carry-on space available. It’s a nearly perfect blend of backpack and luggage. On the outside, its tear-resistant sailcloth and sealed zippers provide ample protection from sharp objects and the elements. Opening the main clamshell zipper reveals a cavernous interior and a few organizational features that make the bag a cinch to pack. The front panel is a particular standout, great for keeping track of electronics and chargers. Of all the bags we tested, the Tortuga strikes the closest balance between the carrying comfort of a hiking backpack and the space and organization of a piece of luggage.

When it comes to packing, the Tortuga has a soothingly minimal interior, as any good suitcase should. In addition to the bag’s cavernous main pocket, its interior lid has a large vented panel. The panel is too narrow to hold additional packing cubes, but it’s great for holding light jackets or doubling as a dirty-laundry bag (if you’re really committed to one-bag travel). The Tortuga is available as a 40-liter bag (the max space for a carry-on bag), which we tested, along with the 30-liter version, which is compliant with some intra-European flights. The more-diminutive version is a decent choice for weekend travel or for minimalist travelers—but for those uses, we prefer the space-saving profile and extra internal organization of the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L .

However, the Tortuga is the most adjustable bag we’ve tested five years in a row, thanks to its adjustable torso length, shoulder straps, and waist-belt system. The adjustable strap system lets you manipulate the location of the shoulder straps (video) to fit a wider variety of body sizes, in both the 30- and 40-liter versions. This design (with its included load-adjuster straps at the top, to prevent the bag’s weight from sagging toward your lumbar region) is the best of those we’ve tested at distributing the weight of the bag (4.5 pounds when empty—roughly a pound and a half more than most of our other picks, except the Peak Design.) The hip straps are removable if you need, but the shoulder straps are not stowable.

Flaws but not dealbreakers Some people, especially those who are hard on their gear, may consider not being able to remove or stow the Tortuga’s shoulder straps (as they can with our other picks, like the Cotopaxi Allpa) a disqualifying factor. But after years of testing, traveling with, and occasionally checking our bag, we haven’t had an issue. Personally, it still makes me nervous to see the Tortuga traveling on the luggage belt toward mysterious machines and conveyors beneath the airport—all of which, in my imagination, are waiting to tear the hip belt from the bag or slice open the sailcloth exterior. But the Tortuga appears to shrug it all off with ease. However, if these mysteries beneath the airport also make you nervous, you might prefer our picks with easy-to-stow straps, such as the Peak Design Travel Backpack .

We’ve also fielded complaints from some testers that older models of this bag were too heavy for them to carry, even with the padded hip belt and adjustable straps. The additional padding does add weight. At 4.5 pounds, the new Tortuga is more than half a pound lighter than it used to be —the difference is noticeable—and it weighs the same as the equally large Peak Design . But if you feel like you would struggle carrying this model, we strenuously encourage you to consider one of our more-manageable picks, like the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L .

Capacity: 40 liters Weight: 4.5 pounds Main compartment access: clamshell opening Style: minimal, with a rigid construction Color: black

A person in a gray tshirt and red shorts wears the eBags TLS Mother Lode while walking outdoors next to tall shrubs.

eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender

Affordable capacity and organization.

The Mother Lode offers the organizational features most travelers want, at an affordable price. However, it’s not as comfortable to carry as pricier options, and it can expand well past the limits of most overhead bins.

With delayed shipping

Get this if: You want an affordable bag with a traditional look, to carry as much as you can—potentially more than you’re allowed by airlines.

If you like the concept of the large Tortuga Travel Backpack but not its price, the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender is a great option for infrequent travelers who are willing to give up some features, such as a decent hip belt. It’s not comfortable enough for trekking long distances on foot, but there are plenty of external pockets for organization, a laptop sleeve that holds the weight of your computer high up on your shoulders, and an easy-to-access main compartment. This bag also has the largest capacity of any of those we tested, expanding to 65 liters—well beyond any airline’s regulated 45-liter limit. However, the bag’s more-casual looks might not be to everyone’s taste.

The Mother Lode is a good suitcase built around a basic (if slightly underwhelming) backpack. That’s the tradeoff you make for its low price, which is less than half that of other models. Unlike our other picks, the Mother Lode is not for carrying over long distances, especially when it’s full. If you know you’re going to be walking long distances (say, over a mile or so) with your pack on, you might want to consider one of our other picks. That said, if you’re carrying your bag only from a taxi to the airport security line but you want to avoid checked-item fees, the Mother Lode might be the bag for you.

The best part of the Mother Lode is the interior layout: It is easy to pack, and it’s smartly organized but still adaptable enough to mold to your preferred style of packing (meaning you can find what you need when you need it). However, the intense design focus that’s evident in the interior of the bag seems to have slipped a bit when it came to the exterior. Compared with those of several other picks in this size, this bag’s slim straps and barely there hip belt are noticeably lacking, especially if you’ve maxed out the bag’s ludicrous capacity.

The clamshell opening of the Mother Lode is similar to the Tortuga’s or the Cotopaxi Allpa’s. This space is augmented by a separate front compartment and organization panel for quick access to mid-size items like a toiletry kit; a top compartment for keys, small books, or sunglasses; and a front pocket organizer for smaller flat items, like travel documents and wallets. The laptop pocket is large and well protected, and it has a strap to help secure and position your laptop’s weight higher up your back if you wish.

Flaws but not dealbreakers There are plenty of flaws with this bag, if you choose to see them as flaws instead of the necessary consequences of the Mother Lode’s inexpensive price. During testing, we packed as much into the Mother Lode as we did in the Tortuga (more, if we expanded the Mother Lode past strict carry-on dimensions). The problem with that much capacity? It becomes an absolute bear to carry. And the flimsy waist belt is almost useless at distributing weight across your hips. Several times during testing I considered just cutting it away. This is a shame, since the bag could go from “decent for the price” to “fantastic, especially at this price” with just a few upgrades.

Capacity: 45 liters (expandable to 65 liters) Weight: 4 pounds Main compartment access: clamshell opening Style: casual Colors: Eggplant, Garnet, Slate Blue, Heathered Graphite, Pine Green

If you want to travel like a backpacker but fit in at a board meeting (and have the budget to do so): Consider the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 —its reputation for durability, adaptability, and a low-key aesthetic make it a favorite among many dedicated one-bag travelers, and after testing it, we think it’s a great bag too. That said, for the bag to really stand out against other backpacks, and to take full advantage of its carrying adaptability, you need to buy the $33 internal frame , the $33 hip belt , and (if you’re traveling with a suit or jacket) the $33 shoulder strap (all prices at the time of writing). This all adds up on a bag that already costs $330. Even though everything about the Tom Bihn (the fabric, the zippers, the quality of construction) feels like an upgrade from other bags, it’s simply too pricey, and its design is too rarified and specific for most people. The biggest flaw, from our perspective—apart from the price—is that the Tom Bihn lacks a dedicated laptop pocket. In its place, the company sells laptop sleeves (a fine version if you don’t have one) that clip into the bag’s central compartment. Not everyone needs a dedicated laptop pocket, but we prefer the more secure feeling of bags that do.

Anyone who wants to travel light and stay flexible should seriously consider using a carry-on travel backpack. For some people, the challenge of cutting down a packing list is intimidating. But if you can get past that initial hurdle, traveling with a single bag is a revelation. With fewer items, you have more time to concentrate on and appreciate the journey. It’s easy to remain more mobile when you’re not loaded down by heavy luggage and easier still to adjust your plans mid-trip. If you’re willing to do laundry on the road, then one bag is all you need to travel indefinitely. And as airlines charge more and more for checking baggage, traveling with just a carry-on bag (frequently referred to as one-bag travel ) is becoming less of a lifestyle choice and more of a survival skill. At its heart, one-bag travel allows you to discover more—not just about the places you’re going but about yourself and what you really need day to day.

If you desire more creature comforts or more gear, or if you plan to be away for a long time across multiple climates, you’ll want a bigger travel backpack . These larger bags are not carry-on-friendly, though, especially in Europe, so be prepared to check them. We also have a guide to wheeled carry-on bags , which are designed to hold a lot of stuff while remaining easy to maneuver around airports. However, wheels, retractable handles, and frames subtract from precious packing space and add weight, and can make a bag difficult to manage on busy city streets.

There’s no single backpack that is perfect for everyone. Before you make any purchase, consider some basic points. How much can you carry? And where do you usually visit: city or outback? Travel gear should feel like a welcome companion—there to support you when you need it, but unobtrusive when you do not. The best bags are built to survive a lifetime of use and, if cared for properly, should be something you develop a bond with over time.

To compile our list of possible models, we scoured the world of travel blogs and product reviews (most driven by a similar affiliate revenue model to ours), including The Savvy Backpacker , Snarky Nomad , The Travel Hack , Nomadic Matt , The Travel Tester , Where’s Sharon? , Y Travel Blog , Lengthy Travel , and GearLab . Additionally, we lurked on Reddit’s r/onebag  and r/heronebag forums, and emailed and had phone interviews with the moderators of those subreddits, Addison Ryan and Lindsay Lorraine Calderón, respectively. Additionally, we spoke with the prolific travel bag reviewer Chase Reeves to get his thoughts on what most great bags have in common. We ended up with a list of 60 candidates and then narrowed this list down to 22 finalists using the following criteria: capacity, compartment design, aesthetics, reviews, and reported comfort.

There isn’t one perfect bag to please everyone, but there are tools you can use to find what’s best for you. We did a lot of our own research to compare models of travel bags, but r/onebag moderator /u/-Nepherim created one of the best product-comparison spreadsheets we’ve seen . If you want to keep researching your own pick, this spreadsheet is a great place to start.

A graphic comparing 45-liter vs. 35-liter travel bags. The difference in size translates to fitting 4 large packing cubes, 1 medium packing cube, and a toiletry bag (45-liter) vs. 2 large packing cubes, 1 medium packing cube, and 1 small toiletry bag (35-liter)

Even if you aren’t convinced by our picks, we do think we can help you figure out what parameters are best for travel bags of any size. We’ve narrowed down our specifications to the following list of features, ordered from most to least relevant.

  • Panel-loading or clamshell opening for the main compartment: As with any good piece of luggage, with these bags, you want to be able to open them and see everything you’ve packed. A panel-loading or clamshell design—rather than a traditional top-opening design—lets you pack and unpack these bags just as you would a suitcase.

A graphic illustrating a clamshell bag opening

  • Backpack strap comfort and design: You never know when you’ll be walking farther with your bag than you’d intended. The more comfortable and well designed the straps, the easier traveling will be. “Ideally, you want a bag’s shoulder straps to adjust to the angle of your shoulders,” said Eytan Levy of Snarky Nomad. “Good shoulder straps are the difference between an easy trip and a hard trip.”
  • Hip belt comfort and design: A hip belt transfers heavy loads from your back and shoulders onto your hips, letting your legs—not your back—bear the brunt of the weight. Just having a waist belt is a plus, but having a padded and sculpted one—especially on bags with over 40 liters of volume—makes a world of difference.
  • Style: This is purely subjective. We preferred bags that had a minimalist exterior style, but not all of our picks will please everyone. Most of the people we spoke with, however, preferred not to stick out like a tourist wearing a large, colorful backpack, if they could avoid it.
  • Material quality: Durability is critical for any type of luggage, but especially for a backpack that will be your only bag. Most bags worth considering are made of nylon, which resists abrasion more than polyester fabrics of similar density. Spending more, however, can get you such exotic, light, and strong materials as Dyneema or sailcloth.
  • Weight: Once the bags arrived, we weighed each one ourselves. Most of the bags weighed within a few pounds of one another. But unless you’re very strict with yourself, by the time you’re packed for a two-week journey, all bags are going to feel equally massive, even if one is just 2 pounds heavier than another when empty.
  • Stowable straps: These are nice to have but aren’t absolutely necessary. “The more often you need to check a bag, the more often you need to hide away the straps,” Levy said. “But if the straps are tough enough, it doesn’t matter.”
  • Accessory pocket layout and design: Some people will love an accessory pocket that has a specific space for everything, while others may find that feature constricting and unadaptable. We prioritized simple designs that guided our packing without constraining us.

During testing, we flew with these bags across the country, took weekend trips to nearby cities, lived out of them on extended trips, and tried them locally in our daily routines. We also packed and unpacked each bag, using a standardized set of weeklong travel necessities and accessories, to see how well the internal organizational features (or lack thereof) aided or got in the way of efficient packing.

The Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L has an updated design featuring a new hip belt, which brings it back into class with many of its competitors in this category. In the past, the MLC’s straps were too slim and unsupported for the bag’s 45-liter capacity. Also, its lack of any framing gave the bag a soft and unsettling feeling if it was anything but fully packed. We’re looking at the newest model to see if some of these problems have been corrected and if a former champion travel backpack can regain the spotlight.

Asenlin 40L Travel Backpack : This mind-bendingly inexpensive bag (which includes three packing cubes, all for $45 at time of publication) is a remarkable testament to the cutthroat logic and efficiency of a globalized free market. Is it attractive? No. Is it comfortable to carry? Not particularly. Is it durable enough to withstand years of travel? Unlikely. Is it $45? Yes! If you want the absolute least expensive carry-on travel backpack we’ve ever seen, this is it. But you’ll get more with the TLS Motherlode , which, although double the price, is still very affordable.

Away F.A.R. Convertible Backpack 45L : A rare miss from the Away team. This bag is resoundingly average for the price. Admittedly made of excellent materials, the bag is let down by its overall design, which lacks any kind of structure or attention to comfort. There are better options.

Cabin Max Metz (and the nearly identical AmazonBasics Carry-On ): This cheap, no-frills bag is enticing for the price. But after comparing these bags to the TLS Mother Lode, we think you’re better off paying twice the price for way more than twice the value. The Mother Lode is more reliable and built from stronger materials, and it will hold more stuff comfortably than either of these bags.

GeniusPack Travel Backpack: The GeniusPack is the only model we came across that tried to fit a suit into a travel backpack. Though some people might need this, we think those who have to travel with a suit (or clothes that require pressing) would be better off with a piece of carry-on luggage . (GeniusPack now has a version 2 of this bag, but our conclusion hasn’t changed.)

Goruck GR2 : I’m a big fan of Goruck bags, and I use the GR1 regularly as my daily work and travel bag. These bags will last a lifetime. However, the GR2 is too expensive and too large (its 40L size is a true 40L) for many people, especially since none of the three sizes (26L, 34L, and 40L) comes with a hip belt. We wish the GR2 had a removable hip belt, something similar to what’s on the GR3. That said, this bag is simple, sturdy, and stoic. There is a lot to love about it. And if you don’t mind the high cost, this bag will probably outlast your corporeal self.

Goruck GR3 : The GR3 is almost worth the cost for certain people. It’s strong and simple and covered by an iron-clad repair guarantee. The removable hip belt is comfortable to wear and good at displacing the weight of a 45-liter backpack. It’s a good bag. However, after testing it, we weren’t thrilled with the internal Velcro lining for compatible Velcro packing cubes. Velcro isn’t great: It wears out, is difficult to keep clean, and clings to dirt. That might seem like a small thing, but for the price, this bag should feel perfect.

Kelty Redwing 44 : When we got our hands on the Redwing, we realized that it was closer to a top-loading light camping backpack than to the panel-loading packs we tested. It didn’t quite fit the scope of this review because of its design.

Hynes Eagle 40L Flight Approved Carry-on : This pack is very similar pack to the eBags TLS Mother Lode and the Cabin Max Metz models. It might be useful as a weekend traveler, but we don’t think it would hold up for longer trips.

MEI Voyageur : There’s a lot to like about this bag, especially for the price. It features 1000D Cordura nylon and YKK zippers, and it has a spacious design and decent shoulder straps. But we’re still on the fence about recommending it. The lack of recent reputable reviews gives us pause, along with the sparse Shopify website, which, the last time we checked, in 2024, wasn’t operational. (The company now appears to be selling directly via PayPal.)

Minaal Carry-on 2.0: This bag was designed to be the absolute best travel backpack for business people. But if you’re a business person, you’re probably wearing at least a blazer, so you wouldn’t use a backpack in any case. Even so, if you’re a business traveler who falls more on the casual end of the business-casual spectrum, and you’re not on a budget, you should know that many travel writers have spoken highly of this bag, despite its high price. This does look to be a well-thought-out pack, but we think our picks are more versatile for world travel. (Minaal has since introduced a 3.0 version ; our thoughts about it remain the same.)

Osprey Porter 46: This was a slightly larger sibling of the Farpoint 40 . It’s about 2 inches longer, and it pushes right up to most airline limits. If you don’t mind possibly having to gate-check your bag at the last minute, this would have been an excellent alternative to the Farpoint 40. (It has since been replaced by the Osprey Sojourn Porter 46 ; we may take a look at it.)

Trakke Storr Carryon : Travel-bag enthusiast Chase Reeves used to list this bag as one of his top picks for a medium-size carry-on bag, and it looks very well built . But at $500, plus shipping from Scotland, it is simply too expensive for most people.

We also tested and dismissed The North Face Overhaul 40, which has since been discontinued.

This article was edited by Ria Misra and Christine Ryan.

Chase Reeves, Matterful.co , phone interview , October 10, 2018

Addison Ryan, moderator, r/onebag , email interview , September 8, 2018

Lindsay Lorraine Calderón, moderator, r/heronebag , phone interview , September 28, 2018

Meet your guide

travel daypack reddit

Kit Dillon is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter. He was previously an app developer, oil derrick inspector, public-radio archivist, and sandwich shop owner. He has written for Popular Science, The Awl, and the New York Observer, among others. When called on, he can still make a mean sandwich.

Further reading

Four Osprey travel backpacks, two blue, two green, sitting next to each other.

The Best Travel Backpack

by Geoffrey Morrison

For trips ranging from a week to multiple months, the Osprey Farpoint 55 and Fairview 55 carried everything we needed comfortably.

Three of our favorite backpacks, totes and duffle bags on display

Wirecutter’s Favorite Bags, Totes, Backpacks and Carryalls

by Truth Headlam

Whether you’re going to school, work, the gym, the store, or on vacay, you need a bag. Here’s the Wirecutter-recommended carrying gear we love most.

A person in an outdoor environment wearing one of our picks for best buy it for life backpack with a minimalist look, the GoRuck GR1.

The Best Buy It for Life Backpack (Please Don’t Call It Tactical)

by Kit Dillon

A buy-it-for-a-lifetime backpack should last you for years of heavy use. But as with all investments, you need to decide if it makes sense for you.

Our picks for best laptop backpack pictured with school supplies.

The Best Laptop Backpacks

by Zoe Vanderweide

A great laptop backpack protects your tech, is comfortable to carry, and looks good, too. These five bags are our favorites for wrangling your workday gear.

travel daypack reddit

20 Best Travel Daypacks of 2024

Jeremy Scott Foster

  • Last Modified: September 23, 2023

The 15 Best Travel Daypacks for Every Adventure

TravelFreak is reader supported. Your engagement on this site allows us to bring you this content for free. Because this website contains affiliate links, if you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. This has absolutely no effect on our recommendations or evaluations. Thank you for supporting our mission!

Looking for a new daypack to carry your gear in comfort and style? With hundreds of options out there, it can be difficult to sift through all the mediocre products to find the best travel daypack for you.

Moment MTW 17L Daypack

Moment MTW 17L Daypack

This daypack is the best all-around backpack for ANY type of adventure, whether you're hiking, commuting, or just exploring a new city! It comes at a great price, too.

Your daypack will be your constant companion while you travel, so it’s essential to pick one that is comfortable, functional, and durable.

I’ve dug through the details on dozens of different packs and put them to the test in the real world. Read on for my picks of the best daypacks for travel across a wide range of categories. Whether you need a pack for hitting the trail, traveling the world, or commuting to work, you’re sure to find one that fits your needs.

  • Best Daypack Overall: Moment MTW 17L Daypack
  • Most Affordable Daypack: REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack
  • Best Lightweight Daypack: Osprey Daylite
  • Best Commuting Daypack: Timbuk2 Parker Commuter
  • Best Laptop Daypack: NOMATIC Backpack
  • Best Camera Daypack: WANDRD PRVKE
  • Best Hiking Daypack: Osprey Talon 22
  • Most Versatile Daypack: Osprey Arcane
  • Best Daypack for Travel in Europe: Able Carry Daily Plus
  • Best Waterproof Daypack: Rains Backpack
  • Best Women’s Daypack: Timbuk2 WMN Never Check Day Backpack
  • Best Men’s Daypack: Bellroy Venture Ready
  • Best Tactical Daypack: Mission Workshop Rhake
  • Best Small Daypack: Fjallraven Kanken Classic
  • Best Packable Daypack: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack
  • Best Packable Waterproof Daypack: Matador Freerain24 Backpack
  • Most Eco-Friendly Daypack: Cotopaxi Batac 16L
  • Best Roll Top Daypack: Stubble & Co Roll Top Mini
  • Best Leather Daypack: Kodiak Katmai
  • Best Anti-Theft Daypack: Pacsafe Eco 18L
  • Sleek, minimal design
  • Compact size
  • Smart accessibility features

REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack

REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack

  • Great hiking daypack
  • Functionality

Osprey Daylite

Osprey Daylite

  • Very large lugs for wet/soft terrain
  • Designed for excellent comfort
  • Great for mud
  • Very comfortable

Timbuk2 Parker Commuter

Timbuk2 Parker Commuter

  • Tons of exterior pockets and organization
  • Great durability and lifetime guaranty
  • Professional style
  • Expandable storage space

NOMATIC Backpack

NOMATIC Backpack

  • Sleek minimalist style
  • Fantastic organization
  • Weather-resistant construction
  • Expandable main compartment



  • Fantastic organization for camera gear
  • Tons of pockets
  • Great versatility with removable camera padding
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Plenty of storage space

Osprey Talon 22

Osprey Talon 22

  • Protected by Osprey’s powerful warranty
  • Great comfort and durability
  • Top pick for hikers

Osprey Arcane

Osprey Arcane

  • Ready for almost anything
  • Recycled materials
  • Simple, intelligent features

Able Carry Daily Plus

Able Carry Daily Plus

  • Excellent fit and comfort
  • Tons of organization pockets
  • Easy-access exterior pockets

Rains Backpack

Rains Backpack

  • Fully waterproof material
  • Stylish design
  • Great build quality and durability

Timbuk2 WMN Never Check Day Backpack

Timbuk2 WMN Never Check Day Backpack

  • Perfect fit for smaller women
  • Great water resistance

Bellroy Venture Ready

Bellroy Venture Ready

  • Intelligent design features
  • Comfortable pack panel and shoulder straps
  • Awesome versatility

Mission Workshop Rhake

Mission Workshop Rhake

  • Premium build quality
  • Made in the USA
  • Tons of well-designed organization for packing essentials

Fjallraven Kanken Classic

Fjallraven Kanken Classic

  • Very sturdy

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

  • Packs down to almost nothing
  • One of the lightest daypacks on the market

Matador Freerain24 Backpack

Matador Freerain24 Backpack

  • Accessible roll-top design
  • Lightweight
  • Great for trails

Cotopaxi Batac 16L

Cotopaxi Batac 16L

  • Cool colors
  • Each bag is unique
  • Great functionality for a day out

Stubble & Co Roll Top Mini

Stubble & Co Roll Top Mini

  • Excellent water repellency
  • Sleek, intuitive design
  • Secure and functional 16" laptop sleeve

Kodiak Katmai

Kodiak Katmai

  • Beautiful real-leather style
  • Great organizing pockets
  • Durable materials and construction

Pacsafe Eco 18L

Pacsafe Eco 18L

  • Slash-proof material and straps
  • Gives lots of peace of mind
  • Comfortable shoulder straps

1. Moment MTW 17L Daypack : Best Daypack Overall

Moment MTW Backpack

Moment started on Kickstarter with photography accessories and gear for smartphones. Now they’ve grown into a full-fledged marketplace for adventurous creatives.

Moment’s brand ethos is all about slowing down to find and savor real experiences. Their products are thoughtful, dialed-in, and minimalist, and are intended to let you focus less on your gear and more on what’s around you.

The Moment MTW 17L Daypack is a beautiful travel daypack with honed-in details, tasteful styling, and just the right amount of space (or lack thereof) in the main compartment for minimalist travelers and commuters.

At first glance, this bag is sleek, streamlined, and minimalist. No unnecessary straps, buckles, or zippers here to mess with the aesthetic. Seriously, this bag is stunning!

That clean, understated look conceals an array of functional and well-thought-out organization features. You get an exterior pocket for water bottles, side zip access that makes it easy to reach your gear, a padded laptop sleeve that fits up to a 16-inch screen, and a fantastic array of organizational pockets. This bag is ready for whatever you’re bringing with you.

With its stylish design and streamlined build, this is definitely a pack oriented to urban travel and commuting. While it works as a hiking pack, if you’ll be spending a lot of time on the trail, you may want to look at something built more for that purpose.

The exterior is made of a recycled, water-resistant Cordura fabric. Combined with low-profile padding, you can be sure your belongings will be protected in this bag. Want a little more space? The MTW is also available in a 21L version that gets you more volume.

  • Limited exterior pockets
  • Heavy for a daypack
  • No hip belt

Moment MTW 17L Daypack Specs:

2. REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack : Most Affordable Daypack

REI Co-Op Flash 18

This hiking and travel daypack has been for sale in various iterations since the mid-2000s and has never failed travelers and hikers looking for a solid travel daypack at a reasonable price.

The REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack has an 18 L capacity, which puts it in the middle of the range for daypack size. At 9 oz, it’s lightweight, and the frameless build also makes this daypack quite compact; it can roll up to about the size of a softball. This makes it the perfect companion on a long trek when you want to do a quick side trail. Its ripstop nylon build makes it tough and durable.

Where this day bag can really shine is in its simple functionality. It gives you everything you need without any unnecessary frills. It has one spacious main compartment that closes with a drawstring. There are no zippers to snag. You don’t get much in terms of organization, but for a simple bag on your back, it works really well.

There aren’t padded shoulder straps, which isn’t ideal for carrying heavier loads, but that’s not the purpose of this bag. As long as you aren’t overloading it, this simple daypack is actually surprisingly comfortable.

Overall, this is one of the best-value travel daypacks you can find. With its minimalist design and lightweight construction, this packable daypack is a fantastic option for hikers, but probably not the best choice for city travelers or commuters who may benefit from more organization.

  • Great daypack for hiking
  • Lighter than traditional backpacks
  • Easily packable bag stows away for storage
  • Mesh shoulder straps aren’t padded
  • Not good for cities 

REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack Specs:

3. Osprey Daylite : Best Lightweight Daypack

Osprey Daylite

Osprey is a huge name in the backpack world, and as someone who took one of the company’s 65L backpacks around the world, I can say they’re one of my favorite backpack brands on the planet.

Osprey’s Daylite bags were originally designed to attach to the back of some of the company’s larger travel backpacks to make them a convenient option for world travelers, but thanks to their popularity, they are now sold separately as well.

At just 13L, this is one of the smaller daypacks on the market. If you need a lot of space, you’ll probably want something different, but the compact size is perfect for people who are always on the go.

Comfort is where this travel daypack really shines. There’s plenty of padding on the back and shoulders, and the shoulder straps wrap comfortably around your back. You won’t feel weighed down by this bag on all-day hikes.

There are a bunch of extra pockets on this packable daypack, most importantly the water bladder pocket common to all Osprey bags, which is also a convenient size for a laptop or tablet. There are zippered compartments on the interior and exterior for keeping small items in place and accessible.

There are stretchy mesh water bottle pockets on the side, but they’re a bit tight for larger bottles. On a pack that’s otherwise great pack for hiking, I’d love to see bigger side pockets.

Put simply, Osprey backpacks are popular for a reason. They are comfy, and the Daylite offers a lot of pack for your money.

  • Protected by Osprey’s robust warranty 
  • Comfy shoulder straps
  • Compatible with other Osprey travel backpack systems
  • Compression straps help cinch down the pack
  • Lower capacity 
  • Small bottle pockets

Osprey Daylite Specs:

4. Timbuk2 Parker Commuter : Best Commuting Backpack

Timbuk2 Parker Commuter

Timbuk2 is a growing modern lifestyle brand that focuses on building sleek packs and bags for urban nomads. Their products are perfect for people who are always on the go.

A good commuting bag needs to focus on the essentials: a protective laptop sleeve, smart organization, and durability to survive your daily grind.

The Timbuk2 Parker Commuter is a travel daypack designed specifically for urban commuters, and it shows.

The first thing you notice about the bag is the abundance of pockets to keep all your gear organized and accessible. There are three (yes three!) zippered exterior pockets, stretchy bottle pockets on the side, a side- or top-access laptop sleeve, and more pockets on the inside.

You definitely won’t be running out of places to put things in this bag.

This bag has a clever expandable backpack design that lets you compress it down or open up more volume when you have more to carry.

You also get an integrated zip-away rain cover to keep your stuff dry when the heavens open up.

The Parker Commuter manages to offer all these features without looking cluttered or “tactical.” It has a clean, professional style that fits right in anywhere, from the office to the airport to just cruising around town.

It’s not perfect though. The laptop sleeve only fits up to 15″ screens, so if you have a big 17″ work computer, it probably won’t work. It’s also quite heavy at almost 4 lbs. This won’t be a huge issue for most people, but if you bike to work or have a long walk, you may want a lighter bag.

This everyday backpack definitely isn’t meant for hiking or other outdoor adventures, so it’s not really the best travel daypack for doing everything. If you want a dedicated daily driver for city commuting, though, it’s hard to beat.

  • Organization may be overkill for some
  • Sadly, it only comes in black

Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Specs:

5. NOMATIC Backpack : Best Laptop Backpack

travel daypack reddit

NOMATIC is a modern lifestyle and travel brand that aims to build products that look sleek and stylish while staying incredibly functional. Their packs and bags are designed for travel and everyday use in an urban environment.

Whether you’re commuting to work or cruising around campus, you need a durable and functional backpack that will carry your gear in style. The NOMATIC Backpack is perfect for anyone looking for a backpack with understated styling and uncompromising utility. It really is one of the best laptop backpacks out there.

The external of this pack is very simple and streamlined. There aren’t lots of unnecessary straps, zippers, and pockets, so it looks very clean and sleek. With a combination of waterproof fabric and coated zippers, the exterior is also very rain-resistant.

Inside the main compartment you get a ton of pockets and compartments to keep everything organized. There is a padded laptop compartment, a padded sleeve for a tablet, and a document sleeve, along with lots of small pockets for keeping items like charging cords, a phone, and sunglasses. The pack also has lockable zippers to keep it secure while traveling. In all there are 20 different compartments, so it’s easy to stay organized and have a place for everything.

The everything-but-the-kitchen-sink design comes at a weight cost though. This bag weighs a hefty 4 lbs. That’s heavier than most travel backpacks, so if carrying less is important to you, you may want to look elsewhere.

If you want the most organized pack possible, though, the NOMATIC Backpack has you covered with a design that’s optimized for urban travelers.

  • Large compartment for a laptop
  • Only one color (black)
  • No good water bottle pockets

Nomatic Backpack Specs:

6. WANDRD PRVKE : Best Camera Daypack


WANDRD was started by two brothers who couldn’t find a quality camera bag that both functioned well and looked good. They set out to make their own camera bags for photographers who travel and explore the world.

A good camera daypack needs to be protective, offer fantastic organization, and make it easy to access your camera on the go. It also shouldn’t compromise on standard daypack requirements like comfort and durability.

The WANDRD PRVKE is their original camera backpack that started it all, though it’s been through many iterations. This bag was designed to work better than anything on the market while still delivering style and comfort.

It all centers around the camera compartment, which is padded and very protective for your expensive photography gear. The pack comes with an array of removable dividers that you can configure to hold your camera, lenses, and other accessories.

The best thing about the camera storage is its easy accessibility. There is a wide-opening zippered flap on the front of the pack that gives you access to everything inside, and a zippered side opening makes it easy to grab your camera on the go—perfect for getting those unexpected shots.

The entire camera protection system is also removable. This adds a ton of versatility and means you aren’t limited to using this bag as a camera bag only. Remove the padded camera storage, and you have a spacious everyday or travel daypack.

The downside is that you have to pay extra to have the padded camera cube included with the bag. It’s an expensive pack as it is, and the price with the full photography bundle is very high.

It seems like they’ve thought of everything with this camera daypack, and the design is top-notch. The high price puts it out of reach for many people, but for serious photographers, this is the bag to get.

  • More complicated than most people will need


7. Osprey Talon 22 : Best Hiking Daypack

Osprey Talon 22

This hiking and travel backpack from Osprey has been lauded for its all-around utility and excellence, which you will find useful on the trail in just about any situation you come across.

The Osprey Talon 22 has been built with comfort as a first priority. This is a massive benefit for long days on the trail.

The form-hugging shape is designed to complement your body and distribute the weight of your gear evenly. It also has an aluminum frame to maintain that weight spread and make the backpack sturdier without weighing it down excessively.

This Osprey daypack clocks in at 1 lb 13 oz, with an alternative for smaller torsos weighing 1 lb 5 oz. This isn’t a lightweight bag, but the supportive frame, hipbelt, and padded shoulder straps make it much more comfortable than a lighter pack.

There’s an aerated padding system on the back to keep you well-cushioned and less sweaty. The nicely padded shoulder straps are very comfortable, and the system of internal supports means that weight is effectively transferred to the hip and chest straps instead of being totally on the shoulders. The side compression straps also help cinch this bag closer to your body to balance the weight.

There are three zippered compartments on the outside, some small, easy-access pockets on the chest and hip straps, two water bottle pockets, a large stretchy jacket pocket, compression straps, and a pocket on the back for a water bladder to use this as a hydration pack.

The only drawback I can think of for this bag is that it isn’t waterproof. If that’s a key concern for you, I would look into getting a rain cover for the bag before writing it off entirely. For any other situation, if it’s outdoors, this is the bag for you. Take it on a day hike, climbing trip, or mountain bike ride. This is the best travel daypack for outdoor adventure.

Click here to check out my full Osprey Talon review .

  • Protected by Osprey’s powerful warranty
  • Great range of zipper pockets
  • Compression straps to secure your load
  • Works as a hydration pack for hiking, biking, and more
  • Doesn’t come with rain cover
  • Pricey (but worth it)
  • Not good for commuters 

Osprey Talon 22 Specs:

8. Osprey Arcane : Most Versatile Daypack

Osprey Arcane Roll Top

We talk a lot about Osprey on TravelFreak, and it’s because they build seriously good packs. Between their emphasis on innovative carrying systems and their lifetime guarantee, it really is hard to go wrong with an Osprey bag.

So far this list has focused mostly on daypacks built for very specific purposes. The Osprey Arcane breaks that trend with a design that works for a little bit of everything. This simple and stylish backpack is meant for everyday use, and with a padded sleeve for a laptop, accessible exterior pockets, and a streamlined design, it’s ready for the office, the gym, and everywhere in between.

The carrying system has a lot of carry-over from Osprey’s dedicated hiking packs, and it’s plenty comfortable for all-day use. Although it’s not marketed as a hiking pack, it will work very well for casual day hikes. The front jacket pocket, side bottle pocket, and waterproof roll-top closure are great features for hiking.

The Osprey Arcane even works great as a travel daypack for trips around the world!

  • No sternum strap or hip belt
  • Only one bottle pocket

Osprey Arcane Specs:

9. Able Carry Daily Plus : Best Daypack for Travel in Europe

Able Carry Daily Plus

Able Carry has a straightforward brand mission to “engineer the best everyday bags to supercharge your day.” They aim to do this by creating functional, durable designs that prioritize fit and performance for adventurous travelers.

I love that Able Carry puts so much focus on fit and comfort. It’s easy to geek out about features, materials, and organization, but in the end, if a bag is not comfortable, it isn’t going to work well for you.

If you’re planning a trip around Europe, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time with your backpack on your shoulders. Fit becomes even more important, and you need something that can take you from airports to train stations to the streets with ease.

The Able Carry Daily Plus is a bomber, reliable daypack that will stand up to the wear and tear of travel. It is designed to be comfortable and supportive even with heavier loads, so it’s perfect for longer trips.

This backpack has a somewhat tactical aesthetic that may not appeal to everyone, but it is definitely functional.

The main shell is made from X-Pac laminate fabric. This fabric uses multiple layers to get a unique blend of performance. The outer layer is a durable nylon, then there is a ripstop x-grid that adds structure and tear resistance, then a waterproof film, and finally a thinner fabric on the inside to protect the waterproof layer.

X-Pac is commonly used in high-end backpacking gear, so you can expect impressive performance from this fabric. It is tough, entirely waterproof, and should last a long time.

The interior organization of this bag is impressive. In the main compartment, it has a padded laptop sleeve and tons of internal pockets for keeping everything neat and accessible.

You also get good exterior pockets, including a concealed bottle pocket that zips closed to maintain the clean aesthetic. I personally like having my water bottle easily accessible at all times, but you may prefer this system.

The Able Carry Daily Plus is a well-built bag that is supportive and comfortable enough for longer trips and heavier loads.

  • Highly water-resistant, so there’s no need for add-on rain cover
  • Spacious main compartment for all your travel gear
  • High-quality materials
  • Lacks external mesh pockets

Able Carry Daily Plus Specs:

10. Rains Backpack : Best Waterproof Daypack

Rains Waterproof Backpack

Rains is a modern lifestyle brand that specializes in rainwear and waterproof daypacks for city use. Their packs use the same signature waterproof PU fabric as their rain jackets for fully weatherproof performance.

The Rains Backpack is a simple, streamlined design that combines elegant, minimalist styling with impressive water resistance.

This little daypack keeps it simple with a flap-opening main compartment, a single internal zip pocket, and a single external zip pocket on the back panel. This exterior pocket is great for keeping items like phones secure since it’s right next to your back.

The big thing that’s missing for me are side pockets for bottles. It really doesn’t make sense to put a bottle inside the main compartment, and I’m not sure why they left this feature out.

Some people may prefer having more pockets in general, but there’s definitely something to be said for simplicity. Less stitching also means better water resistance.

The shoulder straps are thin and not my favorite. They work fine as you’re carrying light loads, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to wear this packable daypack all day. For commuting or quick jaunts around town or across campus, it’s not a problem though.

Overall, this is a great option for a stylish day-to-day bag that offers waterproof performance. If you’re looking for waterproof daypacks that are more hiking and outdoor-oriented, the Matador Freerain24 on this list is another great waterproof option.

  • Small capacity
  • Thin shoulder straps
  • Fewer pockets than other daypacks

Rains Backpack Specs:

11. Timbuk2 WMN Never Check Day Backpack : Best Women’s Daypack

Timbuk2 WMN Never Check Day Backpack

This is the second Timbuk2 bag on this list—and for good reason.

They pride themselves on building products with legendary durability, and they stand behind their bags with a lifetime warranty and repair services. They even sell a full range of replacement parts, from buckles to luggage wheels, so you can do DIY repairs to keep your bag going the distance.

Unfortunately, there aren’t too many backpacks out there designed specifically for women’s frames. That means you often have to compromise with a bag that is either uncomfortable, or lacking in features, functionality, and quality.

The Timbuk2 WMN Never Check is a perfect daypack if you’re petite woman who has struggled to find a backpack that fits right. The compact size, tailored fit, and impressive array of features mean you don’t have to compromise on anything.

This bag is small, with just 13L of interior space, but it has fantastic organization that makes it easy to bring everything you need day-to-day. The padded laptop sleeve, inner dividers, and exterior zippered pocket keep your belongings organized and easy to access.

The backpack is built with a high-denier water-resistant fabric that will stand up to a lot of abuse. Paired with waterproof zippers, this exterior protects your belongings from splashes or unexpected downpours.

For women looking for a stylish, well-fitting travel daypack that still offers maximum durability and functionality, this backpack is a fantastic choice.

  • Built-in luggage strap to secure pack to rolling luggage
  • Only one color option
  • Limited storage

Timbuk2 WMN Never Check Day Backpack Specs:

12. Bellroy Venture Ready : Best Men’s Daypack

Bellroy Venture Ready

Bellroy is dedicated to building packs and bags that have a positive impact on the world. They are a certified B-corp, and put a lot of emphasis on using renewable and recycled materials.

They also just build stunning, highly-functional products.

For a men’s daypack, you want something streamlined, durable, and versatile enough to do everything you need. The Bellroy Venture Ready is a capable pack that can carry your laptop to work, a change of clothes to the gym, and your gear for a hike.

It’s obvious that ease-of-use was a high priority when this pack was designed. The wide zipper opening makes it super easy to get into the main compartment, there are plenty of easy-access zippered pockets for organization, and stretchy pockets on the side can hold your water bottles.

I love that the designers paid close attention to little details, like the clever interior pocket that can be opened without spilling stuff out in any position.

The styling of this pack is spot-on, with just the right balance of rugged and sophisticated. It looks at home in the office, on the streets, or out on the trail.

  • Only one water bottle pocket

Bellroy Venture Ready Specs:

13: Mission Workshop Rhake : Best Tactical Daypack

Mission Workshop Rhake

Looking for a pack that is loaded with features and is constructed like a tank? Mission Workshop has a range of bombproof packs that use high-tech materials and incorporate smart design.

If any daypack is ready to survive the apocalypse, the Mission Workshop Rhake is it. It is built tough in the USA, is totally weatherproof, and has all the organization you could wish for. Sound too good to be true? Well, it comes at a cost. This bag has a price tag that’s more than triple most of the daypacks on this list.

It is built of X-Pac, a 4-layer material that was originally designed for yacht sails, but also works great for packs because of its durability and waterproofness. You can count on this bag to keep your gear dry in downpours.

A highlight of this bag is its incredible organization system. It has tons of zippered interior and exterior pockets designed to hold your phone, keys, tablet, sunglasses, cables, laptop, and more. Seriously, there’s no way you’ll run out of pocket on this thing.

The Mission Workshop Rhake isn’t for everyone—it’s a bit heavy, very expensive, and overkill for most people. If you want a tactical backpack that has every feature you could wish for and incredible build quality, it’s worth checking out.

  • Very expensive

Mission Workshop Rhake Specs:

14. Fjallraven Kanken Classic : Best Daypack for a Classic Backpack Style

Fjallraven Kanken Classic

You’ve probably already seen this iconic but unpronounceable name adorning travelers’ backs almost everywhere in the world. There is a reason for its popularity: it is an excellent travel daypack. (Also, it’s pronounced fyell, reven if you were wondering!)

The styling of the Fjallraven Kanken Classic makes this everyday backpack stand out. It’s clean, simple rectangular design gives this bag a timeless look that’s hard not to love.

It’s not just about the looks though. This is a very well-built and durable travel daypack. The main pack material is made from vinylon F, a synthetic fiber that behaves like many natural fibers. When it gets wet, the fibers expand, naturally sealing out water without the need for chemical coating. This is also a very durable, hard-wearing fabric.

At 13 L this is a smaller packable daypack, but its easily packable shape will surprise you with how much it can fit in the main compartment. The external zippered pocket is great for keeping small essentials within easy access.

While there are pockets on the sides, they are too small to really be used for bottles, so that’s one downside to consider.

I’d also love to see padded mesh shoulder straps, though that may interfere with the aesthetic. The simple webbing straps you get on this bag look good, but they can dig into your shoulders on long days.

Another drawback in my mind is security. With the lack of an inner zippered pocket , I don’t see this as a very secure place for your valuables. Besides that, this is an excellent travel daypack that I highly recommend.

And of course, we can’t forget that beautiful Scandinavian aesthetic—utilitarian, but with a timeless style. I don’t think you could find a more stylish travel daypack if you tried.

  • Versatile travel daypack
  • Lower security for your things 
  • No real water side pockets for bottles

Fjallraven Kanken Classic Specs:

15. Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack : Best Packable Daypack

Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Day Pack

This offering from Sea to Summit is aimed at the traveling hikers out there. With its form-hugging shape, spartan aesthetics, and ultra-lightweight compact design, this is a packable daypack designed for the trail.

This bag is very focused on its purpose as a secondary smaller daypack for backpackers on longer treks or minimal travelers touring the globe. It’s meant to stash inside your main bag until you get to camp or to the hotel. Then you can whip it out for fast-and-light side trail hikes or day trips in a new city.

For it’s intended purpose, there’s nothing like it, but if you want a nice all-around daypack, it is probably too minimal for most people.

One of the first things you’ll see on the product photos for this Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack is a tennis-ball sized sack attached to a keychain—that’s how compact this thing is. It weighs in at a frankly extraordinary 2.5 oz. I’m pretty sure I own socks that are heavier than that! It’s all made of water-resistant nylon material, and with a 20 L capacity, you can fit a fair bit in there.

On the comfort and convenience side, there isn’t a lot to talk about in this packable bag. There are no extra straps, no pockets beside the one main pocket, no padding on the shoulder straps, and no side pockets. It’s not weatherproof , although the bottom is water-resistant.

This is a purpose-built packable daypack that’s meant to be as light and compact as possible, so you sacrifice some comfort and convenience.

Basically, this bag is a straight shooter. It’s light and compact and that’s what it does best. If you are hitting summits or thru-hikes and want to shed as much weight as possible, this is the best packable daypack you can buy.

  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Great daypack to store in a main bag
  • Spacious compartment for such a lightweight bag
  • Not very durable
  • No padding 
  • No external storage

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack Specs:

16. Matador Freerain24 Backpack : Best Packable Waterproof Daypack

travel daypack reddit

This is another light, packable daypack that will work well for travelers who like to hike. It is a little heavier than the Ultra-Sil, but that extra weight comes with extra functionality that some travelers might find useful.

First and foremost, this daypack is packable! It rolls down into a pouch that you can easily throw into your main bag. On top of that the Matador Freerain 24 is a completely waterproof backpack . This is a huge selling point of the bag!

The bag is very light at 5.5 oz, but with 24 L of space, it’s still plenty big enough for your travel gear.

Comfort-wise, given that this is a lightweight, packable daypack, there is not much in the way of padding. The shoulder straps are made of a lightweight breathable mesh, and they’re well-shaped. As long as you aren’t carrying heavy loads, it should be comfortable enough.

Overall, this is a great compressible daypack if you want a waterproof, lightweight, and packable daypack but don’t want it stripped down to the bone.

  • Great for day trips on trails
  • Small water bottle pocket

Matador Freerain24 Backpack Specs:

17. Cotopaxi Batac 16L : Most Eco-Friendly Daypack

Cotopaxi Batac 16L

I have never seen a packable daypack quite like this one. Trust me: No one else will ever have one quite like yours! That’s because the Batac 16L daypack —part of the Del Dia range from Cotopaxi—are all crafted from recycled scraps and cutoffs leftover from creating other products. That makes this one of the most eco-friendly daypacks on the market.

And they don’t stick to a single-color scheme. Scraps that match the right material specifications are stitched together in a color riot to make a series of unique bags that help Cotopaxi cut down on waste. The bags’ sales page literally has a photo gallery of different examples of individual bags that have been made. A fantastic innovation if you ask me!

At 16L, this is one of the smaller daypacks on the market. It has a long rectangular shape that makes it easy to pack and make use of the small space. The materials are mesh and nylon, which make it very light and compact. This backpack folds into its own pocket so you can throw it in your suitcase without taking up extra room.

It has an easy-access zippered pocket reachable from the outside and an internal sleeve divider that can fit a laptop or water bladder.

One major downside of this packable backpack is that the mesh pockets on the sides of the bag are not really suitable for larger water bottles such as Nalgenes. Depending on the water bottle you use, you may look for a bag with a bigger mesh pocket on the side.

As for comfort, the thin shoulder straps on this packable daypack don’t have a ton of padding, and there’s no hip belt, which could be a concern for some. That said, this bag will likely not be carrying a massive amount of weight unless you’re carrying a lot of water.

There is an adjustable sternum strap for a bit of extra support in the front. The shoulder straps hug the body well and have plenty of room for adjustment.

Overall, if you’re after the best small packable daypack that combines the basics of functionality with the funkiest look, this is the ultimate daypack for you. It would do well on a day trip, a commute, or a short hike.

  • Compact compressible daypack for easy storage
  • Convenient internal pocket
  • Not weatherproof
  • Not much padding

Cotopaxi Batac 16L Specs:

18. Stubble & Co Roll Top Mini : Best Roll Top Daypack

Stubble & Co Roll Top Mini

Stubble & Co’s Roll Top Backpack blends sleek minimalism, functionality, and intuitive design.

The roll-top access is a unique feature that I’ve loved having on this backpack. The G clip ensures quick and secure access perfect for travel, and this expandable backpack can add extra room with the roll top for longer trips.

Its 20L capacity can accommodate all your daily essentials, electronics, and more—great for digital nomads like myself!

The padded sleeve for a laptop is accessed externally from the back panel, which I love. You don’t have to reach inside the bag and move things around to get to your computer! It is also very secure, because the laptop is closest to your body and nearly impossible to pickpocket.

Two side pockets offer external space for water bottles, snacks, sunglasses and other small essentials. There is even a small zippered pocket flush with the front of the bag for easy access to things like documents, credit cards and keys.

The interior pocket helps keep you organized while still offering a spacious main compartment for bulkier items.

With padded shoulder straps and an adjustable sternum strap for optimal weight-bearing, I haven’t experienced any discomfort while wearing this backpack for several hours at a time.

Made from water-repellent recycled materials, this is a perfect roll-top daypack for those on the go!

  • Excellent water repellency 
  • Secure and functional 16″ laptop sleeve
  • Heavier than many other packs

Stubble & Co Roll Top Mini Specs:

19: Kodiak Katmai : Best Leather Daypack

Kodiak Katmai Leather Backpack

Kodiak Leather is a brand that’s been making a name for itself with premium-quality leather packs, bags, purses, and wallets that come in at an approachable price.

The Kodiak Katmai is a beautiful leather daypack that is designed for all-around everyday use. It is built with high-quality top-grain leather and has a timeless style that will only improve as you use it.

I love the feel of good, quality leather, and this bag is definitely well-built. It should handle the wear and tear of everyday use without any problems. Just be aware that, as a leather product, it will require some additional care to keep it in top condition.

While this pack has an internal sleeve on the back, it isn’t really padded, so I definitely wouldn’t use it as a laptop bag. But overall, the Kodiak Katmai is a great pack for anyone who loves the timeless style of quality leather gear.

  • Smaller capacity
  • Leather requires more care than other materials

Kodiak Katmai Specs:

20: Pacsafe Eco 18L : Best Anti-Theft Daypack

Pacsafe Eco 18

Pacsafe is a globally trusted brand focusing on anti-theft backpacks . It was founded 20 years ago by two guys who had some of their stuff stolen on a trip and vowed to help people never have that same experience.

Everything in the design of this travel daypack is meant to keep your belongings secure. The main pack material has a slash-proof wire mesh built in. The lockable zippers make sure no one is getting into your bag. The straps also feature wire reinforcement so a thief can’t cut the straps and run.

There’s an interior padded laptop compartment, an RFID-protected passport, and a credit card pocket at the back where it’s hardest to reach. There aren’t any easy-access exterior pockets beyond some mesh pockets for water bottles.

Finally, there’s a strap-locking system that allows you to lock the bag onto heavy furniture without it getting snatched; very handy for a night in a dorm room or extra peace of mind in a cafe.

Overall, while this travel bag probably isn’t versatile enough to be taken seriously as a hiking bag, it is absolutely the best travel daypack if you are worried about security on the road.

  • Heavy for its size
  • Overkill security for many people

Pacsafe Eco 18L Specs:

Buying Guide for the Best Travel Daypacks

There are some serious factors you’ll want to keep in mind in order to snag yourself the best travel daypack for you.

Comfort and Fit

In my opinion, comfort and fit are the most important considerations when searching for the best daypacks. You may find the most durable, feature-packed bag on the market, but if it rubs your shoulders wrong or leaves your back aching, it isn’t going to work for you.

Comfort and fit are largely personal: what works for someone else may not work for you. Your height, build, and personal preferences all play a role in finding a pack that fits. Whenever possible, I recommend trying a pack on before buying it, ideally with some weight in it. If you’re shopping online, you should buy from a retailer with a good return policy so you can return a bag if it doesn’t fit.

A man hiking in the mountains with a small daypack and bedding

There are definitely some general features you should look for that contribute to a pack’s comfort and carrying capacity.

Well-padded shoulder straps will definitely help eliminate pressure points and distribute the load more evenly. A sternum strap across your chest will help dial in the fit and pull some of the weight off your shoulders.

If you need a pack for a longer day hike, I’d definitely recommend getting a pack with a hip belt. This can make a big difference in your comfort after hours on the trail. Some sort of built-in frame or framesheet will also help distribute more of the load down to your hips.

Daypack Size

This is a pretty obvious consideration with any travel backpack. But with a daypack, you have slightly different considerations than with a trekking pack . To find the best travel backpack, you need to think about what you will be using this bag for and how much stuff will be inside it.

Most daypacks have somewhere between 10 and 30 liters of storage volume, and the specific size you get will depend on your use case and personal preferences.

Smaller travel daypacks are excellent if you’re someone that travels light or in warmer conditions. A bag with a 10 L to 20 L capacity is great for many situations. This size range works for carrying your food and water on a day hike, carrying your camera around a new city, or taking your essentials to work.

A compact travel daypack is great for air travel because you can use it as your under-seat personal item without any extra baggage charges.

A small packable daypack, like many of the options on this list, is fantastic for bringing inside a larger bag. A lightweight travel backpack like this can carry everything you need for day trips while stowing away when it’s time to move on.

photographer with a backpack standing on a ledge overlooking a desert

Larger bags are better for people who often have to carry more stuff. If you are lugging a lot of textbooks to university, going on a longer trip, or hitting a trail during the colder months, a 20-30 L capacity is what you should aim for.

Larger bags also tend to come with more organizational features to help you stay organized.

The downside is that they are bulkier, and when they are less full, the weight won’t sit as comfortably. I’ve also found that a larger pack can lead to a tendency to overpack; I’ll bring things I don’t really need just because I have the space for it.

Whether you are traveling around the world or going on a long hike, you’ll spend a lot of time wearing your daypack, and cutting down on weight can help reduce fatigue after long days. Some of the packs on this list come in close to half a pound or less, meaning you won’t have any unnecessary weight on your shoulders.

Lighter isn’t always better though. A flimsy, poorly-built travel backpack can actually feel heavier and less comfortable than one with a frame and well-padded shoulder straps, especially if you need to carry heavier loads. Lighter packs are also typically less durable.

Rather than looking for the lightest possible pack, I recommend focusing on functionality, comfort, and durability before trying to cut weight. It usually isn’t worth saving a few ounces if it means getting a bag that doesn’t carry as well or wears out quickly.

Pockets, Storage and Organization

Keeping things organized can streamline the travel experience because your essential items will be on hand when you need them. This is particularly important in airports, where knowing where your passport and valuables are at all times can reduce your stress while traveling. This convenience is also great for a commute when good pockets will help keep important stuff like laptops from rattling around.

A hiker in a red jacket stands on a cliff with a backpack

The pockets and features you need will depend you your use case. For city travel, you’ll probably want a padded sleeve for a laptop and zippered pockets for keys, charging cables, and other small items. For hiking and outdoor adventures, you’ll probably want a front stuff pocket and stretch mesh pockets for bottles on the side.

If you are traveling by air a lot, you also may want to look for features like a luggage strap, multiple grab handles, and lockable zippers to make your time in airports easier and more secure. An expandable backpack design can also make a daypack more versatile for different trips.

Most daypacks for travel these days are made from some variety of coated synthetic fabric, but there is a wide range of different options in this category, and pack fabric will have a big impact on the performance, comfort, and weight.

A travel daypack will typically be made of either ripstop nylon or polyester. While there are some differences between the two materials, in my mind they are similar enough that you don’t need to worry about which one you get. The biggest difference will be in the specific weave, weight, and coating of the fabric.

Fabric thickness is typically measured in denier, which indicates how many individual fibers are in each thread. A higher denier number will make a thicker, stronger, and heavier fabric. A travel backpack will typically use a fabric somewhere between 100-denier and 600-denier. If cutting weight is more important to you, look for a lower number. Higher denier fabrics will be more durable.

Most travel backpacks that claim to be weatherproof will not be fully waterproof, so you can’t go wading through rivers with them and expect them to stay dry. However, if you do find yourself in an unexpected downpour, a weatherproof bag will give you enough time to find shelter without putting your belongings at risk of getting soaked.

A travel daypack is a very visible piece of equipment, so for many of us, the aesthetic will be as important as anything. Some daypacks are made for the trail, and are more utilitarian, while more city-oriented packs definitely focus on styling.

The best daypacks for travel manage to combine style and function. You can wear them around town without looking like a lost tourist but also hit the trail with the confidence that they will take a bit of punishment.

Final Thoughts

Your daypack will be your constant companion while you travel, whether you’re hopping between airports or cranking out miles on the trail. It’s important to find one that has the features you need combined with comfort and durability.

The packs on this list have been chosen because they are the best daypacks for travel within their specific niche. Whether you need a school bag for college, a hiking pack, or a daypack for long-term travel, hopefully, you can find the perfect daypack for your needs.

  • The Best Travel Backpacks for Every Adventure
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  • The Best Camera Backpacks for Hiking

Jeremy Scott Foster

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The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

Whether weekend road-tripping or jet-setting around the world, you’re going to need a pack to toss over your shoulder. Here are the best travel backpacks for every adventure.

Mallory Paige Testing the Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Backpack

There are a lot of great travel backpacks out there, but not all of them are created equal. A travel pack needs to be comfortable to carry, easy to organize, and durable enough to withstand being toted from place to place.

From hitting the road for the weekend to spending months traveling abroad, we’ve put nearly 30 different travel backpacks through the wringer. We tallied our airline miles, punched our tickets, and put our tray tables in the upright and locked position for close to half a decade now, taking domestic and international flights to as far as Iceland and as close as 30-minute island hops. And while there isn’t a single pack that suits every traveler, we’ve highlighted a variety of designs and price points to help you find the perfect travel backpack.

Choosing a travel backpack can be a dizzying experience, and we’ve shaken down the best to sort through the static. Each pack has seen its time on the baggage carousel, hostel luggage cart, and we’ve even had a few go missing for the full experience. We fully pack and live out of these bags to test them, and in the end, we’re confident that the 14 packs collected here are the best travel backpacks available today. Check-in and check them out.

For all your travel pack questions, consult our buyer’s guide , where we’ve laid bare all the essentials. Compare each of the packs using our handy comparison chart , and if you’ve still got questions, check out our FAQ section.

Editor’s Note: We updated our travel backpack guide on November 15, 2023, to include additional information on our testing, as well as ensure that our selection is still current.

  • Best Overall Travel Backpack: Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
  • Best Budget Travel Backpack: Dakine Campus 33L Backpack
  • Best Carrying Travel Backpack: Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40 Travel Packs
  • Best Organization in a Travel Backpack: Matador SEG45 Travel Pack
  • Best Shoulder Bag: Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L
  • Best Commuter-Style Travel Backpack: Arc’teryx Granville 25 Backpack
  • Best Personal Item Travel Pack: TimBuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

  • Capacity 45 L (collapses to 35 L)
  • Weight 4 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Dimensions 22" x 13" x 9.5" standard, 22" x 13" x 11" expanded
  • Compartment access Back panel clamshell design with #10 zipper
  • Material Weatherproof, 100% recycled 400-denier nylon canvas shell; 900-denier waterproof bottom

Product Badge

  • Compresses down to maximum airline carry-on size, and then expands once you’ve hit your destination
  • Burly construction
  • No details are overlooked in the design
  • Side-carry handles are offset in an awkward position

Perfect is a dirty word in product design, but we’re about stumped when it comes to drumming up a quibble about the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45 L ($300). This redeye-ready clamshell design is made to the highest of standards.

It’s made of quality materials, utilizing aluminum hardware and a burly 400-denier nylon canvas — and it easily ticks all our boxes for the best overall travel backpack. The interior of the bag is split into two compartments: a larger main area for storing the majority of your kit and a secondary sleeve at the front of the bag with five zippered pockets. The main pocket also sports a foam-padded laptop sleeve and three more pockets.

One of the more impressive aspects we discovered along the bag’s inaugural leg from Seattle to Anchorage was how easily the straps of the Travel Backpack stow away into the bag. Two foam panels on the back of the bag flip away to secure them and then close with a magnetic closure — very slick. This was our favorite strap-stowage system, with the zippered panels of the Matador GlobeRider45 coming in a close second. We find the Peak Design bag compresses smaller.

Then there are the little details. An ID-size sleeve on the back panel provides all the information should your bag get separated from you. Zipper pulls thread through one another to keep what’s yours safe. And a collapsible system adjusts the bag from a full 45 to 35 liters.

In our review, there’s little about the Peak Design pack that misses the mark. The company leans heavily toward the camera-toting travelers among us, but the 45 L Travel Backpack makes no compromises and works just as well for any user group. The high price is undeniable, but for the scope of the travel pack, it’s a buy-once-cry-once purchase we would make again.

Also available in a 30L size , the range of Travel Backpacks from Peak Design is so well-thought-out that you can practically see the cogs turning in their creators’ heads. We think they make the best travel backpacks on the market.

Dakine Campus 33L Backpack

  • Capacity 33 L
  • Weight 1 lb., 10.6 oz.
  • Dimensions 20.5" x 13" x 8"
  • Compartment access Zippered top access
  • Material Depending on print type, can be 600-denier recycled polyester, 420-denier recycled nylon, 630-denier recycled nylon, or 1,200-denier recycled polyester

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Cheap price
  • Available in many different fabric prints
  • Unique insulated cooler pocket
  • Not many travel-specific features
  • Straps don’t pack away

Even at the regular price of $75, the Dakine Campus 33L Backpack is a great deal. And considering you can grab one on sale for $45, it’s a must-have budget travel backpack.

It has everything you need to keep your travels organized, without getting too big or complicated. It has a padded laptop sleeve, a fleece-lined top pocket to keep your sunglasses safe, and an organizer pocket perfect for pens, a phone, and easy-access essentials. We love pockets, and this backpack has plenty.

And if that weren’t enough, it also has an insulated cooler pocket to keep your snacks fresh on the go, plus double side pockets keep drinks handy. We found the straps comfortable during long travel days. Be sure to use the sternum strap when carrying a heavy load for the best fit.

While this bag does excellent at travel, it isn’t quite what the bag was designed for, and thus it’s missing a few travel niceties like a compression system or the ability to pack away the straps. We didn’t find that we missed them desperately, but it would have been nice to have had in a few instances. For similar-sized backpacks with more of a travel bend to them, look to the sleek Timbuk2 Never Check, or the uber-customizable Tom Bihn Synapse 25. But prepare to shell out some more for them.

If you’re looking for a sub-$100 backpack (under $60 during sales!) that does it all, then the Dakine Campus Backpack is for you. It comes in a variety of colors and is also available in a 25L capacity .

Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40 Travel Packs

  • Capacity 40 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 7.6 oz.
  • Dimensions 22" x 14" x 9"
  • Compartment access Zippered back panel clamshell design
  • Material Bluesign-approved 450-denier recycled polyester

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Supreme suspension system offers the best carry of any pack we tried
  • External compression straps limit the volume well
  • Comfortably padded grab handles
  • Not much internal organization

No stranger to producing supremely comfortable suspension systems, Osprey injected a good bit of its tech into the Farpoint and Fairview packs ($185), which both sport LightWire frames, load lifters, and breathable framesheet and suspension straps. Our Farpoint pack was easily the best load carrier of any we tested and a close contender for the best travel backpack overall.

Far beyond what any of the other travel packs offer, the pack even allows you to adjust the torso length — unheard of in the typical travel pack. Newly updated, these packs have been tweaked to ride the line between traditional backpacks and functional luggage, a claim we can substantiate.

The 40-liter capacity is just about the sweet spot for domestic carry-on luggage limits, and these packs make good use of the space. We could easily pack away a long weekend’s worth of travel essentials into the bag with a little space to spare.

Whereas many other travel packs stash straps away into the body of the pack, the Farpoint and Fairview move in the opposite direction with a deployable strap cover that neatly seals in the suspension for safekeeping when checked. This produces a clean profile that’s ready to be slung around, but it’s not quite as easy and quick as the magnetic panels of the Peak Design Travel Backpacks, as you need to unclip straps to tuck them away.

The interior of the pack is rather spartan, incorporating only one zippered pocket, a laptop sleeve, and two internal compression straps. We would have rather seen a bit more organizational features involved like those that the Matador GlobeRider and Topo Designs Global Travel bags incorporate, but for those who stuff more than pack, the Farpoint and  Fairview may very well punch the ticket.

With one foot on the platform and one on the trail, these packs from Osprey will get you where you’re going and carry a trip’s worth of kit with ease.

Matador SEG45 Travel Pack

  • Capacity 45 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Dimensions 22" x 13.4" x 10.2"
  • Compartment access Full clamshell interior, additional front zippered access
  • Material 420-denier nylon exterior, 100-denier Robic Dynatec interior

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Excellent storage organization options
  • High-quality, strong, and lightweight construction
  • No frame to speak of
  • Shoulder straps don’t pack away

Aiming to do more with less, the Matador SEG45 Segmented Backpack ($200) proposes a future free of packing cubes and splits up the bag for you, making the organization of your travel pack a breeze.

The full 45 liters of volume is shared among the five segments (6, 9, 15, 9, and 6 L) and trades volume between the full clamshell compartment and the segments. Each of these segments is accessible via its own water-resistant zippers and can be collapsed as your needs change.

We found organizing by clothing type made the most sense in our own packing, but you could even pack based on the day of the week or the use. The clamshell-accessed main compartment was ideal for holding larger items like spare shoes or quarantining spent outfits.

Known for its overbuilt but lightweight bags, Matador didn’t spare the SEG45, utilizing 420D UHMWPE-reinforced nylon in the pack body, as well as 100D Robic Dynatec weave on the interior. It should be noted that this travel backpack doesn’t have any kind of frame and will rely on being packed well to carry correctly. Because of this, this pack won’t carry as well as bags like the Osprey Farpoint/Fairview, so consider packing mostly clothing in the SEG45.

Our testers felt this bag excelled as a travel bag you might deploy once you’ve hit your destination, as it packs away into larger bags so well. Unfortunately, however, the shoulder straps don’t pack away into the bag itself, so you’ll have to wrangle them into place to keep things tidy.

No matter what you’re up to, everything has got a spot to live in the SEG45 . Need a bit less space? Matador offers the SEG28 ($250) for that.

Read Review: Dresser in a Backpack: Matador SEG42 Review

Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L

  • Weight 3 lbs., 10.3 oz.
  • Dimensions 22.8" x 8.6" x 14.5"
  • Compartment access Back panel zippered clamshell design
  • Material 900-denier recycled polyester ripstop with a TPU laminate

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Multiple ways to carry the pack
  • Many different storage and internal organization options
  • Burly external fabric
  • Doesn’t carry the best as a backpack

Looking to squeeze out every last liter of allowed space? Patagonia named this pack in honor of the cause — the Black Hole Maximum Legal Carry-On 45 L ($239). This bag can be carried in a number of different ways, but we found it shined during travel as a shoulder bag.

Borrowing fabric from Patagonia’s line of burly Black Hole Duffels , the MLC 45 is made for the long haul. The 900-denier polyester ripstop is coated in a TPU laminate and feels ready to take on the surliest baggage carrier. We certainly felt no remorse in tossing the bag around.

At 45 L, the MLC is certainly right at the cusp of the maximum allowed size, but thankfully that space is well divided up inside the pack. Inside the main clamshell-accessed compartment is a blizzard of zippers and mesh pockets and dividers, and anything we tossed inside was well-stabilized.

Because there isn’t much of a frame to speak of, the Black Hole MLC doesn’t carry the best when slung over both shoulders and can sag when not entirely full. But over a shoulder with the included shoulder strap, this pack feels great and can be easily accessed on the go. This is one of the only packs in our testing to feature a shoulder strap (the other being the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag).

On top of all this, we greatly appreciate that the Black Hole MLC 45 L is made with 100% recycled body fabric, lining, and webbing. Perfect for grabbing and going, this pack is ready to move.

Read Review: Patagonia Black Hole MLC Bag Review: An Organized, Carry-On-Size Wonder

Arc’teryx Granville 25 Backpack

  • Capacity 25 L
  • Weight 1 lb., 14.5 oz.
  • Dimensions 22" x 12" x 9"
  • Compartment access Drawstring top-entry
  • Material N400r-AC² nylon ripstop

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Tough and waterproof exterior fabric
  • White interior for easy viewing
  • Floating laptop sleeve
  • Not very much interior organization
  • Simple webbing waistbelt

Made for moving through the city over the concourse, the commute-ready Arc’teryx Granville 25 ($220) takes travel backpacks to the streets in a sleek and tough design that we couldn’t keep from grabbing every day.

Crafted from the same N400r-AC² nylon ripstop as Arc’teryx’s high-end climbing packs, the mountain DNA is strong in the Granville, with fully taped seams that make the pack highly weather-resistant. In our impromptu “rain” test, a garden hose fired directly at the pack wasn’t able to get a drop past the tough exterior.

On the front of the pack, a single water-resistant zippered pocket was practically made for your keys, and could accommodate a few other essentials for when you’re on the go. Tossing back the shaped lid, a single drawstring entry leads to the interior space, which is mainly one large pocket, with a few zippered and drop pockets to separate smaller items. If you’re looking for the same style pack, but with a bit more organization built-in, the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 divides up its space well.

The padded interior laptop sleeve will accommodate up to a 16” laptop, and is suspended within the main compartment in a way that leaves us feeling confident in slinging our computer across a shoulder. Compared to other more airline-focused travel packs, the Granville 25 has its feet more firmly planted on the ground, and excels at bus, bike, or foot travel.

Whether your commute is just across town or across the country, the Arc’teryx Granville 25 makes for a good-looking carry-all that’s bound to be around for a while.

Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

  • Capacity 27.5 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 9 oz.
  • Dimensions 18.9" x 11.4" x 5.9"
  • Material 420x2000D Cordura nylon, 135D polyester

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Dang good looking
  • High-quality trim and details, including anodized G hooks and supple webbing
  • Supper cushioned back panel
  • Exterior expandable water bottle pocket is a bit slim
  • Pack straps don't stow away.

Pulling off a good expandable backpack can be a tough task, with fabric accordion folds often taking up valuable real estate on the interior when collapsed in lesser bags. Not so with the TimBuk2 Never Check ($209), which takes a simple backpack shape and elevates it with premium materials and design to create one of our favorite travel backpacks for tucking under an airliner seat.

Unlike a lot of the pure-function rectangular bags in our lineup, the Never Check is a real looker — easily one of the best styled in our testing so far, and we’d have no qualms about bringing it along as a business bag. Small details like rubber-covered zipper pulls, anodized G hooks, and supple webbing keep it looking sharp. The 27.5-liter size is just about dead-on for most airline ‘personal item’ size requirements, and this bag easily slides under a seat.

The main compartment is accessed through a clamshell zipper on the front of the bag, which is gusseted to hang open while you’re loading it up. During the few national and international flights our Senior Editor Nick Belcaster deployed the bag on, this was easily enough space for everything you might want during a plane ride. And for everything else, a front pocket is lined with multiple drop and zip pockets for organizing small gadgets like chargers or keys.

The back panel of the Never Check is a plush ½ inch of comfortable foam, and combined with the equally padded shoulder straps made for a very nice carrying bag. The straps unfortunately do not stow away, but on a lower volume pack such as this, it’s a much less useable feature in our opinions.  And finally, one of our favorite features: the wide laptop sleeve. This 15” opening is generous enough to accommodate the larger laptops of today, and is suspended from the bottom of the backpack to ensure bumps don’t turn into bruises.

Just like the name suggests, the Never Check Expandable Backpack provides a svelte solution to bringing a bag with you during airline travel — or even just to the office. Its clean profile and attention to detail impressed us, and it would make an excellent work-to-weekend bag.

Matador GlobeRider45 Travel Pack

  • Dimensions 22" x 12.8" x 11"
  • Compartment access Zippered clamshell design
  • Material 420D UHMWPE-reinforced ripstop nylon, 100D Robic nylon mini-ripstop

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Incredible density of pockets and sleeves
  • Tough UHMWPE outer fabric can be tossed around
  • Shoulder straps tuck away in a novel and smart manner
  • Laptop sleeve opening is a bit tight
  • Price is up there

With a pocket or sleeve for pretty much everything, the new Matador GlobeRider 45 ($350) gives the Peak Design Travel Pack a run for its money when it comes to the best overall travel pack. 

Our Managing Editor raved about the GlobeRider after serious testing where she pretty much lived out of it for 3 months: “If you travel often and look for crucial components like internal and external pockets, laptop storage, and backpack and hip straps, consider the Matador GlobeRider 45. It’s a unique design in that the [pack] seems to have it all — every feature I’ve needed so far, both living out of it and in my travels — in a pretty packable size.”

What impressed us most was the way the GlobeRider was able to balance both an eye-watering amount of organization and versatility, and burly durability that ensures that this pack won’t shy away from tough travel conditions. In total (and we double-counted) there are 19 individual pockets on the pack, in all types of stretch mesh, zippered, and collapsable configurations. When good organization is key, the GlobeRider reigns. 

On the back panel of the GlobeRider, one of the more novel stowage systems we’ve seen packs away the shoulder straps and hip belt for when you want to slim down the pack. Two zippered panels — similar to the structure of the Peak Design packs, save for the closure — envelop the straps when not in use, and provide a lump-free panel for toting around. 

When it comes to downsides, the GlobeRider doesn’t miss much. The laptop sleeve aperture is a bit small at 9.5”, which in today’s age of mondo-screened computers may be limiting to some with larger devices. There also is no ability to convert the pack to a shoulder bag like the Patagonia MCL does, which can be handy when moving quickly through the airport.

Dang-near the top of the list, the Matador GlobeRider 45 would be an excellent choice for anyone who practices one-bag travel, or desires to have a place for everything in their journeys. The price does sting a bit, but based on the long-term testing we’ve completed so far, we’ve seen no indications that this pack will fade away anytime soon.

Read Review: I Lived Out of This Backpack for 3-Plus Months: Matador Globerider45 Review

Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 40L

  • Weight 3 lbs., 10.4 oz.
  • Dimensions 22.5" x 14" x 7.5"
  • Material 1000D recycled nylon, 400D recycled nylon, 210D recycled nylon, 1680D recycled ballistic nylon

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Overbuilt design with tough materials and chunky zippers
  • Plenty of organizational pockets
  • Bright interior
  • Not the cleanest strap stowage

Chunky zippers, an overhead-savvy profile, and multiple ways to sling it over your shoulder: The Topo Designs Global Travel Pack ($229) has honed in on much of what we love in a travel backpack.

During a recent trip from Seattle to Southern California we were heavily saddled with the maximum the airline would allow. But this pack made use of every inch of space and reached the allowance of what we could check as our carry-on. The 40 liters of internal capacity is broken down into a series of dividers and pockets, which made condoning off things like electronics from the rest of our kit easy. And the interior of this pack is a cheery canary yellow, which helps with ease and visibility.

On the exterior of this pack, three separate carry styles are available to get you through the concourse in whatever way you choose. We found the full-featured backpack straps to be our go-to, which even sport load-lifters for a comfy carry. This suspension system does tuck away for when you might want to check the bag, though we found the hipbelt to be a bit tricky to fully retract.

Rounding out this travel-ready backpack is a tough build that makes use of 1000D recycled nylon and heavy-duty zippers, and we had no qualms with tossing this bag around during our trip. Perfect for anyone who subscribes to the one-bag travel ethos, the Global Travel Pack from Topo Designs makes the grade for those who want the most out of their carry-on.

And if you’re only going to be away for a short trip, the Global Travel pack is also available in a 30L capacity .

Cotopaxi Allpa 28L Travel Pack

  • Capacity 28 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Dimensions 19" x 12" x 9"
  • Material TPU-coated 1,000-denier polyester, 840-denier nylon paneling

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Burly exterior material holds up for the long run
  • Plenty of zippered mesh storage pockets
  • On the heavier side
  • TPU-coated nylon can feel grabby

The Allpa 28L Travel Pack ($170) will change the way you travel. It’s sleek, durable, and able to fit an incredible amount of stuff in a small space. The zippered mesh pockets keep clothes organized. And the compression straps maximize what you can pack.

The tough polyester and nylon construction can take a beating without any signs of wear. And we appreciate that the externally accessed, padded laptop sleeve makes pulling out your electronics at security checkpoints a breeze. There’s also a small outer compartment to keep essentials at hand.

You can completely tuck away the backpack straps and carry the pack like a briefcase, or wear it comfortably as a backpack. We’ve stuffed this pack to the gills countless times and have never had a problem with the zippers. Light rain showers or spills roll right off the TPU-coated exterior, but for legit rainstorms, just pull out the included rain cover.

The Allpa also comes in 35L , 42L , 50L, and 70L capacities. As our editor noted in the 42L review , “Building on its fun and functional ethos, Cotopaxi beefs up its bestselling product. The Allpa Travel Pack earns big points for clever design, clean aesthetic, and a surprising number of handy — and hidden — features.”

Yes, the Cotopaxi Allpa packs are an investment, but anyone who travels regularly will find it a worthy one. These powerhouse travel backpacks are sturdy, versatile, and built to last.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25

  • Weight 1 lb., 13 oz.
  • Dimensions 13.4" x 20" x 9.1"
  • Material 400-denier Halcyon, 420-denier nylon ripstop

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Many different fabrics and color schemes are available
  • Built to last design and materials
  • Removable webbing hip belt
  • Suspension doesn’t pack away
  • Side wing pockets are a little awkward to access

Refined and clean-looking, the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 ($243) is a high-end travel backpack we just can’t stop staring at. It just looks that good. Made of burly textiles and zippers, this pack was built to stand the test of tough travel and come out shining on the other side.

The Synapse 25 is the larger version of Tom Bihn’s Synapse 19 , a popular backpack made for daily carry. The bump in volume is appreciated in this travel-oriented version and is doled out in one large compartment as well as a set of pockets on the front of the pack.

We found all the pockets easily accessible, save for the side wing pockets. While these were excellent for the organization of smaller bits and bobs, the openings were a bit awkward to jump into.

Topped off by a cushioned suspension (the foam is a half-inch of supple EV50), this travel backpack didn’t weigh us down on long days of travel when fully packed. And when we wanted to go light, even the webbing hip belt was removable. In terms of the ability to bop around town as a daily driver, this pack is up there with the TimBuk2 Never Check and Arc’teryx Granville packs (we liked the back panel on this pack the most).

Along with being carry-on compliant, the Synapse is also one of the few bags on our list that are compact enough to fit under most airline seats without hogging too much precious legroom.

Patagonia Black Hole 25L Backpack

  • Weight 1 lb., 6.9 oz.
  • Dimensions 22" x 10.5" x 5.5"
  • Material 300-denier recycled polyester ripstop with a TPU laminate

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Heavy-duty outer fabric
  • Cheaper price
  • No hip belt

The Patagonia Black Hole Backpack ($149) is a rugged classic, and now one that is fully revamped with an eye toward sustainability.

The 300-denier ripstop nylon outer is newly 100% postconsumer recycled material, and has a novel recycled TPU laminate for extra durability — all coming together to make this pack 100% recycled material from the body to the lining and the straps. We’ve long been a fan of the entire Black Hole line , and that’s doubly true now that it’s made from recycled materials.

The side mesh pockets are great for water bottles. And the back laptop sleeve is well padded and will hold most 15″ laptops. The organizational pockets inside and on top fit all of your little essentials, making them easy to find. The signature Black Hole gear loops are also great for tying on extra gear or wet clothes that need drying.

One thing that the majority of our testers asked for with this pack was a hip belt, which it unfortunately lacks. Without it, the load can feel a bit unsettled on our backs, and a bit of stability would go a long way on this pack.

We’ve been using a Black Hole backpack for years now, and it still doesn’t show any signs of wear or tear. For durability, it’s one of the best travel backpacks you’ll find.

Mountain Hardwear Redeye 45 Travel Pack

  • Weight 3 lbs., 2.1 oz.
  • Dimensions 24" x 15" x 12"
  • Compartment access Back panel zippered clamshell design, additional top entry
  • Material 500-denier CORDURA nylon

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • Burly 500-denier CORDURA nylon construction
  • Front and rear grab handles make loading easy
  • Cylinder shape won’t be the most space-efficient
  • Strap storage isn’t the most compact

Fine-tuned and ready to be thrown around, the Mountain Hardwear Redeye 45 Travel Pack ($180) hit all the marks for what we’re looking for in a travel pack for long climbing excursions.

Styled after climbing packs and haul bags, the Redeye keeps a clean profile inside and out and provides access to the internal 45 liters of space via either a full back panel clamshell or an additional top entry. Grown onto the outside is a full-length panel concealing a number of mesh pockets as well as a single water bottle pocket opposite.

We broke in our Redeye with a quick alpine climb in Washington’s granite playground of Washington Pass, where it shouldered a load of climbing kit with aplomb. The rear clamshell design is ideal for fishing out bits of gear as you rack up, and the back panel provided enough cushion to avoid feeling any protruding cam lobes.

Not just a climbing pack, however, the Redeye comes with a number of smart travel features that makes splitting time a cinch. A 15-inch padded laptop sleeve will fit most computers on the market, and the suspension straps are fully stowable, although it wasn’t the most seamless execution we’ve seen.

You probably won’t want to haul it up your next off-width chimney, but a full day of travel in search of one is absolutely on the menu for the Redeye 45 .

Osprey Nebula 32 Daypack

  • Capacity 32 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 1.7 oz.
  • Dimensions 19.2" x 12.2" x 11.4"
  • Material 420-denier recycled nylon

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

  • TSA-compliant laptop sleeve
  • Many options for organization
  • Water bottle pockets fit 32 oz. bottles
  • Need to release two buckles in order to unzip the main pocket all the way

When it comes to backpacks, Osprey has put in the time — and it shows. The Nebula 32 ($140) feels like it’s all the brand’s most popular packs morphed into one. Most of all, we love how it seamlessly goes from city streets to trails.

This backpack can do it all, whether you’re hauling your laptop and books around town; water, food, and layers on an easy hike; or all of the above and then some for a weekend away.

The internal storage pockets are great for organizing all of your things for easy access. And while the Nebula 32 is top-loading, the main pocket opens up wide enough so you won’t have to unload everything to get to the one thing you want at the bottom. The sternum strap and hip belt are comfortable as well, especially when carrying a heavy load.

On smaller volume packs like this, sometimes design concessions need to be made to accommodate all the functionality, and on the Nebula it’s in the side compression straps. Like on the Osprey Farpoint/Fairview, the compression system of the pack overlays across the main compartment zipper, meaning you’ll need to undo some straps before rifling around in the storage area. Not a deal breaker, but a little annoying when the TSA line starts to back up behind you.

Overall, the Nebula 32 won’t disappoint if you make it your go-to smaller-volume travel backpack.

Travel Backpack Comparison Chart

Peak Design Travel Pack 45L at SEATAC

How We Tested Travel Backpacks

The staff of GearJunkie is a hot-footed bunch, restlessly plodding across the country or around the globe in search of adventure and whatever else comes our way. And we have a lot of stuff, which necessitates having a travel bag or four in the stable.

Surely any old bindle will do in carrying your kit around, but having a travel backpack that is dialed into the needs of travel can turn a stressful situation into a manageable one. We’ve been testing travel backpacks since 2019 and have put the market slice through the wringer on thousands of miles of travel to weed out the best of the best.

Senior Editor Nick Belcaster has a zeal for international travel, and he leads up our current travel pack testing, logging almost 10,000 flying miles in the last year alone. From Iceland to Utah, Belcaster has carried these packs and lived out of them for weeks, relying on them to support back-to-back travel excursions. In testing, we looked for a number of features in our travel backpacks, including overall capacity, carry style, durability, and aesthetics. It’s important to think about how you’ll use your travel pack, and as such, every pack on our list is carry-on compliant for the worst-case scenario.

We know no trip will be like the next, so we took a broad swath of the travel backpacks on the market in order to create a list that will suit many different travelers. Packs in hand, over our shoulders, or on our backs, we hit the four corners and tested the best travel backpacks of 2024.

Curious about what we pack in our travel backpacks? We’ve penned up a list for both domestic and international trips .

Osprey Farpoint Travel Pack in Iceland

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Travel Backpack

Travel backpack user profiles.

The International Jet-Setter: The term ‘One Bag Travel’ is no stranger to you, and you’ve just about got your life distilled down into 45 liters of space. If international travel is your bag, then a backpack that’s up to the task will be essential to see you through to further time zones. Efficiency will be the name of the game here, and going with a pack that is dang-near the carry-on maximums for international flights will mean you can make it through without checking a bag. Look for near to 45-liter packs with plenty of organization baked in, as well as a comfortable (and stashable) carry system.

For international travel, the bag we reach for most often had to be the Peak Design Travel Backpack , with a razor-thin second place going to the Matador GlobeRider45 Travel Pack . For an emphasis on organization, the Matador SEG45 splits up the volume well, and if you’ll be schlepping bags around a long way, the Osprey Farpoint & Fairview Packs have all the Osprey suspension we love.

The Weekend-Warrior: Maybe it’s a work trip, and maybe it’s just for fun, but it’s only going to take 2-3 days total, and you’ll need a bag that can pack it in. For weekend excursions, we find packs in the 25-35 liter range work well for the minimalists among us, and the 30-40 liter range for those who like a bit more options.

The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 is easily one of the most stylish packs in our review, only slightly edged out by the Timbuk2 Never Check , and both make the grade for a single overnighter in a foreign locale. For a bit more space, you can’t go wrong with the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 40L , a fun pack that is a lot tougher than the multi-colored exterior would let on.

The Commuter: No flight involved! Duty calls, and sometimes you’ll need to lug around a bit more kit than the old briefcase can allow for. Commuting with a travel backpack is a great way to stay comfortable on longer rides, as shoulder and handbags are cumbersome over the long run. Focus on a bag with a more traditional backpack shape that puts an emphasis on ease-of-access, and is in the 20-30 liter range.

For bumping around town, we’ve come to love the Arc’teryx Granville 25 , which not only lugs our remote office around with ease, but also looks pretty slick doing it. The drawstring opening here is a huge boon for quickly stashing a jacket, and the tough exterior fears no weather forecast. For a budget just-get-it-done choice, the Dakine Campus 33L will make it happen for less.

Peak Design Travel Backpack on the Back of a Traveller in Seattle International Airport Looking out on the Tarmac.

The right size pack for you depends on a few things. First, where are you going? And, how long do you plan to stay? Winter travel often comes with more gear, so you’ll need to pack extra layers. Longer trips often require larger bags.

That said, your personal packing style will be the most important factor. We know minimalists who happily travel for months with only a single backpack in tow and others who want the largest travel backpack possible in addition to a totally stuffed duffel bag . One method isn’t better than the other, but knowing your style is helpful when choosing a bag.

In general, we’ve found that something in the 28-45 liter range is ideal for comfort and packability. Many packs will also offer a compression system to allow you to limit the overall volume of the backpack. We’ve seen many different ways to accomplish this, but the most effective by far were the button snaps and expanding zipper of the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L . Packs toward the 40-45 liter range will be your carry-on bags of choice, and the 45-liter Peak Design, Patagonia MCL , and Matador GlobeRider are perfect for maxing out your allowed space. The 40-liter Osprey Farpoint/Fairview packs give up a little internal room for the luxe suspension system they’re carried with.

Packs in the smaller end of the range, from around 25-30 liters, make better personal items, and the TimBuk2 Never Check , Tom Bihn Synapse , and Patagonia Black Hole backpacks all fit snuggly underneath an airliner seat. These small bags move through a city gracefully and look more like everyday carry backpacks than traditional luggage.

Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack

What good would a bag be if you couldn’t get into it? From a simple drawstring to a thicket of Velcro and zippers, there are plenty of ways to keep your bag closed while you’re on the go, but not every one will be amenable to travel.

Zippered Clamshells: Most travel backpacks will use a clamshell-style design that opens up the backpack like a suitcase, allowing you to pack intentionally as opposed to stuffing things in. Oftentimes, an internal strap system will help keep your items contained while you’re on the move.

Packs with this clamshell design may also opt to add internal dividers to the main storage area, and make these dividers removable — should you need the entire storage area uninhibited. For packs without internal dividers or straps, consider adding a few packing cubes to keep your items organized.

In addition to the rear entry, some backpacks will offer additional entry points through the top or front of the pack. This can be helpful when you need to quickly retrieve something like a passport from your bag, without the need to totally spill the contents. The majority of packs in our review close in this clamshell manner, and a few of our favorites are the Peak Design Travel Backpack , Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40 Travel Packs , and Matador GlobeRider45 Travel Pack .

Peak Design Travel Backpack Clamshell Access

Zippered Top-Access: Much like many traditional backpacks, zippered top-access packs load and unload from the topside, and generally only offer one point of entry/egress into the pack. For this reason, packs of this flavor are generally left packed during travel, as digging around for something at the bottom can be a hassle.

Bags of this stripe, including the uber-nice Tom Bihn Synapse 25 , rough and tumble Patagonia Black Hole 25L , and expandable Timbuk2 Never Check , most often make better personal items over carry-ons, as their smaller volumes make for easier searching within.

Drawstring Top-Entry: While not quite as common as a zippered clamshell or top-access pack, drawstring top-entry packs can make for very quick and easy access to your kit if you’re on the move. These packs will integrate an extended fabric collar to the top of the storage area, which can be compressed when needed, or overstuffed with bulky items like jackets.

Commuters will find drawstring entry bags the most appealing, and the Arc’teryx Granville 25 has become our dedicated laptop toter for everything from remote work stints at the coffee shop to jumping on a ferry for work.

Mountain Hardware Redeye Travel Backpack Clamshell Packing

Carrying Options

There are plenty of ways to lug your kit to your boarding gate, but not all of them will be comfortable for everything. Over-shoulder backpack straps can support a good bit of weight but typically will need some type of frame to truly be supportive. The Osprey Farpoint/Fairview packs were the best-carrying packs in our testing, owed largely to the wire frame and Airscape mesh back panels, but we also enjoyed the carry of the aluminum frame stays on the Matador GlobeRider.

A shoulder strap travel backpack, like the Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L , can be slung across your body and provide a great amount of accessibility on the go. Don’t expect to carry too much weight this way, however.

And then there’s the classic suitcase style, easily towed anywhere. It’s good to note many travel backpacks will have stowable straps to better streamline the pack for a trip through an X-ray machine or stowed under a seat. The strap storage design of the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L impressed us most of all, utilizing magnetic closure flaps to pack away the shoulder and hip straps neatly.

Patagonia MCL 45L Travel Backpack Carry Options

Pockets & Organization

There’s an organizational saying: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” And we couldn’t agree more. Keeping track of everything while you travel is key for organization. And while more pockets always seem better, there is a threshold where having too many simply becomes more places to misplace things. Instead, we recommend packs with three to six pockets.

The Cotopaxi Allpa and Topo Designs Global Travel Bags both have ingenious inner organization systems complete with large zipping “pockets.” It has just enough space to find room for everything but not so many compartments that you’ll be hunting all day for your misplaced passport. For even more organization, the Matador SEG45 splits into five different segments that are accessible from the exterior of the pack.

Bringing along a laptop is a necessary evil for some travelers, and having an incorporated laptop sleeve in your travel backpack can keep it safe during travel. Most laptop sleeves will be padded with some type of foam and nestle in close to the back for maximum protection. In order to be TSA-compliant, a laptop sleeve will need to fold entirely flat away from the pack in order to be scanned.

Because flying with liquids over 3.4 ounces is prohibited in the U.S., carrying all of these items in a separate toiletry bag can make your foray into the screening line a breeze. Many of the packs on our list incorporate many external pockets where such a bag could be stashed and produced when needed.

Matador SEG30 Travel Backpack Storage Options

Travel luggage takes a beating, so durability is a top concern. Luckily, gear manufacturers realize this and are making increasingly burly yet portable packs. The fan-favorite Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L pack is made with a 900-denier ripstop nylon outer with a TPU laminate for extra durability. It’s nearly indestructible, water-resistant, and versatile.

If you’re traveling somewhere with inclement weather or if your pack needs to double as a climbing bag or hiking pack, durability is extra important. And it’s worth paying more for a backpack that is water-resistant.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25 Travel Backpack

Space Efficiency & Carry-On Compliance

Astute observers will note many of the packs in our review sport a rectangular shape, which is certainly due to designers aspiring to create a more space-efficient pack. This isn’t to say that more shapely packs won’t make it happen, but when you’re struggling to make every liter of space count, maximizing dimensions matters.

Carry-on luggage is any bag that you plan on bringing into an airplane and storing in the overhead bins. Because space is limited, airlines dictate the maximum size that any carry-on can be. In the U.S., the most common size is 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, or 45 linear inches (length + width + height). However, this is just a rough guideline; some airlines differ from these dimensions, and you should refer to their information directly.

In general, these dimensions provide a travel backpack with around 40-45 liters of internal volume, so buying a pack that’s as close to that as possible will provide the most space allowed. Many of the packs on our list have the ability to compress to a smaller size, such as the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L .

Be mindful as well, that any protrusions from your travel pack such as shoulder straps or handles will also need to fall within the maximum allowed size. Many travel backpacks today incorporate some type of strap-stowing ability, such as the magnetic panels of the Peak Design packs, the zippered cover of the Osprey Farpoint/Fairview, and the hybrid zipper/panel of the Matador GlobeRider 45. All of these provide a more streamlined profile that should both hit the mark, and fit better into overhead bins.

Peak Design Travel Pack at SEATAC

Travel backpacks run the gamut of prices — from affordable to downright pricey. There are a number of factors that play into what you get for the money.

Budget-Minded Travel Packs

Travel backpacks, as a category, are generally a bit pricer than your average luggage, as they incorporate tough materials that can put up with extensive wear over the lifespan. Travel is tough on bags, so it’s unsurprising that even budget travel backpacks will cost you around $100-150. These packs often will incorporate more traditional architectures such as a zippered top access, as opposed to the more complicated (and spendy) full-zip clamshell designs. For example, the Dakine Campus ($75) is pretty much your average school bag.

Volumes, too, will be a bit limited in this price range — added material adds cost. The 32-liter Osprey Nebula ($140) is about the best price-to-volume ratio you can get, with the Patagonia Black Hole Backpack ($149) coming in behind it at 25 liters.

Mid-Range Travel Packs

Mid-range packs make up the bread and butter of travel packs, and can be had for around $150 to $200. These designs are often more of the full carry-on variety, and aim to capitalize on permitted volume as much as possible. The 45-liter Matador SEG45 ($200), Patagonia Black Hole MLC ($239), Mountain Hardwear Redeye ($180), 40-liter Osprey Farpoint/Fairview ($185), and Topo Designs Global Travel Bag ($229) all shoehorn in just about as much space as a friendly gate agent will let you get away with.

For the price, you also get a good variety of functionality that makes travel easier, such as stowable pack straps, interior segmented pockets and sleeves (done excellently on the $170 Cotopaxi Allpa ), and an external compression system that limits the space your bag takes up. Some packs, like the TimBuk2 Never Check ($209), don’t exactly hit these parameters, but instead make up for it in high-quality design and materials.

Premium Travel Packs

Above $250, you’re likely paying for premium materials or a to-the-hilt design that leaves absolutely nothing on the cutting room floor. The Peak Design Travel Backpack ($300) is a great example, and utilizes super high-quality nylon canvas, custom aluminum hardware, and supple seatbelt material webbing in its build, as well as fitting in just about every conceivable feature you could want in a travel pack. The same can be said of the Matador GlobeRider 45 ($350), which uses high-tech UHMPWE-reinforced materials and sports a total of 19 pockets.

The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 ($243) is a bit of an outlier, as it commands a high dollar amount not for the extreme amount of space it offers or amount of features, but for being a hyper-customizable, hand-made bag that uses the nicest textiles available, as well as the best zippers, webbing, and foam in its design. If you’re a fan of the finest materials, this is your daily driver pack.

What Is One Bag Travel?

The ‘One Bag Travel’ ethos and travel backpacks go hand-in-hand. Simply put, to travel in one-bag style is to be minimalist in your luggage choices, and only take what you can carry onto the plane/train/pack animal. Not only does this do away with the fuss of deciding what exactly to bring along with you, but it also allows for breezing through airports — skipping the need to check baggage, wait at baggage claim, or fear for lost luggage.

In order to most effectively travel with one bag, be sure to read up on exactly the baggage size allowances provided by your transportation. This can affect both overall size and weight, and having an expandable pack is a large benefit here. In this way, you can carry just enough to skirt through under the limit, and then expand the bag when you’ve hit your destination for more breathing room. If you aim for a 35-40 liter backpack, you’ll be right on the money for one-bag travel.

Finally, remember that this bag is going to be the only item of luggage you’ve got, so ensure it’ll be comfortable enough for the long haul. Look for padded back panels and hip belts that’ll transfer the load correctly, and if they stash away — all the better.

Our team unanimously agrees that the best travel backpack is the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L . It’s extremely durable, and it offers plenty of organizational pockets to stash your kit away in. The clamshell opening makes packing a breeze, and we really appreciated the unique shoulder strap storage options available to turn the pack into a stripped-down bag that would slide into any overhead compartment.

Peak Design Travel Pack in Denver

The best size bag for traveling depends largely on your travel itinerary and mode of transport. The Cotopaxi Allpa packs range from 28 to 42 liters.

The 28-liter option makes for a compact and comfortable backpack that easily fits in overhead airplane compartments. The 42-liter option is a bit more like carrying a duffel bag on your back, but it still manages to fit in overhead compartments. It’s a great option for maximizing carry-on capacity in backpack form.

While both have their place in travel, a backpack can offer some advantages over a suitcase. Since they’re much more portable, backpacks can be brought to many more places where a suitcase won’t work. Suitcases can be your large load carriers, but a good travel backpack gives you the freedom to strike out on daily adventures.

Travel backpacks absolutely can be carry-on luggage, given they meet the size requirements. In the U.S., the most common maximum size is 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, or 45 linear inches (length + width + height). But this is only a common size, and different airlines will have different specifics. Consult with your airline specifically to determine what they allow.

While different body types will find different travel packs comfortable, we can all agree that a good support system and ample foam make for a comfortable carry. In our own testing, we found the Osprey Farpoint 40 and Fairview 40 Travel Packs were by far the most comfortable due to their plush suspension systems.

Because many different airlines operate a slate of different planes, there isn’t a standard under-seat luggage size, although there is an average: 16 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches. Some airlines allow personal items larger than this, but you should consult with their customer service for specifics. Our favorite personal item-sized travel pack was the Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack , which at 24 liters compressed easily slides under a seat.

The Best Women’s Travel Pants of 2022

The Best Women’s Travel Pants of 2022

Active travel demands versatility from your clothing. To help you travel with ease and confidence, we scoured the latest styles to determine the best women’s travel pants for 2022.

The Best Men’s Travel Pants of 2024

The Best Men’s Travel Pants of 2024

We’ve tested the best wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying, and comfortable men’s travel pants of the year. Pack your bags and get ready for adventure.

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Pro Gear Tester Mallory Paige is always up for adventure. Whether motorcycle camping across North America (with her dog in a sidecar!), paddling whitewater in a tiny packraft, or traveling in a van she’s always ready to pivot and turn a challenge into an opportunity. When not busy obsessing about gear, she can be found building an off-grid homestead in the remote mountains of Colorado.

travel daypack reddit

Hailing from the hemlocks and hanging mosses of Washington State, Senior Editor Nick Belcaster is an adventure journalist following threads of stories across the West. Cruelly stolen from the alpine swales of rural Wisconsin at a young age, Nick made do ascending the snows and granite of the North Cascades while completing a journalism degree. A long stint on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018 codified a life bent on sleeping on minor slopes and picking devil’s club out of his shoes.

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Best Daypacks for Hiking of 2024

From fully featured to minimalist, we break down the year’s top hiking packs.

Hiking daypacks (group hiking toward mountains)

Switchback Travel ( Brian McCurdy )

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Read more about us . 

From short day hikes and summit scrambles to all-day adventures into the backcountry, you’ll want the right pack for the job. Most people carry water and food, a layering piece and rain shell, and a few other accessories like a first-aid kit or headlamp. And the longer you’ll be on the trail, the more comfort, capacity, and features come into play. Below we break down the best daypacks of 2024, from simple and inexpensive models for casual hikes to more comfortable and feature-packed options for longer excursions. For more information, check out our detailed buying advice and comparison table after the picks.  

Our Team's Daypack Picks

  • Best Overall Daypack: Osprey Talon 22 / Tempest 20
  • Best Budget/Lightweight Daypack: REI Co-op Flash 22
  • Most Comfortable for Heavy Loads: Osprey Stratos 36 / Sirrus 36
  • Best Hydration Pack for Hiking: Osprey Skarab 30 / Skimmer 28
  • Best for Fast-and-Light Mountain Missions: Black Diamond Distance 15
  • Best Daypack for On-the-Go Storage: Arc’teryx Aerios 30 / women's Aerios 30

Best Overall Daypack

1. osprey talon 22 ($160).

Osprey Talon 22

If you’re looking for one daypack that can do it all, Osprey’s Talon is your best bet. At 22 liters (and made in larger versions up to 44 liters for those who need more capacity), it hits an ideal balance of comfort and features. Notably, the Talon has a real hipbelt with light cushioning, which is more comfortable than the simple webbing you get with more streamlined packs, along with a thoughtfully designed mesh backpanel. The pack also has functional organization, a nice stretchiness to it, ample attachment points including for trekking poles, a helmet, and a bike light, and is made in two sizes to dial in fit. For day hikes, travel, and everyday use, the Talon 22 is an excellent choice.

While the Talon is Osprey’s best all-rounder, the more expensive Stratos collection below offers even more padding and carrying comfort. The latter has a more substantial hipbelt along with a suspended mesh backpanel for superior support and ventilation (it’s built more like a backpacking pack than a daypack). On the flip side, the Talon is lighter at under 2 pounds, but its thinner backpanel means you can sometimes feel the contents of your bag on your back, and particularly if loaded down. In the end, the Stratos gets the edge for heavy loads and long days on the trail (the 36L we have listed is even serviceable for light overnights), but the Talon is lighter, cheaper, and more than enough daypack for most people and uses. For a more casually minded option from Osprey with similar comfort, check out their Hikelite 26 . As a final alternative, the Sportlite 25 is the cheapest of the bunch at $125 and retains a cushioned hipbelt (the Hikelite does not)... Read in-depth review See the Osprey Talon 22   See the Women's Osprey Tempest 20

Best Budget/Lightweight Daypack

2. rei co-op flash 22 ($60).

REI Co-op Flash 22 daypack (orange)

REI Co-op’s Flash line of daypacks has been a mainstay among hikers, travelers, and those on a budget for years, and the latest Flash 22 is more competitive than ever. Simplicity wins out here: The Flash 22 is frameless by design, meaning it lacks the rigidity of other daypacks but manages to keep weight extremely low at just 14 ounces (and even less if you take out the back pad or sternum strap). You don’t get a cushy hipbelt or shoulder straps, but the padded mesh along the back and shoulders does a good job at keeping you comfortable when carrying lighter loads. Perhaps most importantly, the Flash costs just $60, is well built overall, and has enough capacity for all-day outings on the trail (provided you pack relatively light).

As we touched on above, the latest Flash 22 is a nice upgrade over past versions of the pack. For starters, it utilizes more environmentally friendly materials, including recycled and bluesign-approved nylon. The top lid also now includes two buckles rather than one for snugging things down, and the Packmod bungee can be moved up or down to customize gear attachments. Finally, we love the hidden zippered pocket next to the backpanel—it’s a really handy place to store small valuables like a phone and wallet. But some downsides remain: The Flash 22 isn't a standout in comfort or support for shuttling a heavy load over long distances, materials are on the thinner end for rough use, and it’s only sold in one size. But if you can keep weight to a minimum, the Flash 22 is a great way to go fast and light on a budget. For an even lighter and more streamlined version, check out REI’s $20-cheaper Flash 18 ... Read in-depth review See the REI Co-op Flash 22

Most Comfortable Daypack for Heavy Loads 

3. osprey stratos 36 ($220).

Osprey Stratos 36 daypack_0

If you prioritize comfort or plan on hauling a heavy load, the Osprey Stratos 36 is one of the most feature-rich daypacks on this list. Its full metal frame and substantial hipbelt put the weight comfortably on your hips, and a large mesh panel ventilates extremely well and conforms nicely to your back. In addition, organization is excellent—we particularly like the two hipbelt pockets and zippered side panel access to the main compartment, and there’s even a sleeping bag compartment and pad straps for embarking on minimalist overnights. Add a built-in rain cover, and the Stratos checks off everything you’ll need in a daypack—and more.

Osprey overhauled the Stratos and women’s Sirrus collections recently, and we think most of the updates were positive. In addition to using more eco-friendly materials, the latest packs got a boost in breathability with minor changes to the backpanel design. Osprey did do away with the multiple sizing options, although the new ladder-like system at the back is a decent substitute and allows you to quickly adjust the torso length by up to 4 inches. The primary downsides are still weight and price: The Stratos 36 checks in at over 3 pounds (it’s even heavier than many backpacking packs) and is expensive for the capacity at $220. In the end, those wanting a premium, luxurious pack will appreciate the Stratos’ support and build quality, but for something simpler and more packable from Osprey, see the equally popular Talon above. Alternatively, the 24-liter Stratos retains a lot of what we love about the larger versions—including great comfort and organization—at a lower weight (2 lb. 12.4 oz.) and price ($180). See the Osprey Stratos 36   See the Women's Osprey Sirrus 36

Best Hydration Pack for Hiking

4. osprey skarab 30 ($150).

Osprey Skarab 30 hydration daypack (green)

Most modern daypacks come with dedicated storage for a water reservoir, but Osprey’s Skarab 30 (and women’s Skimmer 28) provides a functional all-in-one option for those who want to purchase their pack and bladder together. In testing the Skarab, we were especially impressed by its comfort and convenience, including a spacious main compartment with a large bucket-style opening, nicely cushioned yet low-profile suspension system, and convenient organizational layout. For reference, the included 2.5-liter Hydraulics LT reservoir is a $46 investment on its own, making the Skarab a really good value for those who don’t already own a bladder. Added up, it’s another high-quality and well-appointed design from one of the best pack manufacturers around.

The Osprey Skarab 30 tops our hydration pack round-up for this year, but it’s not without downsides. First, the hipbelt pockets are noticeably small and couldn’t accommodate our standard-sized iPhone. Second, both the Skarab and women’s Skimmer are only offered in a single torso size, which will make it harder for some to dial in fit. But these are relatively small complaints for an otherwise well-equipped and highly comfortable daypack, and the included reservoir is just the cherry on top. For a boost in support and ventilation, Osprey’s $220 Manta 34 (and women’s Mira 32) includes the same 2.5-liter reservoir, although it’s noticeably heavier and more complex than the Skarab and too overbuilt for most. See the Osprey Skarab 30   See the Women's Osprey Skimmer 28

Best Pack for Fast-and-Light Mountain Missions

5. black diamond distance 15 ($180).

Black Diamond Distance 15 running daypack

Traditional daypacks like the Talon and Stratos above are great for moderate day hikes, but Black Diamond’s running-inspired Distance 15 is purpose-built for mountain athletes focused on traveling fast and light. The hybrid pack/vest design checks in at a scant 12.7 ounces but easily accommodates a day’s worth of supplies (it can even fit a streamlined climbing helmet). Storage is another highlight: The zippered chest pocket, trekking pole sleeves, ice axe holders, side compression straps, and multiple chest pockets allow you to conveniently access the essentials without removing the pack. And with its body-hugging shape (improved with the latest version), the Distance makes it easy to move quickly and efficiently with a day’s worth of gear.

To be clear, however, the Black Diamond Distance isn’t for everyone. The pack is reasonably durable with UHMWPE ripstop body fabrics, but you'll need to be careful around sharp rocks or equipment and avoid overpacking (we had a shoulder strap detach almost entirely after carrying too much weight). It also rides a bit low on our back and can feel heavy at the end of a long day, and the lack of hipbelt only exacerbates the issue. Importantly, the revamped Distance now comes in three sizes for both men and women, which is an improvement over the outgoing unisex pack. All told, traditional day hikers will likely want more support, but the Black Diamond is a lightweight and thoughtfully built option for those looking for a step up from a running vest. And it’s now made in a 22-liter model , which tacks on a considerable 7 liters and a large stretch woven pocket at the front. See the Black Diamond Distance 15   See the Women's BD Distance 15

Best Daypack for On-the-Go Storage

6. arc’teryx aerios 30 ($190).

Arc'teryx Aerios 30

Arc’teryx is known for making high-quality gear for ambitious adventures, and much of that expertise has trickled down to their hiking-focused Aerios pack. We’re big fans of the fastpacking-inspired design, which merges the capacity and support of a backpack with the on-the-go storage of a running vest. On the front, you get two stretchy mesh pockets (great for storing soft flasks) in addition to zippered pockets on both the shoulder straps and hipbelt. The rest of the pack offers equally convenient organization—including side dump pockets and a handy accessory stash—and suspension is excellent, pairing a vest-like fit at the chest with a rigid foam backpanel and supportive hipbelt. It all adds up to a very practical and skillfully built design, especially for hikers who prioritize speed and distance.

We tested the Aerios 30 on several day hikes in Patagonia and were blown away by the thoughtful design and high-quality finishes. In fact, after experiencing the merits of the body-hugging fit and generous on-the-go storage, we found it hard to transition back to a standard pack. That said, you’ll pay a pretty steep premium at $190, and some may not like the technical appearance of the vest-like upper, which doesn’t wear as well on casual adventures (note: Arc’teryx’s Mantis collection is cheaper and more everyday-friendly). But for fast-moving trail days when you’re eating and drinking on the go, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more suitable and well-built option. Of note: Stock is limited at the time of publishing due to an update on the horizon, and current models are discounted while supplies last. In the meantime, other storage-equipped options to consider include the Deuter Speed Lite and Black Diamond Pursuit below, although the Aerios is the most well executed of the bunch. See the Arc'teryx Aerios 30   See the Women's Arc'teryx Aerios 30

Best of the Rest

7. osprey daylite plus ($75).

Osprey Daylite Plus daypack

Osprey’s Talon and Stratos above get the lion’s share of the attention, but the Daylite Plus is another viable option that comes in significantly cheaper. This simple daypack weighs just 1 pound 4.6 ounces, has a respectable 20-liter capacity and good padding for carrying lighter loads, and boasts the kind of quality build that Osprey in known for. In terms of best uses, we’ve found that the Daylite Plus is a great match for short to moderate days on the trail or as a companion pack for travel—it’s designed to attach to the outside of a number of Osprey’s larger travel bags, including the popular Farpoint (and women’s Fairview) series.

The most obvious drawbacks to the Osprey Daylite Plus are the lack of support and sizing options (the one-size-fits-all design can accommodate 15- to 22-in. torso lengths and 25- to 50-in. waists). As we noted above, the shoulder straps are thinly cushioned and will get the job done for minimalists, but those planning to stuff in a full day’s worth of gear—including a shell, insulation, food, water, and other necessities—will quickly notice the drop in comfort. The waist belt is also made of simple webbing, which again is serviceable for brief outings but falls short as the miles add up. But as a streamlined grab-and-go option that can also be worn for travel and around-town use, the Daylite Plus (and smaller 13-liter Daylite ) undeniably is a great value from one of the most reputable pack manufacturers in the business... Read in-depth review See the Osprey Daylite Plus

8. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak ($229)

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak pack

The second REI pack to make our list is the Traverse 32, which is a shrunken-down variation of their popular 60-liter backpacking pack. In a strong departure from the minimalist Flash 22 above, the focus here is on durability and organization: The Traverse is solidly built with a steel frame and hardwearing fabrics (bonus: They’re recycled and bluesign-approved), and you get ample exterior pockets, a handy side-access zipper to the main compartment, and lash points for stowing gear and valuables. The Traverse also features REI’s functional Packmod system, which allows you to customize the compression strap layout to tailor it to the size and shape of your load. Finally, as we’ve come to expect from the brand, the Traverse is a good all-around value for what you get at $139.

That said, not everyone will benefit from the Traverse’s unapologetically burly and complex build. Weight is pretty reasonable for the capacity at 2 pounds 9 ounces, but the thicker fabrics and raised foam padding on the backpanel give the pack a fairly clunky feel (they also translate to subpar breathability). For most easy to moderate day hikes, we would prefer shaving considerable heft and bulk with a design like Osprey’s Talon above. That said, the Traverse has its appeal for ambitious all-day treks and light overnights, and the three size options mean that most hikers should be able to find a good fit. For a smaller and cheaper option for short day hikes, check out REI’s own Trail 25 below. See the REI Co-op Traverse 32   See the Women's REI Traverse 32

10. Deuter Speed Lite 25 ($120)

Deuter Speed Lite 25 daypack

Deuter’s Speed Lite has been a mainstay in the daypack market for years and underwent a big overhaul recently. Thankfully, Deuter retained a lot of what we loved about the previous versions: The 25-liter pack here is an ideal size for most day hikes (the prior-generation model was 24L), is both comfortable and breathable, and comes with a ton of features including trekking pole holders, daisy chains, side compression straps, and hydration reservoir compatibility. And despite being a little bigger than the Talon 22 above, the latest Speed Lite is around 5 ounces lighter and $30 cheaper, making it a good overall value for the capacity. A final bonus: The new pack uses recycled, bluesign-approved fabrics and a PFC-free DWR coating, which only add to the all-around appeal.

That said, we don’t love all of the changes that Deuter made. Our main complaints have to do with the vest-like pockets on the shoulder straps, which proved to be less practical than anticipated due to their flat and narrow shape—they’re too small to fit more than a couple snacks and were even a tight squeeze for kids’ sunglasses. To be sure, we love when packs prioritize easy on-the-go-access, but the Speed Lite’s design falls noticeably short of competitors like the Arc’teryx Aerios 30 above and Black Diamond Pursuit 15 below. The single hipbelt pocket is also on the small side, and both the belt and shoulder straps are minimally padded and lack the cushy, premium feel that you get with the Ospreys above. All in all, we wish the details were a little better sorted, but the Speed Lite remains a comfortable and nicely appointed day hiking design at a good price—and Deuter does offer a “CV” version that forgoes the vest-like storage but is otherwise largely identical. See the Deuter Speed Lite 25   See the Women's Deuter Speed Lite 23 SL

11. Gregory Zulu 30 ($170)

Gregory Zulu 30 hiking daypack

Gregory goes head-to-head with Osprey in the daypack and backpacking pack markets, and their Zulu 30 is a serious competitor to the popular Stratos above. In short, the Zulu has all the trimmings we’d expect of a premium day-hiking design, including the brand’s FreeFloat dynamic suspension system and mesh backpanel for great all-around comfort and breathability. Further, you get well-thought-out organization, easy access to the main compartment via a large U-shaped opening, and three handy stretch mesh pockets on the exterior. We also love the adjustability at the torso, which can be moved up or down 3.5 inches. Finally, the Gregory is built to last with robust materials throughout and reinforced panels along the bottom.

The Zulu comes in a range of capacities up to 65 liters, but the 30-liter version here is our favorite day hiking option with its sleek bucket-style opening and streamlined shape (the larger capacities feature a floating lid). That said, it’s particularly heavy for a day pack, and the aforementioned Stratos 36 offers more versatility for overnights: On top of the additional 6 liters of capacity, you get a more featured storage layout, including a zippered front panel and dedicated sleeping bag compartment with a floating liner. On the flip side, while the Stratos line comes in a 24-liter version, the Zulu collection doesn’t include any options in the 20-liter range for day hikers who like to stick to the basics. But if 30 liters is your sweet spot, there’s no denying the Zulu’s impressive comfort, ventilation, and feature set. See the Gregory Zulu 30   See the Women's Gregory Jade 28

12. REI Co-op Trail 25 ($80)

REI Trail 25

We’ve used quite a few REI daypacks over the years and consider them a solid value for their feature set. The Trail 25 is an excellent example: For $80, you get outstanding organization with ample exterior pockets and lash points, great touches like trekking pole attachments and an included rain cover, and specific men’s and women’s designs. The pack is also nicely built with durable materials that are recycled and bluesign-approved, along with plush cushioning along the backpanel and shoulders. And we love the U-shaped opening that extends partway down the sides, which allows you to access most of the main compartment without having to pull everything out. Taken together, it’s a whole lot of bang for your buck. 

What are the downsides? For us, the only notable compromises are the lack of cushioning along the hipbelt and slightly basic backpanel design, which isn’t as form-fitting or breathable as the Talon’s above. But everything else is in line with the more expensive Osprey, and we consider the Trail 25 a highly versatile option for day hikes, commuting, or use as a carry-on while traveling. Of note: We previously had the larger Trail 40 ranked here, which tacks on a padded hipbelt, additional storage, and a full-perimeter zipper, although stock is very limited at the time of publishing (we expect to see an updated version released soon). See the REI Co-op Trail 25   See the Women's REI Trail 25

  13. Black Diamond Pursuit 15 ($150)

Black Diamond Pursuit 15 hiking daypack

We’re big fans of the Distance 15 (above) for mountain running objectives, but it's an undeniably minimalist design that doesn’t offer much support for heavy loads. So when Black Diamond released the Pursuit series earlier this year, it caught our immediate attention. Available in 15- and 30-liter capacities for both men and women, the Pursuit merges the on-the-go storage and body-hugging fit of the Distance with traditional daypack features, including a padded hipbelt, U-zip access to the main compartment, and a stretch-woven front pocket. Added up, it’s a modern vest/pack option that offers convenient access to the essentials without compromising on carrying comfort or support.

The Pursuit falls into the same category as the Arc’teryx Aerios above, but the two packs are distinct in a few key ways. Comparing the 30-liter models (the smaller Aerios 15 is out of stock at the time of publishing), the Pursuit 30 costs $10 less, checks in around 4 ounces lighter, and boasts a larger front pocket for stashing a jacket or separating wet items. However, the Aerios features more zippered storage, a handy bungee system for securing extra gear, and improved durability with robust Cordura nylon covering most of the pack body (the BD’s stretch-woven front pocket strikes us as more susceptible to tears over time). In the end, both packs have their merits, and the 15-liter version of the Pursuit is especially enticing for weight-conscious day hikers who like to add scrambling and running into the mix. For another vest-style design that’s a little less pack-like and includes a 2-liter reservoir, check out Salomon’s XT 20 . See the Black Diamond Pursuit 15   See the Women's BD Pursuit 15

14. Matador Beast28 ($150)

Matador Beast28 daypack

Boulder-based Matador is an upstart on the rise and has quickly made a name for themselves in the travel market with a nice selection of light but dependable packs and duffels. Their daypack lineup follows suit, including the popular Beast28 here. What immediately stands out is the Beast’s competitive 1-pound-8-ounce weight, which is impressively light for the capacity and undercuts more traditional (and smaller) models like the Osprey Talon 22 (1 lb. 14.6 oz.), Deuter Speed Lite 25 (1 lb. 9 oz.), and others above. It also packs down remarkably small for stashing in a duffel for travel—Matador includes a handy compression sack for storage, and both the hipbelt and sternum strap can be removed to streamline your kit even further. Finally, while many ultralight packs compromise on durability, the Beast is noticeably well built with a tough (210D) Robic nylon build, water-resistant YKK zippers, and a UTS coating for waterproofing and tear resistance. 

In addition to being impressively light and durable for the size, the Matador Beast28 is also surprisingly comfortable for a UL design. The backpanel, shoulder straps, and hipbelt are all nicely cushioned with EVA foam, and the flexible steel frame adds a good dose of support while keeping weight in check (it also helps with compressing the pack down for storage). That said, the Beast has a fairly technical appearance that doesn’t wear particularly well around town and is only offered in a single black colorway. Exterior storage is also a little lacking, including just three pockets on the outside—for the same price, Osprey’s Talon 22 above boats seven exterior pockets. But if you don’t mind stuffing most of your gear in the main compartment, the Beast28 stands out as a high-quality UL option for fast-moving day hikes and short mountain missions. For an even lighter option from Matador, their $125 Freerain28 checks in at just 12.3 ounces and boasts a waterproof main compartment with a roll-top closure but has less padding overall.  See the Matador Beast28

15. Gregory Nano 22 H2O ($90)

Gregory Nano 22 H2O

Gregory has been in the pack business for decades, and we’re consistently impressed with the build quality and comfort of their products. The Nano H2O hydration pack is no exception and has a hiking-focused build that comes with Gregory’s in-house 3D Hydro reservoir system. There’s a lot to like here: The Nano is lightweight, sleek, and very competitively priced at just $90 (the included reservoir costs $45 alone). You can spend up for Gregory’s Inertia 24 hydration pack, which comes with nice touches like a lightly padded hipbelt, more supportive foam backpanel, and more generous storage layout, but we love the value of the Nano line.

Compared with the Osprey Skarab 30 hydration pack above, the Gregory Nano H2O is a little smaller but includes a larger 3-liter reservoir (the Skarab’s is 2.5L) and costs a considerable $60 less. Where the Skarab gets the clear edge is carrying abilities with a stiffer, more supportive backpanel. It also has good padding and pockets on the hipbelt along with a more form-fitting design. But for shorter hikes with lighter loads, the Nano H2O is a great alternative for less money. For a more feature-rich hydration option from Gregory with excellent carrying comfort, check out their premium Citro 24 . And for those who already own a hydration bladder, Gregory also offers a version of the Nano sans reservoir, which features a slightly different design and comes in 14, 16, 18, 20, 24, and 30-liter capacities. See the Gregory Nano 22 H2O

16. Cotopaxi Batac 16L ($65)

Cotopaxi Batac 16L daypack_0

Salt Lake City-based Cotopaxi is a brand on the rise, combining sustainable production practices with fun, vibrant designs for casual outdoor-goers. Their Batac 16L daypack slots in as a budget-friendly and feathery option for minimalists and short day-hiking objectives. For reference, it’s the lightest option on our list at a scant 11 ounces (undercutting the Flash 22 above by 3 oz.) and has a streamlined, body-hugging shape that keeps the pack close to your back. Storage is also surprisingly good for how small and light the pack is, including a vertical front zippered pocket, two mesh water bottle pockets, exterior attachment loops, and an internal sleeve for a reservoir or laptop. Added up, it’s a sleek, good-looking option at a very affordable price point and can easily pull double duty for commuting and travel. 

That said, the performance drawbacks are enough to push the Batac toward the end of our rankings. Despite the functional storage layout, the design still is decidedly basic with a frameless build, no hipbelt, and minimal padding along the shoulder straps. For reference, REI’s similarly sized Flash 18 costs $25 less, weighs 9.5 ounces, and boasts a basic webbing hipbelt for a little added support, while their $60 Flash 22 above is noticeably more comfortable and feature-rich. On the flip side, the Cotopaxi wins out in styling with its bright, multi-colored design and is made from 100% repurposed fabrics—two of the brand’s hallmarks. Given the light and sleek build, it’s also a viable follower pack for multi-pitch climbs. The lack of support and cushioning are undeniably limiting, but it’s a thoughtfully built option at a good value for shorter adventures and summit scrambles. For a simpler option from Cotopaxi, check out their popular Luzon 18L .  See the Cotopaxi Batac 16L

17. Mystery Ranch Coulee 30 ($189)

Mystery Ranch Coulee 30 hiking daypack

Mystery Ranch is a cottage brand out of Bozeman, Mont., with a solid reputation among hunters and serious mountain athletes. For the casual day-hiking crowd, their Coulee 30 stands out as an impressively durable and functional option. Right away, you’ll notice that this pack looks a little different than the competition: With a unique, Y-shaped opening at the front, the Coulee opens wide and allows quick and easy access to the main compartment. From day hiking to international travel, the 3-zipper system has a lot of appeal, and the rest of the design and storage layout are equally well executed.

With a well-built harness and hipbelt and capacities that run as large as 50 liters, the Coulee is a viable competitor to the Osprey’s Stratos above. The Stratos offers a more traditional floating-lid design, integrated rain cover, and additional storage options, but the Coulee is a considerable $31 cheaper and comes in two sizes for both men and women (the Osprey is only available in one size). All told, there’s a lot to like about the unique Coulee, and with revitalized colorways and a sleek exterior, the newest version is also a great crossover option for everyday use. All told, there’s a lot to like about the unique Coulee, and with revitalized colorways and a sleek exterior, the newest version is also a great crossover option for everyday use. And if you like the zipper design but are looking for something a little different, check out Mystery Ranch’s Gallagator, Scree, and Catalyst collections. See the Mystery Ranch Coulee 30   See the Women's Coulee 30

18. Free Range Equipment Canvas ($139)

Free Range Equipment Canvas daypack_0

Most of the packs here are fairly technical in nature, but Free Range Equipment (FRE) offers something a little different. A small company run out of a garage in Bend, Oregon, FRE works with artists to create each of their classic Canvas Series packs. Their list of collaborators is ever-growing, and at the time of publishing, you can choose from 20 different designs, including everything from the Tetons and Mt. Hood to an idyllic cabin scene. The Canvas pack is basic—you get 25 liters of space, a small internal stash pocket, and two zippered pockets on the lid—but it gets the job done for day hikes or your daily commute (a laptop easily fits inside). 

Free Range Equipment’s Canvas packs aren’t trying to match the performance chops of the Ospreys and Deuters above, but their rugged fabric will hold up to years of use and abuse (we’ve used ours almost daily for three years with no durability concerns). Keep in mind that you don’t get features like a padded waistbelt, reservoir sleeve, or numerous storage options, and the Canvas pack only comes in one size. But let’s be honest: The aesthetics and versatility are the biggest selling points of this pack, and it wins out in both departments. We should note that FRE also makes Canvas fanny packs , which feature their own unique artwork and are less of an investment at $59. See the Free Range Equipment Canvas

Daypack Comparison Table

Daypack buying advice, types of daypacks, what's the ideal size (capacity), weight: fully featured vs. minimalist, carrying comfort: hipbelt and shoulder straps, fit and sizing.

  • Daypack Frame Types

Backpanel and Ventilation

Water resistance, hydration compatibility, pockets and organization, closure systems and access.

  • ​ Benefits of Choosing a Women’s-Specific Daypack  

With hundreds of daypacks on the market, choosing the right one is largely dependent on what you intend to use it for. Do you need a daypack to approach an alpine climbing zone, or to explore an urban area on vacation? Do you need to strap on crampons or an ice axe, or do you just want a comfortable way to haul water and some extra layers?

Daypacks lineup (REI%2C Hyperlite%2C and Osprey options)

For the casual user that doesn’t need much support for hauling a heavy load, the more affordable options on this list will do just fine. Budget-friendly packs like the $60 REI Co-op Flash 22 have a more basic suspension design (or none at all) and a less customizable fit, but do great for heading to class or a quick hike in the woods. If you’re planning on putting on some serious miles or need to carry a decent load, you’ll appreciate the added structure and padded backpanel, hipbelt, and shoulder straps found in the options starting around $100 (we cover this in more detail in the " Carrying Comfort " section below). Finally, many of today’s top daypacks can pull double duty for casual use.

Daypack (REI Flash 22 suspension system)

Capacities for daypacks vary widely. You’ll see them offered anywhere from as small as 5 liters all the way up to 40 or more. For those who only need to fit a compressible rain jacket and a lunch, you can get away with one of those small packs. But most of us need a bit more space to throw in a few more essentials. The options above range from 15 to 40 liters, with the largest ones being better served for commuters, gear-heavy adventures like winter hikes, or ultralight overnights. We’ve found that approximately 25 liters is a real sweet spot for an all-around daypack that can handle anything from local summits to full-day hikes. At that size, organization also improves from more basic models, with a variety of zippered pockets to divvy up your gear. Below are some basic guidelines for capacity:

Short day hikes: 10-20 liters Summit packs: 18-24 liters Average day hikes and everyday use: 20-30 liters Long day hikes and ultralight overnights: 30-40 liters

Hiking daypacks (group hiking along riverbed)

A quick look at our comparison table above reveals a wide range of pack weight from a scant 9 ounces to over 3 pounds. On the heavy end is the fully featured Osprey Stratos 36 , which comes with lots of zippered pockets and a suspension and hipbelt to rival a backpacking pack. At the other end of the spectrum, the REI Flash 22, Osprey Daylite Plus, Cotopaxi Batac, and Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak are minimalist packs with much less in the way of structure or features but weigh about 1 pound or less. Black Diamond’s Distance 15 is another impressively light option at just 12.7 ounces, but it’s a much more specialized design with a streamlined storage layout and no hipbelt.

Day hiking in Fisher Towers (daypacks)

When evaluating pack weight, keep comfort and storage in mind. A fully featured pack will include padding on your back and real straps on your shoulders and waist to help distribute weight. If you’ll be carrying a lot, this will be your most comfortable option. But if you don’t mind feeling some of your gear on your back or won’t be hauling a heavy load (it is only a daypack, after all), the minimalist options on this list usually are cheaper and far more compressible (useful for throwing in a suitcase). In the end, most hikers and travelers will want something that lands in the middle and balances cushioning and weight, including the popular Osprey Talon 22 (1 lb. 14.6 oz.) and Deuter Speed Lite 25 (1 lb. 9 oz.).

Daypack (adjusting sternum strap on Osprey Stratos)

The amount of padding on the hipbelt and shoulder straps is a great indicator of a pack’s maximum comfort levels. Nearly all daypacks for hiking have a hipbelt, but they vary from thin webbing (like the REI Flash series) to cushioned and supportive (Osprey Stratos). If all you need is a pack for short day hikes and don’t plan on carrying more than 10 or so pounds, the thinner webbing is sufficient. If, however, comfort reigns supreme or you plan to haul a lot of weight, we highly recommend a pack with a real hipbelt.

Daypack (cushioned and webbing hipbelt)

Keep in mind, the thicker designs don’t compress very well and do add some extra weight. And for those planning to use their pack for both the backcountry and casually, it may be beneficial to have a removable hipbelt. We have ours on for hiking and leave it behind when heading to town or carrying on a flight. One design that has this feature is the Osprey Daylite Plus .

Daypack (waistbelt types)

In addition to the amount of padding along the shoulder straps and hipbelt, fit plays a large role in overall comfort on the trail. Most importantly, you’ll want to ensure that your pack is the appropriate size for your torso length and that the hipbelt can be tightened to secure snugly around your hips. This is easier to achieve when a pack is offered in multiple sizes, which is one of the reasons we rank the Osprey Talon 22 at the top of our list (it’s available in S/M and L/XL sizes as well as a women’s-specific version). If you’re eyeing a pack that comes in multiple size options, take your torso length by measuring the distance between your C7 vertebrae and midpoint of your iliac crest ( we outline the process here ). Once you have that number, you can compare it against manufacturer sizing charts to confirm which variation will fit you best.

Daypack (hiking in Patagonia with the Arc'teryx Aerios 30)

Unfortunately, many daypacks on the market only come in one size, including the REI Flash 22, Cotopaxi Batac , Osprey Daylite Plus, Free Range Equipment Canvas, and more from our picks above. It won’t be a deal-breaker for a lot of hikers, but the one-size-fits-most approach does mean you get less of a customized, close fit. And it’s worth noting that you still need to know your torso length for these designs, as manufacturers typically provide length ranges (and some one-size models have smaller ranges than others). Finally, many packs are offered in women’s-specific versions with different measurements than their men’s counterparts (we outline the benefits of choosing a women’s-specific daypack below).

Daypack (Deuter Speed Lite 23 SL in Utah)

Plus-Size Daypacks Hikers come in all shapes and sizes, and leading brands like Osprey and Gregory have risen to the occasion with dedicated plus-size versions of some of their core daypacks. For example, Osprey offers their Talon 22 in an Extended Fit variation that features a larger hipbelt (it will fit hips up to 70 in.), extended shoulder straps, repositioned pockets, and a longer sternum strap than the standard model. Another example is Gregory’s plus-size version of their Nano 22 H2O, which the brand states is comparable to 2X to 6X in apparel sizing. Options still are fairly limited for plus-size hikers, but we’re happy to see these brands making a dedicated effort.

Daypack Frames Types

Much like their larger cousins, full-on backpacking packs , higher-capacity daypacks feature a metal or plastic frame. The frame creates a rigid or semi-rigid structure that doesn’t sag under weight (including items that you strap to the outside of the pack), which is great for those who carry extra gear on their all-day excursions. Frame designs vary, but are often a u-shaped, hoop style or a plastic framesheet, both of which define the perimeter of the pack and give it a stiff, rectangular shape.

Osprey Hikelite 26 daypack (tying shoelaces)

Having a frame isn’t always necessary, and very lightweight or small-capacity backpacks like the REI Flash 22 oftentimes go without. For the right person, this isn’t a sacrifice at all. A frame adds weight and complexity, and when you’re not hauling anything more than 10-15 pounds, a frame doesn’t benefit you very much. In addition, a padded backpanel can accomplish a similar goal of isolating you from the contents you’re carrying and defining the shape of the pack. We recommend getting a pack with a frame if you need the extra support or like the defined shape, but again, there are plenty of reasons to avoid one altogether.

Daypack (foam backpanel on REI Flash 22)

Typical daypacks will have some foam or mesh built into the backpanel (the area of the pack that comes into contact with your back) and a semi-rigid frame sheet providing structure. Ultralight packs will have either a flexible frame sheet and fabric backpanel for a little structure or no padding at all. The downside of these designs is that the pack can sag and doesn’t protect you as well from bulky items in your pack. On the other hand, ultralight packs compress quite small and can be stowed in a travel pack or backpacking pack for day use.

Daypack backpanels and frames

A third style is the fully ventilated backpanel. As opposed to either nylon or foam coming into contact with your back, ventilated backpanels are full-length mesh and your best defense against a sweaty back. Osprey has been a leader in ventilated packs, and we particularly like the design of the Osprey Stratos 36 . The suspended mesh that contacts the length of your torso encourages airflow without pulling the weight of the pack too far away from your back, which was a problem with some early models. Ventilated designs do eat into the size and dimensions of the main compartment and are more expensive, but it’s worth it for some to keep the back of their shirt dry.

Hiking in hot weather (daypacks)

It’s common for our daypacks to be filled with items like a phone, camera, or down jacket that won’t do well in rain. As such, we put a high priority on water protection. The good news is that most daypacks are relatively water-resistant and can shed light to moderate moisture, but the fabrics and seams will start to give way in a downpour. Some packs come with a built-in rain cover that stows inside the bag (from our list, the Gregory Zulu 30, REI Co-op Traverse 32 and Trail 25, and Osprey Stratos have this feature). Alternatively, you can purchase a separate waterproof cover.

Daypack (Osprey Stratos 24 rain cover)

There are a small number of daypacks on the market made with waterproof materials, including the Hyperlite Daybreak . The Daybreak uses Dyneema fabrics, which are naturally water-resistant, while other packs often use a waterproof nylon and seam sealing along the interior to keep out moisture. However, what most waterproof packs have in common is a price in excess of $200. This high cost of entry is what keeps waterproof packs in limited numbers, but it may be worth it if you need the protection and want something more reliable than a rain cover.

Daypack (Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak in Peru)

A hydration-compatible pack is defined as having some way to store a hydration reservoir , including popular models like the CamelBak Crux or Platypus Big Zip Evo. Most traditional daypacks, like the Osprey Stratos, have a clip along the top of the interior of the bag and enough space to accommodate a 3-liter reservoir. And smaller packs like the Cotopaxi Batac 16L are best suited for a smaller-capacity reservoir (up to 2 liters), not only for space reasons but also total weight.

Daypack (REI Co-op Flash 22 reservoir clip)

With the exception of ultralight options, most hydration-compatible packs have a sleeve to slide in and hold the hydration reservoirs. It’s a simple process: Attach the bladder to the top clip and insert into the sleeve. The hose can then be routed through an opening in the top of the pack. And if you don't already own a reservoir, choosing a hydration daypack like the Osprey Skarab 30 gets you a solid pack as well as a reputable 2.5-liter Hydraulics LT system (which is made by hydration leader HydraPak). For a full list of our top picks in this category, see our article on the best hydration packs .

Daypack (taking reservoir out of Osprey Skimmer 28)

If you like to have a defined space for and easy access to smaller items, look for a pack with a number of interior and exterior pockets. We like hipbelt pockets for things you want close at hand, an exterior pocket along the top lid for small items like a headlamp or multi-tool, and a large, open main compartment for our gear. For school or daily use, additional exterior pockets with a key clip are always handy.

Daypack (Osprey Stratos hipbelt pocket)

One of our favorite pack features is a large exterior mesh pocket along the front of the pack known as a “shove-it” pocket. This expandable space is great for items you may need quick access to like a rain jacket or snack. In addition, you can throw in wet items into this outer pocket to avoid ruining the contents of your main compartment. Minimalist designs omit many organization features—sometimes including the shove-it pocket—so keep an eye out for the number of internal and external pockets if those are important to you.

Daypack (Hyperlite Daybreak shove-it pocket)

Running Vest-Inspired Pockets We’d be remiss not to touch on running vest-inspired storage, which is a rapidly growing trend among daypacks. From our list above, the Arc’teryx Aerios 30, Deuter Speed Lite 25, and Black Diamond Pursuit 15 all boast front pockets on the shoulder straps (similar to running vests) that allow for easy on-the-go access to snacks and other small necessities. We’re generally big fans of this type of storage, although some designs are better executed than others. For example, the Speed Lite’s pockets are prohibitively small and narrow and can’t accommodate anything more than a couple snacks, while both the Aerios and Pursuit can swallow a smartphone. Regardless of which option you choose, the front pockets do add a bit of a technical slant (these packs aren’t the best for crossing over for casual use), but serious day hikers will likely find the added convenience worth that trade-off.

Daypack (Deuter Speed Lite front storage)

All daypacks that made our list have access to the main compartment through the top of the pack, but the closure systems vary. Roll-top lids and drawcord systems are popular on minimalist packs, while fully featured bags typically use zippers. Roll-top lids and zippers are the most secure for protecting what’s inside your pack, but a well-made drawcord system like the REI Co-op Flash 22 is simple, lightweight, and very easy to use. One advantage that a roll-top pack has over the other options is compressibility: You can change the interior volume of the pack with the number of times you fold the lid.

Daypack (REI Flash 18 roll top closure)

All three closure systems above are associated with a top-loading pack, which as the name would indicate, opens at the top of the bag. In addition, there are a few packs that made our list that are considered panel loaders. That means that the lid to the main compartment can be zipped open and pulled back like a suitcase, which allows for easy access to contents at both the top and bottom of the bag. The downside is extra weight and expense (and zippers can break and fail over time), but a number of our favorite medium- to large-capacity packs have this feature.

Daypack (Gregory Miwok broken zipper)

Benefits of Choosing a Women’s-Specific Daypack

Women’s daypacks are not, as they may appear, just a colorful version of a men’s or unisex pack. There are real design differences with tangible benefits that deserve mentioning. The advantages include a torso fit that is often a better size than the sometimes large and bulky unisex models, and shoulder straps and hipbelts have been designed specifically for women. Men with shorter torsos often get a better fit with a women’s-specific model as well.

Women's-specific daypacks (by lake in Patagonia)

Typically, if you’ll be using the pack for pretty serious day hikes, it’s well worth opting for a high-end women’s model like Gregory's Jade 28, Deuter's Speed Lite 23 SL, and Osprey's Sirrus 36 , Tempest 20, and Skimmer 28 we’ve listed above. The more tuned fit makes for a more comfortable carrying experience. For casual use, such as travel or when you’re packing light, it’s not as big a deal. Something like the unisex REI Flash 22 should work just fine. For a complete look at the market, check out our article on the best women's hiking daypacks . Back to Our Top Daypack Picks   Back to Our Daypack Comparison Table

Learn More About Hiking Gear

Hiking gear

Hiking Gear Reviews

Drinking from hydration reservoir (Osprey Mira 22 hydration pack)

Best Hydration Packs of 2024

Osprey Talon 22 daypack (hiking in Utah)

Osprey Talon 22 Daypack Review

REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack (hiking towards mountains)

REI Co-op Flash 18 Daypack Review

Travel backpacks (walking around El Chalten with Topo Designs and Cotopaxi packs)

Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

Hiking over bridge in Hoh Rainforest (Osprey Aether backpacking pack)

Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2024

Hiking pants (Arc'teryx Gamma LT in mountains)

Best Hiking Pants of 2024

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak daypack (standing in Peru mountains)

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak Daypack Review

Child Carrier Pack (hiking near Mount Rainier)

Best Baby Carriers for Hiking of 2024

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The Differences in the Top Osprey Daypacks — And How to Choose the Perfect Smaller Pack for Daily Use

travel daypack reddit

I’m obsessed with lightweight travel and have been using Osprey packs and daypacks for years. I also think they’re very much worth recommending for school, hiking, cycling, outdoor sports, shopping, carrying laptops and gear for work, and more.

travel daypack reddit

I’m now here with my tiny team of researchers and adventurers to help you decide which of the wide range of Osprey daypacks is right for which use — this based on our experience of them and absorbing every quality review out there (which we link to in this post).

Unfortunately, Osprey’s over-the-top creativity in naming, e.g., Daylite, Hikelite, Heritage, Apogee, Aphelia, Centauri, Arcane, and Transporter, don’t really help much in determining which daypack is for which whom. And the guidance that comes directly from Osprey is maze-like and repetitive without actually providing much concrete insight. (Hey kids, here’s an example of truly awful product copywriting: “Its lightweight [sic], simplicity, durability, comfortable carry and price has proven to be wildly popular, and today their popularity is undeniable.”)

Fortunately, Osprey’s actual bags are much more carefully thought out than their writing—and are expertly built and durable. So we’re here to give you the real low-down. We’ve picked the top Osprey daypacks (the bestselling and our favorites) and put them side by-side with mini-reviews of each option and explanations of whom it might be for .

What we don’t cover in this article are bags for extended travel. If you’re going on a trip, consider instead either the Osprey wheeled carry-on backpacks or the full-sized wheeled backpacks — both come with their own excellent detachable daypacks. And if you’re going on multi-day jaunts, check out our review of the full range of larger Osprey trekking and hiking backpacks .

Originally published March 11, 2019. Updated with more links, photos, and info on September 10, 2020. Fully updated on May 30, 2022. Fully updated with the Sportlite and Ultralight Stuff series on Aug 3, 2022. Updated to fix linking and for current availabilities on Mar. 7, 2023. Minor updates to the Farpoint Fairview on June 27, 2023.

FAQs on Osprey Daypacks

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What is the best Osprey daypack?

This depends on what you’re using it for, silly, but our favorites are:

  • The best full-featured Osprey daypacks for daily city use: The Arcane series below
  • The best Osprey packs for general hiking and wilderness sports: The Sportlite series below
  • The best Osprey daypacks for a combination of hiking and daily city use: The Heritage series below
  • The best Osprey daypacks for basic travel and for clipping to other full-size Osprey packs: The Daylite series or the Farpoint Fairview below
  • The best Osprey daypacks for really rough/wet commutes and travel: The Transporter series below

What is the best Osprey daypack for use while travelling with other Osprey packs?

The Daylite series packs explained below are compatible with and can be clipped onto the major lines of Osprey backpacking packs or have a luggage handle pass-through sleeve.

Which Osprey daypack is best for big laptops?

The Arcane Tote, Flap, and XL below have padded laptop sleeves advertised for a 16-inch laptop, and depending on your laptop’s specific dimensions may be able to handle one that is a bit larger. Likewise, the Transporter Roll Top below can carry a large, 16-inch laptop in a relatively compact and very weather-resistant package.

Are Osprey daypacks worth the (somewhat) higher price?

Osprey does not make the cheapest backpacks, but given the quality of their materials, design, and construction, the prices are excellent. They come with a lifetime warranty and Osprey has a reputation for making things right if the daypacks ever fail.

We consider Osprey daypacks a worthwhile long-term investment—having a quality day pack prevents us from having to buy another one a few years later, and also from damaging our gear. Most of the daypacks discussed here— particularly the Heritage series , are also quite versatile, so one daypack can fulfill multiple uses.

Do Osprey daypacks fit carry-on requirements?

The Osprey daypacks covered here are all well within nearly all international and USA carry-on standards, though of course airline size requirements will vary. The sleeker, 20-25L bags will often be acceptable for USA airlines’ “personal item” size standards and so can be carried alongside a fuller-sized carry-on.

These are general guidelines; it is always necessary to check particular airlines sizing standards when flying. We ourselves have never been stopped and asked to check the size of our Osprey daypacks when flying with them as carry-ons in a number of countries.

Overall Pros and Cons of Osprey Daypacks

I have no qualms in recommending Osprey as I’ve been using the brand’s packs myself for years as I travel the globe writing for this site.

Osprey daypacks vary between themselves depending on intended use, but they do share some overall features, quality build, and the singular Osprey aesthetic.

Pros of Osprey Daypacks

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  • Osprey daypacks are extremely lightweight , with the standard daypacks ranging in our selection from just under a pound (half-kilo) to just over two pounds (one kilo). The packable, simple Ultralight Stuff packs are even lighter.
  • The pocket situation generally offers a good balance for each type of bag depending on activity — and since there are so many different options you’re sure to have a bag that offers the right level of organization and device protection without any confusing pocket overkill. (Too many pockets will add weight and also make it harder to figure out where you have stashed things when you’re on the go.)
  • Quality materials : Osprey daypacks generally use 210D nylon bodies and even tougher 400HD or 420HD nylon for their bottoms, they are tougher than the cheap PP or polyester used in cheap bags and lighter than the waxed cotton canvas that was once popular. In a move towards better sustainability, some of the newer packs (e.g., the Heritage and Arcane series) use Bluesign-approved recycled high tenacity nylon, or (as with the renewed Daylite series) Bluesign-approved 300D and 600D recycled polyester. The zippers and buckles are of very high quality and tend to hold up well over the years. Backpackers like me buy an Osprey for life and expect it to last. We’re generally pleased with the results.
  • All daypacks are backed by Osprey’s excellent lifetime warranty and reputation for follow-up with customers if something does go wrong.
  • These daypacks are comfortable to carry ; they offer good ventilation on the back panel and shoulder-friendly padded harnesses/shoulder straps.

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Cons of the Osprey Daypacks

There are a few general downsides, though they generally haven’t held us back from recommending and using these bags.

  • Not the cheapest backpacks out there: While Osprey is also not most expensive daypack designer, and we don’t consider the brand to be overpriced in most cases, you can definitely find good-enough generic backpacks out there without all that Osprey charm and perhaps overkill in terms of rough-and-tumble durability. Here’s a list of the top-rated cheapos from Amazon .
  • Only the Daylite bags can attach directly onto Osprey’s other backpacking packs. For longer travel, another option is to buy a larger pack that comes with a detachable daypack (doubling as the head of the bag), like the Aether/Ariel series of backpacking packs .
  • The sportier bags are not suitable for carrying laptops (as detailed in the tables); the Daylite Travel Plus is OK for smaller laptops and the Nebula/Nova, Heritage Series, Arcane Series, and Transporter series are the best choices for medium to larger laptops and tech gear.
  • There are a variety of quick-access pockets on many of these bags which can be targets for pickpockets in crowded places . Such pockets are better for things of little value, not for your passport and money, which should be in the inside pockets. You can also wear the bags in front of your torso in crowded places and pick up a smart, modern money belt .

Are Osprey Daypacks Water Resistant or Waterproof?

To be marketed as “waterproof”, backpacks would have to be shown to be submersible underwater and still keep their contents dry; no normal daypacks are built for scuba diving and Osprey’s are no exception.

All Osprey Daypacks are made of highly durable materials, as noted above, and will provide a good degree of water resistance. Also, Osprey carefully constructs its reinforced seams and uses quality zippers with protective flaps over them that are key for protection from water in a downpour.

Osprey daypacks are much more likely to withstand a heavy rain than cheaper, lower quality polyester or PP bags, even when those materials have a water-resistant coating. Such coatings tend to wear off and in any case water gets in mainly through looser seams and crummier zippers on such bags. And older canvas bags, while well-built, will soak up water, especially after any coating has worn off.

Some of Osprey’s newer bags made with recycled materials are treated with PFC-free DWR , which means “durable water repellency” treatments that do not use PFCs, the environmentally disastrous perfluorochemicals.

To share my personal experience, I’m not the sort of person to carry an umbrella; my Osprey Daylite has been caught in the rain with me a number of times and my papers and computer have come out dry and in good shape. I, on the other hand, came out a sopping wet idiot.

So for most people, the standard water resistance these Osprey Daypacks offer is likely enough. But if you’re going to frequently be in long periods in heavy rain—urban bikers in the American Northwest, for example—you’ll likely want to also get a rain cover or a daypack from the Transporter series , either of which will more completely protect your gear.

The Osprey Hikelite discussed below has a built-in rain cover. Otherwise, you can buy a rain cover separately; Osprey offers the following options:

Osprey Ultralight Raincover

  • For 10-20L daypacks: The Osprey Extra Small High Visibility Raincover
  • For 20-35L daypacks (most of the daypacks discussed here): The Osprey Small High Visibility Raincover
  • For 30-50L daypacks: The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium

If in doubt, choose a size larger, especially if you carry gear in outside pockets.

Here are other raincover options if the Osprey raincovers are out of stock at the moment.

Finally, for those who want a daypack that packs down quite small and is suitable for travel to very rainy environments, the best option would be the Ultralight Dry Stuff pack discussed below .

Women’s vs. Men’s Osprey Daypacks: The Differences

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Osprey’s are in a few cases gender-specific, though most are unisex. Broadly speaking, dedicated women’s Osprey packs are designed with slightly changed angles in the padding around the hips, to allow women to use their often rounder hips to better support more weight there. Women’s packs are also generally a bit shorter and narrower than the men’s or unisex counterparts.

This does not make as much of a difference with Osprey daypacks , as they are not generally designed for carrying a lot of weight on the hips. The sportier packs with thin hip straps are meant merely to secure the pack if you’re running, scrambling, or biking over bumpy terrain.

In any case, the main thing to note with gendered daypacks is size . If you’re a man with a shorter torso, you may prefer a women’s daypack in some cases, and likewise, if you’re a woman with a longer torso you might prefer the daypacks marketed to men. In cases where these packs are not one-size-fits-all, we’ve listed the torso length ranges (see next section) so that you can get the exact right size.

You’ll also notice in our tables listing each daypack’s details that the women’s packs are sometimes designed to carry just a few liters less than the men’s counterparts — something to consider if you want to scale down or up just a bit from a particular pack.

And finally, Osprey hasn’t quite caught on to post-gendered-color-consciousness and offers slightly different color options in some cases for women and for men.

The features and pockets on men’s vs. women’s Osprey daypacks are the same.

Guys, if you’re concerned, there’s nothing particularly “girly-looking” about Osprey’s “women’s” daypacks. If you have a shorter torso or want a slightly smaller pack, they may be a great choice.

How to Measure Your Torso for Choosing Osprey Daypack Sizes

Torso sizes are not super-important with daypacks; the main considerations are features, capacity, and intended use. But a couple of Osprey daypacks are offered in different sizes, so here’s a guide to help you get the exact right one, should you choose a daypack with size options.

  • Locate the level of your hip bones.
  • Identify your C7 vertebra (it’s the bone that sticks out at the base of your neck when you bend your head down to your chest).
  • Measure the distance between the two.

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That’s your back measurement for Osprey daypack purposes! The measurements for differently sized daypacks are included where there are such options in our descriptions.

The Best Osprey Daypacks for Travelling : The Daylite Series—Plus the Farpoint/Fairview Travel Daypack

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The Osprey Daylite and Osprey Daylite Plus are the daypacks to choose for accompanying you while travelling, particularly if you are also carrying large Osprey hiking packs.

These are the Osprey daypacks that are compatible with their kin, meaning they can easily clip into the following: the Osprey Aether/Ariel series, Farpoint/Fairview series, Porter series, Sojourn series, and finally the Volt/Viva series.

The Daylite and Daylite Plus daypacks emphasize lightness and have some basic organizational pockets but certainly don’t go overboard. They’re great for carrying sunscreen, a book, a phone, and something to keep you warm for when the sun starts to go down. Keys go on a neat little key clip in the front pocket, and there are side mesh pockets for a water bottle or coffee thermos. Other reviewers also generally admire their organizational design and build, and that they have been able to hold up over the years .

The Daylite Plus is better if will be carrying a laptop; the interior sleeve is padded (the sleeve for the regular Daylite is not). It can generally carry any 15″ laptop.

They’ll easily work as a carry-on on any airline, and often even as a personal item. If you’re stumped over which to get, check out the differences between the Daylite and Daylite Plus .

Osprey Daylite Tote

The Osprey Daylite Tote Pack is the version of the Daylite series to get if you also like to carry your bag over one shoulder—but it’s much better, if more expensive, than a traditional tote bag, with a full range of the Daylite series features. There are convenient organizational pockets including easy access outside pockets for stuffing things in on the go (also a good place to hide the straps you’re not using) and water bottle pockets.

Inside the Daylite Tote, there is a padded laptop sleeve for 15″ laptops and in a nod to the way people are more likely to carry and set down a tote bag, the sleeve hangs a bit higher off of the bottom of the bag so that you’re less likely to damage a laptop if you plop the bag too quickly onto the ground.

A jack of all trades, the Daylite Tote is also set up for travel with a sleeve that allows it to slip over the handle of a roller suitcase and remain stable. This is not the daypack to get for backpacking in the woods; it does not clip onto the larger Osprey packs and it does not have a hip belt.

The Osprey Daylite Expandable Travel Pack 26+6 is the most suitable of the Daylite series as a travel complement to a suitcase, as it has a pass-through sleeve for a roller suitcase handle and it opens up fully with a wrap-around zipper for easy access to absolutely everything you’re carrying.

Osprey Daylite Expandable Travel 26+6

In its zipped up state you may be able to use it as a carry on on many airlines, though rules of course will vary. It also expands out an additional six liters, and conveniently this expansion space on the inside has a mesh divider, making it great for storing dirty clothes.

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There is also a very similar clip-on travel daypack option that carries a larger, 16″ laptop in its padded sleeve: the Farpoint / Fairview Travel Daypack . Its total volume sits in between the Daylite and Daylite Plus at 15L.

The daypack is branded with two names because it is compatible with both the Farpoint series for men and Fairview series for women; the very adjustable daypack is fine for any gender and body dimensions. These two series have both Osprey trekking backpacks and wheeled backpacks; you’ll definitely want to choose this daypack as a compliment if you own or plan to purchase packs from this Osprey series. It can clip onto the front straps of the Farpoint and Fairview bags (which is more balanced, comfortable, and better for keeping an eye on valuables) and also be attached into the back of the bags (if you want to keep the packs as one unit).

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The Farpoint / Fairview Travel Daypack is a bit narrower than the Daylite packs as it is really mainly designed as an accessory, and the main compartment is lockable. It is otherwise quite similar. The laptop sleeve is padded and can double as a hydration pouch, though you should never use it for both at the same time, obviously. As with other newer Osprey daypack models, the material is recycled 450D polyester with PFAS-free DWR, or water-repellent finish. There is an internal pocket on the laptop sleeve that is perfect for protecting valuable passports, money, and other such items, external mesh pockets for water bottles, and an external top pocket for quick access items.

I’d recommend the Farpoint / Fairview for those with a larger 16-inch laptop or who are using the Farpoint / Fairview series for travel (it comes with a few of those trekking packs). The clips are the same as the clips for the older Daylite packs, so, while Osprey doesn’t announce this, the Osprey Farpoint Fairview Travel Daypack is also compatible with (that is, can be clipped onto the front of) packs from the Osprey Aether/Ariel, Porter, Sojourn, and Volt/Viva series.

The Farpoint Fairview Travel Daypack is generally a great travel companion on its own or with other luggage—I now use it on a daily basis and have given a full review here .

The Most Lightweight, Packable, Scrunch-Down-Able Osprey Daypacks

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

These are Osprey’s answer for travellers who want a daypack for odds and ends while out walking a city or parks, and then want to stuff the pack down and have it take up as little space and weight as possible in their main luggage. While I prefer the organizational features of the Daylite options above, packable packs are a good answer for those travelling light with packs or small suitcases that are not compatible to be clipped on, or for those who otherwise want to be able to fold down and pack their daypacks.

The smallest, lightest daypack option is the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack , weighing just under 4 ounces / 100 grams. The chief feature is that it can be stuffed and scrunched down into its own built-in packing cube about the size of the palm of your hand. Otherwise, folded out for use there are not a lot of frills: just a simple water bottle pocket and a top pocket with a built-in key clip.

The shoulder straps are thinner than those of other Osprey daypacks; this is not designed to support serious weight, but the straps are still soft and quite comfortable.

The waterproof packable version is the Osprey Ultralight Dry Stuff Pack , which comes in at about twice the weight and doesn’t fold down quite as small, but is still quite light and packable. A sternum strap with a built-in safety whistle is added, so this is suitable for carrying just a bit more stuff for longer periods.

The Best Osprey Daypacks for Adventure Sports, Mountain Biking, and Hiking: The Sportlite Series

Osprey Sportlite 20

Osprey’s new take on smaller backpacks for day hikes and outdoor sports are its Sportlite daypacks. They excel in stability for those who are carrying a small to medium amount of gear while hiking, running, biking, climbing, or otherwise bouncing about a bit.

All Sportlite packs are designed to be incredibly comfortable for an entire day of outdoor wearing, even when limber, athletic movement is required. The shoulder straps (and sternum strap on the Sportlite 20, 25, and 30) and the hip belts keep the Sportlite packs secured in place. The compression straps help keep the load supported by bringing it closer to your body. Meanwhile, there is a central channel in the back panel that supposedly allows some air flow, or at least won’t trap much heat and sweat.

The smallest is the Osprey Sportlite 15 , with that number meaning a 15L volume. Since both it and the slightly larger Osprey Sportlite 20 are for smaller loads, they don’t have a full-on padded hip belt intended to carry the weight, but rather a thinner, removable hip strap that merely stabilizes the pack at the waist level—especially useful during dynamic movement. The Sportlite 15 is truly minimalist and lacks even the front stash pocket that is so convenient on the larger Sportlites for having a quick place to stuff a scarf, hat, sweater, or small jacket; it’s also a good place to keep anything wet or smelly.

Osprey Sportlite  25

The larger Osprey Sportlite 25 and Osprey Sportlite 30 have fully padded hip belts that tighten at each side for stability and distribution of the weight to the hips. The hip belts have zippered pockets for quick access to small essentials. The Sportlite 30 has a lid with its own pocket as seen on Osprey and other brands’ larger backpacking packs and loads from the top. (I prefer the panel loading of the three smaller Sportlites as it is easier to access everything in the bag without unpacking.)

All of the Sportlite packs are entirely equipped for serious hikers, with long and deep side pockets that serve for water bottles or other gear (some previous Osprey daypacks have water bottle pockets that were not deep enough to secure taller water bottles). There are loops for trekking poles, which are then secured at the top of the packs by the compression straps and can be quickly released.

If you bike, hike, or run near such a dangerous and awful thing as automobiles, you’ll appreciate the attachment point on all Sportlite packs for a blinker light for visibility.

The Osprey Talon / Tempest vs. the New Sportlite Series

The main differences between the Osprey Sportlite series of daypacks and the previous, classic Talon and Tempest series (also for adventure hiking, and covered in the next section) are:

  • The Sportlite daypacks add some features that the Talon and Tempest lack, like a blinker light attachment point , improved Airscape breathable padding on the back, more flexible hip straps , deeper and more useful side mesh gear / water bottle pockets , and an additional top exterior quick-release compression strap . The organizational pockets are slightly different and depend on pack size.
  • The older Talon/Tempest series are sometimes available for a bit cheaper (we link to the best prices we can find in the Talon/Tempest table in the next section). You can also check the Osprey sale page where there are sometimes deals on older packs.
  • The Talon/Tempest daypacks come in a wider range of size options than the Sportlite series, including gendered options. This means that if you have a particularly longer/shorter or wider/narrower torso you may be able to find a more exact fit for your frame. However, with smaller daypacks like these, such exact sizing is not really necessary, so we’re not surprised that Osprey has done away with the women/men distinctions and some of the volume options in the new Sportlite packs. The Sportlite shoulder harness and hip straps are quite adjustable for a range of body types.

In spite of these differences, the Sportlite and the Talon/Tempest series have quite a lot in common ; they have excellent organizational pockets, quality 100D recycled nylon material, and very comfortable carrying straps and padding for long days in the wilderness.

Osprey’s Classic Adventure/Hiking Daypack Series: The Osprey Talon (Men) and Tempest (Women) Series

Osprey Talon 11

Osprey’s previous version of sports-and-longer-hiking-themed daypacks are its Talon (for men) and Tempest (for women) series. While they are mainly supplanted by the Sportlite options just above; they are still excellent hiking daypacks and are still generally available.

All of these daypacks are quite lightweight and come in a large range of sizes. On the smaller end, the men’s daypacks are the Talon 11-liter and Talon 22-liter versions, and the women’s options are the Tempest 9-liter and Tempest 20-liter packs. There are larger versions available as well , though those are no longer really just daypacks.

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Aside from the obvious capacity differences, the main difference between the larger (Talon 22 and Tempest 20) and smaller (Talon 11 and Tempest 9) daypacks is the front panel. There is a non-zippered “stash pocket” on the larger packs and instead of that a bungee cord on the front of the smaller ones. In both cases these are great for quickly stuffing wet gear, a bit of trash that you intend to pack out, or other items that you’d want to keep separate from your main compartment.

The backpanel’s rigid suspension system (“airspace”) manages to keep the packs stable and yet backpackers find it offers excellent breathability.

The harness packets and back stash pockets are made of a stretchy but quite tough mesh material that doesn’t fall apart like the mesh used on cheaper packs (which can often be the first point of weakness).

Those who use trekking poles enjoy the quick access of having them under their arms, attached to the shoulder harness. You can also attach them to the back of the pack.

As we noted above, the genders of daypacks don’t make a huge difference, but with the Talon and Tempest packs you will have size options so it’s worth measuring your torso as we mentioned . When in doubt, go for your torso length and/or prefered-capacity pack, not your gender.

  • Talon daypacks (“men”) small-medium size: torso length of 16-19 in. / 40.5-48 cm.
  • Talon daypacks (“men”) medium-large size: torso length of 19-23 in. / 48-58.5 cm.
  • Tempest daypacks (“women”) extra-small to small size: torso length of 13-16 in. / 33 – 40.5 cm.
  • Tempest daypacks (“women”) small-medium size: torso length of 16-20 in. / 40.5-51 cm.

So: Tall women and short men will likely be more comfortable if they ignore the gendered marketing.

Talon 11

We have also seen good prices on these at Moosejaw .

The Best Small Packs for Long Days Out Hiking in Very Wet Weather: The Osprey Hikelite Series

Osprey Hikelite 18

Are you going for daylong hikes in the gorgeous, rainy Northwest of the USA, for example? The Osprey Hiklite 18 or Hikelite 26 would then be the top choice for you. (Their main difference is that they hold 18 or 26 liters of your stuff, respectively.)

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These are the Osprey daypacks with an integrated (but removable) raincover that slides out of the bottom sleeve and can be used to completely cover the pack, making it quite convenient to cover up when a downpour starts.

The other basic hiking and trekking elements are also there. You can stash trekking poles in the attachments on either side of the pack and secure them with the upper compression straps. There’s a hydration sleeve that holds up to a 3L reservoir. And the scratch-resistant top pocket holds sunglasses or a phone without damaging them, and making them easy to access when needed.

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The Osprey airspeed system provides a bit of a “trampoline” effect so that only a springy mesh rests against your back and air passes through in the curved space between this mesh and the pack itself, keeping you cool. It doesn’t mean you’ll never sweat, but it does help keep air flowing, and keeps heat from building up on your pack, and any sweat from soaking the pack. The shoulder harness also lets air through and is quite comfortable, as with most Osprey packs.

There are hip straps but they are not padded and not designed to carry weight, just to secure the pack to you if necessary, as the other Osprey daypacks. They are removable (and probably not useful for most people unless you’re running, biking, or otherwise bouncing). Reviewers have found the pack to stay comfortable and not chafe after day-long hikes.

The 26L version also has a stash pocket on the outside, making it a convenient place to carry partially wet rain gear for example, should the sun come out.

And while it has an inner pouch that could fit a 15-inch laptop, the Hikelite 26 is still not very suitable for carrying electronics as this sleeve is not padded. If you’re rough with your bag or regularly using it for a laptop, go for a more laptop-friendly hiker option like the Heritage series just below or else the more weatherproof and laptop-ready Transporter series daypacks .

Great All-Purpose Smaller Trekking-Style Packs with Urban Features: The Osprey Heritage Series (Simplex 20, Scarab 30, and Nanofly Versions)

Osprey’s Heritage series is playing hard on nostalgia for older Osprey designs—here completely updated for current tastes with features like laptop sleeves and recycled PFC-free materials. If you are into the hybrid look (modern+retro) and have hybrid needs (backcountry+city) these small backpacks may be perfect for you.

The Osprey Heritage Simplex 20 opens fully with a zipper that goes all the way around the sides and top (“panel loading”) so that you can get at items anywhere in the pack without completely unpacking or trying to dig around blindly. The features you’d expect from a backpacker pack are there: excellent breathable suspension and padded hipbelt, outer attachment points for gear and a bungee cord to tie down a wet jacket or other items, a sleeve for a water bottle with a thread-through opening for the tube, and tough-but-lightweight material and construction.

For more day-to-day use the water reservoir sleeve is padded and designed to fit 15-inch laptops, and there is a key clip on the inside stash pocket. That inside pocket can also be accessed from the outside front panel, which is convenient for you but makes the pack less suitable for crowded city areas where there could be pickpockets.

The Osprey Heritage Scarab 30 is similar to the Simplex 20; the most immediately notable difference is the outer compression straps to help you cinch down the volume of your gear once the pack is closed. We’re not so sure how necessary that is in a small pack, but it can help with balancing the pack a bit on a long hike.

Similarly to the Simplex 20, the Scarab 30 opens up fully with U-shaped zippered access to the main compartment so there is no need to unpack everything to get at something in the bottom of the pack.

The Scarab 30’s padded hip belt straps can slide inside when not in use. The harness and back panel are padded and built for comfort on long hikes, but without the mesh ventilation suspension of the Simplex 20.

Overall the Scarab 30 is an ideal choice for a minimalist traveller that likes to carry a rather retro-looking small pack, but wants the modern convenience of a laptop sleeve.

The Nanofly versions of these packs are the same but with Nanofly fabrics, which Osprey says are more highly resistant to scratches and tears while maintaining the same lightness. The Nanofly versions are also, of course, slightly more expensive. Bear in mind that very high quality materials and construction (along with a lifetime warranty) are included with the regular versions; for most uses it is unlikely that the extra upgraded durability is warranted. But if it gives you peace of mind…

Full-Featured City/Laptop Backpacks: Tropos (Men) and Talia (Women)

Note: These are older designs and the Talia is not available at our last check; the Tropos is still available but may be on the way out. They’re still highly worthwhile in our opinion, especially if they’re showing up discounted in the Amazon links below. The newer city/laptop backpacks to consider are the Arcane series covered in a later section .

Osprey Tropos

The Osprey Tropos and Talia bags are meant more for “urban” use and are extremely suited for carrying large laptops and even a second portable screen.

Two main features distinguish the Tropos and Talia from other such bags. The first is the “kickstand” feature, which is a bit poorly named since it’s nothing like a bike kickstand aside from keeping the whole unit vertical. What Osprey means is that there’s an interior hard frame on the front and back of the back, and whether or not the pack is full of stuff this frame will always keep it standing up straight, rather than collapse over on its side as most bags would. Not exactly indispensable, but cool enough.

The laptop sleeve in these bags is roomy and entirely separate from the main compartment — the laptop sleeve is located just against your back and is both padded and has a hard shell on the back panel to keep it safe. The sleeve is also “hanging” so that your laptop is never jostled against the ground directly if you should drop your bag with a thump. There’s another little sleeve in the laptop compartment for cables and such.

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The main compartment is quite roomy; it holds 34 L for the Tropos and 30 L for the Talia. There are also side mesh pockets for water or coffee and a front panel pocket with very complete organizational options for cards, pens, and more, including also the key ring holder seen on Osprey’s other daypacks.

Reviewers have found the pack to hold up well over time, and while it is larger than the other daypacks on this page, it remains relatively lightweight for its size. It’s not quite as great as being able to roll your laptop bag , but it’s the closest you’ll get without wheels.

Note that if you don’t need all that space you can reduce the size with the compression straps and get the feeling of carrying a svelter daypack that you can then expand again whenever you need to.

While this is an “urban” daypack it’s quite adapted for active use, including biking. The back panel is suspended to allow for breathability and there are attachment points on the back that are suitable for a helmet and for a bike light.

In 2019 the Tropos was updated to be just slightly wider and less deep, presumably to fit even larger laptops and second screens; this added 2 L to the overall volume. We of course link to the current model and its correct current dimensions, but you may still see the older model from some other sellers.

More Basic City/Laptop Backpacks: Nebula (Men) and Nova (Women)

Note: These are older options from Osprey but still available at last check. They’re still highly worthwhile in our opinion, especially if they’re showing up discounted in the Amazon links below. Otherwise, the newer city/laptop backpacks to consider are the Arcane series further down the page .

Osprey Nova

The Osprey Nebula and Nova are good-enough laptop daypacks that are just as durably built as the Tropos and Talia above, but lack some of their excellent features.

There is nice padding on the Nova’s  and Nebula’s back panel that is raised a bit for some breathability, but these lack the excellent curved back and mesh combo that raises the Tropos or Talia completely off your back to allow airflow. The Nova and Nebula also lack the interior hanging laptop sleeve and kickstand features.

All that said, the Nebula and Nova are absolutely suited to urban use and protecting your laptop and other gear, with a stiff back panel and padding. They are 34 and 33 liters respectively.

One of their main selling points is that the laptop compartment opens completely flat to allow for airport screening without removing your laptop. In theory at least, for the TSA in the United States; most airport screenings in most countries will still make you take your laptop out, and this is still likely enough in the USA too. One reviewer also complains that the zippers can get a bit stuck when the bag is opened completely in this way.

The main compartment is separate from the laptop compartment, and has mini sleeves inside it for separating cables and for documents.

travel daypack reddit

On top of the pack are a slash pocket for sunglasses or a phone, and on the front is an organizational panel with plenty of pockets for business cards, cables, and the like, plus a fob for your keychain.

There are attachment points at the front of the daypack for a bike light and helmet, and a quick access open pocket that’s great for carrying wet gear until you get a chance to dry it out, or a sandwich.

As with all of the other daypacks on this page, the Nebula and Nova have held up over time quite well for customers and others who have reviewed them. In spite of their light weight they can hold quite a bit of gear, and have the largest capacity of the daypacks discussed here.

Streamlined, Everyday Student-Style Backpacks: The Osprey Apogee (Men), Aphelia (Women), and Centauri (Unisex, Smaller)

Osprey Apogee

The Osprey Apogee (designed slightly longer for men’s backs) and Aphelia (shorter and slightly wider for women’s backs) are marketed as “24/7” day-to-day backs. To me, these are student backpacks—with excellent organizational pockets and size for carrying a laptop, a few books, sunglasses, and a water bottle.

These packs have a smoother look to them than the typical student backpacks, however, and are suitable if you don’t want a blatant studenty look. The water bottle pockets in particular are notable in that they are not notable—you slide a water bottle in the side and it is hidden, you’d hardly note it was there.

There are compression straps, which we really don’t think are useful on such an already small, svelte urban pack for daily use, but they tuck away in any case when not in use.

If you don’t have much to carry, you might opt for the Centauri version instead, which has about 30% less capacity (though at it’s size and with nearly the same features you could consider the Daylite Plus , which tends to be cheaper, though is not as svelte looking as the Centauri).

The Best Full-Featured City Backpacks: The Osprey Arcane Series (Small, Large, XL, Flap, and Tote)

Osprey Arcane Large

The Arcane Family from Osprey emphasizes daily city use with a full range of organizational pockets and features, but in deceptively simple designs. The materials are durable and mainly recycled and sustainable.

The Arcane Series packs have laptop sleeves but also a separate sleeve to protect your documents—an excellent feature that is missing from many competing backpacks. I have inadvertently often crushed papers with my laptop when using the same sleeve for both—Osprey designers may have had the same issue and have solved it here.

Another important feature for city folks or students on the Arcane packs is the clip-off shoulder strap that allows you to quickly secure the pack to a chair or bar rail in a way that any bag snatchers will not be expecting.

The Arcane day packs use very comfortable foam padding on the harness and back panel, though it is not as breathable as what you have on the more outdoorsy Tempest/Talon/Hikelite options or the Daylite series. Arcane is going for a simpler, streamlined look and feel as opposed to being ready for rugged, outdoorsy, technical uses.

All Arcane day packs except for the Flap pack have an in-shoulder harness strap mesh sleeve to keep small items accessible without removing the pack from your back. This is great for bus/train/tram cards, chapstick, a work ID, and/or an earbud case. The shoulder straps do not, however, have a front sternum strap that connects them; this can help bring the weight forward and off of your shoulders. It is generally not a necessity for such smaller packs but if this is an issue for you, you may want to opt for other city pack options on this page, especially the Heritage series above .

Osprey Arcane Small

At the smallest end of the Arcane day pack series is the Osprey Arcane Small Day Pack , which doesn’t look like much but has everything you might need for a full day in the city or at classes—except for a water bottle pocket (we think that’s key, so for a small pack we’d opt instead for the excellent Arcane Flap Pack described below).

The Arcane Small can carry a 13″ laptop and 10L total of gear.

The Osprey Arcane Large doubles the capacity to 20L and is thus more suitable for most people; there is a 15″ laptop sleeve as well as a water bottle pocket.

Osprey Arcane XL

Moving another step up in size to 30L, we find the Osprey Arcane XL , which still managed to look minimalist while carrying three times as much as the Small. This is the pack for larger laptops too—16″ laptops are no problem. I also happen to like it that here the laptop sleeve migrates around to rest just behind the foam padding on your back. This makes it secure from pickpockets, but also quite easy for you to access when you take the pack off without opening up the main compartment.

Osprey Arcane Tote

The Osprey Arcane Tote Pack is a version of the Osprey Large with basically the same features, but also tote straps for carrying the bag over one shoulder. One imagines oneself at a farmers’ market picking up a few vegetables this way or doing other small errands. The tote straps tuck into a stash pocket (also quite convenient for wet items like a poncho). And yet this pack is ready to go on your back with fully padded backpack straps and a back panel.

The Arcane Tote can fit a 16″ laptop in its inside padded laptop sleeve and has a hidden water bottle pocket.

Osprey Arcane Flap

The Osprey Arcane Flap Pack is an interesting offshoot from the Arcane series that still maintains the minimalist-style-but-maximal-features mindset. Its 14L capacity is just a bit larger than the Arcane Small, but unlike the small it has a zipping, pop-out water bottle pocket and it can carry a 16″ laptop in its padded sleeve.

There is also a side phone pocket but I’d be a bit wary about putting anything valuable there in a crowded environment as it is also accessible to thieves.

The shoulder straps, unfortunately, lack the mesh transport card pocket that is present on the other Arcane packs. But overall, this is an excellent, complete day pack with a classy profile, and one of my favorites from Osprey.

Osprey Arcane Roll Top

The Osprey Arcane Roll Top is quite similar to the Arcane Large Day Pack but a bit larger at 24L and with a distinctive look due to its roll-up top. It’s an option if you want to carry stuff on your back but don’t want to look like you’re carrying a typical backpack. I’d rather use zipper technology myself, but—even with Osprey’s quality construction—an argument could be made that a roll-up and clip closure is likely to last even longer.

The Best Ultra-Rugged City Backpack for Cycling and Heavy Frequent Rain: The Osprey Transporter Series (Small Zip Top, Large Zip Top, Panel Loader, Roll Top, Flap)

The rough-and-tumble Transporter series from Osprey includes a whole lot of things that are not daypacks, including large duffel bags with and without wheels. This is the Osprey series that’s ready for truly serious outdoor abuse. As we noted above, all Osprey daypacks offer a good level of resistance to water and your precious documents and laptop inside are likely to come out better than you after a quick downpour. But if you frequently live and travel in very wet and/or dirty environments, the Transporter daypacks would be the way to go.

The key difference in these packs is their TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) coating (in addition to a DWR treatment for water resistance). TPU-treated material lasts longer than and should hold up to even more abuse, and so we’d expect the Transporter series daypacks to survive rain, mud, and rough treatment even better than the other Osprey daypacks discussed here. And just like the newer Osprey series daypacks, Transporter daypacks use heavy-duty recycled polyester with a PFC-free treatment for a more sustainable impact.

While these are ready for the outdoors, the Transporter series daypacks (unlike Osprey’s Hikelite/Tempest/Talon daypacks) are also ready to organize your day-to-day city needs, with organizational spots for laptops, pens, separate documents, water bottles, and more.

The Transporter day packs are also designed to distribute weight comfortably with a full padded and breathable shoulder harness with sternum strap and back panel. They’re also great for travel along with a rolling suitcase as the top carry handle can function as a sleeve to slide over the luggage’s extended handle.

Osprey Transporter Large

The Osprey Transporter Small Zip Top and Osprey Transporter Large Zip Top are the classic versions in 25L and 30L capacities, respectively. We’d expect the bucket-style flip open top to be the best of any of the Transporter packs at protecting from water, though they should all be fine. The Transporter Small fits only a 13″ laptop in its internal sleeve whereas the Transporter Larger takes up to a 15″ laptop in its side-access zippered laptop sleeve.

Osprey Transporter Panel Loader

Confusingly, the Transporter Small Zip Top is not the smallest pack in the Transporter series. Coming in a bit smaller are the Osprey Transporter Panel Loader and the Osprey Transporter Flap at 20L capacity each. The Panel Loader opens around the top and sides like a traditional school backpack with a zipper, and the Flap has, of course, a flap that affixes with a buckle. They have only a single water bottle pocket (certainly enough). The Panel Loader fits a much larger 16″ laptop in its dedicated sleeve.

Osprey Transporter Roll Top

The Osprey Transporter Roll Top is the same size as the Transporter Small at 25L but fits a much larger 16″ laptop in its external padded sleeve. It has a rolling top that attaches with a buckle for those who enjoy that look.

Roundup: Which Osprey Daypack Is Best for You ? And Where Are the Best Prices?

All Osprey daypacks are made of excellent lightweight but durable materials and have held up for years in our hands and those of other reviewers and customers.

For the best prices, be sure to check their different color options at the Amazon links to Osprey daypacks , as some colors are often deeply discounted there .

Throughout this article we try to link to the cheapest color options, but things often change so it’s worth checking the different colors for a discount. At last check Amazon is much more likely to have all of the bags in stock, but Osprey USA of course sells its day packs (or “lifestyle” packs) directly too and sometimes it has sales . (Check here for Osprey Euro pean shoppers .)

We’ve also on some occasions noticed good prices at Moosejaw , though there can be less of a selection.

Daylite Plus

If you want a daypack for travel , and particularly a daypack that will clip on to other Osprey packs, go for the Osprey Farpoint Fairview Travel Daypack , the Osprey Daylite or the Daylite Plus ; the Farpoint Fairview and the Daylite Plus are suitable for carrying a laptops.

Sportlite 25

The best daypacks for bouncing and jumping around (literally) in the great outdoors are the Sportlite series, and of these the one I’d go for is the intermediate sized Osprey Sportlite 25 , which is both panel loading, like the smaller Sportlites and has a padded hip belt with a quick access pocket, like the Osprey Sportlite 30 (which is top loading, bleh).

Hikelite 26

While all Osprey daypacks offer some rain resistance, if you need an outdoorsy pack with an integrated rain cover for seriously wet climes (you poor thing!), the unisex Osprey Hiklite 18 or Hikelite 26 are your guys. They also have all the necessary storage features for trekking like attachments for trekking poles and a hydration pouch.

Arcane Flap

My personal favorites are currently the Arcane series as I’m a bit of a city boy. While I’m not about to give up my Daylite (I’m also a perpetual, minimalist nomad), if I were getting a new bag right now for city commutes I’d without a doubt go for the classy, svelte, full-featured Arcane Flap Pack .

If looking for a deal, note that some discontinued Osprey daypacks are still sometimes available and may be a good deal—although at our last check, they were out of stock.

travel daypack reddit

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Mose Hayward

19 thoughts on “the differences in the top osprey daypacks — and how to choose the perfect smaller pack for daily use”.

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Hi, I notice the Sportlite series is not included in this list – I believe it’s quite a new bag from Osprey. Would you be able to comment on whether the Sportlite series would be compatible with larger backpacks in the same way as the Daylite series? I’m keen to be able to clip the bags together. Thanks

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Hi Olivia, we’ve updated this article with coverage of the Sportlite daypacks, which are mainly an update of the wilderness-adventure-themed Tempest and Talon daypacks. No, they do not clip onto larger Osprey packs; for that you will indeed want the Daylite daypacks.

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very helpful – thank you! Finally much more clarity on these packs, and which one will suit me best.

Nice to hear, thanks!

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Very useful. When I think I have fund a perfect Osprey daypack there is another model someone recommends. I fell that especially organizing small items/ pocket stuff when hiking is missing from most Osprey packs.

I wish you could include the Apogee, Escapist, Syncro and Skarab/Skimmer as well. There is also a Daylite Travel now.

We’ve just updated this article with the newer daypacks that are currently available. 🙂

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I have had my Daylite Plus for about 4 years. I have used it everyday including international travel. Except for the useless water bottle pouches it has served me well. Today one of the interior framing wires has separated from its mooring. I will soon find out about Osprey’s warranty policy.

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Thanks, very helpful. Just one question re-size options: is there much downside to opting for a larger size (e.g. Talon-22 vs 11, or Hikelite-26 vs 18)? My tendency is to lean towards a larger size, for option-value for more gear, but (e.g.) does a half-full Talon-22 provide a noticeably less snug fit than a full Talon-11?

I personally wouldn’t worry about carrying these packs half full as you can cinch them down a bit.

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Thank you very much for this article. Very detailed and provided a toe-to-toe comparison of the backpacks. I already owned a Talon 22 and was contemplating on whether a Daylite or Daylite Plus would be a good addition. Your article has helped me decide to stick with the Talon 22 since I wasn’t going to gain much. Appreciate what you’ve researched and compiled.

Thanks! I actually love that I’ve helped you to *not* buy a bag then; it’s great to avoid consumer waste. 🙂

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I’m a Daylite Plus owner and to be honest…the ability to clip it onto my Porter 46 is the ONLY reason I use it. The “stuff-it” area is too small and shallow to really be useful, the mesh pockets on the sides seem to be designed to dump your water jug on the ground as quickly as possible, and (being a big dude) it’s just not wide enough to ride comfortably on my back. That said, as long as you go light, can deal with the strange bulbous bottom and use a carabiner on your water jug, the Daylite Plus works…sort of. Glad I got it for free. When I bought my Porter last year, I looked at the option of getting the Farpoint with the zip-on daypack, but in the end, the Porter/Daylite combo carried more, was easier to mate/separate, and worked better in non-backpack mode so that’s the route I went – given that I already owned the Daylite Plus. If I hadn’t, maybe the Farpoint would have been more appealing.

I’d recommend a smaller water bottle for starters, and playing with the wide variety of adjustment options on the Daylite Plus for the straps. But thanks for sharing your experiences here!

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Great article! There is also a Daylite Travel pack designed for commuters. It has more storage compartments than the Daylite Plus and has a expansion zipper allowing the main compartment to increase in volume from 18L to 24L.

The Daylite Plus has an external “shove it” pouch, hip belt and removable foam frame sheet. The Travel does not have these features.

In the end I returned both bags. The shoulder straps were too uncomfortable. the straps were too narrow and rubbed against the sides of my neck.

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Thankyou for such a great article. Helped me decide which one i wanted by the end. Didnt get that info even when i asked for assistance at the outdoor gear shop where tget had all the above models

Thanks for letting me know, much appreciated!

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This was very helpful, thanks.

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Thank you very much for all your time and effort you obviously devoted to this article. It really made a difference to me!

Thanks for taking the moment to comment and let us know that! Much appreciated!

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