The 10 Best Daypacks
This wiki has been updated 10 times since it was first published in May of 2020. While a daypack is essentially any bag that’s good for carrying what’s needed within a 24-hour period or less, they are more often associated with outdoor gear. Whether you’re looking for a thoughtfully designed backpack to ease long school days or something light and comfortable to aid rigorous hiking, the carefully vetted options below ought to help you make your way in the world. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 15, 2020:
A lot can happen in a 24-hour period, and if you have to wear a pack a bulk of the time, it will be better for both your physiological and psychological health to have something comfortable to carry around. Back and neck injuries are very real things that can definitely be caused by poorly fitted and excessively heavy packs. While a regular backpack can get the job done, it might not be outfitted with the sort of advanced ergonomic features that add to an enjoyable adventure.
We’ve avoided putting any single strap bags on the list because most are designed to go over only one shoulder, meaning you can’t change the side you carry it on, which is not only uncomfortable, but can lead to injury in the long run. While many messenger bags and the like are fashionable and durable, their designs are better suited for more limited use, and not extended hiking and hauling. Elsewhere, although you could fit a day’s worth of stuff into popular options like Fjallraven packs, their straps are thin and lack any padding, which means they will dig into your shoulders if you carry anything heavier than a sweatshirt and other light gear.
While almost all of the packs on the list have stretching side pockets that are great for storing water bottles in an easy to access way, models that come with hydration systems like the Teton Sports Oasis and Sunhiker Cycling are shown some preference given the convenience they offer. That being said, we would like to remind you to clean their reservoirs thoroughly and often, following manufacturers’ instructions, to avoid the flourishing of pathogens. Elsewhere, sustained comfort was always at the forefront of our thoughts when populating this list, so you won’t be surprised to find options with a lot of back and shoulder padding such as the Kelty Redwing and The North Face Jester.
Ethnotek This manufacturer of heavy-duty and high quality bags offers a range of options that each incorporate ethically sourced textiles. The company partners with villages in countries across the world to offer a selection of printed and embroidered design choices that change with availability and are always unique. The majority of backpacks they offer are 30 liters or less, making them great candidates for daypacks. ethnotek.com
Give Back Goods This online purveyor of backpacks, clothes, housewares, and more carefully curates their stock to ensure all of offerings follow some sort of humane and principled approach to manufacturing. While not every backpack they offer is fitted with the kind of extra straps and water-resistant features that most dedicated daypacks are known for, they are all sustainably sourced to some degree. givebackgoods.com