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When you’re taking quick trips out of town or weekend jaunts to a new destination, you need to think carefully about your daypack, which will be your most important travel companion.

A good travel daypack can make an already-fun getaway even better by keeping your belongings secure and your back and shoulders healthy. 

A decent travel daypack has a lot of advantages over other bags if you’re going on an adventure:

  • Daypacks are more versatile. If you fly somewhere new and want to see some sights, you won’t be going very far if you have to haul an 80 L suitcase around. Daypacks are great for taking essential supplies, cameras and chargers around with you, and can be worn in the city or on the trail. 
  • Daypacks encourage you to pack light. You would be amazed at how little you actually need to pack when it comes down to it. Personally, I only ever take a daypack on a getaway if it’s shorter than two weeks. Embrace minimalism on your travels and you will be much happier for it. 
  • Daypacks are more secure than handbags. Handbags share many advantages with daypacks, but their main flaw is security. If you’re going somewhere with a reputation for pickpockets or bag-snatchers, a small daypack is a much better option to keep your stuff safe.

So, now that you’ve decided on a daypack, let’s have a look at some favorable options, as well as the most important factors for choosing the best travel daypack for you. 

Best Travel Daypacks

Best Travel Daypack for a Splash of Color

1. Cotopaxi Batac 16L

Cotopaxi Batac 16L

I have never seen a 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 left over 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 helps 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 should ensure even weight distribution for whatever gear you have inside. It has a zip pocket accessible from the outside and an internal sleeve divider that can fit a laptop or water bladder. The materials are mesh and nylon, which make it very light and compact, so it’s easy to roll up inside a bigger bag. Some buyers have noted that the mesh pockets on the sides of the bag are not really suitable for larger water bottles such as Nalgenes. 

As for comfort, there doesn’t appear to be a huge amount of padding over the shoulders, 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 chest strap for a bit of extra support in the front. The shoulder straps appear to be quite long, with plenty of room for adjustment.

Overall, if you are looking for a small daypack that combines the basics of functionality with the funkiest look, this is the bag for you. It would do well on a day trip, a commute, or a short hike.

✅ Pros

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

❌ Cons

  • Not weatherproof
  • Not much padding

Cotopaxi Batac 16L Specs:

Features Details
Capacity 16 L 
Weight 12 oz 
Material 75-210D Nylon
Price $$


Best Travel Daypack for Versatility

2. Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote Pack 22L

This is a pretty unique hybrid design from Patagonia: a daypack that can be both a daypack ​and a tote bag depending on which straps you use. The backpack shoulder straps can be folded away into a compartment behind the back padding, and tote handles can be found at the top of the bag to carry it around. A very interesting concept for sure.

This Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote Pack 22L checks a lot of boxes for a good travel daypack and adds a few more of its own. At 22L, it’s large enough for a multi-day trip, but the compression straps on each side allow it to shrink down for a quick jaunt or commute. This bag can be folded into its own pocket for easy storage—very handy for packing into a larger suitcase. There’s an extra zip pocket on the front for smaller items, and another on the inside for valuables to give you extra peace of mind.

The bag is mostly made of ripstop nylon, with some mesh weave on the shoulders and light padding on the back. There are two front straps for the chest and waist for extra comfort, which would be particularly welcome on a hard trail.

The side pockets are made from stretchy material to hold on tight to whatever you happen to stuff in them. At 14 oz, this bag isn’t going to weigh you down either. The rectangular shape also makes it very handy for commuters carrying books or laptops.

The only downside I can see to this daypack is the lack of padding, which has been sacrificed to make the bag more compact. Both the shoulder and tote straps have minimal padding, so carrying heavy loads may be an issue.

However, if you’re looking for something versatile and light to take with you on a longer trip, this is a great travel daypack for you. You’ll also be supporting Patagonia, a company I really admire for their ecological vision.

✅ Pros

  • Very compact bag
  • Versatile
  • Extra straps for extra support

Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote Pack 22L Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 22 L 
Weight 14 oz 
Material 75-210D Nylon
Price $$


Best Travel Daypack for Space-Constrained Travelers

3. Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

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 daypack designed for the trail.

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 a nylon composite 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. There are no extra straps, no pockets beside the one main pocket, no padding at all, and no side pockets. It’s not weatherproof, although the bottom is water-resistant. This is definitely not a bag for the faint of heart or for anyone likely to carry heavy things.

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 travel daypack for you. If you want a bag you can grab as you run out the door or something to take on a quick trip, this is a good daypack for you.

✅ Pros

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

❌ Cons

  • Not very durable
  • No padding 
  • Not good for commuters 

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack Specifications:

Features Details
Capacity 20 L 
Weight 2.5 oz 
Material Siliconized Cordura
Price $


Best Travel Daypack for Lightweight Waterproofness

4. Matador Freerain24 Backpack

Matador Freerain24 Backpack

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

First and foremost, the main compartment of the Matador Freerain 24 Backpack is waterproof. As you can probably guess from the name, this is a big selling point of the bag. The bag as a whole is not waterproof, but the main compartment is lined with waterproof material and rolls down at the top to close, resulting in a seal that keeps out the rain. The bag is very light at 5.5 oz, but with 24 L of space, it’s still plenty big enough for your gear.

Comfort-wise, given that this is a lightweight bag, there is not much in the way of padding. But there are other comfort features such as shoulder straps to allow the bag to cuddle your frame more closely. There’s a large vertical pocket on the front of the bag, and the compression sack doubles as an internal pocket for your valuables.

As a bonus, one reviewer mentioned that in an emergency you could fill the main compartment with water and use it to wash clothes! Now that’s multifunctional.

Overall, this is an excellent travel daypack if you want a lightweight bag but don’t want it stripped down to the bone. The waterproof aspect makes it a great companion during adverse weather on short hikes. I also think the blue color they have on the website looks very cool.

✅ Pros

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

❌ Cons

  • No padding 
  • Not good for commuters 

Matador Freerain24 Backpack Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 24 L 
Weight 5.5 oz 
Material 30D Cordura
Price $$


Best Travel Daypack for Minimalist Travelers

5. Osprey Daylite

Osprey Daylite

Osprey is a huge name in the backpack world, and as someone who took one of the company’s 65 L backpacks around the world, I am a big fan. Osprey’s Daylite bags were originally designed to be attached to the back of some of the company’s larger backpacks to make them a convenient option for world travelers, but thanks to their popularity, they are now sold separately, as well.

At just 13 L, this is one of the smaller daypacks on the market. It’s designed to be more comfortable and durable, and that comes at the expense of extra weight, clocking in at 1 lb. It has a double layer of Ripstop nylon to keep your stuff safe. Despite its small size, people have said that it has a fairly handsome carrying capacity, which can be shrunk with the compression straps if needed.

The extra functionality is where this bag really shines. There’s plenty of padding on the back and shoulders, with adjustment straps at the top and bottom and two front straps.

There are a bunch of extra pockets on this bag, most importantly the water bladder pocket common to all Osprey bags, which is also a convenient size for a laptop or tablet if you need to pack one. There are zip pockets on the outside and inside, and elastic mesh pockets on the side.

Put simply, these bags are popular for a reason. They are comfy, and for most instances where you need one, this is one of the best travel daypacks money can buy.

✅ Pros

  • Protected by Osprey’s robust warranty 
  • Comfy
  • Compatible with other Osprey backpacks 

Osprey Daylite Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 13 L 
Weight 16 oz 
Material 30D Cordura
Price $$


Best Travel Daypack for Giving Back to the Community

6. Sydney Paige Guidi 18′′ Laptop Rucksack

Sydney Paige Guidi 18′′ Laptop Rucksack

This neat little daypack is aimed at the city slickers, whether you’re commuting or traveling. It comes with a very fashionable design, great functionality, and best of all, a buy one give one guarantee: For every backpack sold, the company fills another bag with school supplies and donates it to a needy child. How good is that!

As the name suggests, the Sydney Paige Guidi 18″ Laptop Rucksack is designed to hold laptops and other bulky study or work supplies. It’s built like a tank, with a very sturdy design and durable materials. Put simply, this thing is made to last. Despite all this, it weighs in at a 1.35 lb—heavier than other daypacks, but surprisingly light given all the frills. At 22 L, this daypack is going to hold a lot of stuff.

As you can see from the pictures, this bag comes with pockets galore. The main pocket feature is the padded laptop sleeve inside the main compartment, which can hold laptops up to 18”. The other pockets mostly seem to be on the outside to keep the inside clear for your things, which may be a small disadvantage from a security point of view.

The bag is well padded as it is meant to carry heavy books, meaning it will be a comfy ride all day no matter where you go.

If you’re on the hunt for a stylish daypack with a few extra features, look no further. This is the best travel daypack for digital nomads, day-trippers, or commuters looking for a bit of extra flair. The humanitarian donation is a great bonus as well.

✅ Pros

  • Buying promotes a great cause 
  • Durable
  • Stylish

❌ Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not good for hikers

Sydney Paige Guidi 18′′ Laptop Rucksack Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 22 L 
Weight 1.35 lbs
Material Canvas
Price $$


Best Travel Daypack for a Classic Backpack Style

7. Fjallraven Kanken Classic

Fjallraven Kanken Classic

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

The materials it’s made from are very sturdy, with a nylon composite exterior that is not only very durable, but easy to clean. A quick sponge down or a run through the washing machine and it’s good as new. At 13 L this is a smaller daypack, but I have often heard that it will fit a surprising amount of stuff. At 10.5 oz, this is about the middle of the road weight wise.

While the sturdiness is impressive, the functionality and aesthetics really make the Fjallraven Kanken Classic stand out. For starters, take the zip: it goes all the way around the outside of the bag for the main compartment, allowing a suitcase-style opening so you don’t have to dig for your small stuff. There’s a smaller pocket on the front, extra handles on top so you can carry it like a tote, and the padding in the back can be removed and used as a seat cushion.

These bags were initially designed as school bags with an emphasis on developing good posture, so it will always give you a comfortable fit that cushions your spine. And of course, we can’t forget that beautiful Scandinavian aesthetic—utilitarian, but with a timeless style.

This is a bag for the town and trail, no bones about it. I don’t think you could find a more stylish travel daypack if you tried. The only drawback in my mind is security. With the lack of internal pockets, 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.

✅ Pros

  • Stylish design
  • Very sturdy
  • Versatile 

❌ Cons

  • Lower security for your things 
  • Price

Fjallraven Kanken Classic Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 13 L 
Weight 10.5 oz
Material Polypropylene
Price $$


Best Travel Daypack for any Adventure

8. REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack

REI Co-op Flash Pack 18 in red

This daypack has been on sale in various iterations since the mid-2000s and has never failed to hold the attention of hikers looking for a solid travel daypack at a reasonable price.

First, the basics. As the name would suggest, the REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack has an 18 L capacity, which makes it a reliable medium-sized daypack. At 9 oz, it’s fairly light, and with its frameless build, it’s also very compact, rolling 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, and its ripstop nylon build makes it tough and durable.

Where this daypack can really shine is in the functionality side. One of the main drawcards of this bag is that it can be turned inside out and used as a gear bag, so it isn’t just taking up space when not in use. The main compartment is sealed with a drawstring and a flap rather than a zip, which many buyers have said was actually quite secure. There are also hip and chest straps and some removable back padding, which is nice, but there’s no shoulder padding, which is less nice.

Overall, this is one of the best value travel daypacks on the market. With its multifunctional design, I would say this is a big win for hikers, but probably not the best choice for city travelers or commuters.

✅ Pros

  • Great hiking daypack
  • Price
  • Functionality

❌ Cons

  • No shoulder padding
  • Not good for cities 

REI Co-op Flash 18 PacSpecs: 

Features Details
Capacity 18 L 
Weight 9 oz
Material Ripstop Nylon
Price $


Best Travel Daypack for Digital Nomads

9. North Face Borealis

North Face Borealis

Here is the perfect daypack for people traveling with electronics, from one of the biggest names in outdoor equipment. Designed to safely carry laptops and other important bits, the only way this backpack could be more protective is if it was made of Kevlar.

The North Face Borealis is the largest bag on the list so far, with a whopping 28 L of storage space. The construction is completed with a bunch of different materials, and North Face is so confident in its durability that it offers a lifetime warranty on the Borealis. All this size and complexity comes with a hefty weight tag at 2 lb 11 oz, so this is not a pack-it-and-go daypack by any means.

However, its size would make it a contender for a multi-day daypack for a short getaway. It’s also weatherproof to a degree; not as much as others, but still able to keep the rain out for a while.

In order to balance the weight of the bag and its contents, the designers have included an extensive system of supports and padding to make it as comfortable as possible. With plenty of back and shoulder padding—including an aerated sweat-wicking system in the lower back—this is one of the comfiest travel daypacks you can find.

The laptop sleeve is heavily padded to keep your electronic baby safe. Although, at 15”, it won’t fit larger laptop models. There are a bunch of extra pockets on the front and inside, including a padded tablet holder, which is a nice touch. Interestingly, while this daypack is sold as unisex, there’s also a women’s version if you need a bit of extra support.

Overall, I would say this is one of the best travel daypacks for digital nomads and short getaways. With its large compartment and protection for your vital electronics, this will keep your gear safe while also being available for a day on the trail. The price is a little high, but I think for what it offers, it’s good value for money.

✅ Pros

  • Excellent for digital nomads
  • Very protective
  • Good storage

❌ Cons

  • Heavy
  • Not good for hikers
  • Doesn’t fit larger laptops   

North Face Borealis Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 28 L 
Weight 2 lbs 11 oz
Material 600D Polyester
Price $$


Best Travel Daypack for Durability

10. Osprey Talon 22

Osprey Talon 22

If there was a Tinder for hikers to find their best travel daypack, it’d be time for you to swipe up and give this one a super like. This daypack has been lauded for its all-round 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 a form-hugging shape designed to complement your body and distribute the weight of your gear evenly through your frame. It also has an aluminum frame to maintain that weight spread and make the backpack sturdier without weighing it down excessively.

The pack clocks in at 1 lb 13 oz, with an alternative for smaller torsos weighing 1 lb 5 oz, so there is a bit of extra weight. However, the weight distribution technology should more than accommodate this.

As for features, there’s an aerated padding system on the back to keep you well-cushioned and less sweaty. The shoulder straps are very nicely padded, 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. There are three zippered pockets on the outside, some small, easy-access pockets on the chest and hip straps, two elastic mesh pockets on the side, compression straps, lots of bits to tie things onto, and a pocket on the back for a water bladder. If you can’t find somewhere to put something on this bag, I can’t help you.

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 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 hiking, climbing, cycling. Take it anywhere; this is the best travel daypack for outdoor adventure.

✅ Pros

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

❌ Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Pricey (but worth it)
  • Not good for commuters 

Osprey Talon 22 Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 22 L 
Weight 1 lb 13 oz
Material 70-100D Nylon
Price $$$


Best Travel Daypack for Security

11. Pacsafe Venturesafe X 12L

Pacsafe Venturesafe X 12L

If you have things you want to keep extra safe on your travels, you’re currently looking at the Fort Knox of daypacks. Pacsafe is a globally trusted brand that 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. Now, they present us with one of the best travel daypacks for security.

Materials are vital to this Pacsafe Venturesafe X 12L, with the creators claiming it to be slash-proof and pickpocket-proof. Central to this is a steel mesh underlayer that runs throughout the material of the backpack and through the straps, as well as a zip locking system to prevent people from sneakily opening the bag.

At 12 L, this is a small daypack; the materials are a slight disadvantage here, as it’s difficult to cram extra things in with the steel mesh rendering the bag quite stiff. It is also a little heavy for its size for the same reason, coming in at 1 lb 8 oz.

As features go, the entire design is oriented around security, with attention paid to what you want to keep safe. There’s a padded interior laptop pocket large enough for a tablet or small computer, an RFID-protected passport and credit card pocket at the back where it’s hardest to reach, and no external pockets beyond some water bottle slots.

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

✅ Pros

  • Very safe to keep your gear secure
  • Good city bag
  • Low-key design to blend in

❌ Cons

  • Not good for hikers
  • Small and heavy 

Pacsafe Venturesafe X 12L Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 12 L 
Weight 1 lb 8 oz
Material 210D Nylon
Price $$$


Best Travel Daypack for Outdoor Adventures

12. Deuter SpeedLite 20

Deuter SpeedLite 20

Here’s something for the fast hikers, trail runners, and wilderness endurance athletes. Deuter has designed this daypack to be the ultimate travel daypack for outdoor endurance sports, and having taken a look for ourselves, we would have to agree.

While the Deuter Speedlite 20 is a little heavier than others at 1 lb 1 oz, it has other structural advantages that make up for this extra weight. It is very solidly built, which gives it an advantage over the ultralight nylon daypacks which have some issues with durability. It is reinforced with a lightweight metal frame to give it some rigidity and help it hold its form-hugging shape during any kind of challenge.

As far as extras go, it has a few extra pockets, and while it has hip straps, they are a little thin. If you don’t like them, they are easy to remove. There are straps on the side and places to lash your poles and other gear should you need it. The point of this bag is to be totally utilitarian, with no “just in case” features to weigh you down.

Folks, if going fast with minimal gear is your game, then this is the best travel daypack for you. The Speed Lite has everything you need and not a bit more.

✅ Pros

  • Very durable
  • Minimalistic
  • Great support

Deuter SpeedLite 20 Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 20 L 
Weight 1 lb 1 oz
Material High-density nylon
Price $$


Best Travel Daypack for City Travel

13. Arc’teryx Index

Arc'teryx Index

This is another versatile daypack that walks the fine line between weight and comfort to perfection.

The Index is designed with trail and travel in mind. With 15 L of storage, it’s definitely a day-only pack, but with a weight of just 8 oz, you’ll barely realize it’s on your back. It’s water-resistant, with a lining of water-repellent material to keep your things dry while you find shelter. Many buyers have said that this bag has been very sturdy and the material has held up well over time.

The pockets on this daypack are very innovative, with a half-moon opening at the top instead of a vertical zip. This makes packing and unpacking much easier, which is handy on a small daypack. It can also compress into its own front pocket for easy storage.

With such a range of features and a stylish look, this has to be one of the best travel daypacks for someone looking to hit the streets and the trail.

✅ Pros

  • Excellent water repellency 
  • Light
  • Compact 

Arc’teryx Index Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 15 L 
Weight 8 oz
Material 200D Polyester
Price $$


Best Travel Daypack for Flying

14. Tortuga Outbreaker Daypack

Tortuga Outbreaker Daypack

The Outbreaker has a slightly different take on the packable daypack. Instead of packing into a baggie or one of its own pockets, the Outbreaker can flatten down to be put in a carry-on size suitcase, making it a very convenient travel daypack especially if you’re flying to your destination.

Convenience isn’t the only thing this daypack can offer. It’s also very waterproof, made of several layers of sailcloth with a waterproof coating on the inside to boot. The zippers are also designed to be weather resistant so that there are no hidden weaknesses. The back and shoulders are padded with aerating foam to keep you sweat-free. And there are enough straps to let you adjust it to your body type.

The Outbreaker Daypack is the perfect travel daypack for people who want to pack light. Its weatherproof material makes it ideal for the streets or the trail, and the comfort factor of the airflow on your back is a big bonus if you’re traveling somewhere warm.

✅ Pros

  • Very organized pockets
  • Stylish design
  • Weatherproof
  • Comfortable

❌ Cons

  • The laptop padding is very minimal

Tortuga Outbreaker Daypack Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 21 L 
Weight 1.1 lbs
Material VX03 Waterproof Sailcloth
Price $$


Best Travel Daypack for Hikers

15. Outlander Ultra Lightweight Packable

Outlander Ultra Lightweight Packable

Finally, here’s one last option for the hikers. If you are looking for a packable daypack that’s super light and also water-resistant, this the best travel daypack for you.

Outlander has developed the Ultra Lightweight Packable with adventurous travelers in mind. They have put a lot of effort into making this daypack waterproof without compromising on price or build quality, resulting in a very reasonably priced product that holds up over time. Many buyers have reported that this bag can take a surprising amount of abuse with no trouble.

As with other packable daypacks, the downside is the lack of padding. You’ll want to be careful what you try to carry in this daypack, as there’s no back padding to cushion you from any sharp edges. For this reason, it probably isn’t a great daypack if you’re planning on carrying laptops, as there is nothing to protect your fragile electronics if you drop the bag.

However, if light and roomy is what you’re after, this daypack would be a fantastic option for short trips and day hikers. At 20L, there is plenty of wiggle room for your gear. And, at 0.5 lb, it won’t be holding you down.

✅ Pros

  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Price
  • Durable

Outlander Ultra Lightweight Packable Specs: 

Features Details
Capacity 20 L 
Weight 8 oz
Material Waterproof Nylon
Price $


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.


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

Smaller bags 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, such as carrying your food and water on a day hike, carrying your camera and a book on a trip around a new city, or taking your essentials to work.

A significant advantage for travelers is that their small size means they don’t attract cabin bag charges on budget airlines. However, this comes at the sacrifice of versatility, because this kind of bag won’t be able to hold much more than a single coat if you’re hiking on a cold or wet day. Some small bags can be bundled up in a larger bag if you need something to take with you. 

photographer with a backpack standing on a ledge overlooking a desert
The size of your backpack will greatly depend on what you’re using it for

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, such as pockets and zippy bits 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. There’s also the concern of the “just in case” packing. If you have more space, you might ultimately pack more than you need because you keep saying ‘just in case.’


The main advantage of a daypack is that it allows you to stay fast and mobile – whether that means a commute, a hike, or a trip abroad. Carrying snacks or gear with you will enable you more freedom to move for longer periods without having to stop and buy more things or pick up something new. Therefore, the best travel daypacks will be as light as possible.

However, you must be careful on this point. It’s no good having a backpack made out of paper. You should avoid any bag that has sacrificed its fundamental integrity to save a few extra grams. In a daypack, you are looking for something that will hold your things securely on your back first and foremost; low weight is a bonus.

I advise you to be mindful of the weight of your chosen daypack, but don’t think of it as the be-all-end-all. At the end of the day, you are carrying this weight on one of the strongest parts of your body, so unless you are trying to stay super light for trail running or something similar, I would prioritize build quality over bag weight.


One of the most pressing concerns of any daypack buyer is how comfortable the bag will be. A backpack with a good fit, appropriate padding, and the right kind of straps will make a world of difference on your shoulders. A snug fit will also encourage good posture and keep your back in good health in the long term.

What makes a good fit in a daypack? Well, it partly depends on you. Height is a significant factor; taller people will feel uncomfortable with a tiny round daypack clinging to their shoulders, while smaller folks won’t be happy with a bag that bangs on their thighs.

A man hiking in the mountains with a small daypack and bedding
Finding a comfortable daypack is essential if you plan to do some hiking!

However, this isn’t the only factor. While your ratty old school bag will just have a piece of fabric between your back and the inside of the bag, the best travel daypacks have a system of rigid and flexible supports that holds the shape of your spine and moves with your movements. This support is particularly important for anyone that suffers from poor posture.

In the best travel daypacks, the support system will be complemented with padding through the back and shoulder area. Obviously, these are the areas where the bag will be in constant contact. And you don’t want them to be too harsh on your skin or too flimsy if you’re carrying something heavy. Ideally, this padding should be made of breathable material to wick away the dreaded puddle of back sweat.

Finally: the straps. These are crucial elements in the comfort of your daypack. The top of the strap that rubs against your shoulder needs to be appropriately padded and made of a skin-friendly material to keep your shoulders feeling good.

You should take note of the space between the straps at the top of the pack. Carrying a backpack with overly narrow straps can be painful on your shoulders, and carrying one that is too wide is just annoying.

Waist straps and chest straps are also worth considering for extra comfort, particularly if you’re wearing a loaded daypack for longer periods. These extra straps distribute the weight of the daypack more evenly through your body, and also keep it firmly in place on your back.

Pockets, Storage and Organization

An often-overlooked element of a good travel daypack is the organization component. It’s all very well saying you’ll just shove everything in the bottom and hope for the best. But you’ll be looking pretty silly when you have to unpack the whole thing to find your camera for the perfect travel snap!

Keeping things organized can make the travel experience so much easier, 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 will keep a heavy weight off your mind. 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
A good travel daypack will take you anywhere.

Good pockets are also important on the trail. It’s all very well having a mesh pocket on the side of the bag for a water bottle, but what if it’s too small? Is your bottle going to fall out every time you sit down or lean forward? If you fancy a snack but don’t want to sit down, will you be able to reach that pocket without taking off the bag?

Little things, but they can make a world of difference.

Weatherproofing and Materials

These daypacks are designed to keep your stuff safe as well as portable, so it’s a good idea to find daypacks that are made of tough material that won’t tear easily. On the trail, it can be all too easy to catch a flimsy backpack on a spiky branch or drag it along a rough rock, ripping it completely.

And, my friends, until you have been in that situation, you will not believe how inconvenient all of your stuff suddenly is! In the city, this can still be a concern. Pickpockets in some places have been known to cut a bag open while the owner is wearing it. If security is a factor for you, definitely look for a sturdier material in your daypack.

I would also recommend looking at daypacks with weatherproof qualities. You never know when the heavens will open up on you, and it’s good to be prepared with a backpack that can keep your stuff dry—at least for a while.

Most daypacks 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 daypack is a very visible piece of equipment to carry, so if you have one, you’ll probably want it to look the part. Some daypacks are made for the trail and are, therefore, more utilitarian—basically like mini hiking bags.

In my opinion, the best travel daypacks are those that manage to combine style and function. You can wear it around town without looking like a lost tourist but also hit the trail with the confidence that it will take a bit of punishment.

Fifteen amazing travel daypacks and tough choices. Which one will you choose? No matter what you pick, I hope it helps you live the adventure you want! 


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