Gear Review: The 6 Best Hiking Daypacks

December 5, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments
The best new hiking daypack of 2017, the Exped Skyline 15 daypack.

The best new hiking daypack of 2017, the Exped Skyline 15 daypack.

By Michael Lanza

Choosing a daypack for hiking can seem simple—until you see the dozens of choices out there today, which range all over the map in terms of volume, weight, carrying capacity, features, and cost. Before buying, consider what you need a daypack for. How much stuff will you carry? That partly depends on where, when, and how far you hike. What kind of pack design suits your dayhiking style: low- or high-capacity? Lightweight and minimalist, or with an assortment of pockets and features? Built for hard abuse, or mostly for cruising good trails?

The six daypacks in this review stand out as the best available today—and they’re all different enough from one another to offer you clear choices to help you find the right pack for your dayhiking adventures.

Plus, right now, you’ll find some of them at sharply reduced sale prices.

The comparison chart offers a quick look at features that distinguish the packs from one another. Each of the short reviews below the chart include a link to my complete review of the pack.

 

DaypackPriceVolumeWeightCarrying CapacityFeatures
Deuter Speed Lite 20$8920L/1,220 c.i.1 lb. 3 oz.10-12 lbs.* Lightweight
* Zipper access to main compartment
* 4 pockets
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak$22517L/1,040 c.i.1 lb. 4 oz.12 lbs.* Lightweight, waterproof, durable
* Zipper access to main compartment
* 4 pockets
Gregory Miwok 18/Maya 16$10016-18L/976-1,098 c.i.1 lb. 10 oz.15 lbs.* Lightweight
* Men's and women's models
* Ventilating harness, hipbelt, back panel
* 6 pockets
Osprey Talon 22 and Tempest 20$11020-22L/1,220-1,343 c.i. (men's Talon)
18-20L/1,098-1,220 c.i. (women's Tempest)
1 lb. 11 oz. (men's S/M)15 lbs.* Lightweight
* Men's and women's models
* Ventilating harness, hipbelt, back pad
* 6 pockets
Exped Skyline 15$12915L/915 c.i.2 lbs. 5 oz.20+ lbs.* Unique hybrid suspension
* Two zippers accessing main compartment
* 4 external pockets
* Rain cover
Gregory Salvo/Sula 28$13028L/1,708 c.i.2 lbs. 7 oz.20+ lbs.* 2 spacious main compartments
* Ventilating harness, hipbelt, back panel
* 5 external pockets

 

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Deuter Speed Lite 20

$89, 20L/1,220 c.i., 1 lb. 3 oz.

On 20-mile, 4,500-foot, mid-September trail run-hike in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, including a 1,400-foot, third-class scramble up 10,651-foot Snowyside Peak, the Speed Lite 20 delivered all I needed for a lightweight adventure. A minimalist bag that carries 10 to 12 pounds comfortably, it has quick access to the main compartment via a deep, U-shaped top zipper, two compression straps on each side, four pockets, and a tapered shape that stays out of the way of swinging arms when hiking or running.

Read my complete review of the Deuter Speed Lite 20.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to purchase a Deuter Speed Lite 20 at backcountry.com.

 

 

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak

$225, 17L/1,040 c.i., 1 lb. 4 oz. (medium)

Lightweight and tough aren’t adjectives I often use together when describing gear, but they both apply to the Daybreak, which I’ve used dayhiking, on multi-pitch rock climbs, and ski touring. The ultralight, waterproof Dyneema fabric (the zipper’s also waterproof) got dragged over rock without suffering damage. With a thin, flexible back pad and no frame, you can roll the Daybreak up and strap it to the outside of a backpack. Carrying 12 pounds comfortably, this minimalist bag has four pockets—including a large, front, bellows pocket—and comes in three sizes, very unusual for a daypack. Despite always testing new daypacks, I consistently grab this for dayhikes and multi-pitch rock climbs.

Read my complete review of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking either of these links to purchase a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak at backcountry.com or hyperlitemountaingear.com.

 

Gregory Miwok 18

Gregory Miwok 18

Gregory Miwok 18/Maya 16

$100, 18L/1,098 c.i., 1 lb. 10 oz.

On a 32-mile, 10,000-vertical-foot, nine-peak dayhike in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the lightweight Miwok 18 carried 15 pounds of clothing, food, water, and camera gear comfortably while hugging my back. It has quick, one-zip access to the main compartment, plus six pockets, including two on the hipbelt and a very useful, expandable, front stuff-it pocket with a bungee closure that holds a bike or climbing helmet. The bladder sleeve sits behind the back pad, and an attachment on the front secures trekking poles or an ice axe.

Read my complete review of the Gregory Miwok 18/Maya 16.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase a men’s Gregory Miwok 18 at backcountry.com or a women’s Maya 16 at moosejaw.com or rei.com. Or you can get a men’s Miwok 12 or Miwok 24 at backcountry.com, a women’s Maya 22 at backcountry.com, or a Maya 10 at backcountry.com, or a Maya 32, Maya 22, Maya 10, or Maya 5 at moosejaw.com or rei.com.

 

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by USA Today and others. I invite you to get email updates about new stories and gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box in the left sidebar, at the bottom of this post, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Osprey Talon 22

Osprey Talon 22

Osprey Talon 22/Tempest 20

$110, 20L/1,220 c.i., 1 lb., 11 oz. (men’s S/M)

From a 14-mile, nearly 3,000-foot round-trip dayhike up 11,049-foot Telescope Peak, the highest in Death Valley National Park, to the rugged hike up Cerro Chato in Costa Rica, Osprey’s newly updated for 2017 men’s Talon 22 carried up to 15 pounds comfortably, thanks to a suspension featuring a flexible, plastic framesheet, and a seamless, foam hipbelt that forms one continuous piece with the nicely ventilated mesh back panel. Unusually feature-rich for daypacks that weigh in well under two pounds, the men’s Talon and women’s Tempest sport easy access to the main compartment via a big clamshell zipper, and multiple pockets on the hipbelt, sides, top, and front, as well as a handy attachments for trekking poles, a bike helmet, and a light. They’re arguably the most versatile multi-sport daypacks on the market.

Read my complete review of the Osprey Talon 22 and Tempest 20.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase a men’s Osprey Talon 22 at backcountry.com or a women’s Osprey Tempest 20 at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com. Or buy another size of the Talon from 11L to 44L at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com, or another size of the Tempest from 9L to 40L at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com.

 

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Exped Skyline 15

Exped Skyline 15

Exped Skyline 15

$129, 19L/915 c.i., 2 lbs. 5 oz.

Real technological innovation happens rarely in daypacks. Now comes Exped’s new Switchback suspension. With one quick and simple adjustment, it essentially shape-shifts the Skyline 15 between two different types of pack: with a gap between your back and the pack, maximizing air flow to keep you cool; or with a spine-hugging back panel to deliver the most stability when hiking in difficult terrain or scrambling off-trail. It carries 20 pounds comfortably and has nice organization, including two zippers offering quick access to the main compartment and possibly the roomiest hipbelt pockets I’ve ever seen on a daypack.

Read my complete review of the Exped Skyline 15.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking either of these links to purchase an Exped Skyline 15 at moosejaw.com or an Exped Skyline 25 at moosejaw.com.

 

Gregory Salvo 28

Gregory Salvo 28

Gregory Salvo/Sula 28

$130, 28L/1,708 c.i., 2 lbs. 7 oz.

The Freespan suspension in the men’s Salvo and women’s Sula delivers more support and comfort than you’ll find in many daypacks, thanks to a steel perimeter frame with an aluminum leaf spring for lumbar support. But unlike many daypacks with a trampoline back panel, the Freespan uniquely ventilates well without its concave shape effectively consuming part of the pack’s interior space; and it keeps the pack bag close to your spine, so it doesn’t feel like it’s tugging you backward. At 28 liters, it has plenty to capacity for all the clothing, water, and food you could possibly need for an all-day hike in any terrain or weather, and five external pockets.

Read my complete review of the Gregory Salvo/Sula 28.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase a Gregory Salvo 28 at backcountry.com or a Sula 28 at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com. Or buy a Salvo 18 at backcountry.com, or a Sula 18 at backcountry.com, or Sula 24 at moosejaw.com.

 

Tell me what you think.

I spent a lot of time writing this story, so if you enjoyed it, please consider giving it a share using one of the buttons below, and leave a comment or question at the bottom of this story. I’d really appreciate it.

 

See all of my reviews of daypacks I like and my “5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack” (which includes daypacks) and all of my reviews of hiking gear.

NOTE: I reviewed gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.

—Michael Lanza

This blog and website is my full-time job and I rely on the support of readers. If you like what you see here, please help me continue producing The Big Outside by making a donation using the Support button at the top of the left sidebar or below. Thank you for your support.









 


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3 Responses to Gear Review: The 6 Best Hiking Daypacks

  1. Sabrina   |  June 28, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    I have been hiking since I was really young! My backyard is basically a part of the forest, so my siblings and I always went out for little adventures. As I broaden my horizons for new hiking trails, I’m finding many trails I have never heard of personally! A lot of the hiking trails are long and a day bag is definitely required. I was not aware of all of the options that were out there! I found that this post has really opened my eyes about the different options. I am going to look into more o these backpacks and hopefully purchase one in the near future. Thank you for this information filled post!

    • MichaelALanza   |  June 28, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      Hi Sabrina, thanks for the compliments, I’m glad you found The Big Outside. Good luck in finding the right daypack for you.

  2. John Kelly   |  November 20, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Michael,

    I had an interesting conversation with a friend last night who owns a store in a relatively small chain of outdoor stores in Western Canada (Valhalla Pure Outfitters) after he went to your sit on my recommendation. He understands your running a business with the Big Outdoors but was frustrated by your readers being directed to big retail outlets at the expense of local shops.

    Although I do a lot of online research I will not buy on line unless it is the only option. Firstly, I may be old school, but I like to or need to try clothing or shoes or check out equipment. Secondly or may be firstly, I really value the knowledge and assistance of good owners like my friend. He has given me some amazing support over the years which is any reason I prefer to frequent a good local shop and build a relationship with the key staff.

    I know I am a gear freak but I also know that many times my well being and safety depend on the clothing and equipment I am using. To this end working with someone like my friend will result in getting the best piece of equipment. It would be a shame to lose this type of service.

    Cheers. Keep up your great work.

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