The 10 Best Hiking Daypacks of 2024

By Michael Lanza

Choosing a daypack for hiking can seem overwhelming when you see the dozens of choices available today, which range all over the map in terms of volume, weight, carrying capacity, features, and cost—as well as fit and comfort. Look no further. This freshly updated review spotlights the best daypacks for hiking and offers expert buying tips that explain the subtle differences between packs to help you find the right one for your own adventures.

This article covers a wide range of daypacks, from 16 to 36 liters and 17 ounces to almost three-and-a-half pounds, each one a standout for different reasons and uses. My picks and buying tips are based on personally testing new daypacks constantly through thousands of miles of hiking and more than a quarter-century of testing and reviewing gear—formerly for 10 years as the lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog.

I think this review will help you find a pack that’s perfect for you—plus you’ll usually find the best prices at affiliate links in this review (which support this blog when you make a purchase through them, at not cost to you).

Please share your own experiences with any of these packs, suggest other daypacks, or ask questions in the comments section at the bottom of this story. I try to respond to all comments.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.


The Gregory Miko 20 daypack.
The Gregory Miko 20 daypack.

Buying Tips

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 to carry plenty of gear, clothing, food, and water, or a light load? Armored for hard abuse, or needed mostly for cruising good trails?

Here are some details to consider when choosing a daypack:

  • Volume/Capacity For most three-season dayhikes where you’re carrying the usual stuff (clothing, food, water, some incidentals like a camera), a daypack between 16 and 24 liters has enough space, with the lower end of that range best for hikers who prioritize a streamlined, lightweight design, and the upper end of that range for hikers who sometimes need extra capacity. For outings that are unusually gear-intensive—or carrying stuff for another person—look to a pack that’s 28 liters or more. For carrying bare essentials in good weather, a 12-liter daypack may be fine; but for trekking hut to hut for several days, you may need a pack in the 36-40L range.
  • Suspension We all have our own idea of how much weight is comfortable in a daypack, but how much weight a pack can comfortably carry largely depends on its frame (if there is one) and suspension (the shoulder straps and waist belt). Very light daypacks—under roughly 1.5 pounds—offer minimal support and putting more than 10 to 12 pounds inside may compromise their comfort, which simply means that your body will feel the weight more. Daypacks designed to carry 15 to 20 pounds or more typically have padded shoulder straps and waist belt and a metal wire frame and/or a plastic framesheet to maintain the pack’s shape and direct most of the weight onto your hips.
  • Fit As with backpacks, fit is critical to carrying comfort, especially the more weight you’re putting inside the daypack. Low-capacity daypacks designed to carry no more than about 10 pounds often come in one size, while larger-capacity daypacks will come in two or three sizes and men’s and women’s models, to help you find a better fit. See my story “Top 5 Tips for Buying the Right Backpacking Pack” for instructions on how to measure your torso to fit a backpack or daypack.
  • Organization Quick access to the main compartment—usually in the form of a clamshell-style zipper, or a vertical side zipper if the pack has a lid that buckles down—and multiple pockets on the outside offer great convenience. So do little details like attachments for trekking poles and an ice axe. Those features also add cost and some weight and bulk. Consider how important compartmentalization is to you and how much stuff you want to have within reach while wearing the pack.
  • Materials Many daypacks for hiking are made with similar materials, from a reasonably durable body fabric and tougher fabric on the bottom to stretch-mesh external pockets that are more vulnerable to tearing and perforated, breathable foam in the back panel, shoulder straps, and waist belt. But some daypacks are built with tougher materials that will withstand hard use—sometimes (but not always) adding weight and cost. Again, this comes down to how you plan to use the pack.

The comparison chart lists the packs from lightest to heaviest and offers a quick look at features that distinguish these packs from one another; the overall ratings are based on criteria that tend to favor heavier daypacks, so they’re most helpful when comparing packs of similar weights. Each of the short reviews below the chart includes a link to my complete review of the pack.

The 10 Best Hiking Daypacks

DaypackRatingVolumePriceWeightCarrying CapacityFeatures
The North Face Chimera 184.118L/1,098 c.i.$991 lb. 1 oz./
481.9g
15 lbs./
6.8kg
* Men's and women's models
* Good comfort
* Very lightweight
* Unique harness and compression
* 6 pockets
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak3.817L/1,040 c.i.$2291 lb. 4 oz./
566.9g
12 lbs./
5.44kg
* Waterproof
* Highly durable
* 3 unisex sizes
* 4 pockets
Patagonia Altiva 20L3.722L/1,343 c.i., $1291 lb. 8oz./
680.4g
12 lbs./
5.44kg
* 2 unisex sizes
* Breathable back panel, shoulder straps, hipbelt
* 6 pockets
Osprey Talon 22 and Tempest 204.122L/1,343 c.i.$1601 lb. 11 oz./
765.4g (men's S/M)
15 lbs./
6.8kg
* Men's and women's models
* Ventilating back panel
* Multiple features
* 6 pockets
Arc'teryx Aerios 304.130L/1,831 c.i.$1902 lbs./
907.2g
20 lbs./
9.07kg
* Unique vest-like suspension
* Men's and women's models
* Breathable back panel
* 7 pockets
Gregory Miko 20/Maya 204.220L/1,220 c.i.$1302 lbs. 1 oz./
935.5g
15 lbs./
6.8kg
* Men's and women's models
* Adjustable fit
* Ventilating harness, hipbelt, back panel
* 6 pockets
Deuter AC Lite 23 and AC Lite 21 SL3.823L/1,404 c.i.$1102 lbs. 1 oz./
935.5g
20 lbs./
9.07kg
* Excellent ventilating harness and comfort
* Men's and women's models
* 3 pockets
Gregory Citro 24/Juno 243.820L/1,708 c.i.$1702 lbs. 3.5 oz./
1kg
20 lbs./
9.07kg
* Men's and women's models
* Ventilating back panel
* 6 pockets
Mystery Ranch Coulee 304.629L/1,770 c.i.$1892 lbs. 9 oz./
1.2kg
25+ lbs./
11.3kg
* 2 men's and women's adjustable sizes
* Unique 3-zipper access to main compartment
* Balances weight, comfort, durability
* 7 pockets
Deuter Trail Pro 36 and Trail Pro 34 SL4.336L/2,197 c.i.$1853 lbs. 7 oz./
1.56kg
25-35 lbs./
11.34kg-15.88kg
* Men's and women's models
* Large carrying capacity, multiple features
* Very durable
* 6 pockets
* rain cover
The North Face Chimera 18.
The North Face Chimera 18.

The North Face Chimera 18

$99, 18L/1,098 c.i., 1 lb. 1 oz./481.9g
moosejaw.com

You don’t expect this much from a daypack weighing just 17 ounces, but the Chimera 18 exhibits surprising comfort and versatility even for long hikes with up to 15 pounds inside. From Glacier and Zion national parks to a 21-mile, 10,000+-vertical-foot, rim-to-rim dayhike across the Grand Canyon, this featherweight felt quite comfortable.

TNF’s unique DynoCinch System, adjustable using cords within reach when wearing the pack, compresses the load to improve stability, and the harness disperses the load across wide shoulder straps while keeping the pack’s empty weight down. Its organization features quick access to zippered main compartments plus mesh pockets on the shoulder straps. All in all, a great quiver-of-one daypack.

Read my complete review of The North Face Chimera 18.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking either of these affiliate links to purchase a men’s or women’s The North Face Chimera 18 or Chimera 24 at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com.

See “The 25 Best National Park Dayhikes
and “Extreme Hiking: America’s Best Hard Dayhikes.”

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak

$229, 17L/1,040 c.i., 1 lb. 4 oz./566.9g
hyperlitemountaingear.com

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, at no cost to you, by clicking either of these affiliate links to purchase a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak at backcountry.com or hyperlitemountaingear.com.

Want a really ultralight, minimalist daypack?
See my review of the Black Diamond Trail Blitz 12 and REI Flash 18.

Patagonia Altvia 22L front.
Patagonia Altvia 22L.

Patagonia Altvia 22L

$129, 22L/1,343 c.i., 1 lb. 8 oz./680.4g
patagonia.com

When carrying less than 15 pounds—as many hikers do—you don’t need an over-engineered, heavy pack. Enter the Patagonia Altvia 22L, which marries low weight, good capacity, and easy access. On dayhikes of up to 12 miles—including one trail that rises 2,000 vertical feet in two miles—I was impressed with the Altvia’s functionality and versatility.

With just a foam back pad, the pack remains light, while breathable shoulder straps and hipbelt and a mesh back panel keeps you cool when working up a sweat. Still, organization is excellent, with a clamshell zipper quickly opening the main compartment and six external pockets. Green creds include recycled and PFC-free materials.

See my complete review of the Patagonia Altvia 22L.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking this affiliate link to purchase a Patagonia Altvia 22L or other versions of the Altvia at patagonia.com.

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Osprey Talon 22
Osprey Talon 22

Osprey Talon 22/Tempest 20

$160, 20L/1,220 c.i., 1 lb., 11 oz./765.4g
ospreypacks.com

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 and many other trails, the Talon 22 carried up to 15 pounds comfortably, thanks to a suspension featuring a flexible, plastic framesheet, and an adjustable harness with 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 handy attachments for trekking poles, a bike helmet, and a light. They’re among 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, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase a men’s Osprey Talon 22 or another size at ospreypacks.com, backcountry.com, or moosejaw.com, or a women’s Osprey Tempest 20 or another size at ospreypacks.com, backcountry.com, or moosejaw.com.

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Join now to read ALL stories and get a free e-guide and member gear discounts!

 

The Gregory Miko 20 front.
The Gregory Miko 20.

Gregory Miko 20/Maya 20

$130, 20L/1,220 c.i., 2 lbs. 1 oz./935.5g
moosejaw.com

Gregory’s Miko and Maya, the latest updates of the classic, lightweight men’s and women’s Miwok and Maya daypacks, retain all that made their predecessors outstanding, from the comfortable, close-fitting, very breathable, adjustable suspension to the quick access to the main compartment, six external pockets, and the independent, zippered bladder sleeve outside the main compartment. Carrying the Miko 20 on all-day, rugged hikes from New Hampshire’s Presidential Range to Utah’s Wasatch Range, I found this versatile bag remains my favorite for most of my three-season, done-in-a-day adventures.

Read my complete review of the 2019 Miko 20 and Maya 20.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase a Gregory men’s Miko 20 at moosejaw.com or rei.com, a women’s Maya 20 at at moosejaw.com or rei.com, or other versions of the Miko at moosejaw.com, backcountry.com, or rei.com, and the Maya at moosejaw.com or backcountry.com.

Planning your next big adventure? See “America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips
and “Tent Flap With a View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites.”

Arc'teryx Aerios 30 front bungee.
The Arc’teryx Aerios 30.

Arc’teryx Aerios 30

$190, 30L/1,831 c.i., 2 lbs./907.2g
rei.com

Marrying elements of traditional daypacks and running vests, the Aerios 30 has bountiful capacity, an inspired design, and superior durability—all at a modest weight. With a light but impressively supportive framesheet, fixed (non-adjustable), wide, padded shoulder straps and hipbelt, and a highly breathable, mesh-covered Aeroform back panel with a slightly concave shape that allows good air flow, it has the support and comfort for carrying 20 pounds.

The voluminous main compartment, accessed by a deep, clamshell zipper, and seven external pockets deliver excellent organization. Despite one flaw, the Aerios 30 ranks as one of today’s most versatile daypacks.

Read my complete review of the Arc’teryx Aerios 30.

BUY IT NOW  You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking this affiliate link to purchase the men’s or women’s Arc’teryx Aerios 30 at arcteryx.com or rei.com.

Plan your next great backpacking trip in Yosemite, Grand Teton, or other parks using my expert e-guides.

The Deuter AC Lite 23 daypack.
The Deuter AC Lite 23.

Deuter AC Lite 23 and AC Lite 21 SL

$110, 23L/1,404 c.i., 2 lbs. 1 oz./935.5g
moosejaw.com

On a hot and humid hut trek in New Hampshire’s Presidential Range, a friend and I hiked 21 miles and over 12,000 cumulative feet up and down on some of the hardest trails in the White Mountains. In that laboratory of sweat and arduousness, the Deuter AC Lite 23 demonstrated its strengths of comfort and ventilation.

Deuter’s Aircomfort harness creates as much ventilation as you’ll find in a daypack. These packs to carry 20 pounds well, not shifting even on the steepest trails. They have highly durable, 600-denier fabric and three exterior pockets—although none on the hipbelt.

Read my complete review of the Deuter AC Lite 23 and AC Lite 21 SL.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking either of these affiliate links to purchase a Deuter AC Lite 23, AC Lite 21 SL, AC Lite 24, or AC Lite 22 SL at moosejaw.com or rei.com.

Want to hike the Teton Crest Trail, John Muir Trail, or another trip?
Click here for expert advice you won’t get elsewhere.

Gregory Citro 20 front.
Gregory Citro 20.

Gregory Citro 24/Juno 24

$170, 20L/1,708 c.i., 2 lbs. 3.5 oz./1kg
moosejaw.com

The men’s Citro 24 and women’s Juno 24 are arguably the lightest daypacks that offer excellent organization and the support and comfort for carrying more than 20 pounds, as well as the versatility to crossover from dayhiking to bike commuting and other activities.

A lightweight, wire perimeter frame with a leaf-spring in the lumbar area transfers much of the pack weight onto your hips, and Gregory’s moisture-wicking, VaporSpan back panel ventilates nicely. The main compartment is accessed quickly via a convenient, clamshell-style zipper, and there are six external pockets, side compression, and attachments for axes and poles.

Read my complete review of the previous models, the Gregory Citro 20/Juno 20.

Gregory has updated the Citro and Juno packs with a Citro 20 H2O($170), Citro 30 H2O ($180, also in Plus size), Juno 24 H2O ($170), and Juno 30 H2O ($180, also in Plus size). See them all at gregorypacks.com.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase a Gregory Citro 20 or another size at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com, or the Gregory Juno 20 or another size at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com.

Make your trail runs and fast hikes better with one of “The Best Running Hydration Vests
and one of the best ultralight hiking and running jackets.

 

Mystery Ranch Coulee 30 front.
Mystery Ranch Coulee 30.

Mystery Ranch Coulee 30

$189, 29L/1,770 c.i., 2 lbs. 9 oz./1.2kg (men’s S/M)
moosejaw.com

Hikers willing to accept a small weight penalty for more carrying capacity and superior comfort, access, versatility, and durability, will love the Mystery Ranch Coulee 30.

Most uniquely, instead of a traditional, separate lid, a three-zipper systemtwo that open the top and a vertical front zipper—provide uniquely quick and complete access to the main compartment. The well-padded harness—adjustable for torso length—and HDPE framesheet enable the Coulee 30 to carry 25 pounds/11.3kg or more comfortably. Plus, seven external pockets—one on top and two each on the sides, front, and hipbelt—give it excellent organization.

Read my complete review of the Mystery Ranch Coulee 30.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase a men’s Mystery Ranch Coulee 30 at moosejaw.com, backcountry.com, or mysteryranch.com, a women’s Mystery Ranch Coulee 30 at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or mysteryranch.com, or any other pack in the Coulee series at moosejaw.com, backcountry.com, or mysteryranch.com.

Time for a better backpack?
See “The 10 Best Backpacking Packs” and the best ultralight backpacks.

 

Deuter Trail Pro 36 front.
Deuter Trail Pro 36.

Deuter Trail Pro 36 and Trail Pro 34 SL

$185, 36L/2,197 c.i., 3 lbs. 7 oz./1.56kg
backcountry.com

Deuter’s Trail Pro 36 and women’s Trail Pro 34 SL are high-volume, feature-rich daypacks that diverge from the current trend toward lighter gear—making them uniquely suited to carrying heavier loads and more versatile than many of today’s daypacks.

A spring-steel suspension and plastic framesheet give the Trail Pro a weight-carrying capacity comparable to many lightweight, 50-liter backpacks, and the suspension’s design enhances comfort. This top-loader has a U-shaped zipper to access the main compartment—unusual among daypacks—and abundant pockets, a rain cover, utilitarian features like ice axe and trekking poles attachments and a carabiner/gear loop, and it’s bomber.

Read my complete review of the Deuter Trail Pro 36 and Trail Pro 34 SL.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase a Deuter Trail Pro 36 at moosejaw.com or backcountry.com, a women’s Trail Pro 34 SL at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com, a Trail Pro 32 at backcountry.com, or a women’s Trail Pro 30 SL at moosejaw.com or backcountry.com.

See all of my reviews of daypacks I like and all of my reviews of hiking gear.

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See The Big Outside’s Gear Reviews page for categorized menus of gear reviews and expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza

The Big Outside helps you find the best adventures.
Join now for full access to ALL stories and get a free e-guide and member gear discounts!

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Leave a Comment

26 thoughts on “The 10 Best Hiking Daypacks of 2024”

  1. Hi Michael,

    I recently found your blog and enjoying the reads. I wanted your opinion on a couple packs since you’ve personally tried so many. I’ve recently bought my son and I a Gregory Wanderer 70 and Baltoro 65, respectively. I’m very impressed with their build quality, but haven’t been able to put them through their paces yet for backpacking. I’m just needing a better daypack for our long hikes as the large ones are overkill. As a family we get out frequently from two- to 10-mile dayhikes, mostly around Texas. We do get the pleasure of wandering farther north with the cold snow, but only a couple times a year.

    First, I keep going back and forth on whether to get the Gregory 24L Miko or 24L Citro for a more technical daypack. They seem very similar other than the support system. I’ve found my back gets really hot with normal packs or not enough support with lightweight packs. I’ve tried the Gregory Nano 14, Sea to Summit 20 L Ultra-Sil Travel Day Pack and Osprey Ultralight 20L Dry Pack. I was obviously trying to get something super lightweight for backpacking to drop into the larger pack, but they don’t give enough support when carrying gear for a family of 4 plus a dog. It gets heavy quickly carrying over 5 L of fluids for everyone plus the essentials.

    Second, since my older is getting big enough to carry his own gear as a preteen, I’m wanting to get him a good daypack that won’t break the bank but will last a long time. For him I’ve been looking at the Gregory Arrio 18, 22 or Nano 20. I was originally going to just get a Nano 20, but looking at the suspension the Arrio may be a better fit in this climate for a little more.

    Look forward to hearing back.

    Reply
    • Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for your good words about my blog, I’m glad it’s helpful to you.

      With the Wander 70 and Baltoro 65, you’re already telling me that you value support in any kind of pack. Those ultralight daypacks you’ve used are fine for very light loads and short jaunts, but as you say, they fall far short of the support needed to carry what sounds like well over 15 pounds and maybe over 20 pounds on your back (the five liters of water alone weighing about 10.5 pounds).

      You already understand the differences between the Miko and Citro, although I would say the latter provides a bit more support. Given all that it sounds like you frequently carry, I would think you’ll be happier with the Citro 24 (and I say that as a fan of the Miko). And frankly, if I’m correctly understanding that you often carry 20 pounds or more on longer dayhikes, I would suggest you take a good look at the Mystery Ranch Coulee 30, which isn’t radically heavier than the Citro 24. Granted, your back might get sweatier, so that’s a tradeoff you must consider. But the adjustable suspension will really help you dial in a nice, comfortable fit, which makes a big difference in comfort.

      For your son, the Nano (as the name suggests) is ultralight, probably not comfortable with more than 10 pounds or even less. The Arrio, while still streamlined and not heavy by any stretch, will carry probably 15 pounds, maybe more, comfortably. I would consider the 24L because he’ll grow into being able to carry more long before that pack wears out.

      Check the sizing and fit on those packs and your son’s torso size; see the Fit section under my Buying Tips near the top of this story.

      I hope that helps. Keep in touch and good luck.

      Reply
      • This is exactly the what I was looking for, Thanks Michael. Can I ask specifically what the difference between the two are? Both systems look amazing, just the Citro looks like a mesh suspension versus the Miko special shaped foam. I am concerned with the longevity of the mesh as it’s very unique. I also noticed that marketing on the Citro is better from Gregory, so I assumed it was newer technology.

        Either way, I’m hoping that my older son starts carrying his own gear on the longer hikes that way I’m not carrying everything. Especially with the Arrio, he should be more inclined to carry his own stuff.

        Reply
  2. This article is a great starting point for anyone in the market for a daypack, but I feel like it could benefit from some additional information on the pack’s durability and long-term performance. It’s important to know if the pack can withstand rough conditions and heavy use over time. Perhaps including some insights on how these packs hold up after months or years of use would be valuable for readers. Overall, though, I enjoyed reading this review and found it quite informative. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Hi Adam,

      The individual reviews of each daypack in this article get into more detail and greater length about various performance aspects, including durability, generally based on my knowledge of the durability of the materials and construction techniques used for each pack. In some cases, those reviews are based on numerous hikes and months of use. I will honestly likely never report on years of use with any daypack because by then those packs have probably been updated and improved with a newer model or packs from other brands. But again, the materials in a pack are a good indicator of durability and you’ll find that in the individual reviews.

      Reply
  3. Hey there,
    You did not include the Osprey Stratos 24. Any particular reason why not? Why is the Gregory Citro 24 the better pack in your opinion?

    Reply
    • Hi Dwight,

      Good question. There are more similarities between the two packs than differences, as you probably noticed. I could see why someone might prefer the Stratos 24. I see it as a bit heavier and the two zippered pockets on top and front strike me as duplicative whereas the Citro offer the larger, stretch-mesh front pocket for quickly stuffing a jacket or other item inside. I think they have similar comfort and weight/load maximums.

      Hope that’s helpful.

      Reply
  4. Michael, needing a women’s day pack. needs : hip belt for carrying load, pockets in /out, light weight and allowing maneuvering. I was looking at mayan Gregory or tempest osprey. you seem to like gregory, maybe? size is a questionable need . I am thinking it is a two pack answer, 16- 22 liter for longer hikes, where i need a coat, food etc. much smaller for warmer and shorter hikes were water, snacks and rain coat is all . I guess my questions are 1) am i on the right track. any suggestions of which packs to look at other than the two I mentioned . 2) what small packs for minimum carry?

    Reply
    • Yes, Carla, I think you’re on the right track. The Osprey Tempest and Gregory Maya are two great daypacks and similar. (The men’s versions, Talon and Miwok, are two faves of mine.) You might even find a middle size that suits all of your three-season hikes, like the Tempest 18 or Maya 20, which are fairly light and low-profile. If you really need two, the Maya 10 is a nice size when you don’t have to carry much and the Tempest 24 will probably handle any gear-intensive hike you take.

      Reply
  5. Mr Lanza
    I’ve read some of your reviews, and I’d like to drill a little deeper.

    I’m a teacher, guide, student and tourist all in one rather-old, well-traveled body.

    I spend a couple months each year traveling and leading tours in some cities, but mostly through the rugged country side of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea..

    Sometimes I’m in my hiking gear, and sometimes I have to spiff up. Sometimes I sleep on the ground around a campfire, and sometimes I have a hotel and a shower and I can wash my sox.

    I’m carrying an Osprey Manta 28 bought in 2018. It’s too small, kinda heavy, and is quite angular and cumbersome as a carry-on… plus the hip belt is wimpy.

    I’ve been looking at a Gregory Citro 36. But before making a purchase, I wondered what you might use if you were in my shoes? I travel with less than 20 pounds – mostly hiking clothes, walking shoes, a sport coat, sandals, writing gear, sleeping bag , a tarp and some camp gear. I don’t carry a lot of guide accessories, except a good first aid kit.and a knife. We stay at 3 different base camps during an 8 day trek through the south of Crete… some places are rugged and some fancy. We are casual, and we honor the old customs. Our Patron Saint is Zorba the Greek.

    I am eager to hear from you. And I appreciate the enthusiastic and professional way you scamper into your work…

    Ken Plattner

    Reply
    • Hi Ken,

      Thanks for the question. Sounds like you have a good gig.

      I reviewed the Osprey Manta 28 a few years back, I remember it. The Gregory Citro 36 would weight about the same, but of course, it has more capacity. I think that, for your purposes, it may serve you well for its good level of organization and comfort. Not knowing how much volume of gear and other stuff you carry, I have to leave it to you to determine whether it would all fit in a 36-liter pack, but I suspect you know whether it would.

      Since you travel with less than 20 pounds, and you mentioned the your old Manta is kind of heavy, you might consider a pack designed for hiking and travel that’s lighter but has more capacity (in case you need it) than the Citro 36: the Gregory Miwok 42. I review a smaller version of the Miwok above, I’ve been a fan of it for years for its simplicity, carrying comfort, and minimalist but adequate degree of organization.

      Another daypack I hope to review soon is the Mystery Ranch Coulee 25, which comes in a larger version, the Coulee 40. It’s very well featured and comfortable, but also heavier than the Miwok, Citro, and other daypacks.

      It sounds like you’re seeking a balance of versatility, good capacity, and comfort, and you’re trying to decide how heavy a pack you want to carry.

      I hope those suggestions are helpful. I would be very curious to hear what you decide on. Thanks again for the question.

      Michael

      Reply
  6. Hi Michael

    Is it too much of a dream to have a pack that could be used as a daypack, carrying about 10kg (22lbs) and also used to do a 4day hike? My camelbak 20L daypack could fit all that I need and feels comfortable to do an 8 hours daywalk up and down a mountain but shoulders take a beating (no supportive hipbelt) when doing 3 peaks successively of 20hrs long in total. Trying not to have to buy 2 different packs 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Eric,

      Is your question whether there’s a daypack that can hold all you need for a four-day backpacking trip? I don’t know how you’d fit even the lightest and least-bulky sleeping bag and shelter in a daypack, never mind four days’ of food and a means to cook it, plus clothing. Clarify your question if I’m misunderstanding it. To your point about pack comfort with weight, daypacks definitely differ in their level of support and fit, as my reviews points out for each daypack covered in this article.

      Thanks.

      Michael

      Reply
      • It doesn’t have to be a daypack specifically. Just any pack that could be used effectively as a daypack and if needed, be used on a 3-4 days of backpacking. I have done a bit more reading on your website and came across your Osprey Exos 48 review. I liked what I read so started looking abit more on the web on the lighter version Osprey Exos 38. Looks possible without the lid, the pack could be used as a daypack plus possibly do 3-4days of backpacking.

        Reply
        • Hi Eric, whether it’s called a daypack or not is less important than its capacity. A 38-liter pack doesn’t have the capacity for a three-season sleeping bag, a shelter, and clothing, food, and water for 3-4 days of backpacking unless you’re going extremely ultralight, with low-bulk gear and measuring out your food very carefully. The Exos is a good pack. I’d be curious to hear more about what you choose and what works for you.

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          • Thanks Michael. You were right, I tried the Exos38 and it was just a tad too small. I returned it for an Exos48 and managed to fit all that I need for 4 days. I test packed with dehydrated food and an ultralight 2p tent. Everything else are kinda in between bulky and ultralight. Also made sure everything has at least dual purpose so only essentials/minimal.

          • You’re welcome, Eric. I’ve used the Exos 48, it does have the capacity for a relatively short trip when packing ultralight. I find that I used the 58 more (I have both), and for an all-around pack, it will accommodate more trips while weighing and costing just a bit more than the 48. But I’m glad that works out for you.

  7. Hi Michael,

    I keep vacillating on what size to go with for a day pack. I see arguments both ways – some say 15 – 25L is optimal vs others who say go a little bigger, say up to 35L or so in case you need the extra space. I’m leaning toward the smaller size (20 – 25L) since I don’t envision doing any winter hiking/snowshoeing, overnights, etc. Also, with a larger pack the temptation is always there to over pack! In the past I’ve gotten by with doing day hikes in Yosemite, Glacier, Denali, and the Grand Canyon with just a Jansport book bag.. After trying a number of packs, I’m thinking of going with the Osprey Stratos 24 as I like the comfort of having the ventilated back and the weight supported on the hips. I get the impression from your reviews that you tend to lean toward the smaller packs as well for day hiking. Am I correct in that assumption?

    Reply
    • Hi Dennis, good question, and you’re correct, I do tend to use daypacks in the 15L to 22L range, as evidenced by this review. Even on long dayhikes, when I’m packing clothing for the mountains and enough food for a big day, I’m usually fine with a pack that’s 18L to 20L. Functional capacity can vary a bit with design. For instance, I really like The North Face Chimera 18, but I also pushed the limits of its capacity on a rim-to-rim Grand Canyon dayhike due to its pocket layout and shape (and partly because I also brought a DSLR with two lenses). My dayhikes with these packs are all three-season; in winter, I would need a pack with more capacity, as I would if I was carrying extra stuff for other people (like food for my family).

      I concur with your observation that having a larger daypack tempts you to fill it. But even when under-filled, a larger daypack is still more bulk on your back than necessary, and that affects your ease of moving when hiking, as well as comfort and perhaps balance. Like my other gear, my daypacks for three-season hikes have gotten more compact and lighter over the years.

      Thanks for asking a good question.

      Reply
  8. 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!

    Reply
  9. 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.

    Reply
    • Hi John,

      Your friend is frustrated that I don’t provide links to small retailers like him, but perhaps he hasn’t thought about how self-interested it might sound for me to make the same complaint: that he should use his business to promote my business. That’s not his objective. Part of my site’s revenue is derived from commissions made via gear sales generated through my site, and it’s the larger online retailers who pay those commissions.

      I’m all for people purchasing gear from businesses they want to support. If readers of my blog want to support it by clicking links at this site to support my business, they are essentially doing the same thing you are doing: supporting a business they appreciate. It’s all good.

      Thanks for writing and continuing to comment on my stories. Safe travels to you.

      Reply
      • Michael Alanza

        Great reviews. I actually have a Gregory Miwok 18 and a Deuter Trail 30. The more I use my Gregory, the more I like it. For it’s size it works great for me, really like all the compartments. Don’t like the blue color, but when I bought it I needed the pack right then and that was the only color on stock unfortunately. I am on my second Deuter 30 and am real impressed with the pack. Well engineered for sure.. My previous Deuter basically wore out from constant use for a couple of years yet i liked the pack so much I got another! These 2 packs are all I will ever need, no interest or need in anything substantially bigger- been there in the past with BIG loads. Those days are long gone…

        Because you are into gear, next time you’re in a Home Depot check out their Husky tool pack. I carry tools around with me daily on my job, this is the pack I use on my job. No, it is not a hiking, climbing back. but ;it has an interesting construction with the durable plastic bottom.

        Happy Trails

        Reply