The 10 Best Hiking Daypacks of 2021

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 15 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 find the best prices at links in this review.

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.

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 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 liters 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 may need extra space on some hikes. For outings that are unusually gear-intensive—or if you’re carrying stuff for another person—look to a pack with 28 liters or more capacity. If you’re carrying bare essentials in good weather, a 12-liter daypack may be fine; but if you’re 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 internal frame (if there is one) and suspension (the shoulder straps and waist belt). Super light daypacks—under roughly 1.5 pounds—typically 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 upwards of 15 to 20 pounds or more comfortably typically have a metal wire frame and/or a plastic framesheet to maintain the pack’s shape and direct most of the weight onto your hips, as well as adequately padded shoulder straps and waist belt.
  • 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, which can save you time. So do little details like attachments for trekking poles and an ice axe. Those features also add cost, weight, and some bulk to a pack. Look at a pack’s organization and 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 much more abuse—sometimes (but not always) adding weight and cost, but sometimes also worth those tradeoffs. Again, this comes down to how you plan to use the pack, but look at those details closely.

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

The 10 Best Hiking Daypacks

DaypackPriceVolumeWeightRatingCarrying CapacityFeatures
The North Face Chimera 18$10018L/1,098 c.i.1 lb. 1 oz.91%15 lbs.* Men's and women's models
* Good comfort
* Very lightweight
* Unique harness and compression
* 6 pockets
Deuter Speed Lite 20$8020L/1,220 c.i.1 lb. 3 oz.85%12 lbs.* Very lightweight
* Removable waist belt
* 4 pockets
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak$21017L/1,040 c.i.1 lb. 4 oz.85%12 lbs.* Waterproof
* Highly durable
* 3 sizes
* 4 pockets
Osprey Talon 22 and Tempest 20$13020-22L/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)90%15 lbs.* Men's and women's models
* Ventilating back panel
* Multiple features
* 6 pockets
Patagonia Nine Trails 20$12920L/1,220 c.i.1 lb. 11 oz.90%15 lbs.* Men's and women's models
* Breathable back panel
* 6 pockets
Gregory Miwok 18/Maya 16$10016-18L/976-1,098 c.i.1 lb. 12 oz.91%15 lbs.* Men's and women's models
* Adjustable fit
* Ventilating harness, hipbelt, back panel
* 6 pockets
Arc'teryx Aerios 30$19030L/1,831 c.i.2 lbs.92%20 lbs.* Unique vest-like suspension
* Men's and women's models
* Breathable back panel
* 7 pockets
Gregory Citro 20/Juno 20$12020L/1,708 c.i.2 lbs. 3.5 oz.90%20 lbs.* Men's and women's models
* Ventilating back panel
* 6 pockets
Mystery Ranch Coulee 25$17525L/1,525 c.i.2 lbs. 11 oz.93%20 lbs.* Men's and women's sizes
* Unique 3-zipper access to main compartment
* Balances weight, comfort, durability
* 7 pockets
Deuter Trail Pro 36 and Trail Pro 34 SL$17536L/2,197 c.i.3 lbs. 7 oz.95%25-35 lbs.* 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

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

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 any of these affiliate links to purchase a men’s or women’s The North Face Chimera 18 or Chimera 24 at or

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Deuter Speed Lite 20
Deuter Speed Lite 20

Deuter Speed Lite 20 and Speed Lite 24

Deuter Speed Lite 20
$80, 20L/1,220 c.i. 1 lb. 3 oz.
Deuter Speed Lite 24
$115, 24L/1,465 c.i. 1 lb. 11 oz.

The lightweight Speed Lite 20 passed my first serious test of it on an 8.5-hour, 20-mile, 4,500-foot trail run-hike of the Alice Lake-Toxaway Lake Loop in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, including a 1,400-foot, third-class scramble up 10,651-foot Snowyside Peak. Another tester wore the Speed Lite 24 on an eight-mile, 4500-foot hike up Ferguson Canyon and a 3,000-foot scramble up the South Ridge of Mount Superior in Utah’s Wasatch Range.

The minimalist, highly flexible, U-shaped Delrin frame, perforated mesh padding in the shoulder straps, and unpadded, removable webbing waist belt carry 10 to 12 pounds comfortably. A U-shaped top zipper quickly accesses the main compartment, plus there’s a zippered top pocket and mesh side pockets for a liter bottle or snacks, gloves, map, and a front pocket that swallows a rain jacket.

Read my complete review of the Deuter Speed Lite 20 and the Speed Lite 24.

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 or women’s Deuter Speed Lite 20, Speed Lite 24, or another Speed Lite size at, or

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

$210, 17L/1,040 c.i., 1 lb. 4 oz.

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 or

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

Osprey Talon 22
Osprey Talon 22

Osprey Talon 22/Tempest 20

$130, 20L/1,220 c.i., 1 lb., 11 oz.

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,, or, or a women’s Osprey Tempest 20 or another size at,, or

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


Patagonia Nine Trails 20.
Patagonia Nine Trails 20.

Patagonia Nine Trails 20L

$129, 20L/1,220 c.i., 1 lb. 11 oz.

When you’re only carrying food, water, clothing, and some incidentals, a pack for all-day hikes need not be over-engineered. Sometimes having less occurs by design, in service to functionality. Light on your back but offering all the space and features you need, the men’s Nine Trail 20L and women’s Nine Trails 18L dispenses with the traditional buckle-down lid for a U-shaped top zipper to access the main compartment.

It also has six external pockets—and most distinctively, a three-layer, ventilated back panel with a PE framesheet that gives it the support to carry at least 15 pounds comfortably.

See my complete review of the Patagonia Nine Trails 20L.

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 Patagonia Nine Trails 20L or other size at or

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Gregory Miwok 18/Maya 16

$100, 18L/1,098 c.i., 1 lb. 12 oz.

Gregory’s update of these classic, lightweight men’s and women’s daypacks retains all that makes them outstanding—but most notably changes the formerly fixed suspension to an adjustable one, making these the only sub-three-pound daypacks reviewed here that are adjustable. Using the Miwok 18 on a trek through Spain’s Picos de Europa Mountains, I found it comfortable carrying up to 15 pounds, and I love its multi-featured design, from the six external pockets to the zippered bladder sleeve outside the main compartment and the attachment for sunglasses or collapsed trekking poles on the left shoulder strap. Among the lightest daypacks, the Miwok and Maya are also among the most versatile.

Read my complete review of the 2019 Miwok 18 and Maya 16.

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 Gregory Miwok 18 or another size at or, or a women’s Maya 16 or another size at or

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


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

Arc’teryx Aerios 30

$190, 30L/1,831 c.i., 2 lbs.

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

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

Gregory Citro 20 front.
Gregory Citro 20.

Gregory Citro 20/Juno 20

$120, 20L/1,708 c.i., 2 lbs. 3.5 oz.

The men’s Citro 20 and women’s Juno 20 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 Gregory Citro 20/Juno 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 Gregory Citro 20 or another size at or, or the Gregory Juno 20 or another size at or

Get my expert help planning your backpacking or hiking trip and 30% off a one-year subscription. Click here now to buy a premium subscription!


The Mystery Ranch Coulee 25 daypack.
Mystery Ranch Coulee 25

Mystery Ranch Coulee 25

$175, 25L/1,525 c.i., 2 lbs. 11 oz. (men’s S/M)

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 25.

Most uniquely, instead of a traditional, separate lid, a three-zipper system—two that open up the top and a vertical front zipper—provide rapid and complete access to the main compartment. The well-padded harness—adjustable for torso length—and HDPE framesheet enable the Coulee 25 to carry 20 pounds or more comfortably. Plus, seven external pockets—one on top and two on the sides, front, and hipbelt—give it excellent organization.

Read my complete review of the Mystery Ranch Coulee 25.

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 the men’s or women’s Mystery Ranch Coulee 25 or Coulee 40 at,, or

Time for a better backpack? See my picks for “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

$175, 36L/2,197 c.i., 3 lbs. 7 oz.

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 by clicking any of these links to purchase a Deuter Trail Pro 36 at or, a women’s Trail Pro 34 SL at or, a Trail Pro 32 at, or a women’s Trail Pro 30 SL at

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See all of my reviews of daypacks I like 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

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Leave a Comment

18 thoughts on “The 10 Best Hiking Daypacks of 2021”

  1. 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?

    • 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.

  2. 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

    • 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.


  3. 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 🙂

    • 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.



      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

  4. 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?

    • 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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