While going out for a long excursion with a good-sized backpack is a great way to spend some time, there are also situations when you are only able to get a day hike in. On those occasions you need to look at a smaller pack, to carry just the essentials. With that in mind, this article will take a look at some picks for the best lightweight daypack for hiking. In it, I’ll take a detailed look at five outstanding choices and give you all the information that you will need to pick the one that is right for you.
Following that this is a short section that will address a few questions when it comes to picking out the right lightweight daypack. Some of them you might have thought about, others might spark you to look at your selection in a new way. Hopefully, by the end of the article, you’ll be ready to make your choice.
Before looking at each of the packs in detail, let’s see how they stack up against each other.
|Product Name||Weight (lbs)||Volume (L)||Hydration Bladder|
|Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack||1||13||Internal Sleeve for bladder storage|
|Osprey Viper 9 Hydration Pack||1.21||9||Includes 2.5L Bladder|
|Venture Pal Daypack||.7||35||None|
|Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack||.2||18||None|
|Deuter Speed Lite 20||1.1||20||3L Hydration System Compatible|
Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack Overall Pick
The first pack to make our cut is the Daylite Daypack from Osprey Packs. This pack is a great overall pick. It is an extremely lightweight pack, coming in at only a pound of overall weight. It has 13 L of storage space on its own, but it is also designed to attach to an array of different packs from Osprey as well. The back of this pack is covered with a mesh slotted panel, that provides both comfort and breathability during wear.
The waist strap of this pack is removable, allowing you to choose if you want to use it or stow it for later. The pack also features a pouch to store a hydration bladder in. While the pack does not come with a bladder, the pouch is large enough to take a 3-liter bladder with you. For additional hydration, there is a mesh side pocket that will hold a 32-ounce water bottle.
At the end of the day, this is a solid lightweight daypack. While it is a little on the smaller side for longer day hikes, it can easily hold a good amount of gear. One other thing to note is that if you place things in the upper pocket it can be a little bit top heavy. As a plus though, this gives you a choice of 10 different colors to help your pack stand out.
Osprey Viper 9 Hydration Pack
Another stand out pick from Osprey is the Viper 9. This is a daypack that comes with its own hydration bladder, coming in at 2.5 liters. While the overall pack volume comes in at only 9 liters, this makes it at home on a bike as well as on the trail. The pack also comes with an attachment point for your helmet, so that if you stop off on a bike ride with this pack you’ll have somewhere to keep your helmet safe.
To keep your gear safe and secure while in the pack, and keeping it from getting too bulky, there are compression straps located on the sides of the main compartment. These are positioned to allow you to tighten down your load. The back of the pack has a blinker attachment, making sure that you can be seen when you are either on the road or on the trail.
One thing to note is that Osprey makes a very similar pack, designed for women, known as the Osprey Verve 9. The Viper 9 comes in three different colors.
Venture Pal Lightweight Hiking Daypack Budget Pick
For a more budget-friendly pack, the Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Durable Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack. This pack tips the scale at less than a pound but gives you 35 liters of storage space. But that isn’t the only trick it has up its sleeve. When you empty it out you can fold it down and zip it into a rectangle that comes in at 8.5 in by 9 in and only about 2 inches thick.
This pack does not have a particular pouch to store a hydration bladder nor does it have a built-in port for the drinking tube that goes with a hydration system. There are some sectioned off areas in the main compartment that you could place your bladder and with the double zipper set up, you can run the tube through the zippered opening.
This pack offers a good amount of pockets to store various supplies in while you are on your adventures. As you might expect, to get the weight so low the material is thin. As such it can be prone to ripping, but it comes with a lifetime warranty. This pack is available in 11 different colors.
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack Lightweight Pick
Another pack from Osprey to consider is the Ultralight Stuff Pack. This one is great on its own as a lightweight daypack or stuffed into your backpack for those quick day hikes during an excursion. While the pack compresses down to about the size of an apple and weighs about 4 ounces, it still has a lot to offer when it is called into service.
The main compartment gives you 18L of storage space for your gear. In addition, there is a small top zippered pouch that is a gear place to stow your sunglasses and an internal security pocket that seems to be built with phones in mind. Along the outside you get mesh side pockets that are a natural place to store a water bottle, sadly there is no set up for a hydration system to work easily with this pack.
This pack comes in four different colors and as with the others from Osprey, it falls under what they call the almighty guarantee. It boils down to a lifetime guarantee in the United States, though there is a note that it may differ in other countries.
Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack Bonus Choice
The last pack on the list is a bonus choice, that of the Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack. This pack comes in at just over a pound but it gives you 20 liters of space for all your gear. The back panel of the pack has a ventilated 3D mesh to provide both padding while carrying your pack and still letting air flow to keep your back from getting soaked. They don’t stop there, as they have the same mesh in the
The pack is compatible with up to a 3-liter hydration system but also has side pockets that will allow you to stow more water bottles. The pack also sports 3M reflectors that help to ensure that you are visible, either from flashlights or headlights if you are along a road. This pack is offered in 4 different colors.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best backpack for day hiking?
The short answer is the one that feels comfortable loaded and on your back. Each person will end up coming to a different conclusion on which pack is the best. There are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind though. First off you’ll need a pack that is the right size (I’ll discuss this below), then you’ll also want one that is suited for your hike length and location.
Some general things that will help you spot a good pack are that it has a good level of padding. While padding will add weight, it will also help to make the pack feel comfortable when you are halfway through your hike and your lunch is starting to get heavy. Additionally, you might want to consider air circulation to your back. After a long hike, you will probably sweat, and it is a lot more pleasant to have some air movement on your back then a half soaked shirt.
You should also consider your activity. Most lightweight daypacks are made for hiking, however, there are choices that could work well if you are looking to do some trail running, climbing or even have it double as a pack for your daily commute.
Finally, don’t forget your build. Most packs are made to fit an average sized man. If you are either not average sized or not male these packs might still work well, but there are some packs on the market that are specifically made for you.
How big of a backpack do I need?
The size of your daypack will depend on a number of factors. The most important thing to remember is that this is supposed to be a daypack, not a full backpack. You will need to get a feel for the gear that you should bring with you on your day hike (I’ll discuss more a little bit later). This list will depend on the length of hike you are taking, the area that you are going through and the time of year that you are hiking.
Instead of buying a new lightweight daypack for every hike you do, think about a number of your day hikes and then look at sizing one that will carry enough for the longest, most demanding of them. At that point, you’ll want to think about that same pack on your shortest, easiest hike. Will it seem too large and flappy mostly empty? If so you might need multiple daypacks, but for most hikers, a single sturdy daypack can cover a wide range of needs.
Daypacks, as with most backpacks are measured in volume, often liters. That can be great if you have an idea of how many liters your gear will fill. If not, there are some guidelines. As a general rule of thumb, a good size for a daypack is between 20 and 35 liters. This should cover everything that you need to carry in most cases. Anything less than 10 liters is probably more for running, 10-20 liters are aimed more at rather short hikes or children.
There are options ranging from 35 to 50 liters, and these can be useful if you need to carry extra clothing for children or are looking for a basic overnight bag. Going beyond 50 liters you are really moving out of daypack territory.
Do I need a hydration pack?
Hydration packs have become quite popular in recent years. These packs will either come with or have a spot to store a hydration bladder equipped with a drinking hose. A great perk of these is that you can get a drink of your choice beverage without stopping or reaching behind you to grab a bottle. A downside can be that to refill you generally need to completely open your bag and possibly unpack some of it.
If you are looking to buy a pack with a bladder included you will end up paying more than one without. However, you can usually find the bladder separately. The bladder is generally right up against your back, so it keeps the weight nicely situated and can provide a bit of padding from your gear. Many times, these packs will additionally have spots for water bottles, so if you run out or just don’t want to use the bladder you still have an easy place to store water.
Keep in mind though, while hydration packs have a lot of advantages, you will be losing some of the internal storage space in order to carry your water. And if you end up with a sharp object in your pack it is possible to cut or break the bladder and quickly release all that water onto your gear.
What is a daypack vs a backpack?
There can be some confusion between a backpack and a daypack and there is some amount of crossover between the two. The first thing to be clarified is that in this context when a backpack is mentioned it is more along the lines of a large pack with shoulder and hip straps that are used to carry your gear for overnight or multi-night camping trips.
A daypack can be closer to what you might picture as a school backpack. These tend to be smaller and are designed for a single day’s hike or an overnight at the most. As we mentioned above most daypacks will fall into a range of 20-35 liters. A weekend backpack would be about 40-50 liters, a multi-day pack generally comes in around 50-70 liters and there are expedition packs that can go up to 110+ liters.
A backpack will generally have some sort of frame to keep the pack’s shape and help distribute the load. These are often internal, but there are still some external frame packs available. While many daypacks will have some internal frame to help carry the load, it is possible to get a frameless pack as well. These can be good to stuff into a larger pack for day hikes.
What should I pack in a daypack?
What to pack can depend a lot on where you are going and for how long. There are some basics that should be in your pack on every hike. The most important is water. The amount will vary based on how far you are hiking and the conditions you are going it, but you should always have water. If you are going on a longer hike with water sources available, it also might not be a bad idea to have some water purification set up so you can get more water to safely drink.
In addition to water, some sort of nutrition is a great thing to bring along. Even on a short hike, it can be nice to have a snack or be ready in case you get stuck out for longer than you had planned. On that note, it is also good to have a first aid kit in your pack as well. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it never hurts to have the basics with you. No matter the time of day you are headed out and when you plan to be back some sort of illumination and insulation are other great things to have in your pack. There are lots of very small flashlights that are lightweight. A small fleece can be a great comfort if you are out when the sun goes down.
Another wise addition is sun protection, often times this gets forgotten as people are hiking in any season but summer. You may also want a multitool and a source of fire. Realistically just a knife isn’t the best choice for most things that you might need to accomplish, but a multitool offers you a wide range of solutions. And if you are stuck somewhere being able to light a fire can help you get found, keep you warm and raise your spirits.
You probably should also have a map and compass with you. Even if the trails are well marked you never know when something might come up that makes the trail unpassable. These tools can help you find a way to get back home.
While this list might seem like a lot, many things on it can be rather small and lightweight. And this is just a few basic suggestions, you might always want to bring things like a camera. But the rest of what goes into your pack is up to you.
With that, you should have all the information that you need to not only pick out the right lightweight daypack but know why that one is a great fit for you. Having a proper pack can make the hike so much more enjoyable and even keep you safe.