Daypacks are used for anything from a stroll through your local park in the middle of summer to a technical summit of a mountain peak in the dead of winter, which is why leading manufacturers make so many models of the same pack. But sifting through all the options can be quite confusing, so we’ve brought together a lineup of the best hiking daypack series from four leading brands to help you find the perfect daypack for your next outdoor adventure.
How to Choose the Right Pack for You
Each of the daypack series we cover in this guide offer a range of sizes and features to better accommodate different activities on the trail. If you’re going for a quick, active outing (like trail running or a non-technical day hike), then you’ll want a smaller pack somewhere in the range of 12 to 20 liters in volume. For heavier loads and more technical excursions, look for a pack that can carry 30 to 40 liters well. The sweet spot for most daypacks seems to be between 18 and 24 liters. It’s just enough room to carry food and water for the day as well as an extra layer of essential gear.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the entire series of best hiking daypacks from the leading brands so you can find the right fit for you.
The Osprey Talon/Tempest line of daypacks is dominating the market right now, and for good reason. This line of daypacks balances comfort, carrying capacity, and functionality exceptionally well. Plus, they offer S/M and M/L options for each pack. The Talon for men ranges in size from 11 liters to 44 liters. The Tempest for women ranges in size from 9 liters to 40 liters. Both models offer a 6-liter fanny pack as well.
The bestselling Talon 22 hits the sweet spot on daypack sizes and carries its load well through aggressive outdoor activities including trail running, biking, and scrambling over rocky trails. The padded hip belt adds a little weight but really adds to the quality comfort and fit. Priced at $120, the Talon 22 is not the cheapest daypack on the market, but neither is it incredibly overpriced for its value.
Deuter Speed Lite
The Deuter Speed Lite is a serious contender to the Osprey Talon. Offering sizes that range from 12 liters to 32 liters, the Speed Lite has a noticeable V-shape design that optimizes movement while centering its load. True to its name, these are lightweight packs that won’t slow you down on the trail.
Unlike the Osprey Talon, the Deuter Speed Lite does not offer alternate sizes per model. Also, rather than create an entire line-up for women’s packs, the Speed Lite 24 and 32 come in an SL model for slender women.
The 20-liter Speed Lite is the top seller, with the 24-liter model coming in at a very close second. Weighing only 1 pound and with a modest sticker price of $75, the Deuter Speed Lite 20 is an easy choice for the best hiking daypack. Step up to the 24-liter for another $30 to take advantage of a few added features and a stronger frame. At 1.7 pounds, it still weighs less than the Osprey Talon 22.
The Gregory Miwok, and its Maya counterpart, is sleek and compact. The Miwok for men offers five sizes ranging from 12 liters to 42 liters, while the comparable Maya sizes are 2 liters smaller. Its BioSync suspension system is designed to move and flex with your body no matter how active your play. What really sets this pack apart is the adjustable torso length. It’s a feature you would normally only find on larger packs, but Gregory has built it into all of their Miwok and Maya models. So you don’t have to compromise the size of your pack to get the right fit.
The popular Miwok 24 sits on the high end of the sweet spot for hiking daypacks (at a $120 sticker price), but it’s pretty standard with a 1.85 pound weight. You can save $20 and a couple ounces by dropping down to the Miwok 18.
REI Co-op Flash
The REI Co-op Flash is an affordable, lightweight option among the best hiking daypacks on the market. There are no bells and whistles or extra padding on this pack, and that translates into a simple to use, convenient daypack for lightweight trail adventures. The REI Co-op Flash comes in four models ranging in size from 18 liters to 55 liters. While the 18-liter Flash isn’t much more than a durable sack with shoulder straps, the 55-liter models are equipped with the features and padding necessary for carrying the extra weight.
The REI Co-op Flash 22 offers a good balance of comfort and carrying capacity for a daypack that only weighs 13 ounces, and it’s a great price at $55.
The only way to choose the best hiking daypack for you personally is to get it on your back and try it out. That being said, you really can’t go wrong with any of these popular daypacks. All of these brands have genuinely earned their place at the top of the outdoor gear list. Find the one you like best, and then get outside.