The best reliable hiking daypacks for 2018/2019

Psst, come closer, I’ll tell you about a few good hiking daypacks!

Well, more than a few but I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for in this article.

Not all daypacks are worth your time and money! Next to a good pair of hiking boots, a backpack is just as important so choose wisely. I’m here to help you make the right choice. 

Depending on how long the day trip may be, say 2 to 10 hours you may want to consider picking a 15 liter or a 30+ liter daypack. A 20 to 25-liter backpack maybe all you need year round. Some of these if not all can also double as your everyday backpack whether you’re going to school or work with it.

If you want to learn what makes a good backpack and how to properly fit them to your body check out this article.

Let’s jump right in!

Mountain Hardwear Multi-Pitch 16

Weight: 1.19 lbs.

Torso sizes: 16-19”

Purpose: day hikes, biking, running, around town

This small 16-liter daypack packs quite a punch. It’s made of highly abrasion-resistant nylon and the bottom is made of even tougher 840D ballistic nylon.

Say it with me – “Ballistic nylon”. Sounds tough right? Well, it is!

There is no padding on the hip belt but then again you don’t need it for a daypack. It’s catered toward climbers but I don’t see why us backpackers can’t enjoy a nice sturdy little pack as well.

It has two vertical zipper pockets. One is for small items and the other is a  pop out mesh bottle pocket on the side, hah. Sounds silly but its surprisingly useful. It helps with the overall aesthetics of the bag being able to hide the mesh pocket when not in use.

There are daisy chains on the back and 2 big gear loops at the bottom for additional attachments and hooking points.

There is no hydration bladder compartment, but then again – its a daypack, carry a bottle in that quirky pop out mesh pocket.

Kelty Redwing 32

Weight: 2 lbs.

Torso sizes: 15.5-21 (One size)

Weight capacity: 40 lbs.

Purpose: day hikes, trips, around town, maybe an overnight hike

This is another good value for money hiking backpack. The 32-liter volume capacity puts it in a very odd place. Bigger than a regular daypack and smaller than a multi-day pack. You can take it for day hikes and a well organized 2-day hike.  It packs quite a feature-rich punch. This can be your everyday/travel/hiking backpack. It comes in one size and the torso length can be asjusted by the load lifter straps.

There are loads of practical features to facilitate those different uses. The hydration bladder pocket doubles as a protective laptop sleeve. The hip belt can be tucked away when you don’t need it. The main compartment can be accessed from the top or the front thanks to the U shaped zipper.

There is a neatly tucked in handle on the front of the backpack. The daisy chains below it are neatly hidden out of sight when you don’t need them.

There’s a big zipper pocket on the front with small pockets in it to neatly store your small electronics and maps. Above the side water bottle pockets, there are medium-sized zipper pockets. Behind them, you can pass through long items such as trekking poles. Keep in mind due to that design it will be difficult to take out a large water bottle out of the bottom pocket if the upper pocket is full.

The back has padded bumps to allow for air flow. All that plus the shoulder straps and the hip belt are covered in hex mesh to help with wicking moisture away. The internal frame does not provide a lot of rigidity but it’s adequate for this size of backpack and provides plenty of comfort.

To sum it up Kelty plays the long game with its backpacks, they are not the lightest but they are built well to last a long time! You can’t go wrong with this backpack as your “everything backpack”.

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Weight:1.19 lbs.

Torso sizes: 17-22”

Purpose: day hikes, biking, running, around town

There’s little padding on the suspension system as well as the shoulder straps. None padded removable hip belt. 

The backpack has a flexible internal foam frame so that it will move with your body. You don’t need a lot of padding or a rigid frame for this size of backpack.

The single big compartment can be entered through the U shaped zipper. Inside there’s a hydration bladder sleeve.

Outside there are 2 rows of compression straps that are extendable and can be used to sinch down gear that can’t fit in the pack.

The side water bottle pockets can fit a small bottle, but if you must, a big bottle can be fit in the front stretchy pocket.

Deuter builds well thought out and sturdy backpacks. The Speed Lite 20 is no exception. It’s a perfect example of an everyday backpack. The design fits perfectly in both nature hiking and city environment. Check it out!

Osprey Talon 22 and Tempest 20

Weight: 1.19 lbs.

Torso sizes – S/M: 16-20”; M/L: 19-23”

Purpose: day hikes, biking, running, around town

The Osprey Talon 22 is designed to fit many purposes – running, biking, hiking, city commuting. The Tempest 20 is its corresponding women’s version.

There is torso adjustability. The shoulder straps are held by velcro tucked behind the internal frame panel. You will still need to pick whichever of the 2 available sizes are closer to your torso length.

While it does not have the air suspension system. Osprey didn’t skimp on the internal frame. It is supportive enough while keeping the backpack light and flexible.

The entire back is covered in breathable mesh. There even are water resistant pockets on the hip belt that can fit a phone. The entire backpack is water resistant, but you will still need to get a rain cover!

The pack is one big single compartment with a hydration bladder sleeve. There are 2 stretchy side pockets and one at the front.

Additional latch points are also present even a stow on the go system for trekking poles.

I have to admit for a day pack this is on the pricey side. Don’t get me wrong, you still get a lot of backpack for your money! You also have the limited lifetime warranty for any defects that might(not) occur.

I’d just love to see Osprey start including the rain cover with their backpacks. Overall this is a well built multi-purpose daypack well worth the money!

Gregory Inertia 20

Weight: 1.42 lbs.

Torso sizes: 18-20” – only one size sadly!

Purpose: day hikes, biking, running, around town

If you’re still not sure which daypack is right for you – this is it! Go on, get it! Still not convinced? Ok, I guess I’ll have to tell you more about it!

The key feature of this backpack and what has me so excited about it is that it comes with a 3d 3-liter water bladder. The bladder has its own separate pocket and a speed clip that is very convenient. The water bladder itself has a grippy big cap for easy opening. There is also a magnetic clip on the sternum strap to attach the lockable bite valve for additional convenience.

The suspension system is designed to keep you comfortable even with a full water reservoir. Of course, it is lightly padded and well-meshed for breathability and comfort. The hip belt doesn’t have padding, but then again you don’t need padding for this size of backpack.

The Inertia has the usual features for its size – 1 main storage compartment,  2 big side stretchy mesh pockets and 1 big mesh pocket at the front. There is an additional small pocket above the big mesh one for more delicate items such a phone, headphones or even snacks.

There even are loops to stow trekking poles on the front. The only knock I can give it is that it comes in only one size 18 to 20” torso length.

With this backpack you get Gregory’s limited lifetime warranty for peace of mind should any defects occur.

So there you have it – a good reliable daypack with an included 3d hydration bladder. Because of this feature, the backpack is better suited for the trail but I see no reason why you can’t use it as a daily backpack in town.

Gregory Zulu 30

Weight :2.11 lbs.

Torso sizes – M: 18-20”; L: 20-22”

Purpose: day hikes, biking, probably overnight hike if you pack well

Here we have another Gregory. This would be the most expensive backpack in our line up and for good reason. Small backpacks are relatively comfortable due to weight saving suspension systems and limited padding. Granted they do fine like that, if compromising comfort isn’t an option then you should seriously consider the Gregory Zulu 30.

This is slightly bigger than your regular day pack.  It’s more of a full hiking day kind of tool rather than a 2 hour one.

The trampoline-style suspension system is what provides the extra comfort and superb breathability.

The hip belt is padded with lumbar support for your back. It even has pockets for storing your phone and other quick access items.

There’s a padded hydration bladder sleeve that can double as a laptop/tablet sleeve.

Of course, it has big side pockets for your water bottles and one big stretchy front pocket. Above the big pocket, there’s a small zipper pocket for your more delicate items such as snacks, small electronics, and maps. Like the Inertia 20, it has the same system to carry trekking poles on the front of the pack.

Another thing that sets this backpack apart from the rest is that it has a hidden pocket for the provided rain cover! Yes, you heard me right. It’s such a useful feature. Granted you can have a plastic bag to serve that purpose but why not do it in style?

Between the Gregory Inertia 20 and the Zulu 30, I’d pick the Inertia 20 for an all-around daily backpack and I’d have the Zulu 30 as a dedicated hiking daypack.

You can’t go wrong with either one, it depends on what you are going to be using them for the most!

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack

Weight: 2.4 oz. – ya, you’re seeing it right – it’s that light!

Torso sizes: no info … should fit anyone really

Purpose: short day hikes

Let’s shift gears a bit – Aside from the main compartment, this backpack has no extra pockets, NO structural support at all. No padding, no sternum strap, no hip belt – nothing!

So why is it on this list of “best reliable hiking daypacks”?  – It weighs next to nothing and it can be packed to a size no bigger than a bar of soap and it’s the most affordable daypack on this list.

This should not be your standalone daypack. It is a welcome addition to use it after you’ve set up camp and pop it out of your big backpack and use it for short hikes. The material it’s made of is the ultralight and durable Cordura which is siliconized to be  water repellent.

If you don’t overload the daypack to the point where the shoulder straps dig into your shoulders this can be a very affordable and practical solution to your short day hiking trips.  


So there you have it!When you are buying a backpack you have to consider the brand that stands behind it to give you a good customer support should anything go wrong. Thankfully you are in good hands with this list. I’ve got a few mountain peaks I’d like to walk up to and any of these backpacks will do the job perfectly(small peaks 3-5 hour hike).

Let me know in the comments below what your favorite daypack is. What features do you find most useful and what would your perfect daypack look like?

Until next time,

Happy hiking!

Leave a Comment