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Looking for the Best Daypack for Travel? Start and End Here.

Finding the best daypack for travel isn’t difficult – it’s choosing which one to buy that is the challenge! Plus, you don’t just want a good day pack, you want the best! So, if you are looking for the top rated daypacks – you’re in luck. We’ve compiled some of the best daypacks for travel into this post and walk you through what you need to consider before you buy! Remember, not all daypacks are necessarily backpacks. There are lots of different colours and styles so go ahead and read the reviews to find the best travel day bag for yourself!

If you already have an idea of what you’re looking for in a daypack, then you can skip ahead and have a look at the packs that interest you on our handy chart below!

NameSizeFoldableRatingsPrice
North Face Hot Shot Laptop Backpack26 LitersNo4/5Check
Herschel Supply Co. Packable Daypack24.5 LitersYes4.5/5Check
Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack13 LitersNo4.5/5Check
North Face Borealis Laptop Backpack28 LitersNo4/5Check
Gonex Ultralight Travel Daypack20 LitersYes4.5/5Check
WATERFLY Chest Sling Daypack10 LitersNo4/5Check
Sunhiker Hiking & Cycling Day Backpacks25 LitersNo4/5Check
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack18 LitresYes4.5/5Check

Things to Consider When Buying a Daypack

There are lots of details to consider before you buy the right daypack. Some people get caught up in the whole “daypack versus backpack” debate. More often than not, daypacks are backpacks – but it’s the size and function that makes bigger travel backpacks different than a bag you’d just take around on a day trip. Let’s dive into the buying details to make sense of all this.

Function

Above all, what function will your daypack serve? Are you exploring cities one after the other? Are you hiking for an entire day? Do you need a collapsible bag you can just throw stuff in when you need to head to the beach, or are you travelling for work and you need a padded laptop/iPad slot? Understanding the functions that you require based on your trip type is important. Function is closely related to the size and style of daypack – both of which we will dive into discussing below.

Travelling

If you’re using it for travel and not just for taking out of the bag once you get to your next destination, then you’ll be looking for something sturdy and versatile. The best day backpack for travel is going to be a mix of both. If you’ve got electronics like a laptop or iPad in your daypack (or you’re travelling to Scotland) you might consider one that’s water resistant and water proof.

On that note, climate and weather can play a role in determining which daypack to buy but most nylon packs are water resistant by design but not necessarily warm. Remember that if you need to keep your old smartphone warm inside the bag so that it doesn’t die when it gets cold (Lisa…).

Hiking

Whether you’re just out for a few hours on the local trails or planning on hiking the famous Trolltunga in Norway – there are lots of healthy arguments on what makes a daypack the best hiking daypack. For some people, it’s the ability to have a refillable bladder for hydration. For others, it’s the ability to be able to attach light gear to the pack without much effort. It’s also important to note that, physiologically, men and women’s bodies can be quite different so the best women’s hiking daypack will differ from the best one for men! We talk about differences in daypacks for body types further down!

City Exploring

If you need a daypack for exploring a city and hopping on and off public transport, then you’ll likely want a daypack with strong zippers and/or clasps that ensure your daypack is closed properly. This way you’ll feel secure moving through crowds, walking around, biking around, and moving on and off different modes of transportation. The best urban daypack for adventures around a city is one that holds what you need and you can manage with all day. There’s no easy answer!

Size/Compressibility

How packable of a daypack do you need? As in, how small do you need it to fold into its own pouch? Do you need a daypack that can fold at all? The best packable daypacks are often the ones that are bought with the intention that they will be folded and put into another pack/or bag on a cheap flight, for example.

Another thing to consider is the content you’ll be filling your bag with. Some daypacks have huge compartments that can hold upwards of 20 litres while a small travel daypack could be as little as 10 litres. However, if you’re travelling for work and you need to hold a laptop or tablet, you might want a stable daypack with a padded slot for your computer. These types of daypacks aren’t likely to be one that collapses very tiny so there are going to be trade-offs to any bag.

Weight

The weight of your daypack is definitely something to consider. Some daypacks are very lightweight when they are empty and don’t hold a ton of stuff – making them lightweight even if they are full. Other bigger backpack daypacks have more to their structure and also hold a lot – meaning overall they can get quite heavy. You’ll need to think about how and when you’re using your daypack to determine the best one for you! We break down two main types of daypacks:

Lightweight Daypacks

Some of the best daypacks are surprisingly light but also very sturdy. It’s difficult to say what makes the best lightweight daypack for travel since each of them has pros and cons. For example, The Osprey Daylite is small and has a rigged, breathable structure but has a smaller capacity then you might need. Alternatively, you’ll see with the Herschel collapsible below you can sacrifice stability (and a little bit of comfort) for a very, very light backpack that has a huge capacity.

Ultralight Daypacks

Ultralight daypacks are like the Herschel mentioned above. Made from very light materials like nylon, these daypacks are meant to pack up small and weight next to nothing. You can feel confident about the weight of your airplane luggage knowing you’ve got another bag you can use when you arrive already inside your bags. As for wear and comfort, they are light as a feather lightly packed but can hold a lot fully loaded – so they can get heavy over the course of a day’s adventure. You also sometimes sacrifice structure and padding for compressibility so keep that in mind!

If you’re looking for tips on what to pack for Europe – here’s our handy packing list for travelling with carry-on luggage only!

Brand

Admittedly, travellers are drawn to certain brands that they have experience with or that they have been suggested by a friend or fellow traveller. Osprey, North Face, MEC (yay, Canada!), and Herschel are some of those brands. Looking for the best Osprey day pack, for example, can be a challenge since there are so many makes and models within the one brand. We use a Herschel collapsible and it’s been a great pack for when you need to create a bag out of nowhere.

It’s important to remember that different brands have different warranties on their products and it’s worth researching what these terms are. Osprey has an “All Mighty Guarantee” which covers faulty gear and a variety of other things except for “normal wear and tear” due to age. In any case, check the repair options and warranties for brands before you buy.

Style and Comfort

Style and comfort are two things that are important factors when deciding on a daypack. Luckily, most of the daypacks we write about are offered in a variety of colours. As for design, there are daypacks with lots of exterior pockets and meshing while others are very neat and clean looking. These minimalist daypacks have a simple design and few details – just clean lines, zippers, and designs. Hiking daypacks often have lots of mesh pockets for water bottles, attachable elements like poles or other gear so with function often comes a certain look.

As for comfort, you’ll want to consider the straps as a very important buying factor. Chest straps offer support and stability, while waist straps help with taking the weight off of your shoulders. Depending on what you’re filling the daypack with, however, weight when full isn’t typically the main concern when you’re buying one. It’s a daypack –  not a full trip pack.

While most daypacks will have two straps for even weight distribution, we’ve included one model of “single strap” chest sling daypack that will be lightweight given that it can’t carry all that much – just the essentials. Overall, you’ll find a variety of brands and models below that will work for your style and comfort needs.

Security

The security of the daypack is associated with the material it’s made out of. A more rugged backpack is going to be less likely to rip (or be purposely torn). Some daypacks also have many interior pockets that snap or zipper shut to secure anything from a laptop or a tablet to your smartphone, wallet, keys, money, or other valuables.

If you were worried about security, you could always purchase a lock that can be placed through the zippers. The pro of a lock is that your bag cannot be opened easily if it’s in an overhead bin on a long bus ride or on the metro. The con is that if you’re frequently using your bag that lock might be annoying. This is up to you and your level of comfort wherever you’re travelling to!

Lisa carries a small luggage lock that she puts on her bag when we are sharing an Airbnb. We’ve never had anything bad happen (knock on wood) but it’s just good habit and peace of mind!

Women’s Daypacks

Women’s daypacks can often fit differently than ones designed for men as the bodily dimensions and proportions differ. As such, straps and daypack torso lengths will also vary. Reading the reviews of women’s day packs is a great way to determine if a pack is for you. Osprey makes a point of writing about their commitment to designing packs that fit women. They make some of the best women’s daypacks for travel and the best women’s daypack for hiking.

Men’s Daypacks

For guys, the best men’s daypack is going to differ from guy to guy. Generally, breathability is a consideration especially depending on how full you’re packing the daypack and the climate you’re travelling in. While there is no perfect men’s travel day pack, we’ve included some below that work well for both men and women! Oh, and if you need a piece of men’s carry-on luggage then here’s our post just for the guys out there to help you choose and buy the best carry-on bag for you!

List of the Best Daypacks for Travel

Below you’ll find the details and our thoughts on the daypacks listed on the chart. Since we own a few of them, it was easy to discuss the differences and similarities to different bags when it comes to structure, size, and packability. But don’t take just our word for it – every traveller is different! You can click through to Amazon to read more reviews of the best daypacks included below.

North Face Hot Shot Laptop Backpack

The Hot Shot is a gorgeously sleek backpack from North Face. This bag is certainly a more structured backpack compares to the other super light and packable ones. That being said, it could be considered one of the best daypacks for Europe because it caters to bus or plane travel more than just a collapsible daypack.

Made from a very study material, this backpack comes with “flex vent” technology – keeping everything breathable against your back like we talked about. There’s an external drink holder on the side, and additional storage in the front flap. Unzip the main compartment – and you’ve lots of space and incredible padding designed to keep your laptop safe. Check it out on Amazon here.

Herschel Supply Co. Packable Daypack

Eric has this Herschel collapsible (it’s the daypack Lisa is wearing in the cover photo for this post) and it’s honestly been the best budget daypack he’s ever owned. It’s just so simple if you need a bag to put things in. It folds up TINY into its own packable bag that closes with a snap. There’s a handy grab handle at the top, a zippered front pocket that’s actually pretty large, and adjustable nylon straps that fit a variety of body sizes.

It should be noted that this bag has no structure to it. It’s made from tear resistant fabric, but there’s no back padding or rigidness to it. It’s a zippered bag with one large compartment. That is all. Depending on your preference and need for a more structured bag, the Herschel might not be the best day trip backpack for you. However, we’ve used it for a day at the beach, a day wandering old towns, and a day riding around on public transport.

In Malta, it was packed with towels, cameras, water bottles, and sunscreen – and it held up as a great bag! If you need a simple bag that gets the job done with no fuss – check to see if the Herschel packable duffel is right for you.

Osprey Daylite Daypack

It’s no surprise that Osprey makes some of the best-rated daypacks on the market. Their brand is synonymous with quality and experience and this keeps people coming back to purchase their products. Their daypacks are no exception to this rule. The Daylite Daypack would be considered an “ultralight” and the Daylite line is considered the best light daypack by many.  Some travellers even go so far as to say that they even consider this to be the best osprey daypack out there. You be the judge!

The Daylight is small – meaning the overall capacity isn’t huge but it’s great for the essentials if you’re heading out for the day. The small profile makes it a great companion on your trip. The Daylite has structure in the vented foam back panel and the vented padded straps – which are obviously adjustable for your frame. There are an adjustable chest strap and a waist strap for additional support and security. The main compartment opens large for easy access and loading. There are two mesh stretch pockets on the sides for a water bottle or small accessories. The Daylight even has a front zippered pocket even has an interior organizer for small but important items like money or sunglasses.

Remember, the Daylite series comes in a variety of colours that are sure to fit your style. The coolest feature to mention is that if you already have an Osprey backpack – the Daylite can be added as an attachable to the following Osprey backpacks:  Aether/Ariel series + Volt/Viva series + Ace 75 + Shuttle series + Sojourn series + Farpoint 80 + Porter series. This makes the Daylite a great for those of you looking for a backpack with detachable daypack. The Osprey is an elegant daypack that gets the job done – check out your Daylite Daypack here.

The North Face Borealis Laptop Backpack

This 15″ version of the  North Face Borealis is another great daypack. Considered one of the best everyday backpacks – Lisa has a grey and orange version and she loves it!

The front elastic straps allow for placing a map with ease. On the side, you’ve got a water bottle mesh pocket and compression straps for tightening the overall profile of the bag to fit it more flat against your back. The back straps have “flex vent” technology, and the chest strap helps with stability as well. Inside, the capacity is great for a weekend trip with a good laptop sleeve and depth to hold quite a bit of clothing or gear. Oh, and the top pocket is perfect for mints or sunglasses.

It’s the kind of pack you’d buy if you expected more from your daypack and want it to be a bag that you can travel with between cities rather than just a bag you use for a few hours. This makes the North Face one of the best day backpacks. Click here to see all the colours available.

Gonex Ultralight Travel Daypack

Some people swear by their Gonex. As the name suggests, this is an ultralight – meaning that it weighs next to nothing (0.4 pounds!) and can pack down into its own carrying bag to be 16 cm by 16 cm.  The Gonex is one of the best collapsible daypacks that can fit into their own tiny carrying bags.

The daypack is made from water resistant nylon that is also reinforced in all the right places to be extra tear resistant. The straps are flat, lightweight, and adjustable to fit many body dimensions. There is only one main compartment so don’t count on having sections to compartmentalize your belongings once inside the bag. This lack of structure can turn people off but for others it’s exactly what they need: a bag to carry things. Period. It’s all about what you’re carrying and how you pack it.

There’s a front zippered pocket for smaller items, and two mesh water bottle pockets on the sides. Gonex make some of the best packable daypacks available – super small but still providing some structure and support once filled and on you back! Plus, it comes in 8 colours (from lime green to black) so you’ve got the chance to choose a bag that reflects your style. See why the Gonex can be your best lightweight daypack and check out the pretty colours!

WATERFLY Chest Sling Shoulder Daypack

Here’s the Waterfly daypack. As a smaller 10 litre pack it’s perfect for day needs such as trekking across a city or heading to the beach with minimal gear. It could even be an extra pack on a hike. We’ve included a single strap “sling-style” daypack because some people like the small size and weight. A disadvantage is that you don’t have even weight distribution across your back – but remember that you physically can’t fill it up that heavy anyway!

The Waterfly is made of thick nylon and is therefore waterproof against the elements – some of the reviews mention that it’s the best waterproof daypack they have ever owned. Inside the pack, there are two main compartments: one space for a smaller iPad, and the other for smartphone, wallet, and other small items.  There is even a water bottle pocket on the outside and a phone pouch on the breathable strap. Oh, and the strap can be changed from left to right depending on your preference!

Many people count out a shoulder sling but it can very easily be a men’s or women’s small daypack if you don’t have a lot of gear. A camera, a water bottle, sunglasses, wallet. Done. Simple.  If you don’t like the one shoulder sling idea, then you’ll certainly be looking for a lightweight day backpack with two full-on straps. Click here to check out the Waterfly Sling Daypack.

Sunhiker Hiking & Cycling Day Backpack

The Sunhiker is considered one of the most comfortable daypacks because of its ergonomic design and straps that are made for movement. It’s a daypack that is made for movement – hiking, cycling, running, etc. Having both a chest strap and a waist strap means that the bag stays close to your back and doesn’t shift around while biking and hiking. That’s a big plus for some people. The straps also allow for very even weight distribution adding to the comfort of the bag. It should also be noted that there are side straps that can be adjusted so you can limit the amount you can actually fill the daypack. A nice way to control your packing!

The daypack is made from tear resistant nylon that, like most nylon daypacks, is water resistant. There is a water bottle mesh pocket on both sides of the bag, two main compartments, and a smaller front pocket for smaller items. The Sunhiker is certainly a useful small hiking daypack AND it comes in SO MANY COLOURSClick here to see the colours and the Sunhiker hiking daypack reviews.

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Backpack

If you’re looking for an Osprey packable daypack, this is the one for you. The Osprey Ultralight is 18 litres of stuff-carrying goodness that can pack down into its own bag that you can fit in your hand. Pretty handy when you need a bag that can pack small.

The pack itself is well-built with strong stitching and Osprey zippers that are reinforced. The material is water resistant. The dual zippers let you open the large compartment where you want to open it. There are three pockets on the outside – two mesh ones on the sides for water bottles and a small top zippered pouch for the classic wallet and keys holder.

The straps are “air mesh” meaning they are breathable but not nearly as much as a bigger daypack since they also have to be able to fold down very small. In any case, people buy the Osprey and call it one of the best ultralight daypacks they have ever owned. See for yourself how small the Osprey can fold down into itself!

And there you have it – some of the best daypacks for travel that are on the market! As with any purchase, do your homework and really think about your trip, your budget, your needs, and your body. We’re confident you’ll make the right decision and we hope this guide has been helpful! Go out there and get your daypack!

As always, Happy Daypack Waddlin’,
-L&E

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While waddling the globe, Penguin and Pia enjoy belly slides and tasting the freshest fish dishes the world has to offer. When not lounging on ice chairs, they can be found working in the travel space in countries all around Europe.

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