Daypack’s are used for activities that require carrying a day’s worth of gear and many of them have been designed for a particular activity.

Choosing a Daypack

Daypack’s are used for activities that require carrying a day’s worth of gear and many of them have been designed for a particular activity. These activities range from hiking, tour skiing or climbing to things like commuting, school or travel. They are the smallest of the backpack family and unlike larger overnight backpacks, they don’t have an internal frame, therefor they’re not designed to carry loads more than 20 to 25 pounds (9-11kg). As with all backpacks the most important is that it fits well and you feel good with it, here is some useful info you should know, before choosing one.

What size daypack I need?

The first step on choosing your day pack is the size of the pack that you will require for your activity to feel comfortable and be able to take everything you need with you on your adventure. Hiking packs can be almost any size, but if you choose one that’s 30-36 litres, you’ll have enough capacity to handle most situations, but if you’re the team’s leader and carrying gear also for someone else, then go for 40 litres and bigger. Activities, which require more freedom of movement, like bouldering, skiing, bike riding and trail running also requires more compact day packs, where you take only the most important items with you

Matching daypack with your activity

Day Hiking – a good day hiking backpack capacity generally ranges between 25 and 35 litres, but on shorter hikes you can go with slightly smaller ones, especially if you’re planing on speed hiking and a lot of scrambling. Choose your daypack wisely with useful features, like side pockets, compartments for organising gear and water system compatibility. If you’re looking for compact day pack, consider also some packs with thinner profiles such as those listed under climbing packs

Bouldering – look for a narrow profile pack that includes a padded back or a frame-sheet as well as hip-belt and a sternum strap, which will be useful. In mountains air is cooler and you will need to take some extra clothing with you so make sure backpack you choose has enough space to accommodate also extra clothing

Climbing – You want a pack that’s lean and clean, avoid side pockets, which can limit your freedom of movement. As with bouldering, look for a narrow profile durable pack with frame-sheet or padded back and features like an ice axe loop, crampon patches and daisy chain for lashing gear and a sternum strap. Backpack should be big enough to hold your climbing gear (ropes, carabiners, etc.) and also extra clothing, around 40 litres will do

Ski Touring – Look for a smooth, narrow profile pack with sternum strap and hip-belt s well as wand pockets that you can attach your skis to. Pack’s capacity requirements depends on your range of motion and the extra clothing you want to take with you. Climbing packs also often work very well for backcountry touring

Trail Running – a lumbar pack, water-bottle pack or small technical daypack, that weighs max. 25 litres, is usually the best choice. Lumbar packs are less inclined to shift while you run and keeps your back clear, which helps perspiration to escape


Fit is very important for your balance when hiking – If your pack doesn’t fit right, you will put strain on your body. There are backpacks designed specifically for men and women, since men’s and women’s bodies are contoured differently, and there are children sizes too. Some backpacks feature an adjustable suspension that you can adjust the size within a certain range, which can be useful, if you share your pack with others, as well as people with unordinary sizes. Make sure you don’t wear the pack too high or too low. If the bottom of the pack is about two inches above your waist, then it’s just right

Panel loading vs Top loading

Panel loading daypacks have main storage compartment that is accessed with U-shaped zipper and when fully opened, one panel falls away like a flap. Their wide opening makes them easy to load and also makes finding what you’re looking for easier

Top loading daypacks close with a drawstring and are easier to overstuff if needed, but organising and locating gear is not as easy as on panel loading models. They are simpler in design and a little lighter than panel loaders, and often feature side compression straps, which helps stabilising a load. Some models have a extendable top lid that allows you to exceed the pack’s stated capacity, which is valuable to climbers who carry a lot of gear to their climb, but use most of the pack’s contents during the climb.

Some daypacks offer dual access points from top and from panel, which is a good alternative option

Key features

Side pockets can be made of stretchy mesh or nylon and some have zippers, often big enough to carry water bottles. Use the side pockets for items you want to access quickly, rather than looking for them in a main compartment

Bungees – Some backpacks use bungees on the front, which you can use for attaching an extra layer of clothing if you suddenly get cold or a rain jacket

Side Straps – Some backpacks have compression straps on the side, which can be used for attaching items, like trekking poles or just to minimise pack volume by tightening them, when pack is not completely full

Organiser Panel – Often daypack will have an organiser panel in one of its smaller compartments, which helps storing some smaller items safely away, like cell phone, pen or keys. On some pack’s you may also find a key clip you can attach the keys to, so you won’t lose your keys deep inside your pack

Hydration Sleeve – On most daypacks you’ll find a sleeve on the inside backpanel that can be used as water reservoir or as laptop pocket. H2o hose openings are very useful if you want to use water system on your backpack – normally you can find them in area where shoulder strap connects with pack indicated as H2o. If you will be using hydration sleeve as laptop pocket, then look for a hydration sleeve with extra padding that offers extra protection to your laptop

Buying advice

When choosing your daypack, make sure it feels comfortable on your back. Go to your local outdoor shop and try few models on to see what fits best, load the pack with weight up to 20 pounds (9kg) and walk around shop. If there are any uncomfortable points, make sure all straps are adjusted properly, and if it still feels uncomfortable then try a different pack. If you find a comfortable pack with all the features you want and correct size, don’t rush buying it – now that you know the make, model and size, you can check online first for better deals.

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