We’ve tested the best hiking daypacks for 2023, suitable for everything from walking in the countryside to hiking in the Lake District fells or the Scottish Highlands. This round-up looks at the backpack options with a volume between 20 and 40 litres for this test. All will be large enough to carry everything from extra layers, food, water and navigation equipment, plus extras like trekking poles and storm shelter.
Different walkers look for different features in rucksacks, so we’ve gone for a broad mix of designs. They include zipped openings, floating lids, removable hipbelts, ventilation panels, compression straps, stretch side pockets and small hip-belt pockets for stashing things like phones and snacks.
How To Choose The Best Daypack For Walking
As is the case when choosing the best backpacks for backpacking, there are also lots of elements to consider when choosing a daypack. Are you prepared to carry extra weight to ensure a full feature set, or would you prefer a stripped back pack to save grams while you’re walking? Do you want ventilation that allows good airflow between your back and the rucksack, or do you like a snug fit that keeps the rucksack close to your body as you move? We’ve tested options to suit every kind of walker.
It’s worth heading over to our daypacks buyer’s guide if you could do with more details on what to look out for. There you’ll find information on everything from back sizing and ventilation, to the pros and cons of waterproof backpacks.
Many of the backpacks in this Top 10 are featured in our Outdoor 100 and in our Green Gear Guide. Within these product guides, you’ll be able check out a more in depth review of each pack, including tester’s verdicts and industry trade secrets.
Best Daypacks For Hiking 2023
Here are the results of our team’s testing over the last couple of seasons. Most of these passed muster for our Outdoor 100 series and Green Gear Guide, with each one rated for its material quality, the overall functionality, carry comfort and features.
- Best Overall Daypack: Gregory Arrio 30
- Best Budget Daypack: Jack Wolfskin Eco Loader 24
- Best Daypack for Running and Hiking: Montane Trailblazer LT
- Best Eco-friendly Daypack: Osprey Talon Earth 22L
- Best Waterproof Daypack: Filson Dry 28
- Best Daypack for Winter Hiking: Klattermusen Ull Blot 30
Best Overall Daypack
Gregory Arrio 30 Daypack
Key attributes: Superb comfort, intuitive organisation, hydration reservoir compatible
Best for: Coastal hopping, peak bagging, fastpacking, trail running
The Gregory Arrio 30 Daypack is a perfect all-rounder of a backpack: lightweight, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing. It’s jam-packed with clever features, from the open-air mesh back panel (back sweat is a thing of the past) and super comfortable perforated foam harness, to the integrated safety whistle in the sternum strap.
The Arrio’s intuitive organisation is a real plus, with quick-access pockets on the top and to the side and zips which are easy to use (and locate). You’ve also got a side stretch mesh pocket across the front which is perfect for a flask or a first aid kit.
It’s also equipped with a fitted rain cover. Winter walkers should note that there’s no ice axe attachment however.
Ventilated back panel / zippered stash pockets / hydration system / moisture wicking mesh / breathable shoulder harness / integrated shoulder straps / integrated safety whistle / fitted rain cover / ComfortGrip pulls / water repellent.
Selected for the Outdoor 100 2021/22 – Here’s our full Gregory Arrio 30 Daypack review.
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Best Eco-Friendly Daypack
Osprey Talon Earth 22L
Key attributes: Eco-friendly, loads of pockets and details
Best for: hiking, commuting, cycling
The Talon Earth is Osprey’s first pack to be bluesign approved – that’s an industry accreditation that recognises efforts towards sustainable and ethical manufacture. To achieve this certification, Osprey have used recycled fabrics and components inside and out, including the zippers and hardware. In fact, around 50% of the pack’s plastic content is made using renewable natural gas.
The 22-litre size and array of features make it a great small daypack for hiking, but we’ve found it also serves well as that workhorse pack that gets used day-to-day including for the home-to-office commute. To increase its urban appeal (especially for city cyclists), you get an internal padded laptop sleeve, a LidLock bike helmet holder and a night light attachment point to increase visibility on busy roads.
There are lots of practical pockets too. In addition to the main zipped compartment (which also houses a zipped security pocket with key-clip), there’s a hipbelt pocket, a smaller easy-access zipped external pocket, two side stretch pockets and a stretch harness pocket.
Just like previous editions of the Talon pack, it has an adjustable harness and hip-belt system, plus the same mesh-and-foam AirScape back panel, ensuring decent comfort levels and a close but ventilated fit.
All in all, we’ve found this to be a versatile jack-of-all-trades that can handle hikes, bikes and office commutes.
Bluesign approved recycled 100D x 210D high-tenacity nylon / internal padded laptop sleeve / tuckaway ice axe attachment / bike helmet attachment / external hydration sleeve / stretch mesh side pockets / dual zippered hipbelt pockets / 51H, 25W, 23D.
Selected for the Outdoor 100 2022 – Here’s our full Osprey Talon Earth 22 review
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Best Lightweight Daypack for Hiking and Running
Montane Trailblazer LT 20L
Best for: Hiking, fastpacking, trail running, general outdoor use
Key attributes: very light, waterproof
This is primarily designed for fast and light adventures – mainly running or fastpacking – but from our experience using it, we’ve found it’s right up to scratch as a three-season daypack too. With its 20-litre capacity, this pack suits day trips in the mountains where you want your essentials with you – your wet weather gear, insulation, your lunch and snacks and map etc.
Montane have deployed a bunch of very light materials here, giving it a total weight of a meagre 300g. And comfort hasn’t been sacrificed either; this pack wraps around your body’s contours nicely and neatly with just enough padding to keep the contents inside from poking into your back. It’s reasonably durable too thanks to its silicone coating and ripstop weave.
This is a fully waterproof daypack, using a water tight fabric, taped seams and rolltop closure to block out the elements and there are a bunch of nifty pockets and storage options. We particularly liked the front bungee which gives this pack that extra capability if you do want to stretch its potential and use it as an overnight bag.
Our only gripe is that with the bungee, cords and straps it is a little bit on the fiddly side. Still, if you’re looking for something that’s lightweight but capable and loaded with useful design touches, this would be a good option to go for.
20-litre capacity / roll top opening / two chest straps / waist strap / storage bungee / stretch mesh pockets / taped seams / 40 denier siliconised nylon ripstop fabric with TPU coating / underarm pole attachments / hydration bladder compatible.
Selected for our Outdoor 100 2022. Read our full Montane Trailblazer LT review.
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Best Waterproof Daypack
Filson Dry Backpack
Best for: Hiking, fishing, canoeing, SUPing, cycling
Key attributes: Tough, waterproof, roomy
If you’re an outdoorsy type who loves getting out on the water, or relishes tough, wet conditions, you’ll definitely appreciate the qualities of the 28-litre Filson Dry Backpack. Designed primarily for rainy-day hiking, fishing, rafting and canoeing, it’s also a solid choice for surfing, paddleboarding and even cycling.
It uses a super-tough 840-denier coated nylon for the main fabric, with equally durable nylon webbing, chunky EVA foam and high density plastic components. The padding on the back and shoulder straps enhances comfort, while the PU coated nylon is waterproof, abrasion-resistant, and flexible.
One of the standout features of the Filson Dry Backpack is the roll-and cinch closure with its generous wide-mouth opening. This is completely watertight and supremely hard-wearing, unlike most zip-top designs, but it also makes loading and unloading your gear very easy.
28-litre capacity / PU-coated 840-denier nylon / RF-welded seams / Breathable, padded back panel / Adjustable, padded shoulder straps with sternum strap / Exterior and interior zippered pockets / Roll-top closure with side-cinch and center webbing straps.
Selected for the Outdoor 100 202/210 – Here’s our Filson Dry Backpack Full Review
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Best for: Light summer hiking
Key attributes: Tree bark fabrics, stylish and practical design
The Tree-Kånken is an evolution of the classic Kånken design, sharing the same looks but with much more sustainable materials. It’s made from something called Pine Weave, a bio-based material that’s derived from cellulose fibres obtained from tree bark. Fjällräven get their wood for this collection from trees grown just outside the brand’s hometown and the foresting is all done sustainably and is fully traceable to its source.
This is a practical and versatile bag that’s equally at home in everyday life or on more casual outdoor excursions. The main compartment has a large zipped opening that makes the Kånken easy to pack and unpack, aided by its practical rectangular design, and it comes with a foam pad in the inner rear sleeve. This stops stuff from digging into your back and can be used as a handy seat when needed.
The side pockets will accommodate a slim water bottle (take a look at Primus’ Klunken for the perfect partner) or an umbrella. There’s daisy chain webbing to fix a bike lock or to hang things off with a carabiner or two and there’s also webbing straps along the base where you can quickly fasten a jacket or tripod. Other details include easy-grab top handles, adjustable shoulder straps, a reflective logo, and a handy zipped pocket at the front that’ll fit flat items like maps, books or work documents.
Low impact tree bark fabrics / light hiking and everyday use compatible / large zipped main compartment / rectangular design / foam pad in inner rear sleeve / two side pockets / daisy chain webbing on the front / webbing straps on the base / reflective logo / front zipped pocket / easy-grab top handles / adjustable shoulder straps / extra accessories available / Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Fair Labor Association (FLA) company.
Selected for the Green Gear Guide 2021/22 – Read our full Fjällräven Tree-Kånken review.
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Best Daypack for Winter Hiking
Klättermusen Ull Blot 30
Best for: Ski touring
Key attributes: Lightweight, eco-friendly, durable
The Ull Blot is a specialist, technical ski touring pack made from undyed, 100% recycled polyamide that is reinforced with durable Aramid fibres – which are also used to make Kevlar (yes, the stuff in bulletproof vests). But as well as being tough, it’s kind to the planet, since this backpack is also fluorocarbon-free.
The pack has a cinch closure system for easy one-handed access. The ability to roll the top to compress it, in order to keep it close to your back, is another nice touch in this area. Move into the guts of the backpack, which offers the user 30L worth of storage, and you’ll find a safety pocket for avalanche tools. The internal space offered by the backpack, it’s worth adding, can be adjusted via the Ull Blot’s compression straps. This means you can optimise the pack’s shape to suit your situation.
30-litre capacity / Chest strap / Load lifters / Internal safety pocket to keep avalanche tools / Adjustable compression straps / Side zip / Ski/trekking poles and ice axe attachement points / Hipbelt pocket / Removable back plate / Hydration-compatible / Padded back with ventilation channels / Rolltop closure.
Selected for the Outdoor 100 2020/21. Read the full Klattermusen Ull Blot Backpack Review.
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The Best of the Rest
Haglöfs L.I.M 35
Key attributes: Innovative minimal design, lightweight, comfortable to carry
Best for: Three-season day adventures, fastpacking, long-distance fastpacking
Super lightweight (especially for a pack with a suspended back system) and produced using ethical fabrics, this pack is somewhat minimalistic in design but without any compromise in function or performance.
For us, arguably the most impressive feature was the back ventilation system. The suspended lightweight mesh panel effectively keeps the contents of your pack away from your back, allowing that much-needed airflow and preventing sweat from building up.
It’s also surprisingly durable, with a 70-denier rip-stop polyamide that’s reinforced with 140-denier sections in high-wear zones. There’s just about the right amount of padding in the hip belts too – and these have large pockets on them where you can stash a good amount of snacks.
At just 35l this backpack is best suited to day hiking, but it’ll also cater for a few minimalistic backpackers and fastpackers too.
70-denier rip-stop polyamide / ethical and sustainable fabrics / suspended lightweight mesh panel /wide hip belts / wide top-loading design /spacious hip belt pockets / drawstring toggle system / clip for hydration bladder / 35l storage / water resistant / padded hip belts / padded shoulder straps.
Selected for the Outdoor 100 2021/22 – Here’s our full Haglofs L.I.M 35 review.
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Rab Aeon 27
Best for: Hiking, hillwalking, general use
Key attributes: Lightweight, comfortable, well-ventilated
Formerly known as the Lowe Alpine Aeon, this bag has now been switched to Lowe Alpine’s sister brand Rab, joining their line of fast and light packs.
Rab describe the Aeon 27 as ‘quite possibly our favourite ever creation’ and it’s easy to see why. This is a very slick daypack – lightweight, comfortable, well ventilated, good looking, and packed with useful features for walking and hiking. You’re basically getting all the things you’d want or expect from a quality daypack.
The capacity is 27 litres, with a roomy main compartment accessed by an easy-access double top zip that runs most of the way round the pack. We love the stretch front pocket, with a heavily elasticated opening that keeps the contents secure. The stretch side pockets are good for everything from poles to water bottles, and the hipbelt pockets are big enough for everything from phones to snacks. We also like that the hydration bladder pocket sits outside the main chamber behind the back panel, so you can access it without rummaging through all your gear.
The AirContour back system is simple and lightweight, with just enough ventilation to keep your back sweat-free without lifting the pack too far away from your body. It’s also easily adjustable, with a large Velcro tab that you unfasten to slide it up and down.
27-litre capacity / abrasion-resistant nylon material with TriShield coating / AirContour adjustable back system / stretch front pocket / two stretch side pockets / two valuables pockets / two hipbelt pockets / MultiLock tool attachment system / Flexion shoulder harness system.
Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Here’s our Lowe Alpine Aeon 27 Full Review
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Best Daypack for Running and Hiking
OMM Phantom 20L
Best for: Trail running, fell and mountain racing
Key attributes: Superlight, stable, chest pockets
OMM make kit designed to help runners cope with the conditions and demands of their eponymously named endurance event that they’ve held each year for the past 40 years. In this, competitors put themselves through two days of fell running, racing from checkpoint to checkpoint, camping out overnight, and ascending up to 3,500 vertical metres in order to complete the race. Their focus is on lightweight designs that function in wet weather, that carry well, and that bring convenience while on the move.
Weighing in at only 315g, this running pack is by far the lightest backpack in this roundup. Given that it’s a trail running specific daypack, stability has been the focus of the Phantom 20L. This has been achieved by creating a v-shaped anchor or yoke that sits behind your neck where the two straps merge together. This anchor avoids the full load of the rucksack being taken by each shoulder one at a time with each step, the weight instead being channelled into the anchor point to allow for a more stable carry.
Outdoors Magic Staff Writer, Jordan Tiernan got some time with the Phantom 20L: “It’s worth making sure to carefully adjust the fit to suit each load you’re carrying and to spread its weight equally across the anchor points. Once I got this right it carried better than any other trail-running pack I’ve tried.”
20-litre capacity / vest harness system / hydration bladder compatible / 6mm EVA back panel / 2 front stretch mesh, one zipped top pocket.
Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Here’s our OMM Phantom 20L Running Pack Full Review
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Fjällräven Ulvö Rolltop
Best for: Commuting, general outdoor use
Key attributes: Durable, waterproof, padded laptop sleeve
With a look that’ll fit right in in the city, at work or in the classroom, the Fjällräven Ulvö Rolltop will make for a great commuter pack for the urban dwellers out there, but there’s more to it than that. In fact, the Ulvö carries a load of features that make it suited for a range of activities from city to summit.
Fjällräven’s own all-new tough and waterproof Bergshell fabric has been used here with the Ulvö Rolltop. It’s an impressive fabric that’s soft to the touch and that boasts a protective laminate underneath with fully taped seams – all of which makes the backpack impressively watertight. Interestingly, the weave they’ve adds an extra level of durability to the Ulvö through the use of a flat ripstop technique that minimises the risk of fibres catching and scuffing on anything rough.
A roll top closure makes access to the main compartment simple and efficient, whilst also adding an extra barrier of waterproof protection for gear stashed inside this pack. Inside there’s a useful zipped pocket as well as a padded laptop sleeve. There are stretchy side pockets as well – super useful for stashing things quickly while on the go.
20-litre capacity / 210D nylon mini ripstop material / 420D nylon base reinforcement / zipped lid closure / pole attachments / two side pockets / two hipbelt pockets / hydration sleeve / Duraflex compression strap buckles.
Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Check out our full Fjällräven Ulvö Rolltop Backpack review
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