Best Daypacks For Hiking 2021 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Daypacks For Hiking 2021

The 'sweet spot' for a versatile hiking daypack is between 20 and 40 litres in volume. Here are the best options out there in that size range

We’ve tested the best hiking daypacks for 2021, 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.

Photo: Chris Johnson

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 2020/21 and in our Outdoor 100 2021/22. 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 2021

  • Haglöfs L.I.M 35 – Best Daypack
  • Lowe Alpine Aeon 27
  • Fjällräven Ulvö Rolltop 20 – Best Waterproof Daypack
  • Filson Dry Backpack 28
  • Silva Orbit 25
  • Aiguille Alpine Midi 40
  • Thule AllTrail 25L
  • Klattermusen Brimer
  • OMM Phantom 20L
  • Patagonia Altvia 28
  • Jack Wolfskin Eco Loader 24
  • Klättermusen Ull Blot 30
  • Arc’teryx Aerios 30
  • Gregory Arrio 30

 

BEST BUY: Haglöfs L.I.M 35

Price: £120
Weight: 890g
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. 

Full Specifications

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.

MORE INFO:
HAGLOFS.COM

 

Lowe Alpine Aeon 27

Price: £90
Weight: 511g
Best for: Hiking, hillwalking, general use
Key attributes: Lightweight, comfortable, well-ventilated

Lowe Alpine 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. See below for the full set of features on the Lowe Alpine Aeon 27 (click for the review), which we think is near-perfect for walking and hiking all year-round.

Full Specifications

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

MORE INFO:
RAB.EQUIPMENT

Fjällräven Ulvö Rolltop

Price: £140
Weight: 650g
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.

Full Specifications

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

MORE INFO:
FJALLRAVEN.COM

 

Filson Dry Backpack

Price: £205
Weight: 992g
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's got nicely contoured shoulder straps. Photo: Mike Brindley
Filson are regulars in our Outdoor 100, and with good reason. Photo: Mike Brindley

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.

Full Specifications

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

MORE INFO:
FILSON.COM

 

Silva Orbit 25L

Price: £127
Weight: 1000g
Best for: Hiking, fishing, canoeing, SUPing, cycling
Key attributes: Tough, waterproof, roomy

The Orbit 25L from Silva is an incredibly durable roll top backpack that’s able to offer full wet weather protection for all of your kit in the worst of conditions thanks to a 420 denier, ripstop, double-coated, seam sealed fabric with a roll-top closure.

On top of this solid build, the Orbit 25L has a feature list that makes it a great daypack for a multitude of conditions and activities and uses. These features include a grab handle on the top, zipped internal pocket, an external waterproof, a padded laptop compartment, and finally reflective details across whole pack that make it ideal for nighttime commuting.

Full Specifications

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 Silva Orbit 25L review

MORE INFO:
SILVA.SE

 

Aiguille Alpine Midi 40L

Price: £98.95
Weight: 560g
Best for: Scrambling, hiking and hillwalking
Key attributes: Tough, durable, roomy

Made in the Lake District, this traditionally designed bag has been built to last. It features a no-frills construction that’s simply able to stand up to all of the abuse that you’re sure to put it through whilst out in the mountains climbing, scrambling or hillwalking. As with all of Aiguille’s packs, the Midi 40L boasts an extremely durable fabric with a strength rating of a whopping 1000D. To put that into perspective, the Fjällräven Ulvö pack (featured above), which we found to be super tough itself, is only 400D.

Thanks to the toggled drawcord under the top lid, the main compartment can be opened right up for easy access to your kit. And this thing can certainly swallow a lot of stuff. During our testing, we managed to carry all our equipment for a weekend wild camp.

A downside when you’re carrying heavy loads with this is that there isn’t a stiffened back system, and you’ll need to add on a hipbelt and sternum strap if you need them. Still, for robust simplicity, and a long lifespan, this is a great pack to consider.

Aiguille make all of their products out of their workshop in the Lake District and they’re open to customisation of designs. So if you want to add on pockets, straps, and go for different colours or sizes, none of that is off the table.

Full Specifications

40-litre capacity / 1000D texturised nylon fabric / under lid pocket / reinforced base / curved shoulder straps / slightly padded back / waist belt and chest strap attachment points / ice axe attachment.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Here’s our Aiguille Alpine Midi 40L Full Review

MORE INFO:
AUIGUILLEALPINE.CO.UK

Thule AllTrail 25L

Price: £110
Weight: 560g
Best for: Hiking and hillwalking
Key attributes: Durable, practical, hydration-compatible

The AllTrail range from Thule measures from 15 up to 45 litres, with each pack in the range having an extremely durable build. This, the AllTrail 25 is going to be a great size as a summer hiking daypack. As like many of the other packs in this roundup, the AllTrail 28 has been built with a tough outer fabric giving the pack a tank-like build – the durable fabric in question this time is a 420D Dobby Poly with a lighter weight 330D ripstop polyester protecting the front.

It’s a top-loading design with a relatively thin lid covering a toggled drawcord access and a handy zip down the side allows you to grab anything you may have buried deep within it. A single ice axe holder doubles up as a trekking pole attachment, whilst a hydration system can be bought separately and linked up with the hydration tube exit port.

Full Specifications

25-litre capacity / 420D and 330D materials / top lid closure / front stash pocket / two side pockets / breathable shoulder straps and hipbelt fins / hydration sleeve / compression strap buckles.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Check out our full Thule AllTrail 25L review

SHOP NOW

 

 

Klättermussen Brimer 24L

Price: £174
Weight: 973g
Key attributes: adaptable, eco-friendly, hardwearing, unisex
Best for: Climbers, mountaineers, ski tourers

This is a high quality pack that’s designed for resilience. Made from a 210D polyamide fabric, it’s the kind of pack that offers superb durability, while a coating on the outside and laminate on the inside, bring a very high degree of weather resistance.

Despite that durability, this thing still weighs in at under 1kg, which ain’t too shabby – there are many bags that are less robust but still heavier. OK it might not become the pack of choice for the ultralight brigade, but the carrying comfort is fantastic, even with a heavy load.

The back panel is adjustable and the lumbar bar and pivot system help the bag to move with your hips and shoulders. The side pockets are enormous, capable of fitting most one-person tents, and daisy chains across the harness and front of the pack are ideal for hanging gear.

At only 24L capacity, this best suits a minimalist packer, although the bag’s capacity could be almost doubled by adding some of Klättermussen’s optional extras such as bottle holders and extra pockets. 

Full Specifications

210D recycled polyamide / water resistant / partially external aluminium frame / adjustable back panel / supportive lumbar pad / pivot system / drawcord closure / compression bungee / daisy chain loops/ laminate inside / easy-to-increase capacity / reinforced base.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2021/22 – Here’s our full Klättermussen Brimer 24L Backpack review.

MORE INFO:
KLATTERMUSEN.COM

OMM Phantom 20L

Price: £120
Weight: 315g
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.”

Full Specifications

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

MORE INFO:
THEOMM.COM

Patagonia Altvia Pack 28L

Price: £130
Weight: 797g
Key attributes: Eco-friendly, lightweight design
Best for: One day adventures, two day adventures, eco-conscious consumers, 

Patagonia are leaders in the market when it comes to supplying eco-friendly, durable outdoors gear, and they haven’t dropped the ball with this new release. It features a 100% recycled nylon upper and base, with the plastic materials sourced from fabric industry waste and post-consumer fishing nets, along with a rain cover, straps, lining and back panel all made from 100% recycled polyester. 

There are two colours to choose from and varying capacities. We tested the 28L which stood up well as a bag that bridges the gap between packs for one and two day adventures. 

Our testers found it to be a functionally built pack with useful features, including ice axe/trekking pole holders and daisy chain webbing and loads of storage options throughout. 

Full Specifications

Detachable rain cover / breathable mesh back panel / Regulator airmesh inserts / water repellent finish / key clip / secure side pockets / hydration sleeve / varying capacities (14L, 22L 28L and 36L) / no eco-hazardous chemicals / recycled materials.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2021/22 – Here’s our full Patagonia Altvia Pack 28L review.

SHOP NOW

 

 

Jack Wolfskin Eco Loader 24

Price: £90
Weight: 
870g
Best for: Hiking, general outdoor use
Key attributes: Eco-friendly, functional

This innovative pack is made from 100% recycled and sustainable materials. In fact, 18 plastic bottles went into its durable synthetic fabric. But that’s not all. The foam in the back panel and the shoulder straps is made from algae. Using algae has a number of sustainability benefits. First of all, it’s a renewable alternative to CO2 producing plastics, but then there’s also the fact that in many water sources, algae is growing too fast and it therefore needs to be removed in order to allow other marine life to survive. The main reason it’s growing too fast? As usual, it’s a man-made problem thanks to fertiliser run off from agricultural and industrial processes.

The eco-credentials of the Eco Loader don’t stop there. It’s also bluesign approved and it’s completely free from any of those nasty environmental hazardous PFCs that are often used to make outdoor products water resistant.

As a pack, it’s fairly simple but does have a long wraparound zip entry for quick access and easy loading. The 24-litre capacity makes it the perfect size for any day-long outdoor escapes. You’ll comfortably be able to fit your lunch, a few warm layers and a thermos flask inside with space for any extras as well.

Full Specifications

24-litre capacity / 53 x 29 x 20cm / Flexible, full-contact back system with body-hugging fit / 4-way zip provides multiple access options / Main compartment with inner pocket, security pocket at the back / Integrated rain cover in base compartment / Robust, 100% recycled diamond grid polyester ripstop fabric.

Selected for our Green Gear Guide 2020/21. Read our full Jack Wolfskin Eco Loader 24 review.

MORE INFO:
JACK-WOLFSKIN.CO.UK

Klättermusen Ull Blot 30

Price: £248
Weight: 850g
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.

Full Specifications

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.

MORE INFO:
KLATTERMUSEN.COM

Arc’teryx Aerios 30 Backpack

Price: £160
Weight: 900g
Key attributes: Impressive design features, lightweight build, capacious
Best for: Day hikes, overnighters, fast hiking, winter walking

This is essentially a lightweight hiking pack with a running pack harness system. The front vest-like shoulder straps really conform to your torso – it’ll even hold comfortably against your chest as it rises and falls with your breathing. 

It’s made from a light but incredibly tough ripstop nylon with durable Cordura threads and liquid crystal polymer mesh too (a material used in bulletproof vests). From what we’ve seen it’s easily robust enough to stand up to tough backcountry trips, including rough scrambles. 

There are features in abundance and more roomy pockets than you can shake a stick at, meaning that you could even fit some solo tents in this pack to upgrade it from a day pack to an overnighter.

 It comes in two back lengths, regular and tall, and there are different volumes too, including a 15L and a 45L. 

Full Specifications

Ripstop nylon / Cordura threads / S-shaped internal frame sheet / Aeroform pack panel / liquid crystal polymer mesh / zipped pockets/gear loops / two sizes (regular and tall) / lightweight / wide-panelled harness system / external bungee / external loops / external toggles 

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2021/22 – Here’s our full Arc’teryx Aerios 30 Backpack review.

MORE INFO:
ARCTERYX.COM

Gregory Arrio 30 Daypack

Price: £95
Weight: 850g
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. 

Full Specifications

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

SHOP NOW

 

 

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