Best Hiking Daypacks Reviewed 2020 | Top 10 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Hiking Daypacks Reviewed 2020 | Top 10

The best daypacks for hiking sit within 20 litres in size through to 30 litres. Here are the best options between those volumes out there

We’ve tested the best hiking daypacks for 2020, 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 28 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.

Get 10% off this season’s products at WebTogs with code ‘OMAGIC10’ here

Photo: Chris Johnson

How To Choose The Best Daypack For Walking

As is the case when choosing the best backpacks for trekking, 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.

All of the backpacks in this Top 10 are featured in our Outdoor 100 2019/20 and the Outdoor 100 2018. 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.

10 Best Hiking Daypacks 2020

  • Lowe Alpine Aeon 27 – Best Hiking Daypack
  • Fjällräven Ulvö – Best Waterproof Daypack
  • The North Face Chimera 18 – Best Running Daypack
  • Vaude Wolfegg – Best Sustainable Daypack
  • Osprey Skimmer & Skarab
  • Thule AllTrail 25L
  • Aiguille Alpine Midi
  • Silva Orbit 25L
  • OMM Phantom 25L
  • Patagonia Nine Trails 28L


BEST BUY: Lowe Alpine Aeon 27

Price: £100
Weight: 511g

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.

Get 10% off this season’s products at WebTogs with code ‘OMAGIC10’ here

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

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Fjällräven Ulvö Rolltop

Price: £140
Weight: 650g

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

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The North Face Chimera 18

Price: £100
Weight: 511g

Let’s first tough upon the aesthetics of this pack: it looks cool. With a lot of brands gravitating towards the rough and ready, heavy-duty, retro-style of ‘heritage’ packs, it’s always nice to see some showing off the capability of their R&D department and utilising ultra-lightweight fabric coupled with useful features.

The Dyno Cinch System found on the Chimera 18 is the main talking point here. It’s this system that enables you to easily adjust the volume while you’re on-the-go, meaning you’re able to keep the load well contained within the pack, ensuring it’s sat closer to your back and thus increasing the stability overall – particularly helpful when you’re running or walking over uneven terrain.

What we also have here is a FlashDry back panel which is made from a curved mesh-covered foam with ventilation holes cut into it. This back panel covers the full length of the pack providing good airflow and moisture management where it’s needed. 

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 – Here’s our The North Face Chimera 18 Full Review

Silva Orbit 25L

Price: £127
Weight: 1000g

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

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Aiguille Alpine Midi 40L

Price: £94
Weight: 560g

Made in the Lake District, this traditionally designed bag has been built to last. It features a no-thrills 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

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Thule AllTrail 25L

Price: £94
Weight: 560g

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

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Osprey Skimmer 28

Price: £90
Weight: 840g

It’s nothing new that Osprey make some of the best quality packs in the game – it’s what you’d expect from a business that’s specialist in packs since 1974.

The all-new Simmer is a women’s-specific daypack (the men’s version is called the Skarab) that merges a clean, simple, aesthetic with a distinct sense of practicality.

Clearly designed with versatility in mind, the large daypack capacity here means it’s perfect for those day-long adventures, whatever the season. An innovative foam back panel ticks all the boxes in terms of comfort and ventilation while the low-profile harness and nicely padded hipbelt provide decent load-transfer even when the pack has been well and truly overstuffed.

Full Specifications

28-litre capacity / AirScape backpanel / bump-foam ventilation / integrated & detachable raincover / bucket-zip access / external hydration access / zippered scratch-free sunglasses and electronics pocket

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Check out our full Osprey Skimmer 28 review

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OMM Phantom 20L

Price: £120
Weight: 315g

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

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Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

Price: £130
Weight: 1,000g

The Patagonia Nine Trails Pack 28L is a beautifully designed and comfortable daypack with all the features you’d need for a day of walking or scrambling in the hills or mountains. The first thing to catch our eye was the huge U-shaped zip that runs around the lid and almost around the whole front of the pack, allowing you to really open up the main storage compartment for ease of access.

The Nine Trails weighs in at around 1000g but still feels light and comfortable to carry. It features a flexible mesh back panel and uses durable materials, including Cordura ripstop nylon that’s treated with water-repellent finish. We like the double side compression straps, which let you really scrunch the pack down when it isn’t fully loaded to avoid any sagging. Those straps are also useful for lashing things like poles and small tripods to the side of the pack if needed.

In terms of pockets, you get two stretch side pockets, a large stretch external front pocket, two zipped hipbelt pockets, and a small zipped valuables pocket inside. The shoulders and hips are nicely padded, making the whole package extremely comfortable. In short, the Patagonia Nine Trails 28L gets a big thumbs up from us.

Full Specifications

28-litre capacity / available in two sizes: S/M and L/XL / lightweight yet durable Cordura nylon ripstop / extended U-shaped zipper to main compartment / stash pockets for organising / exterior stretch pocket / two quick-stash side pockets secure extra items / mono-mesh back panel provides excellent airflow and prevents moisture buildup

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2018/19 – Here’s our Patagonia Nine Trails 28L Full Review

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Vaude Wolfegg Backpack

Price: £145
Weight: 920g

There’s a lot to like about this waterproof pack from German brand Vaude. First of all – and trust us, this is a good thing – the shoulder straps are made from old milk. No, really. Fibres made from cow’s milk proteins are processed with wool to produce a soft, strong and naturally anti-bacterial felt. Apparently, the extraction process is very energy-efficient, and the milk used has been deemed unfit for consumption and so would otherwise be wasted.

In similar vein, the rest of the bag makes use of recycled polyester (using discarded plastic bottles) and sustainably-sourced leather. It is also free from PVC and PFCs, while the product is carbon-neutral and made in Germany.

It’s probably most at home as a pack for cycle commuting or wearing about town but don’t write it off as an option for the hiking trail. With its waterproof design, useful pockets, adjustable and ergonomically-shaped shoulder straps and 24-litre capacity, this would be absolutely fine to use for, say, a summer’s day exploring a Lake District fell.

Full Specifications

24-litre 54 x 35 16cm / face fabric: 59% Polyamide, 41% Polyester (recycled)’ 390D Diamond TPU coated / lining: 100% Polyester with a cotton touch / ergonomically shaped shoulders / 15,6″ laptop compartment / PVC-free / key holder / back zip pocket / inner pockets.

Selected for our Green Gear Guide 2019/20. Read our full Vaude Wolfegg Pack review.

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More Daypacks We’ve Rated In 2020

Alpkit Presta

Price: £50
Weight: 635g

The Alpkit Presta 20 is a small, lightweight multi-activity pack designed for walkers and hikers who like to go fast and light in the mountains. Alpkit also do a 30-litre mountain daypack (the Ledge), but if you’re walking in summer the Presta could hold everything you need. It also has a very comprehensive feature set for such a low price.

The main compartment – accessed via a zip opening at the top – is big enough to hold a few extra layers, food, drink, camera, maps and first aid essentials. You also get a smaller zipped lid pocket for things like gloves and hats, an even smaller zipped internal pocket for valuables, two stretch side pockets, a large stretch external front pocket, and two zipped hipbelt pockets. There are other nice touches too, like a whistle on the main chest strap, internal bladder sleeve, and stowable loops and bungee cords for attaching poles or axes.

The back is padded with ventilated 3D breathable foam to stop you getting too sweaty, with padded hip fins and shoulder straps adding extra comfort. All in all, and typically of Alpkit, this is a very impressive piece of kit for just £50!

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.

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Osprey Skarab

Price: £90
Weight: 780g

The Skarab 30 is an interesting hiking daypack from Osprey that offers an alternative to their ever-popular Talon range. This rucksack immediately has a different feel to the Talon, with a large top-zip offering access to the main compartment and making it easy to pack and unpack. In place of stretch side pockets are secure zipped pockets, big enough for you to stash things like water bottles, gloves or lightweight layers.

The Bump-Foam back panel doesn’t lift the pack away from your body, but offers enough airflow to stop you combusting on sweaty uphill climbs. Nice features include the large shove-it pocket on the front that can be adjusted using the side compression straps, and a hidden scratch-free pocket above the back panel that’s good for stashing sunglasses and mobile phones.

Related: Osprey Skarab 22 Review

You also get double hipbelt pockets and a separate rain cover tucked away at the bottom of the Osprey Skarab 30, making it a very appealing daypack for walkers in all types of weather in every type of terrain. We’re impressed!

Full Specifications

30-litre capacity / AirScape back panel with bump-foam ventilation / zipped top pocket / twin zipped side pockets / front shove-it pocket / twin zipped hipbelt pockets / zipped scratch-free pocket / walking pole attachments / side compression straps / ice axe loop.

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Vaude Brenta 25

Price: £90
Weight: 1070g

One for fans of clipped floating lids and excellent airflow, the Vaude Brenta 25 is a heavier pack than most in this test but makes up for it with a comprehensive set of features that will appeal to most hikers and hillwalkers. The standout features are the Aeroflex suspension system that lifts the bulk of the rucksack well clear of your back for great ventilation, the large floating lid with drawstring adjustment that doubles up as a zipped storage pocket, and a huge U-shaped zip on the front that gives easy access to the main compartment.

The rest of the Brenta 25 keeps things refreshingly simple, with a large stretch front pocket, two stretch side pockets, a single zipped hipbelt pocket, two side compression straps, adjustable shoulder straps and a separate rain cover. It delivers a comfortable carry with good weight distribution too, so you hardly notice that extra weight when the pack’s fully loaded.

It’s impossible to talk about Vaude gear without mentioning its impressive green credentials. The Green Shape label is Vaude’s guarantee of eco-friendly products – made from sustainable materials and resource-conserving production. So as well as enjoying your outdoor adventure, you’ll also be doing your bit to protect the planet.

Full Specifications

25-litre capacity / Aeroflex back system / ventilated shoulder straps / padded hip wings / large zipped pocket on floating lid / front stretch pocket / two side stretch pockets / pole attachments / side compression straps / top compression strap / hydration bladder sleeve / separate rain cover.

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Gregory Salvo 24

Price: £90
Weight: 1100g

Despite its relatively small 24-litre capacity, the Gregory 24 Salvo rucksack still manages to feel very roomy with easy access thanks to the large zip that runs around the top of the main compartment. It isn’t particularly light at 1100g, but makes up for that with a very robust feel and an excellent ventilated back system that lifts the pack well clear of your body for increased airflow.

You get the usual hiking daypack pocket collection (large front stretch, two stretch side, two zipped hipbelt, two zipped valuables), plus pole attachments, side compression straps, an internal hydration bladder sleeve, and a separate rain cover.

Our favourite thing about the Gregory 24 Salvo, though, is the Vaporspan back panel. It’s tensioned and flexible with fantastic ventilation that’ll keep you sweat-free, plus a lower-back cushion that makes it one of the most comfortable daypacks we’ve tested. Perfect for walking and hiking all year round.


Full Specifications

24-litre capacity / 210D Cryptorip nylon material / 210D nylon Dobby base / Evo Foam hipbelt / Vaporspan back panel / spring steel frame / front and side stretch pockets / zipped hipbelt and valuables pockets / zipped main opening / internal hydration bladder / separate rain cover / pole attachments.

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Deuter Futura 26

Price: £105
Weight: 1400g

Deuter have a well deserved reputation for making great backpacks, and the updated Futura 26 is the latest in a very long list of impressive releases. This pack has every feature you’d expect or need as a walker, plus a heavy-duty and robust build quality that makes it feel indestructible.

In terms of useful features, it’s hard to know where to start. The roomy main compartment is accessed via a clipped floating lid with drawstring adjustment, plus you can also gain entry via the big double zip that runs round the front of the pack. You get external and internal zipped lid pockets, a large clipped front storage pocket, stretch side pockets and two zipped hipbelt pockets. The hipbelt is so well padded it feels like it’s hugging you, and the new Aircomfort Sensic back system lifts the whole pack a good few inches from your back for great ventilation.

All of this comes with a slight drawback in terms of weight. At 1400g the Deuter Futura 26L is a very heavy daypack, but if you can put up with that it’s hard to see how you can find a better equipped hiking rucksack.


Full Specifications

26-litre capacity / Dynajin 210/PES 600 material / round profile frame / raincover / padded hipbelt / hydration sleeve / wet gear storage pocket / pole attachments / front access zip / valuables pocket / side pockets / hipbelt pockets / SOS label.

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Fjällräven Kaipak 28

Price: £130
Weight: 1050g

Typically from Fjällräven, the Kaipak 28 is a classy-looking pack that looks as good on the high street as it does in the high mountains. Made from robust G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco fabric, it has instant visual appeal and feels built to last.

The base of the Kaipak 28 rucksack is made from double-layer nylon, meaning you can place it down on damp ground when you stop for a rest without the contents getting soaked. Plus, you can wax the whole pack with Fjällräven’s Greenland Wax to make it more water-resistant and durable. The spacious main compartment is top-loaded with a floating lid big enough to hold a essentials like gloves and hats, with a long external zip down the front of the pack that gives access to a slim compartment that’s perfect for maps and thin layers.

You also get side pockets, a snow lock, side compression straps, pole attachments, and a supplied rain cover; but it does lack some features walkers will like. The detachable hipbelt is very thin and unsupportive so you take most of the weight on your shoulders, plus there are no hipbelt pockets or top tensioning straps. But what it lacks in terms of regular features, it makes up for by oozing class and visual punch.

Full specifications

28-litre capacity / G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco material / double-layer nylon base / clipped lid closure / side pockets / pole attachments / two side pockets / separate rain cover.

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Salewa Mtn Trainer 28L

Price: £135
Weight: 1023g

Salewa is a big Italian brand that’s slowly becoming more recognisable in the UK, and it’s all down to the quality of their mountain gear. Every product feels very well thought-out and exceptional quality, and the Salewa Mtn Trainer 28L rucksack is no exception.

The 28-litre capacity makes it suitable for everything from day hikes to scrambles and very lightweight overnight trips, with a traditional floating lid and drawstring closure design giving instant appeal to purists. The Contact Flow Fit back system keeps you ventilated by using two big pads on the sides that stay in contact with your body, with a large channel down the middle for air to flow freely. It seems to work too!

The thin shoulder straps with large ventilation holes feel a little bit like they’ve sacrificed comfort for a little extra airflow, but otherwise this pack is hard to fault. It’s comfortable and not too heavy, with plenty of pockets to stash your kit and features that are as useful on countryside walks as they are on technical mountain routes.


Full Specifications

28-litre capacity / 100Dx280D nylon twill material / Contact Flow ventilated back system / separate raincover / internal hydration bladder sleeve / floating lid with drawstring closure / zipped valuables pocket / zipped hipbelt pocket / two stretch side pockets / pole attachments / compression straps.

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