Choosing a daypack for travel is arguably more important than picking your main travel bag! It’s by your side for every adventure, graciously carrying everything you need on a day to day basis.
So what’s the best daypack for travel?
Read on to see our picks of the best daypacks as well as things to consider when choosing which to buy!
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The Best Daypacks: Quick Answers!
- Best Travel Daypack — Cotopaxi Luzon del dia 18-litre
- Best Secure Travel Daypack — Pacsafe Venturesafe 15L G3 Anti-Theft Daypack
- Best Collapsible Travel Daypack — Gonex 20-litre Packable Backpack
- Best Budget Daypack — Gonex 20-litre Packable Backpack
- Best Everyday Daypack — Salkan Day Bag
- Best Daypack For Hiking — Osprey Talon 22
Cotopaxi Luzon Del Día 18-litre
- Price Range: $$
- Best Feature: Eco-friendly and ultra-durable
- Feature To Improve: A lanyard for attaching keys could be added
If you want a jazzy bag that doesn’t cost the earth, look no further than Cotopaxi. Their Del Día collection, which includes the Luzon, is made from offcuts and excess fabric, ensuring nothing from the manufacturing process goes to waste. This means each unique bag is made up of multiple different coloured fabrics.
The Luzon makes maximum use of its 18-litre capacity. The main compartment is a vast open space, featuring nothing but a hydration bladder sleeve. This means it can be hard to dig gear out but allows you to fill it with ease. You can easily get 2-3 nights worth of gear into one of these bags — and the Luzon Del Día weighs just 300g!
Cotopaxi opted for a drawstring closure on the main pocket of the bag. This saves weight and money — zips are heavier and more costly than drawstrings! If you’re concerned about drawstrings not being as secure as zips, you can store items you’re worried about in the small zippered front pocket.
There’s no frame in the Luzon so you’ll notice it if you’re carrying heavy loads. However, the frameless nature means you can compress it down small enough to cram into your main travel bag when you’re not using it.
Osprey Daylite Plus
- Price Range — $$$
- Best Feature — Plenty of room and organisational options
- Feature To Improve — Only comes in one size
Osprey’s Daylite Plus is a favourite among travellers. Clocking in at just over 600g, this lightweight day bag barely registers against your airline’s weight limit. The capacity is 20-litres which gives you plenty of room for day to day items. If you’re a light packer, you’ll be able to use the Daylite Plus for overnight trips or weekends too!
While not officially a packable daypack, the Osprey Daylite Plus can be squashed down relatively small because it doesn’t feature a frame. This means you can cram it into your main back if necessary – although it will still take up much more space than a traditional collapsible daypack. The downside is that you’ll notice the lack of frame when trying to carry heavy loads.
Inside the bag, there’s a large zippered main pocket that houses the padded laptop sleeve and some smaller mesh compartments for organising your gear. The front pocket is also home to smaller mesh pouches as well as a key clip. There are two good-sized external water bottle pockets, which can be reached while still wearing the bag.
The shoulder straps don’t feature a ton of padding but they’re comfy enough. The removable hip belt helps distribute weight, so you barely notice the limited padding. The Airscape back panel is comfortable and reduces sweat build-up by allowing airflow to your back.
Finally, the Osprey Daylite Plus can be attached to the outside of some Osprey backpacks for ease of transport. This saves you needing to carry two bags because they act as one when properly secured. The Daylite Plus attaches to the Aether/Ariel packs, the Porter range, the Farpoint 80 and others.
- Price Range — $$$$$$$$
- Best Feature — Organisation for all your electronics
- Feature To Improve — It’s hard to pack bulky items
Nomatic are known for their high quality, albeit expensive, backpacks. In Europe the company is known as Gomatic, in the USA they remain Nomatic.
The Navigator is their 15-litre tech-focussed daypack. It weighs 1.2kg and features organisational compartments for all your important items, including an RFID blocking pocket to give you a sense of security. There’s a spot for your laptop, tablet and enough mesh compartments for all your electronics and cables. The main pocket features a divider and even a false bottom which protects your devices from knocks and bangs. Even if you drop the bag, your electronics will remain safe.
The downside of this bag is its overall usability. If you’re not travelling with a ton of electronics, it’s hard to get the most out of The Navigator. The super-slim styling makes carrying bulky items a challenge. Even with the expandability — it can expand from 15-litres to 21 — it’s still difficult to make the most of the space.
On the outside of the bag, there’s a hidden water bottle pocket and a subtle front pocket which is easy to access but almost impossible to spot if you don’t know it’s there. Nomatic’s Navigator is heavily water-resistant, even featuring water-resistant zips to ensure all your gear remains safe.
Salkan Day Bag
- Price Range — $$$$
- Best Feature — Durability and versatility
- Feature To Improve — The G hook closure is a bit fiddly with cold hands
- Read Full Review of Salkan’s The Backpacker
Salkan produce one of the best travel pack/detachable daypack combos. But even without their Main Pack, the daypack is a good investment.
Made from recycled 900D Cotna Polyester, this daypack is durable, comfortable and looks great! Clocking in at 850g, it’s heavy for a daypack but that’s the price you pay for a tough, long-lasting bag.
With its 20-litre capacity, Salkan’s daypack can be used for days out or even weekends away. The really light packers among you will be more than capable of using this daypack for a 4-5 night trip!
The bag’s cushioned back panel acts as a frame, distributing the weight of your gear evenly across your back. Combined with the padded shoulder straps and removable sternum strap, this ensures maximum comfort even if you’re carrying the bag at capacity.
It’s worth noting that this bag won’t compress down super small. You’re unlikely to be able to pack it inside your main travel bag. However, it will attach to the Salkan Main Pack using specific attachment points.
The daypack features a padded laptop sleeve, capable of holding machines up to 15 inches, as well as an internal waterproof pocket, a soft-lined sunglasses pocket and two external water bottle holders. Each of these can hold a litre bottle comfortably. There’s also a hidden pocket in the back panel which is big enough for your passport, phone and wallet. It’s easy to access while wearing the bag but is tough for any potential thieves to spot.
The biggest downside of this daypack is the G hook closure system. It can be quite fiddly to use, especially if your hands are cold or wet. The bag is also in a high price bracket for a daypack.
Pacsafe Venturesafe 15L G3 Anti-Theft Daypack
- Price Range — $$$$
- Best Feature — Theft-proof properties
- Feature To Improve — The slash-proof straps can be cut through with scissors (although knives can’t get through them)
- Read more — Best Theft Proof Backpacks
For security-conscious travellers, Pacsafe are a known and trusted brand. Their Venturesafe series protects your gear from opportunistic thieves using proprietary technology and high build quality.
The Venturesafe 15-litre G3 Anti-Theft Daypack is no exception. It features Carrysafe slashguard straps and an eXomesh slashguard lining to prevent slash and grab attacks. The Pop N Lock system allows you to anchor your bag to a stationary object, like a chair or table, without worrying that it might get swiped as soon as your back is turned. The Roobar Sport security clip means you can attach all your zips to one locking point and secure them all with a single padlock. This reduces the chance of anyone getting into your bag without you noticing!
Even with all this security tech, the 15-litre daypack weighs just 660g!
Inside the front pocket, the bag houses a myriad of small organisational compartments — including an RFID blocking sleeve. The main compartment has the laptop/hydration bladder sleeve, which can comfortably hold a 13-inch computer. We don’t advise storing a computer and a water bladder in there at the same time though!
The shoulder straps are lightly padded and have an adjustable sternum strap attached. They’re comfortable enough but you wouldn’t want to carry really heavy loads, even if the 15-litre capacity would allow it. The mesh padded back panel is comfortable and reduces the build-up of sweat by allowing air to flow to your back.
While this bag isn’t strictly packable, it’s streamlined and lightweight. You could compress it down small enough to fit into your main travel bag but it’ll still take up a lot of room.
Boundary Supply Prima System
- Price Range — $$$$$$$$
- Best Feature — Weather resistant and durable
- Feature To Improve — It’s a heavy bag
The Boundary Supply Prima System is built for photographers and those working on the road. It’s full of incredible features that make carrying your important equipment a much less nerve-wracking experience!
This pack is highly water-resistant and is also available in a fully waterproof X-Pac material. However, this adds extra cost to an already expensive bag. In my experience, the standard model can deal with all but the very worst rainstorms anyway — even the zips feature waterproof technology to keep as much water out as possible.
It’s large for a daypack though, measuring 30-litres as standard. As well as being larger than most daypacks, it’s also much heavier, weighing in at 1.8kg. This is not a daypack for your average traveller. Instead, it’s a bag built for those who travel with a lot of electronic gear they need to keep safe.
The bag is primarily a top loader but also features a zip running straight down the middle. This means you can open the bag up like a butterfly, allowing you to pack and unpack with ease. It features a laptop sleeve that prevents your computer from touching the bottom of the bag and a side entry point for quick access to your camera. Hidden inside the back panel — behind the water bottle pocket — you’ll find an RFID blocking pocket too. As well as the main daypack, the Prima System includes a padded laptop case and a camera bag.
Gonex 20-litre Packable Backpack
- Price Range — $
- Best Feature — Light and packable
- Feature To Improve — Water resistance is relatively non-existent
- Read More — Best Packable Daypacks For Travel
The 20-litre Packable Backpack from Gonex is a no-frills, budget-friendly daypack. It’s super lightweight at 185g and as the name suggests, can be packed down small. When folded into its own internal pocket, the bag is about the same size as two iPhones, albeit much lighter!
This means you’ll always find room for it — even if your main travel bag is full, you can just cram this pack into a coat pocket! Gonex’s 20-litre bag claims to be water-resistant but don’t rely on this. The thin material wets out fast. If you carry gear that needs to be kept away from water, we recommend packing it in a small dry bag too.
This is not a daypack built for heavy loads. There’s no frame and the shoulder straps are thin. However, it’s more than comfortable enough to be worn all day as long as you don’t overfill it!
The bag features one large compartment, a small internal pocket for valuables and a small external pocket for items you need in a hurry. There are also two external bottle pockets that can easily hold a 500ml bottle each.
There’s no laptop sleeve in the bag but you can easily fit a 15-inch machine in the main pocket. Carrying a large computer in this bag can get uncomfortable because there’s no padding or back panel. Putting a jumper or coat between the machine and back of the bag fixes this issue though.
Considering it’s so lightweight and budget-friendly, this is a durable bag. If you look after it, you can expect it to last multiple trips!
Osprey Talon 22
- Price Range — $$$$$$
- Best Feature — Built for with adventures in mind
- Feature To Improve — It’s almost overkill for travellers
For adventurous and active travellers, Osprey’s Talon 22 is an excellent choice. At 22-litres it’s able to hold everything you need for a day exploring. It features trekking pole attachment points, a stretchy front pocket, ice axe loops and an AirScape back panel.
Over rough terrain the Talon clings to your body, ensuring your centre of gravity is kept close to your core. This is what makes it a favourite among those really wanting to get off the beaten track. With its BioStretch design, the hip belt wraps all the way around your body, from your lumbar to your hips. This delivers top-level support and allows you to move freely.
The shoulder straps are padded and house a fully adjustable sternum strap. There’s also a stretchy pocket on the left shoulder strap which is big enough for your phone or snacks.
Weighing in at 900g, the Osprey Talon 22 isn’t the lightest daypack available, but it’s certainly not the heaviest. It’s a great combination of rugged design and lightweight comfort.
The bag is made from BlueSign certified recycled materials. It follows Osprey’s ethos of being as environmentally friendly as possible.
The Osprey Talon 22 is built for men. The equivalent pack for women is the Osprey Tempest 20.
The North Face Jester
- Price Range — $$$
- Best Feature — A great looking pack
- Feature To Improve — Internal pockets can get in the way
The North Face Jester backpack has proven a favourite among the South East Asia Backpacker Community. The 27-litre capacity makes it plenty large enough for days out or even a couple of days away.
The main pocket is huge! Aside from the 15-inch padded laptop sleeve, there’s nothing else taking up the valuable space. It’s easy to pack but finding little items is a chore. However, there’s a smaller front pocket that has organisational sleeves for storing your small belongings.
The padded back panel and Flex Vent Suspension system promote airflow to your back, reducing the build-up of sweat. They evenly distribute weight across your back, ensuring the carry experience is as comfortable as possible.
The size to weight ratio of this bag is excellent. It weighs just 740g but can store enough gear for multiple nights away! It’s water repellent too so will protect your gear from any errant showers.
On the outside, the Jester features two water bottle pockets and a series of bungee cords for affixing larger items. You can easily carry a travel yoga mat or sleeping pad with this bag.
There’s a female-specific version of this daypack available. It features changes to the straps, back panel and Flex Vent suspension to ensure maximum comfort and support for the female frame.
What To Consider When Choosing A Daypack
What The Daypack Will Be Used For
This is arguably the most important thing to consider. If you’re hiking in tough terrain – jungles, mountains, etc – you’ll want a daypack that’s rugged and supportive, with plenty of room for emergency survival gear. A daypack used while pounding the streets of Europe won’t need to be as tough, or as big but you’ll want it to be more streamlined to help you blend in.
When it comes to daypacks, weight is ultra-important. No one wants to lug around a 2kg backpack just to store a sweater and a bottle of water. Many daypacks clock in at well under 1kg and some of the lightest models weigh less than 100g! It’s also worth considering how you plan on carrying your daypack as you travel around while backpacking. Will it fit in your main bag? Or will you be using it as a carry on item? If you plan to pack your daypack into your main luggage, weight is even more important. Paying excess baggage fees because you didn’t check the weight of your daypack is infuriating!
Daypacks come in a range of sizes. From small 3-litre bum bags to 40-litre collapsible bags, there’s a size of daypack to suit everybody. There is no best-sized daypack. Just the best size for you. When choosing the right size for you, there’s a couple of things to consider:
- Personal preference
Some travellers like to carry gear for every occasion. Others prefer to move around with little more than their wallet and passport. And most of us fall somewhere in the middle. You’ll know how much gear you want to carry – don’t waste your money on a daypack that’s too big or too small for your needs.
- What You’re Carrying
If you work on the road, a daypack with a padded laptop sleeve, some level of water resistance and enough organisation to keep your workflow efficient is ideal. In this instance, a daypack between 20-30-litres is hard to beat. Likewise, if you’re storing a ton of electronics (e-reader, power bank, iPad, computer, etc) a daypack that offers protection is worth the investment. However, if you’re looking for a lightweight bag to hold some extra layers, a coat and some snacks, a smaller, simpler bag will do. Think 10-20-litres. These smaller daypacks can be very affordable and their reduced size means carrying them is a doddle.
Some travellers use daypacks that can be compressed and stuffed into their main pack. These daypacks weigh very little and often pack down to the size of a Coke can. They’re great for one bag or minimalist travellers concerned about space. However, they’re less durable and not as comfy as other daypacks on our list. If you’re already travelling with a lot of stuff, a packable daypack probably isn’t necessary. But if you’re trying to cut down on luggage, a packable daypack is a great choice.
Hidden Or Lockable Pockets
A daypack featuring hidden pockets or lockable zips can offer extra peace of mind. You can find pockets hidden in the back panel, near the bottle pockets or below the base. These are generally large enough for your phone, passport and money. While not completely theft proof, they act as a deterrent because they’re hard to get into without the wearer noticing.
You’ll find daypacks crammed full of pockets while others may have a single large compartment. The best for you will come down to personal preference. Everyone is different so use your judgement on this one.
If you’re not travelling with a laptop, or don’t take it out very often, a laptop compartment is unnecessary. But if you take a computer with you everywhere, make sure you’ve got a protective place to store it. Laptop sleeves should be padded and provide plenty of space for your machine. The best laptop sleeves are “floating.” This means the bottom of your computer isn’t touching the bottom of your bag. This way, if you drop your bag, your laptop won’t hit the floor!
Water Bottle Pockets
Keep an eye out for daypacks with exterior water bottle pockets. These save you from having to dig through the entire contents of your bag every time you want a drink. Pay attention to where the pockets are and how big they are. Can you get water out without taking the bag off? Are the pockets big enough to hold a Nalgene? Or a litre bottle? One of my favourite bags of all time, the Tortuga Setout Divide (no longer in production), had the worst water bottle pocket. It couldn’t hold big bottles and I couldn’t reach it while wearing the bag. Having to stop to take it off every time I wanted a drink was a source of constant frustration! Water bottle pockets can make or break a daypack!
There’s no point getting a bag that’s not comfortable. You’ll end up either hating it or never using it. Either way, it’s a waste of money. Ensure the bag you want is well-reviewed and that users don’t complain that it’s uncomfortable. If possible, visit a store to try the bag on before buying! This also helps you to buy the right size.
What’s the best size for a travel daypack?
As a general rule, 10-25-litres is a good size for a daypack. If you’re only using the daypack for taking a towel and a drink to the beach, go for the smaller end of this range. If you want a daypack for hiking and need to carry more gear, opt for the higher end.
How much should you spend on a daypack?
You can buy a good, all-around daypack for $20-$60USD. More specialised, or technical packs can cost hundreds of dollars. If you just need a basic pack, you shouldn’t need to spend more than $60USD.
What is a daypack for travel?
A daypack for travel is a small backpack that fits everything you need for a day out exploring. Travellers love them because it means they can leave the bulk of their gear in their main bag safely stowed at their accommodation.
Which Osprey daypack is best?
For an all-around daypack, the Osprey Daylite or Daylite Plus are the best choices. However, if you need a daypack for more strenuous activities, like cycling, climbing or hiking, the Osprey Talon 22 is a much better choice.
Are Osprey bags worth it?
Considering the build quality, materials used, generous guarantees and huge amount of R&D, Osprey bags are a bargain. You’ll be hard-pressed to find better quality bags for less money.
What’s the best backpack with a daypack?
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