Reviews You Can Rely On

The 5 Best Daypacks for Women of 2024

We put women's daypacks to the test from brands like Osprey, Gregory, REI, and more to uncover the best models
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Best Daypack Women Review (Testing some of the top women's daypacks in the field. From left: REI Trail, Gregory Jade, Osprey Tempest, Gregory...)
Testing some of the top women's daypacks in the field. From left: REI Trail, Gregory Jade, Osprey Tempest, Gregory Juno, Osprey Sirrus
Credit: Jeff Mogavero
By Madison Botzet & Maggie Nichols  ⋅  Apr 30, 2024

The Best Women's Daypack for 2024


Want the best daypack to carry your hiking essentials? After researching 80+ options, our team of experts bought the best 11 women's daypacks you can get. From ultralight bags to large-capacity packs that dabble in overnight functionality, we put a range of contenders through months of side-by-side testing. Our team of all-female adventurers wore them through multiple seasons, from hiking to skiing to trail running, for hundreds of miles of adventures. We scrutinized their comfort on women of many shapes and sizes, tested their adjustability, and evaluated their versatility. Every zipper, pocket, and clip was used on scores of adventures for durability and sheer usefulness. No matter what you need to bring with you, we identify the perfect backpack for the job.

If you'd love to extend your jaunts on the trails, you might also be interested in one of these top women's backpacking packs or a pair of the best women's hiking boots. Regardless of the length of your excursion, a top-rated first aid kit is something we would consider essential for every hiker. If you are new to the backcountry or are just looking to update some well-loved items, we've reviewed all the latest hiking gear you might need to get out into nature.

Editor's Note: Our women's daypack review was updated on April 30, 2024, to include more recommendations in our award section and to go into more detail on our testing process.

Related: Men's Daypacks

Top 11 Daypacks - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $169.95 at REI
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$100 List
$99.95 at REI
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Overall Score
83
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76
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62
Star Rating
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Pros Large capacity for versatile uses, great back ventilation, adjustable torso, included rain coverGreat features and pockets, easy to use, adjustable torso lengthGreat access to your gear, big pockets, simple yet versatileGreat ventilation, backpack-like comfort, useful pockets and attachments, well built, intuitive useLightweight, easy to access contents, internal organization, fun colors
Cons Runs small, heavy, easy to overstuff for average day hike needsWater bottle pockets are a bit small, front stow pocket is a bit smallUnsupportive hip belt, not the most breathable back panelOne size only, heavyNo hip belt, no padding or support, small side pockets
Bottom Line Look no further for one of the most comfortable daypacks in our test group for heavy loads and big days outThis pack can comfortably do-it-all with excellent features, strong durability, and impressive adjustabilityA durable, versatile pack that's both easy to use and easy on your walletAll the comfort and security of a full backpack in a bite-sized daypackTons of fun colors and just the right amount of convenience and functionality for casual use
Rating Categories Gregory Jade 28L Osprey Tempest 20 REI Co-op Trail 25... Gregory Juno 24L Cotopaxi Batac 16L
Comfort (25%)
10.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Versatility (25%) Sort Icon
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Ease of Use (25%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
Weight (15%)
5.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
5.0
Specs Gregory Jade 28L Osprey Tempest 20 REI Co-op Trail 25... Gregory Juno 24L Cotopaxi Batac 16L
Measured Weight 42 oz. 31 oz. 30 oz. 31 oz. 11 oz.
Volume/Capacity 28L 20L 25L 24L 16L
Back Construction Crossflow suspension AirScape backpanel; large spaced horizontal padding bars covered by large-holed mesh HDPE framesheet VaporSpan ventilated mesh Lightweight nylon
Hydration Internal hydration sleeve External hydration sleeve Inner hydration sleeve Internal hydration sleeve Internal hydration sleeve
Hipbelt Yes Yes Yes, removable Yes No
Compartments 1 1 1 1 1
Rain Cover Yes No Yes No, but DWR finish No
Additional pockets 6 8 5 6 3
Outside Carry Options External stretch pocket, trekking pole holders, ice axe attachement, sunglasses loop and bungee, hip belt pockets, hydration hose clip Lidlock helmet attachment, trekking pole quick-stow, large stretch front pocket, ice tool loop with bungee tie-off, side pockets, hip belt pockets, sunglasses shoulder stow, bike light loop Pole fasteners, side mesh pockets with elastic enclosure Lare exterior stretch pocket, 2 stretch side pockets, 2 zippered hip belt pockets, 1 zippered pocket, hiking pole storage, ice axe loop Daisy chain, 2 side pockets
Whistle Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Key Clip Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Materials 210D nylon body, 420D nylon bottom 70D x 100D nylon body, accent and bottom 420HD nylon packcloth Recycled nylon 210D Honeycomb Cryptorip nylon, 420D reinforced bottom 75D-210D nylon (sometimes ripstop; individual pieces may vary)
Notable Features Adjustable torso length, internal pocket, cinch straps, sunglasses quick-stow Helmet attachment, trekking pole quick-stow, sunglasses quick-stow, bike light loop, shoulder strap pocket, stowable ice axe loops Ability to add REI Trail 2 Waistpack for more storage, contoured foam harness, raincover included, bottom is reinforced to be abraison resistant Sunglasses stow loops, hydration hose attachment, trekking pole attachment Side-opening small pocket, internal organizational pockets


Best Women's Daypack for Long Hikes


Gregory Jade 28L


83
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 10.0
  • Versatility 8.0
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • Weight 5.0
  • Durability 8.0
Weight: 42 ounces | Capacity: 28 liters
REASONS TO BUY
Easy access U-zip
Plush, comfy hip belt
Well-ventilated
Great capacity
Load-bearing straps
REASONS TO AVOID
Easy to overpack
Heavier
Jade 28 Updated
Gregory updated this pack since our testing period with some fresh colors, a new look, and a couple other design tweaks, like taller mesh water bottle pockets and updates to the back panel ventilation. We're linking to the updated pack in our affiliate links. However, our review text still pertains to the previous model.
For the dedicated hiker who won't settle for anything less than the most comfortable technical pack, the Gregory Jade 28 offers a large capacity in a plush, supportive package, making this an easy pick to win our highest honor. It's comfortable straight out of the box, and you can customize the fit since the pack comes in two sizes and has an adjustable frame. One of our favorite features of this bag is the large, U-zip opening that made accessing our essentials a cinch.

The Jade 28 is one of the heavier packs we've tested, but we couldn't even tell once it was on because it was so comfortable. Because of the larger capacity, it can be easy to overstuff. We recommend packing only what you need — even if there's room for more! But if you end up with a stuffed pack, the Jade carries light because the weight is distributed evenly to sit on your hips. At the end of the day, when we needed to carry a lot of layers or weight over a distance, there's no daypack more comfortable and up for the trek than the Gregory Jade 28. If you don't need something quite so beefy, the lightweight and affordable REI Trail 25 is a great pack that won't break the bank.

Read more: Gregory Jade 28 review

daypack womens - enjoying a cold hike with lots of layers stuffed into the jade.
Enjoying a cold hike with lots of layers stuffed into the Jade.
Credit: Jeff Mogavero

Best Lightweight Women's Daypack


Osprey Tempest 20


82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Versatility 8.0
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • Weight 6.0
  • Durability 8.0
Weight: 26 ounces | Capacity: 20 liters
REASONS TO BUY
Adjustable torso length
Great features and pockets
Durable construction
Comfortable to move in
REASONS TO AVOID
Runs slightly small
Front stow pocket is small

We positively adore the features and versatility of the Osprey Tempest pack. It's one of just a few models we tested that comes in multiple sizes and has an adjustable torso length so you can pinpoint your perfect fit. It also has an incredibly comfortable and breathable trampoline back panel, which helps prevent a sweaty back on your hottest adventures. This pack has all the same features as a fully loaded, heavier model, plus Osprey's LidLock system, which is by far the easiest and most secure way to firmly attach a helmet to a pack that we've ever seen — a must-have for cyclists and daily users of electric commuter bikes. Soft, flexible shoulder straps and a hip belt integrated practically seamlessly to the back of this pack offer impressive comfort, helped by a supportive yet minimalist internal frame. And for a lightweight option, the Tempest still manages to be impressively durable.

Despite how much we appreciate the adjustable torso length, this pack runs a little on the small side. Therefore, we recommend testing out your pack at the store or as soon as it arrives in the mail, just in case you need to exchange it for another size. We also found the expandable stow pocket on the front too small, restricting its functionality. Still, for a rather small, light pack, we love the versatility and practically promised longevity. Overall, we think it is one of the very best small daypacks among models we tested for just about any use. If you prefer to store items on the side of your pack, the REI Trail 25 sports deep side pockets great for stashing all kinds of items.

Read more: Osprey Tempest 20 review

daypack womens - we love this pack&#039;s helmet attach feature.
We love this pack's helmet attach feature.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Best Bang for your Buck


REI Co-op Trail 25 - Women's


76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Versatility 8.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Weight 6.0
  • Durability 9.0
Weight: 30 ounces | Capacity: 25 liters
REASONS TO BUY
Easy access to stuff
Flexible back panel
Intuitive and useful pockets and features
Durably built
REASONS TO AVOID
Hip belt webbing system doesn't support heavy loads
Not very well ventilated
REI now offers the Trail 25 as a unisex pack instead of men's and women's specific models. The latest version has some design changes, including a taller water bottle pocket and non-fluorinated DWR treatment. We're linking to the updated pack.
For the person who is just as likely to take this pack to a coffee shop as on an after-work hike, the REI Trail 25 is the workhorse of budget packs, making it an easy pick for its excellent value. It's attractive, durable, and pretty comfy too. We appreciate this pack's thoughtful, simple design. On each side of the pack, there are two deep outside pockets that are great for storing water and other miscellaneous items that you might normally store in your hip belt. Another awesome feature is the large U-zip opening, which allows you to fit bigger, bulky things like a bike helmet and easily fish out your rain layer that's crammed in the very bottom of the pack.

There are so many things to love about the Trail 25, but a supportive hip belt isn't one of them. It has a webbing-only hip belt that is meant to stabilize your load rather than take the weight off of your shoulders. If you want a more technical, load-bearing pack, look elsewhere. Despite its larger capacity, the Trail 25 isn't great for heavy, all-day hikes. This pack thrives while carrying your essentials on a short hike to a hot spring, commuting to work, or hitting the farmer's market. If you want a supportive pack with a great hip belt, we recommend the Gregory Jade 28.

Read more: REI Trail 25 review

daypack womens - the trail 25 is an affordable pack for both hiking and commuting.
The Trail 25 is an affordable pack for both hiking and commuting.
Credit: Jeff Mogavero

Best for a True Backpack Fit


Gregory Juno 24L


78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Versatility 7.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Weight 6.0
  • Durability 9.0
Weight: 31 ounces | Capacity: 24 liters
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent back ventilation
Backpack security and comfort
Utilitarian features and useful pockets
Durable
REASONS TO AVOID
Hip belt webbing system is kind of lame
Only one size

If you're obsessed with the security and comfortable fit of your full backpack and want to replicate that feeling and movement in a daypack, the Gregory Juno 24 is the right bag for you. The semi-flexible suspension system of the Juno actually distributes the weight of your load across its wide, comfortable hip belt. The shoulder straps are just thick enough while still flexible, making them easy to move in, while the ventilated back panel is one of the most effective we've tested. There is an array of pockets that are intuitive to use for keeping organized. The Juno is made from thick ripstop nylon that's reinforced in all the right places and ready to go the distance.

Unfortunately, the Juno is only available in one size. Though this works well for women in the middle of its advertised 14 to 19-inch torso length, it may not be the ideal fit for outlier sizes. Our main tester has a 17.5-inch torso and loves the size. Aside from this potential pitfall, the only other letdown is with its overly simple hip belt straps. We feel the wing portion of the waist belt is practically perfect, but the single strap tightening system is easily yanked to one side and leaves unmanaged webbing tails dangling when hiking. Despite these minor gripes, we truly love the fit, feel, and functionality of this backpack-like daypack. But if the size doesn't fit, check out the Gregory Jade 28. Not only does it come in two sizes, but it also features an adjustable frame.

Read more: Gregory Juno 24L review

daypack womens - the trampoline back ventilation system is excellent for hot, sweaty...
The trampoline back ventilation system is excellent for hot, sweaty days. To keep you both cool and comfortable - and unable to feel the contents of a full bag - look no further.
Credit: Madison Botzet

Best Ultralight Pack


Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack


54
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 3.0
  • Versatility 6.0
  • Ease of Use 5.0
  • Weight 10.0
  • Durability 4.0
Weight: 4 ounces | Capacity: 18 liters
REASONS TO BUY
Super lightweight
Reasonably comfortable
Retains some useful features
Packs into its own pocket
REASONS TO AVOID
No hip belt
Can feel contents
Small fit
Since we tested this pack, Osprey has updated it with a slightly new silhouette and some recycled materials. We expect the updated version to perform very similarly to the model we tested, and we're linking to it in our review.
There are times when you just need a bag to bring your essentials, but you don't have space for a big, fully framed pack. This is where an ultralight, super packable bag like the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack comes in handy. It strips away all the fancy features of your regular pack but retains just enough features to keep it useful. With a side pocket and small top pocket, you can keep yourself organized on the go. Lightly padded shoulder straps help keep it more comfortable than many of its competitors. Weighing just 3.8 ounces and packing down into its own pocket, this on-the-go bag is easy to bring with you just about anywhere.

With such a simple design, the Ultralight Stuff Pack misses out on some key features, such as a ventilated back panel and a hip belt. The material is very thin, so you'll need to pack like a pro to avoid feeling every bump and corner of your hiking essentials. Moreover, it's a very small pack overall, so if you find yourself gravitating toward taller or larger bags for a better fit, the short straps on this bag may not be your friend. Still, if you're in the market for a teeny tiny, super lightweight pack that you can throw in your car for spontaneous adventuring or stuff in your favorite carry on luggage for that trip to Europe, the Osprey Ultralight is a solid companion. We also like the REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack for this purpose.

Read more: Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack review

daypack womens - we love the versatility of this incredible ultralight and packable...
We love the versatility of this incredible ultralight and packable daypack.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
83
Gregory Jade 28L
Best Women's Daypack for Long Hikes
$170
Editors' Choice Award
82
Osprey Tempest 20
Best Lightweight Women's Daypack
$160
Editors' Choice Award
78
Gregory Juno 24L
Best for a True Backpack Fit
$140
Top Pick Award
76
REI Co-op Trail 25 - Women's
Best Bang for your Buck
$100
Best Buy Award
74
Osprey Sirrus 24
$180
62
Cotopaxi Batac 16L
$65
62
Deuter AC Lite SL 21 - Women's
$110
56
Cotopaxi Luzon 24L
$80
54
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack
Best Ultralight Pack
$45
Top Pick Award
49
REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack
$50
48
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack
$45

daypack womens - from hiking to traveling to skiing, we tested these packs to the max...
From hiking to traveling to skiing, we tested these packs to the max to help you find the right bag for your lifestyle.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

How We Test Women's Daypacks


We've been testing, retesting, and testing updated versions of daypacks for years now, in addition to over 400 top-ranked backpacks of all types. Each season, we scour the market for exciting new models and updates on our favorites to put to the test. We then spend hundreds of hours outside with these bags, putting them through our scores of tests and intense scrutiny. We tested bags in mountain ranges, national parks, cities, and airports across the US and internationally. All while taking note of their comfort, assessing their versatility, gauging how easy they are to use, and meticulously looking over their build for signs of wear or weak points. No matter what you need your daypack to do, we've found the perfect model to match your lifestyle. Get the full scoop on our testing processes in our How We Test article.

Our testing of women's daypacks is divided across five rating metrics:
  • Comfort (25% of overall score weighting)
  • Versatility (25% weighting)
  • Ease of Use (25% weighting)
  • Weight (15% weighting)
  • Durability (10% weighting)

Why Trust GearLab


This review is brought to you by Senior Review Editor Maggie Nichols and Review Editor Madison Botzet with help and input from their many adventure-loving lady friends. Living in the northern Nevada desert on the cusp of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Maggie spends a ton of time outside adventuring, most often accompanied by her favorite rambling companion, Madeline the dog. Carrying enough supplies to last for 16 and 26-mile days for both Maggie and 85-pound Madeline requires a lot from a daypack, and Maggie knows just what makes a bag up for the job. She's also an avid trail runner and kayaker, with over 15 years of professional experience leading backcountry trips. Having lived, worked, and explored far-flung places like Iceland, the Galapagos, South Africa, and numerous Caribbean islands, Maggie has a deep appreciation for the unique gear needed for any adventure — and the best daypack to carry it.

Madison is also an expert when it comes to daypacks. Living in western Montana, there is no shortage of opportunities for Madison to get out for a quick romp in the woods or an all-day hike to summit a new peak. She has a discerning eye for detail and loves experimenting with packs while mountain biking, backcountry skiing, and trail running.

Reach new heights with this lightweight, lightly structured pack...
Reach new heights with this lightweight, lightly structured pack from Gregory.

Analysis and Test Results


We tested each of these daypacks over several months (some of them for several years now) using our side-by-side comparison process. We used them while hiking over many miles, both for short and long hikes and for a variety of activities, from paddleboarding to commuting to skiing. After testing, we rated each daypack on a variety of criteria spanning five mutually exclusive metrics, from comfort and adjustability to their features and durability, to find the best daypack for different uses.


Value


We frequently have to make tradeoffs when purchasing any type of gear, and a daypack is no different. We always try to test a range of products to be able to recommend great products across the spectrum. While more money doesn't always get you a better product, we found that in this category, it does tend to pair you up with a more durable bag. Comfort and ease of use, however, seem to be less tied to a dollar sign.

The Gregory Jade 28L is one of the most expensive bags in the lineup, but it acts as an overnight crossover and offers incredible support and comfort for longer adventures. The Osprey Tempest 20 is an exceptionally versatile bag that works well for a wide variety of activities, offering a high performance across all metrics for a moderate price. Meanwhile, the REI Trail 25L is a solid contender for nearly a fraction of the cost of other similarly performing bags, making it a great value.

Comfort


When hiking, comfort is a key consideration for your gear, head to toe. What's on your back is one of the most important pieces. An ill-fitting or minimally padded pack can make your 12-mile day hike significantly less enjoyable. We also balanced this metric against each bag's intended usage. A pack built for long day hikes and a pack intended to be portable enough to bring anywhere for a spontaneous jaunt clearly aren't designed for the same things. And yet, both should be comfortable enough to not make you grumpy every time you use them. To balance these variable uses, we factored in the comfort rating as a quarter of each model's overall score. Packs that are adjustable received bumps in their scores since they allow customization to make the fit more comfortable for individual users.


We evaluated this category based on several things: how well the padding actually “padded” our hips, shoulders, and back, how well the hip belts helped carry the weight, if the design helped keep us cool while hiking, and if any annoying features impacted our comfort level. The standout in this metric is the Jade 28L. It has tons of padding in all the places we wanted it. It features a cushy, wide hip belt that feels like a backpack level of support. The Jade and Tempest also feature trampoline back panels for unparalleled ventilation. These two packs were amongst the most comfortable of any to wear in a variety of conditions loaded down with varying amounts of gear.

The Gregory Juno 24 is another superbly comfortable pack to wear. While many daypacks seem to have their own fit that feels as small as the bag, the Juno is as secure and well-fitted as a full backpack. It handily distributes weight across a wide hip belt and has one of the most effective back ventilation systems we've tested. The other top contender in this category was the Osprey Sirrus. The Sirrus also offers a well-padded hip belt and shoulder straps, an innovative back panel design to aid in ventilation, and some internal framing to help keep the contents of the pack off our backs.

daypack womens - the sirrus is a pleasant way to take in the view with its...
The Sirrus is a pleasant way to take in the view with its comfortable shoulder straps.
Credit: Cam McKenzie Ring

Our high scorers for comfort were thoughtfully designed with a lot of technology put into them, and the results are often exceptional. The mesh on the Osprey Sirrus 24 never chafed (we did have a shirt on at all times), and it's impressive how cool it kept our backs — even in the sweltering summer months of the desert southwest. While the Deuter AC Lite had a well-ventilated pack panel, we found its padding was in such an awkward place that it wasn't super comfortable after all. The slightly raised pads on the REI Trail 25 were surprisingly comfortable while allowing some airflow on hot days.

Some of the innovative back designs in our test group (left to...
Some of the innovative back designs in our test group (left to right): Osprey Sirrus 24, Osprey Temptest 20, and REI Trail 25.
Some of the innovative back designs in our test group (left to...
Some of the innovative back designs in our test group (left to right): Osprey Sirrus 24, Osprey Temptest 20, and REI Trail 25.
Some of the innovative back designs in our test group (left to...
Some of the innovative back designs in our test group (left to right): Osprey Sirrus 24, Osprey Temptest 20, and REI Trail 25.

Another design feature that affects our comfort on the trail is the hip belt. Most of the packs in this review have a load-bearing hip belt, but we still found a varying degree of comfort between some of them. The Osprey Tempest 20, Gregory Juno 24, and Gregory Jade 28 all have hip belts that effectively cover our hip bones with wide padding. Some of the options we tested, like the REI Trail 25, Cotopaxi Luzon 24L, and REI Flash 18, have webbing-only hip belts. They'll help keep the bag from shifting around on your back, but they don't transfer any of the load off of your shoulders. We feel less comfortable in all of those models when carrying loads in them as a result. Both ultralight models we tested, the Osprey Ultralight and Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil, lack hip belts altogether but are best used for entirely different adventures than their counterparts.

daypack womens - the difference between a load-bearing hipbelt (left) and a webbing...
The difference between a load-bearing hipbelt (left) and a webbing one (right) is noticeable the more weight you carry. A load-bearing hipbelt can carry an estimated 80% of the load, saving your shoulders (and your sanity!) on the trail.
Credit: Cam McKenzie Ring

We also paid close attention to the cut of the shoulder straps. We tested both unisex and women's specific packs in this line-up. Models geared toward women tend to have less space between the straps and feature a more exaggerated S-curve that better accommodates a narrower physique.

The Deuter Futura&#039;s shoulder straps are well-spaced but still curved...
The Deuter Futura's shoulder straps are well-spaced but still curved to fit a woman's contours.
Most daypacks have shoulder straps without load lifters such as the...
Most daypacks have shoulder straps without load lifters such as the REI Trail 25 shown here.

Versatility


Versatility is another key purchase consideration — even the most comfortable pack will be of little use if it can't perform the tasks you need. Versatility is often dependent on the features a pack has (or lacks) have and how functional those features are. While some manufacturers seem to be throwing every possible feature imaginable into their pack designs, not all of these features are particularly useful. For example, there may be a daisy chain running down both sides of a pack, but how useful is that? Use that webbing to hook a whole bunch of gear to your bag, and you'll soon become a walking Christmas tree, which is neither sleek nor efficient. Alternatively, some relatively featureless packs can be incredibly versatile by packing down into a teeny tiny little pouch that fits into your pocket.


The Osprey Tempest 20 is an exceptionally versatile daypack, full of well-thought-out sport-oriented features from top to bottom. For example, a sunglasses stow loop makes transitioning between shaded forests and glaring ridgetops easier, while Osprey's LidLock bungee on the back quickly and easily stows your bike helmet. The Tempest is seemingly bursting with pockets you didn't know you couldn't live without, trekking pole quick stow loops you'll actually use, and space for two water bottles and a hydration sleeve.

daypack womens - the osprey tempest has a cool little &quot;clip&quot; that easily holds your...
The Osprey Tempest has a cool little “clip” that easily holds your bike helmet securely to the pack - no more flopping around!
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

The Osprey Sirrus is another top contender in this metric. It's fully loaded with super useful features that are handy for just about every possible adventure. From well-designed pockets throughout to quick-stow trekking pole cords and even a stashed rain cover, the Sirrus is convenient for all kinds of adventures. Notably, the Gregory Jade 28, REI Trail 25, and Deuter AC Lite also come with rain covers stowed away for emergencies.

daypack womens - we appreciated this rain cover while hiking around on a wet day in...
We appreciated this rain cover while hiking around on a wet day in Yellowstone National Park. Our extra layers and snacks stayed dry, and the rain cover easily stashed back away once the skies cleared.
Credit: Cam McKenzie Ring

We appreciate the super functional features of the Jade 28 for big missions. Its oversized hip belt has space for some of the largest pockets we've seen on a daypack hip belt — or even on most full-sized backpacks. The large capacity of the Jade also makes it a great pack to take on an overnight trip and ensures nothing you need gets left behind. The Juno 24 has simple yet highly functional symmetrical pockets with wide openings and intuitive shapes, making this one of the more versatile models we tested, regardless of what you tend to carry while you hike.

These narrow webbing sections work, but their inelegance and lack of...
These narrow webbing sections work, but their inelegance and lack of tail management options are a letdown compared to the rest of the Juno's suspension system's performance.
The Tempest is small, but the hipbelt pockets are mighty. They can...
The Tempest is small, but the hipbelt pockets are mighty. They can easily each accomodate a phone and snacks.

The Cotopaxi Batac 16L, Cotopaxi Luzon, and REI Flash 18 are all unisex bags that are versatile across activities but in slightly differing ways. The Batac is a simple design, with just enough pockets and features to be useful, but lacking a lot of the frills others can boast — like a hip belt, hydration port, or padding. However, it's lightweight and impressively packable, with a large enough capacity to get you through a day stuck in the airport or the office. Similar in versatility, the Luzon and Flash both make great bags for the gym or library due to their simple spaciousness.

Most of the packs we tested have one ice ax holder, which seems like a standard addition to a daypack even though only a fraction of hikers even use one. If you need to hold two ice axes though, look for something with two loops.

daypack womens - some of the different methods of carrying trekking poles. the osprey...
Some of the different methods of carrying trekking poles. The Osprey Sirrus (right) has a dedicated pole holder that secures them to the side and under your shoulder strap. This was a quick way of stowing your poles, but if done wrong, it's not as comfortable as the more traditional options found on the left and middle photos.
Credit: Scott Ring

Most of the models that we tested are compatible with your favorite hydration bladder in various ways. Whether you prefer to drink from a bottle or a hose is a question of personal preference, though hydration aficionados avow that you'll stay better hydrated if you can take small sips of water more frequently from a hose without having to stop and drink from a bottle. Luckily, many of the packs we tested make it easy to use a bladder. They are handy for sports that require the use of your hands, like paddle boarding, biking, and even hiking with trekking poles.

A few packs stand out for their ability to pack up into their own very small pocket. The Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack and Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil each weigh just a few ounces and fold down into a package smaller than your fist. By cutting out features like a hip belt, extra pockets, and most loops and clips, these bags are instead versatile in that you can pack them in your luggage to Spain or keep them in your purse for an impromptu adventure.

daypack womens - turn any chance outing into an adventure by keeping an ultralight...
Turn any chance outing into an adventure by keeping an ultralight pack on your person.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Ease of Use


Scoring how easy each pack is to use was a two-pronged endeavor. Firstly, we packed and unpacked them to see how easy their organization, zippers, and overall design were to use. And secondly, we evaluated their adjustability. Daypacks are notorious for not having as much adjustability as a full 60-liter backpacking pack. Many manufacturers only offer them in one size, and there are often limited options for further adjustment, like load-lifting straps on the shoulders or hip belt tensioners. The other major factor we considered was how easy it was to use these adjustable features: how easy is it to tighten the hipbelt or adjust the sternum strap? We considered all these potential adjustable pieces and how they affected each bag's overall usability.


In general, packs with long zippers that extend far down the sides of the bag tend to be easier to load, unload, and find what you're looking for without dumping the whole thing on the ground. Additional pockets, both inside and outside, also help keep your things organized even during a Class 4 scramble. Most of the over-the-top, traditional backpack-style zippers allow for good access to the bottom of the pack. The increasingly popular U-shaped zipper that opens a flap on top of the bag is extremely useful as long as the opening isn't too small. Drawstring tops can be easy too, but generally have a smaller opening — making it much harder to load the pack through the smaller opening and greatly increasing the likelihood that you'll have to pull things out to find anything hiding near the bottom.

daypack womens - the osprey sirrus is one of several models that utilize large velcro...
The Osprey Sirrus is one of several models that utilize large velcro patches to create adjustable-sized back panels you can fit to your specific torso length (within the advertised range).
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

We are impressed with the models that have adjustable back panels. One of the most important things to getting a good fit is having the back panel line up with your torso length so that the shoulder straps and hip belt can be in the right place. If it's not, the hip belt won't work well, and you'll carry more of the load on your shoulders. Most of the packs in this review come in one size only, so learn how to measure your torso before choosing a pack to buy. The Osprey Sirrus and Tempest, and Gregory Jade are the packs we tested that have an adjustable torso length — though even those have limits.

daypack womens - packs with large u-zip tops - like the rei trail shown here-  are...
Packs with large U-zip tops - like the REI Trail shown here- are among the easiest to use.
Credit: Jeff Mogavero

Some models are offered in two sizes to cover a greater range of torso sizes, including the Gregory Jade and Osprey Tempest 20. Our chief tester is 5 feet, 4 inches tall, with a 17 to 17.5-inch torso, often falling on the cusp between sizes. The Tempest and the Jade run a bit on the small side. The padded section of the hip belt on the Tempest isn't the biggest, so it might not wrap as far around as you'd like. The Gregory Jade 28 and Juno 24 have great hip belt coverage.

daypack womens - load lifter straps are supposed to attach to your pack at a 45...
Load lifter straps are supposed to attach to your pack at a 45 degree angle upward to effectively do their job. This is difficult to do in a daypack.
Credit: Cam McKenzie Ring

We do appreciate that some packs have load-lifting straps on the shoulders, but we found that they are often ineffective. Once you've adjusted your hip belt and shoulder straps, the load-lifters are supposed to shift the weight closer to your back and stabilize your load while reducing the weight on your shoulders. For these straps to work, the body of the pack has to extend above the shoulder straps, which isn't usually the case with a daypack, since the body of the bag is so small. We really only noticed a slight difference using the load-lifters the Gregory models, likely because they're slightly larger bags and with bigger gaps between the back panel and shoulder strap anchors than most of the others we tested.

daypack womens - some packs - like the gregory jade shown here - have a big...
Some packs - like the Gregory Jade shown here - have a big easy-to-access pocket where you can store snacks, sunscreen, and even a small notebook!
Credit: Jeff Mogavero

Weight


We like to consider the weight of all of our outdoor gear purchases. Whether it's our shoes, trekking poles, or packs, shaving ounces off our clothing and gear can quickly add up to large weight savings, which makes each mile that much easier to cover.


If there's one thing that we learned in this review, it's that it's hard to have it all in a daypack. Want a lot of padding with a frame that supports the weight you're carrying? Then you're going to end up with heavier bags like the Osprey Sirrus 24 and Gregory Jade 28. Want something lightweight that still has all the regular comforts? Then you might have to sacrifice some durability, as super-thin nylon is not as indestructible in the long term compared to a thicker (and therefore heavier) material.

daypack womens - ultralight packs cut weight and add portability, but is the...
Ultralight packs cut weight and add portability, but is the trade-off in comfort and durability something you're willing to accept?
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

The Osprey Ultralight and Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil are the obvious winners in the weight category. At just 3.8 and 2.7 ounces, respectively, it's hard to beat that kind of minimalist weight. However, that kind of weight comes at a high cost to these bags' comfort and durability. The Osprey still has lightly padded shoulder straps and two extra pockets, but the Ultra-Sil has cut out those features and even removed the zipper pulls. Neither bag has a hip belt, and both are made of paper-thin nylon, which's just not as substantial as thicker, bulkier packs we tested.

daypack womens - the cotopaxi batac weighs less than most while retaining a good...
The Cotopaxi Batac weighs less than most while retaining a good number of useful and comfortable features.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Other notable packs in this metric are the REI Co-op Flash 18 and Cotopaxi Batac 16L. Both are much less technical packs, threading between the ultralight, featureless packable models and full-featured technical bags. This compromise trades comfort features like a padded hip belt and ventilated back panels for lighter-weight options like a webbing hip belt (or no hip belt, in the case of the Batac) and thinner nylon construction. Bags like these are great choices for varied use, from tossing them in your suitcase for hiking distant destinations to using them to head to the gym or spend all day out running errands.

daypack womens - some lightweight packs meant for quick missions were put to the test...
Some lightweight packs meant for quick missions were put to the test on trail runs.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Durability


Lastly, we rated each different pack in this review for durability. A few of our top-rated bags we've been testing for several years now, but all models went through a minimum of several months of regular use and intense testing. We combed through online user reviews to look for durability concerns and patterns from the hundreds of other day packers out there. And we also evaluated them based on our extensive experience with outdoor gear.


We are quite impressed with the durability of the Osprey Sirrus 24, and Gregory Juno. They're both made of impressively sturdy 210-Denier nylon in the body with a double layer on the bottom. These packs also feature reinforced seams, thick adjustable straps, heavy-duty plastic pieces, and minimal or thickly reinforced mesh. The Gregory Jade is also constructed of the same thick, 210-Denier nylon with a double layer on the bottom, but we aren't quite as wowed by the vast amount of holey mesh this pack presents for the world to snag on. Another favorite for durability is the REI Trail 25, which is constructed from thick recycled nylon.

daypack womens - the gregory juno&#039;s mesh pocket is much thicker than most other...
The Gregory Juno's mesh pocket is much thicker than most other models, further bolstering our confidence in its durable build and design.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

No pack will last forever, and some terrains are less forgiving than others. If you're hiking on well-maintained trails in “gentle” forest ecosystems, this might be less of a concern for you. If you're scrambling up craggy peaks or squeezing through sandy slot canyons, thicker material will offer more abrasion resistance, and you should consider this when making a purchase decision.

daypack womens - adventure confidently in every season with the right daypack for you.
Adventure confidently in every season with the right daypack for you.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Conclusion


Finding the perfect daypack can feel like an overwhelming challenge. With so many models, even from the same manufacturer, it can be challenging to find the perfect one for you. We hope our extensive testing and ratings will help you in your quest. If you're looking for the best school backpack or even if you're not sure what kind of backpack you need, we've got a comprehensive round-up of the best backpacks of various types to help you decide.

Madison Botzet & Maggie Nichols