Unlike a long hike, a day hike doesn’t require you to carry a lot of gear. In most cases, a water bottle and a decent pair of sneakers will do. But if you’re facing slightly tougher terrain, you’ll probably need a headlamp, extra layers, and hiking boots. For this, you will need the best small hiking daypack or the best lightweight hiking daypack.
Depending on your needs, daypacks usually come with different specifications. For more complex hikes, you’ll want the best small hiking daypack with plenty of technical features. And to help you a little, we’ve compiled some of the best alternatives to the best lightweight hiking daypack. But before we dive into the reviews, let’s start with a quick buying guide.
How to Choose The Best Small Hiking Daypack
Daypacks are built to make your life easier while adventuring outside. However, each of them is packed with different functional features. For example, if you plan on doing your winter hike, look for the best small hiking daypack with a trekking pole holder. On the other hand, if you’re somewhere tropical, focus your efforts on finding the best lightweight hiking daypack that’s hydration pack-compatible.
To make sure you make the right decision, we’ve compiled a few factors you should expect from a small hiking daypack. This way, you’ll get something that’s really worth your money. Without much further ado, here are three things you can consider when choosing the best lightweight hiking daypack.
A decent daypack should have a capacity of around 30 liters or 1850 cubic inches. This should give you enough space to accommodate all of the hiking essentials. But if you don’t plan on doing long hikes, a best small hiking daypack with a capacity of 10 liters will be more than enough. Since you won’t be spending the night in the wild, you won’t need a huge compartment.
A daypack with an internal frame designed to withstand multiple loads. Thus, you can fill it with a lot of heavier gears. However, it’ll also make the whole daypack even bulkier. For something more compact, opt for the best lightweight hiking daypack. It usually comes with a frameless design. Note, however, that this type of pack usually doesn’t support heavier loads.
Another important thing about the best small hiking daypack is ventilation. You need to check whether the pack has mesh or foam back panels, which allow fresh air to flow smoothly and consistently. That way, you won’t end up with your back and gears drenched in sweat.
What is The Best Size Backpack for a Day Hike?
Based on our experience, a daypack with a capacity of 21-35 liters will do the trick. You’ll get enough space to store some essentials like extra layers, communication tools, water, and food. Some packs even include additional slots for extra equipment, such as cameras, trekking poles, and much more.
What Should I Bring On a Short Hike?
It actually really depends on what kind of terrain you are going to face. But some of the basics that you shouldn’t forget to bring include hiking shoes, proper clothing, food, water, first-aid kits, knives, and navigation equipment. A trekking pole would also be of great help.
What Size Backpack Do I Need for a 3 Day Hike?
This is a really difficult question, as each climber has different needs. Nevertheless, something with a capacity of between 30 and 50 liters should suffice. The point is, there should be enough space to accommodate a small tent, sleeping bag, extra layers, water, and food.
Black Diamond Trail Blitz 16
Black Diamond Trail Blitz 16 isn’t your regular daypack. It has a unique design, looks sleek, and is just plain cool! Apart from that, this pack is also fully functional. You get an easy-to-access opening, a feature that has become the hallmark of Black Diamond. Apart from that, there are dedicated pockets for the headlamp and sleeves for trekking poles.
Furthermore, this best small hiking daypack features four small loops on the back. They’re useful when you want to connect the pack to a larger one. And in case you’re wondering about weights, the whole pack is measured at around less than half a pound. Perfect for anyone who prefers something more compact.
What We Love
A cool and fully functional pack
- 100D nylon 4mm ripstop
- Easy-access opening
- Pocket for headlamp storage
- Trekking poles sleeves
- Its unusual design may not be for everyone
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak
Dyneema is the heart and soul of all Hyperlite product lines. It’s a fabric that’s claimed to be 15 times stronger than steel. Such characteristics are also found in the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak, the best lightweight hiking daypack designed for short hikes.
As you’d expect on an ultra-light piece of equipment, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak is spartan. But what makes it different is, you’ll get some additional technical features here. There are several external sleeve pockets, a hip belt, and a bungee-style lashing. And just like the Blitz 16, this pack only weighs about a pound.
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What We Love
A solid daypack, specifically designed for a short hike
- Dyneema material
- The volume of 1648 cubic inches
- Foam back panel
- Waist belt
- Nothing, as far as we know
Mystery Ranch In and Out
Portability and compactness are two things that set Mystery Ranch In and Out apart from other similar products. You can fold this pack into the size of a small pillow! But make no mistake, because this product is all but basic. Thanks to the 100 percent denier Cordura fabric, you get a pack that’s truly durable. And for a reliable ventilation system, Mystery Ranch uses an aerospace mesh back panel.
Being the best lightweight hiking daypack, Mystery Ranch In and Out comes with a few extra features. Some worth mentioning include the small pockets, hydration sleeve, and a loop for ice axes. If you’re planning on looking for the best small hiking daypack in the near future, this one is definitely worth considering.
What We Love
A daypack that is highly portable, can be folded up to be the size of a small pillow
- 100D Cordura mini-rip
- Come with a 2-liter hydration reservoir
- Contoured shoulder straps
- Highly compressible
- The quality of the zippers could be better
Gregory Citro 24
Long hikes require you to stay hydrated at all times. For that, you’ll need a hydration bladder. And if you’re all about efficiency, why not get the best small hiking daypack that includes one? Introducing the Gregory Citro 24, a compact daypack with a built-in hydration bladder. You don’t need to bother looking for a bladder that really fits your pack!
Apart from that, the Gregory Citro 24 is comfortable to wear, offers great organization, and comes with a simple design. There’s a mesh back that functions as a ventilation system. Best of all though, there’s a magnetic clip on the sternum strap. It helps the hydration hose stay close to you at all times, so you can hydrate yourself whenever you want and fast! If this is what you’re looking for, take a look at our list of best hiking daypacks with hydration.
What We Love
A daypack with a built-in hydration pack, great for long hikes
- 3D hydro reservoir included
- Drylock Magnetic Bite Valve
- VaporSpan Ventilated Backpanel
- Great for camping and hiking
- The compartment should be bigger
Osprey Talon 22
The Osprey Talon 22 is an all-rounder day pack. It has the right proportion of comfort, convenience, and functionality. In the design department, the pack deserves tons of praise, as it’s shaped to fit your profile. On top of that, you’ll get all the usual basics, including padded hip belts, shoulder straps, and ventilated back panels.
As you’d expect from the best lightweight hiking daypack, the Osprey Talon 22 offers more than enough space to fit your day-to-day adventure needs. The pack will help keep things organized and provide quick access whenever you need them. If you don’t mind spending around 120 bucks, Talon will be your best small hiking daypack.
What We Love
Offers a great balance between convenience, comfort and functionality
- Zipper closure
- Two zippered hip-belt pockets
- Adjustable shoulder harness
- Stretch mesh pockets
- The ventilation system could be better
Deuter Speed Lite 20
Simple is probably the best word to describe the Deuter Speed Lite 20. It’s everything you’d expect from the best small hiking daypack. It’s light, convenient, and offers just the right amount of durability. Furthermore, the pack comes with a removable nylon hip belt, which probably won’t be of much use on short day hikes.
As for storage, the Deuter Speed Lite 20 features a large opening. There’s a front stash pocket, in case you want to keep smaller items. We personally think it should be bigger, so it becomes more accessible. However, this is not a big deal. If you’re looking for the best lightweight hiking daypack for your one-day hike, this one will do the trick.
What We Love
A simple and lightweight pack, perfect for a one-day hike
- Nylon material
- Zipper closure
- Compatible with 3L bladders
- Tensioned Deltrin U frame
- The front pocket is quite difficult to access
Osprey Stratos 24
In most cases, the internal frame is making the pack uncomfortable to wear. Especially on hikes that last more than two days. However, you won’t have any of that with the Osprey Stratos 24! It’s the best small hiking daypack with one of the most comfortable frames around. Seriously, the mesh back panel is stretchy and feels soft against your back.
Apart from that, the Osprey Stratos 24 also offers excellent organization. You’ll have a wide variety of sleeves and slots for all types of gear. In addition, this convenient pack also includes two hip belt pockets and a quickly accessible water bottle slot. If you’re planning to go on a long adventure, Stratos will be the best lightweight hiking daypack to consider.
And since you’re here, why don’t you check out our other hiking-related content? We have some excellent recommendations in the 13 best walkie-talkies for hiking. Find some great solutions to your communication problems while on a hike!
What We Love
Come with a comfortable frame, the mesh back feels soft against your back
- Internal hydration sleeve
- Ventilated back panel
- Stretch mesh pockets on both sides
- Two zippered belt pockets
- It’s a little heavier than other similar products
Patagonia Nine Trails
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of sleek design. And that’s why we’ve decided to include Patagonia Nine Trails on this list. This pack has is so simple, yet it looks so cool when worn. Apart from that, you’ll get a bunch of straightforward features. As for storage, the main compartment is more than capable of accommodating all your needs for longer hikes.
Patagonia Nine Trails also deserves special credit when it comes to convenience. The hip belt feels great and can transfer the load well. For quick access to your snacks and gear, there are two slim pockets available. Whether it’s a casual trip or an intricate hike, this is the best small hiking daypack worth trying.
What We Love
It comes with a sleek design and offers straightforward functionality
- Ripstop nylon cordura
- Two slim pockets
- Sleek design
- It’s quite pricey
Looking for something simple and affordable? Then the Osprey Daylite will obviously fit the bill. It’s simple, light, and sleek. Basically everything you need from the best small hiking daypack. Whenever you plan on taking a short trip or don’t need to carry excess weight, this pack should be your go-to option.
Another thing we like about the Osprey Daylite is the fact that it’s pretty straightforward. All you have to do is load up your stuff, tighten the hip belt, and you’ll be good to go. As for hydration, there’s an external hydration sleeve here. To conclude, this is a great pack for short hikes. But if you need a little extra space, you might want to check out the Daylite Plus version.
What We Love
A daypack that’s simple, affordable, and has all the basics
- Large panel loading main compartment
- Dual stretch mesh side pockets
- Front zippered pocket
- Multi-function interior sleeve
- It has a relatively small capacity
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil
Having something a little different can be great sometimes. It’ll give you a new perspective on a lot of things. That’s why we’re introducing you to Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil. Unlike most of the best small hiking daypacks on this list, this is basically a nylon sack with shoulder straps and a large pocket.
Before you start typing in all those rage comments, we know that it’s not at all ideal for extended hikes. Nevertheless, Ultra-Sil’s simple design will make it perfect for a few quick hits in the backcountry.
Another thing to love about the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil is how compressible it is. You can fold it so small and keep it in a suitcase or other larger bag. This is especially great when you’re on long journeys. To conclude, whenever you need a minimalist pack, Ultra-Sil will definitely not disappoint.
What We Love
It’s simple, compressible, and easy to store
- Reinforced shoulder straps
- Daisy-chain webbing
- Cordura nylon
- Ultra-Sill stuff sack
- It only has one pocket
Six Moon Designs Daybreaker
To us, Six Moon Designs Daybreaker came as a surprise. Regardless of the 34L capacity, this pack manages to be one of the lightest around. We can imagine how this backpack will be a massive difference when you have to go through the trails with bulky gears on your back. And thanks to its versatile design, the Daybreaker also qualifies as an overnight bag, especially for those who prefer minimal packing.
As for convenience, Daybreaker features two shoulder strap pockets. We also appreciate the fact that its internal frame doubles as extra padding. Overall, this is the best small hiking daypack which is highly recommended. The only drawback is that the straps are too wide, which makes it less than ideal for hikers with minimal proportions.
And if that’s the case, don’t worry. We have just the right solution for you! Check out our list of the 13 best hiking daypacks for women. These packs are specifically designed for narrower shoulders, so hopefully, you’ll get a much better fit.
What We Love
A light pack with substantial capacity. Also doubles as an overnight bag.
- Removable hip belt
- Side pockets
- Expandable collar
- Non-removable lid with storage
- The shoulder straps are a little too wide
Granite Gear 22L Dagger
As you’d expect from a backpack like this, Granite Gear 22L Dagger is designed to take a lot of abuse. It has a pretty impressive build quality. You can count on this pack to keep you company for hundreds of miles on many tough adventures. And for around 100 bucks, Dagger is the best small hiking daypack you really can’t miss.
When it comes to design, simple is the keyword here. There isn’t much gimmick or innovation. All you have are the essential features you really need, from a hydration bladder, hip belt, and sizable external pockets. Apart from that, this pack includes an internal frame. It’s removable, in case you want to get rid of some extra weight. To conclude, this is a sturdy daypack. Check this one out if you’re looking for something that can last a couple of seasons.
What We Love
Built to last, affordable, and features a removable frame
- Zippered access to the main compartment
- The dual-density padded back panel
- Removable webbing waist belt
- Built for hiking trails
- The hip belt doesn’t take much weight off your shoulders
Let’s end this list with something compact. The Camelbak Arete is a foldable daypack designed with practicality in mind. It’s ultralight and can be rolled up for easier storage. You can easily put it in a bigger backpack or in the back of your truck. With a capacity of around 18L, this pack should have no problem handling hydration reservoirs, light jackets, or other light items. However, it’s not recommended to load anything heavier as it might cause excess pressure on your shoulders.
Available in five different print patterns, the Camelbak Arete is the best small hiking daypack that’s definitely worth your money and time. It’s extremely portable, making it ideal for day hikes or short trips. Apart from that, this pack uses cargo compression technology, which provides better overall stability and balance.
What We Love
A foldable daypack that’s practical and easy to carry around
- 2-in-1 design
- Ultra-light materials
- Cargo compression
- Essentials pocket
- It has a pretty minimal capacity