Deciding on a daypack that’s light on your back as well as your pocket? Look no further than our guide to this year’s 7 best Daypacks for travel!
You know that old American Express tagline, ‘Don’t leave home without it’? It might have been true back in 1975, but times have changed. There are many more payment options today. You can actually leave home without even a credit card, but amongst the things that remain unchanged is that simple object on your back: the daypack. There’s no stepping out without it.
DOWN THE BACK
There are many reasons for investing in a sturdy, stylish daypack as part of your travel gear. Not only do you still need drinking water and a power bank to continue living, you also don’t want to add to the climate crisis by collecting plastic bags to bring back every little thing you buy away from home.
When it comes to travel, in fact the preparation is pretty straightforward. Two things need to be organised – your own transport and the transport of your luggage.
Tickets are easy, but not everyone carries a backpack. Even those who prefer suitcases, duffel bags or rolling trolley bags, need a daypack for comfort in daily travel. It’s where you can stash away the essentials without having to worry about a wallet going missing or aching shoulders on the move.
For a closer look at daypacks as they stand today, read on through our comprehensive reviews on the best daypack options for the most savvy travelers.
Best Daypacks For Travel 2020
1. Nomatic Travel Pack – Best Travel Daypack For Cities
20L-30L | $259.99
Let’s start with an all-rounder. Nomatic’s 20L – expandable to a cushy 30L – daypack comes packed with pockets and pleasant surprises. Nudging other classic brands aside, what makes this one special is its multi-purpose functionality fitted into a minimalistic design.
There is something heartening about the fact that the designers themselves (two Utah-based cousins) started out with an innovative little gem of a wallet on Kickstarter. They have since become extremely popular for the unique features of their products.
Nomatic’s slim, water-resistant Travel Pack boasts 20+ of those and can squeeze in a fair bit. We’re talking RFID safe storage, magnetic water bottle pockets, sunglasses case, retractable key leash and a super cool strap system that will let you use it with ease in an office and on a mountain alike.
2. Fjallraven Kanken No. 2 – Best Laptop Daypack For Travel
A bit on the steep side, but then Fjallraven is one European brand that ensures you pay for your aesthetics. Kanken No. 2 is one of their iconic products.
It’s the material that makes it special. ‘G-1000’, as it’s called, is what Fjallraven insist is their ‘hero material’ – 65% polyester, 35% cotton, saturated with Greenland Wax and adaptable to varying climatic conditions.
There are two zippered compartments and two open side pockets. Plenty space to keep your gear for daily use. Flipside? The straps. Supposedly padded but our reviewers could feel the pinch. For those of you looking for something for urban use only, there’s also the Fjallraven Kanken Mini available in 7L capacity.
3. Pacsafe Venturesafe GII 25L – Best Anti-Theft Daypack For Travel
Pacsafe’s products focus on urban usage, and towards that end they deliver well. This 25L daypack includes a padded and suspended notebook sleeve that can fit in a 15-inch laptop and 6 other pockets besides with various features.
The USP here, as in most Pacsafe products’ case, is the anti-theft design with cut-proof material supported by a lightweight steel mesh, securable zippers and an RFID safe pocket. There is also a 15L model available, but this one’s more flexible and needn’t be restricted to laptop/tablet use. We say you take it out for a walk without a care.
So what’s the issue? Well, you might end up with a mild strap problem if you aren’t tall; as in, the straps cannot be shortened enough. But otherwise, as far as ratings go this one’s a safe enough bet as they claim.
4. Mountainsmith Approach 25 – Best Daypack For Hiking
You know you’ve got an outdoorsy daypack when you spot features such as a trekking pole carry, an internal hydration sleeve (3L, decent), daisy chain attachment loops and a safety whistle. This daypack wants you to get out and hit the trail alright.
Mountainsmith specializes in producing rugged outdoor gear and of all its lines the Approach series is perhaps the most versatile. This daypack comes equipped with dual panel loader system, removable waist belt and side mesh pockets.
You can just as easily load it for a trek as for a tea party. The only catch? There isn’t one. Considering it’s meant for the outdoors though, we’d have expected this one to be waterproof and not just ‘water-repellant’.
5. North Face Jester – Budget Light Daypack For Travel
The North Face Jester needs no introduction; this one’s a regular on top-tenners year after year. As multi-purpose and generally reliable as they come.
Expect a laptop pocket, two side mesh water bottle pockets, comfortably padded shoulder straps and best of all – it’s so light you could pack it into your check-in or carry it as hand luggage. For those of you shopping for campus life, there’s also plenty of color to choose from.
Simple, compact design meant to last. Go for it if you place functionality above style and reliability above exclusivity.
6. Tortuga Setout Packable Daypack – Best Cheap Daypack For Travel
19L | $39
As far as affordable daypacks go, we’d rate this one a winner. A packable daypack with a functional design that doesn’t disappoint.
Breathable mesh straps, front zippered pocket, water repellant coating on nylon material and Duraflex buckles. They claim it’s great for a day of sightseeing, we agree and would also add that it’s excellent for grocery shopping in the next alley. Know what rocks? All of it then easily packs into a cute pouch that scores high on portability.
Tortuga delivers on its promise by helping “travelers avoid the cost and hassle of checking luggage with carry-on-sized travel backpacks.”
7. Gelindo Insulated Hydration Backpack – Powerful Hiking Daypack
We round off this year’s selection with an extremely hiking-specific daypack. With an 18-litre capacity, this one’s not quite a backpack but in fact comes with as detailed features and equal sturdiness.
To begin with, you’d have 2.5 liters of BPA-free water guaranteed to stay cool for up to 4 hours in the insulated bladder. Additionally, this daypack has four neat compartments that can fit in basics like a change of clothes, snacks, phone, wallet and a knife and spoon to keep you going on the trail. Alternately, you could also use the same daypack to store a 13-inch notebook, a power bank and a bunch of chargers.
Ergonomic design and padded shoulder straps means this one can really be used for walking. And is there a flipside? Portability. Wouldn’t be quite as easy to pack this into a backpack for them long hauls.
Best Daypacks For Travel Buyer’s Guide
There are several parameters to keep in mind while selecting a daypack. Obviously, a lot depends on what you need it for – City commute? Overseas travel? Forest glamping? A weekend of music festivals or a trip to the supermarket? – but there are certain factors that will help you choose no matter where you land up.
Carrying capacity counts. In general, any daypack offering less than 15L (that’s 15 liters) of volume is as good as useless. If you are putting in the dosh to buy one, you might as well make sure it can accommodate more than a sling bag or a purse do! At the same time, if you are going to be hiking a lot, make sure you treat yourself to something spacious.
Material matters too, and this depends a lot on where exactly you will use the daypack the most. You don’t want a canvas daypack if you live in a wet and humid town (mold, ugh!), nor do you need to feel polyester on your arms when you walk into office. Know your fabrics. It pays to know where leather works better and where nylon is indispensable.
Portability is another equally important consideration. It refers to the quality of lightness, that is, to the daypack’s net weight. A light-weight daypack, especially one of those collapsible or packable ones, allow you to stuff them in with check-in or main luggage until there is a good reason to pull them out.
Durability is not even a question. It is very common for travelers to forget packing in a daypack and then end up buying something cheap at their destination. Which means they often end up leaving it behind as well. You can be sure that won’t be the case with something that you have spent time and money selecting!
Speaking of money, budget will go a long way in getting you a good deal. Thankfully (and unlike backpacks), daypacks are a regular accessory and you can find good deals at reasonable prices.
Lastly there’s the comfort. By comfort we mean the shape and size of the daypack when you put it on, the compartments to store different things, ease of access and zips vs buckles. These are design details that determine comfort levels and leave you either thanking or cursing yourself with your latest buy!
Keeping all of the above in mind, below is a list of our picks that we have whittled down to our favorite 7 catering to different potential end uses.
Some of these can support laptops and cameras, but specialised packs for those two are a whole different ballgame so we’ve left them out.