Aside from solid hiking footwear, I would argue that a decent daypack is the most important piece of gear for a hiker to have in his or her arsenal. By now, we all know we should hike with the Ten Essentials, right? So you’re going to to need to stash that stuff somewhere. Hooray for daypacks!
Of course, not all daypacks are created equal, as evidenced by our Co-Op on your favorite daypacks. You guys voted for the Osprey Talon 22, and I totally agree; it’s a great option, as is the REI Flash 22. But you know what? I’ve got a few more to add to your list!
Deuter Speed Lite 20, $75
At just over one pound, this daypack is a lightweight option that still carries well on your shoulders and vents in uber hot conditions. Truthfully, I’m not quite sure how they managed to make it so light, since it includes a hydration sleeve and a removable hip belt, but good on Deuter for the ingenuity. Added bonus: It clocks in well below $100, making it an affordable option to boot. The waist belt is on the scrawny side, but should suffice for the weight you’ll likely be toting on any given day hikes.
This ultralight gem has been around for awhile, and it still performs as well as it did when it launched in 2008. At $35, it is an utter bargain, but the true secret is the Ultra-Sil’s ultralight and ultra-small profile. It packs down small enough to cram in a purse or carry-on luggage and weighs a mere 2.5 ounces, which is the equivalent to two slices of bread (seriously, I Googled it). It won’t carry heavy loads well, but that’s not its end game. If you need a summit pack or a small daypack to fit inside other luggage, the Ultra-Sil is a great bet.
Patagonia Nine Trails 28, $159
I recently trekked with the Nine Trails in Peru and was pleasantly surprised, since Patagonia’s packs aren’t usually at the top of my list. But the Nine Trails busted through my misconceptions thanks to its U-shaped zipper and outer stretch pocket that allowed me to easily access all the things inside the backpack. The back panel didn’t breathe as well as I would like, but hey—I’m also a sweaty person. What can you do?
Gregory Packs has been in the game since before I was born, so it makes complete sense that the brand knows a thing or two about pack development. The Inertia has more bells and whistles than usually found on daypacks: 3L reservoir (not just the sleeve), magnetic sternum strap, five exterior pockets, and load lifters. Somehow, it still costs less than $100 (albeit more than the Deuter) making this a screaming deal for hikers who want a fully-featured pack.
The Luzon del Dia is a lightweight pack built for quick hikes and fast summit bids, thanks to its hydration sleeve and top drawstring closure. But the real story is in the construction. Each of the packs is made from remnant scraps in the Cotopaxi factory and the employees have creative control over the final design. What does that mean? The pack doesn’t create more waste, and no two packs look alike. Awesome.
Granite Gear makes a great backpack, and the Slacker Packer is no exception. This daypack is similar to the Luzon del Dia and the Ultra-Sil in that it is meant for light hikes and speedy summits, but it adds in waterproofing to the mix. The entire pack is a fully seam-sealed dry bag with a top-rolling enclosure, which means it can double as a dry bag. I like to stash my clothing in it for paddling trips and then use it has a hiking backpack when on dry land.