Best Day Pack for Camping, Hiking, and Hunting
A good day pack will hold what you need, securely and comfortably. Here’s how to find your perfect pack.
Day packs are just what their name describes—small, easy to carry packs that can be loaded with the essentials for a hike on the trail, a day in the deer woods, an overnight camping trip, or even a trip to the farmers market.
Note that we’re not talking about true hiking or backpacking backpacks here—the large ones with an internal frame made for carrying lots of specialized gear many, many miles. These are small soft sided packs that are easy to carry.
Many of today’s packs are made of tough materials and boast convenient features. In many cases, zippers are better, gear is more easily compartmentalized, and many even have a spot set aside for a hydration bladder. They’re also lighter, tougher and have straps and a design that are more comfortable than packs of old.
- Best Overall: REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack
- Best for Hiking: High Sierra Loop Backpack
- Best Hydration Pack: Teton Sports Oasis Hydration Pack
- Best for Hunting: Alps Outdoorz Big Bear Pack
- Best Waterproof: geckobrands Waterproof 30L Backpack
- Best Cheap: Ascend Dash Lightweight Backpack
Features To Consider When Shopping For The Best Day Pack
When shopping for the best day pack, consider how much gear you’ll be putting inside of it. That will determine size. Consider how long you’ll be wearing it, because that will determine how comfortable the straps must be. if you’ll be out in inclement weather, you’ll need a waterproof backpack. And if you’ll want to keep drinking water at the ready, a daypack with a water bladder is a smart choice.
Will You Be Carrying a Lot of Different Outdoor Gear?
Most avid outdoors men and women know one thing for certain: keeping outdoor gear organized and having ready when you need it, is crucial. A day pack that both holds all of your gear and allows you to organize it, so you can find what you need quickly, is crucial. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a day pack overflowing with compartments and pockets, because that can prove confusing and you’ll spend a lot of time opening and closing storage areas. A pack with several differently sized compartments, and attachment points on the outside where you can hang items you want easy access to (or that you don’t want to put inside the pack) is a good call here.
Best Day Pack Overall: REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack
This pack, with 40-liter capacity, is suited for use as a daypack for day use, along with use as a range bag, hunting backpack, survival backpack or trekking backpack. REEBOW
This all-around backpack from Reebow Gear features double-stitched construction, a heavy-duty zipper and utility-style cord pulls. It has two exterior pockets and two interior compartments, which allows for smart organization and separation of gear. Its ventilated mesh back helps the user avoid a sweaty back, and it is also hydration compatible.
Will You Be Hiking Long Distances?
Nearly 50 million Americans hike…but “hiking” can mean different things to different people, depending on their level of fitness and how avid they are about it. For the hard core hikers, anything under 10 miles in rugged conditions might not be considered a real hike. For those who are more hobbyist, a 20-minute jaunt at a local city park might fit their definition of the word.
Regardless of which you might be, a good day pack is one of the best pieces of hiking gear you can have. With it, you can easily carry everything you need—regardless of where or how far you hike—while keeping your hands free to handle other chores along the way. A good hiking day pack will be lightweight, sturdy, have plenty of space to carry all your hiking essentials and be comfortable to carry for long distances.
Read Next: Best Trekking Poles
Best Hiking Day Pack: High Sierra Loop Backpack
This pack’s large, multi-compartment design can help keep your gear secure and organized. High Sierra
With non-slip shoulder pads that are easily adjustable for height, this is the best hiking day pack. Multiple compartments include a generously sized main compartment, a dedicated TechSpot tablet sleeve and a mesh beverage pocket. It’s also available in 33 different color combinations.
Will You Be Drinking Water Often?
Dehydration is dangerous, but the most common symptom—thirst—doesn’t always occur to someone who’s dehydrated. Other signs are weakness, dizziness or a dry skin feeling.
Fortunately, drinking water is all you need to do to prevent dehydration. To make this easy—and to ensure that water is always readily available–some daypacks feature hydration bladders, so water can be carried along quite easily. A flexible tube allows you to grab a drink without having to stop and dig out a water bottle.
While some hydration backpacks are made just to hold a hydration bladder, others are made with several gear compartments so you can pack a variety of gear.
Best Hydration Day Pack: Teton Sports Oasis Hydration Pack
This hydration backpack contains a 2-liter hydration bladder, with kink-free sip tube and push-lock cushioned bite valve. Teton Sports
This hydration pack will do it all if you don’t need to carry a ton of equipment along on your trek. It adjusts easily to fit all body sizes comfortably, and even has a notched foam stabilizer and mesh covering. It has a large interior compartment, a smaller exterior pocket, and a bungee cord system that allows you to attach a helmet or other large bulky gear on the outside of the hydration backpack.
Do You Need a Day Pack Designed for Hunting?
For serious hunters, day pack design is crucial. Hunters often carry a variety of hunting gear while keeping their hands free to carry and use a firearm or bow, so it must be large enough to hold everything. Compartments that can hold items that you want quick access to—gloves, ammo, binoculars, rangefinder—aren’t just convenient, they’ll allow you to get the gear you need right now, without fumbling or searching.
Color is a consideration for bowhunters or turkey hunters, and most hunting-specific models come in camouflage.
Best Hunting Day Pack: Alps Outdoorz Big Bear Pack
This two-in-one hunting daypack from Alps Outdoorz converts from a waist pack into a full backpack for carry versatility. Alpz OutdoorZ
This outstanding hunting pack is about as versatile as they come. Use the waist belt section when you only need to carry scouting essentials. When you need more storage space, roll out the built-in day pack—it provides an additional 1,900 cubic inches of storage area. Clip on the camera pocket, binoculars pocket and turkey call pocket to the harness for added carry convenience and quick access.
Will You Be Walking or Hiking in Very Wet Conditions?
It’s aggravating to open your pack after a short rain shower to find many of the contents damp or wet. If you’ll be encountering rain or otherwise wet conditions, make sure you choose a waterproof backpack that will keep your belongings dry.
Most backpacks today are made with water-resistant fabrics that do a good job of keeping contents dry and safe. For best results, however, look for backpacks that use the term “waterproof” in their description. “Water resistant” day packs will likely do the job for you in most weather situations, but in a true downpour they might not keep your outdoor gear dry.
Best Waterproof Day Pack: geckobrands Waterproof 30L Backpack
This combination daypack and dry bag keeps all your gear dry and protected. geckobrands
The geckobrands Waterproof 30L daypack weighs just .6-pound. It has a tough ripstop nylon exterior, and a polyurethane coating inside that will keep all the contents dry and protected. It also has an exterior water-resistant pocket to store small items, and D-rings to hang gear.
Best Budget Daypack: What you get for under $25
A decent day pack doesn’t have to set you back a week’s pay, but it should hold all the gear you want to bring along, and be comfortable to wear when it’s loaded down. Make sure it has a secure closure and is water-resistant.
Best Cheap Day Pack: Ascend Dash Lightweight Backpack
Even with a sub-$25 price tag, this lightweight daypack from Ascend has plenty of room for essentials and is hydration compatible. Ascend
The Ascend Dash is lightweight yet durable, and made of water-resistant 70D nylon. It also features breathability throughout the back panel and shoulder straps for comfort, along with durable hardware, buckles, and zippers.
Q: What material is best for a daypack?
The best daypacks are made from durable nylon materials. They are light, strong and resistant to water—the perfect combination for carrying along all your gear on an outdoor excursion.
Q: What is a good size daypack?
That depends on how much gear you usually carry. A 20-liter pack is fairly small, while a 40-liter daypack is on the large side. If you typically carry a lot or equipment or plan to be out in the boonies for more than one night, a larger pack will likely serve your needs best.
Q: How should a daypack fit?
A daypack should fit tightly enough that it carries effortlessly without bouncing around, yet loose enough that it is plenty comfortable. Backpacks with well-padded, adjustable straps will fit just about any body type.
A Final Word On Shopping For Day Packs
Most people focus on aesthetics, but factors such as capacity, compartmentalization, waterproofing, and comfort are more important when it comes to the best day pack. Do your homework and you’ll find one that fits all your parameters plus looks great. Then you’ll be a happy camper!