Behind the Scenes Look at What I Travel With • Best Travel Daypack in 2018

After 9 years of world-travel, I can tell you that finding the right travel daypack is crucial

Even if you have an awesome travel backpack, you will still need a travel daypack every day, and picking the right one makes all the difference in the world!

There are lots of great travel daypacks on the market and picking the best travel daypack for you really depends on your travel style...

Which is exactly why I wrote this definitive guide to the best travel daypacks.

A travel daypack is a truly essential piece of kit for any backpacking adventure and it's important to get it right. Don't scrimp and get something cheap.

Believe me, you'll thank me later.

I've had my current daypack for nearly seven years now and it's still going strong. One of the best decisions was taking the time (and a little bit of extra money) to get a great one that fit my style of travel.

And now I'm going to show you exactly how to do the same.

best travel daypack pin image

With the help of this guide, you'll know exactly which of the best travel daypacks is best for you

IMAGE PRODUCT
tbb-table__imageTop Pick for BackpackersTop Pick for BackpackersOsprey Daylite
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Tablet sleeve
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Tablet sleeve
  • Lifetime guarantee
CHECK ON AMAZON
tbb-table__imageBest for ElectronicsBest for ElectronicsNorth Face Borealis
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Lifetime guarantee
CHECK ON AMAZON
tbb-table__imageBest for Day HikesBest for Day HikesOsprey Stratos 24
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Most comfortable hiking pack
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Most comfortable hiking pack
  • Lifetime guarantee
CHECK ON AMAZON
tbb-table__imageFor Ultralight TravelersFor Ultralight TravelersOutlander Packable
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Fold to 8.5 x 8.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Only weighs .7 lbs
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Fold to 8.5 x 8.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Only weighs .7 lbs
CHECK ON AMAZON
tbb-table__imageTop Lightweight PickTop Lightweight PickDeuter Speed Light
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Weighs just 1 lb 1 oz
  • Great for trail running
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Weighs just 1 lb 1 oz
  • Great for trail running
CHECK ON AMAZON
tbb-table__imageSexiest PackSexiest PackOsprey Talon 22
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Feature rich
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Feature rich
  • Lifetime guarantee
CHECK ON AMAZON

How to Choose the Best Travel Daypack

Everyone travels differently, so the most important thing to consider is YOUR travel style and needs.

Do you have a lot of electronics? Are you keen to head on day hikes? Is a space-saving foldable backpack adequate for your needs? How heavy should your daypack be?

Let me run you through the top factors to consider when picking out the best travel daypack for your needs...

Size of your daypack

Size is the most important feature when it comes to choosing the right travel daypack. You want to make sure that your bag is big enough to carry your everyday essentials but you don't want it to be so large that it's a hindrance... Choosing the right size will depend on how much stuff you plan on cramming into your daypack.

For most backpackers, a twenty litre daypack will provide ample space. The best travel daypack shouldn't be larger than 30 litres unless you want to try and get away with a carry on-only backpack as your only piece of luggage. If you do decide to go that route, check out our review on the Osprey Farpoint 40 or the Nomatic Travel Bag - two of the best carry-on travel backpacks.

Weight of your daypack

The best travel daypacks are going to be lightweight enough for you to hike through urban jungles, real jungles and up into the mountains.  These days, most daypacks are pretty light – North Face and Osprey both do a great job of creating truly lightweight daypacks.

Comfort of your daypack

You and your small backpack are going to become best friends, so comfort plays a huge role when choosing the best daypack for your travels. If you choose the right size and weight, you are already halfway there. I strongly recommend picking up a backpack with an air-escape back to keep you from getting a super sweaty back. A padded hip-belt is well worth having if you plan on doing plenty of hiking.

Security

Just as important as the size, security is an attribute you don’t want to overlook when searching for the perfect soul-pack. More than one backpacker friend has returned to their hostel only to discover that his or her wallet was stolen whilst getting pissed at the bar.

Although a slash proof daypack is ideal, you can get by with a pack that has double zippers which you can lock together. One feature I really like about Osprey packs is that the chest belt comes with an inbuilt whistle... Perfect for emergencies. If security really is your number one priority, check out our review of Pacsafe's Venturesafe backpack. 

Material

Your daypack needs to be resistant, but also lightweight, to make it easier to carry around. Water resistant material is a plus. Although the daypack doesn't need to be completely waterproof, make sure that it can take some drizzle without getting all your stuff soaked.

 A dry-fast material is also ideal, that way you won't be stuck with a musty bag. All of the daypacks reviewed in this post are made from high quality, water resistant, materials so you don't need to stress.

Multiple Compartments

Multiple compartments are essential to make you daypack more practical. Having just one compartment will mix all of your belongings together and it’d be a pain in the ass to try to find one particular item if you are in a hurry. Having several pockets will help you to get your stuff organised and separated. Ideally, the best travel daypack should have between three to five compartments to keep everything in place.

 My Favourite Daypacks for Backpacking in 2018


#1

Osprey Daylite Plus
The best daypack for backpackers

Osprey Daylite
  • Large panel loading main compartment provides accessibility to inside contents
  • Dual stretch mesh side pockets provide additional storage options
  • The multi-function interior sleeve can be used for either a Osprey Hydraulics reservoir or tablet

Personally, I swear by Osprey packs. Osprey have an ‘all mighty guarantee’ which means they will repair any damage that occurs to your pack… Forever.

I’ve been travelling with the same 70 litre backpack for nine years now and have sent it into Osprey for repairs on two occasions – both times they have repaired it for free and without any issues. Osprey packs are not cheap but if you splash out on an Osprey pack it is the last pack you will ever need to buy!

My brother, a veteran adventurer himself, travels with the Osprey Daylite Plus and swears it is the best travel daypack made by Osprey. Like me, he’s taken advantage of the guarantee, had his pack repaired in the past, and has gotten literally thousands and thousands of mileage out of his pack. Check out our full review here.

Pros of Osprey Daylite

  • The All Mighty Guarantee!
  • Mesh panel
  • Comfortable
  • Great for hikers or travelers

Cons of Osprey Daylite

  • Pricey
  • No inner zipper pockets
  • Not ideal for Digital Nomads
  • On the smaller side (can be pro or con)

The Osprey Daylite Plus has a mesh covered panel to keep your back cool and fresh by minimising contact with the back of the pack itself and allowing air to get between you and the pack. 

Additionally, you can attach it to other Osprey packs in case you want to add more capacity and carry just one piece of luggage – but the reviews on this feature are mixed.

Is the Osprey Daylite the best travel daypack for you?

Whether you are exploring a city or jungle, this daypack packs some serious punch for it's size and weight and there is lots of storage inside including a padded sleeve that can be used for either a tablet or a hydration reservoir. This is a tough, highly versatile daypack that will be more than adequate for most travelers needs... 9.5/10

#2

North Face Borealis:
Best Travel Daypack for Electronics

North Face Borealis
  • Padded, fleece-lined 15" laptop sleeve in main compartment protects laptop from bumps and falls
  • Two water bottle pockets made with stretch mesh offer ability to conceal contents
  • Front elastic bungee for external storage

What makes it special? The North Face Borealis is a bit larger than some of the other daypacks I’ll be reviewing but there’s a reason I’ve included this tough, innovative pack in this roundup.

The Borealis boasts a laptop sleeve which is fairly rare for a pack of this size and weight class. This daypack has a mesh back panel for staying cool and, on top of that, you can remove the waist belt if you are carrying a lighter load.

Pros of North Face Borealis

  • Very durable
  • Larger than most daypacks
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Mesh panel and waistband
  • Lifetime guarantee

Cons of North Face Borealis

  • Does not expand very well
  • Cannot fit laptop over 15"
  • Bungee chords prove to be fairly useless (for me at least) 
  • Pricey

Its compartment has an internal organisation and a fleece-lined pocket for protecting sunglasses or other electronics. What I really like about this pack is that it’s a solid choice as a hiking daypack but unlike many other hiking daypacks on the market, it’s suitable to keep your laptop safe as well.

The Borealis comes with injection- moulded shoulder straps and a padded mesh back panel for maximum support and ventilation. Additionally, it offers a front elastic bungee for external storage and side compression straps to adjust the load. Personally, I’m not a fan of bungees as they can break but if I was going for any bag outside of Osprey, this is the one I would pick.

Best of all; The North Face Borealis is guaranteed for life, so you know you won’t have to replace it.

Is the North Face Borealis the best travel daypack for you?

A solid daypack from a solid company, North Face has been the choice of hikers for years, but also has a loyal traveler following. It's padding and frame are built for ultimate comfort, and the additional laptop sleeve makes it enticing for anyone traveling with tech (assuming it's under 15 inches)... 9.0/10

#3

Deuter Speed Lite:
The Lightest Travel Daypack

Deuter Speed Light
  • Material: 420D nylon, 210D nylon, PU coating
  • Volume: 20L (1220cu in)
  • Shoulder Straps: ergoniomical

First things first, this pack is definitely not the right daypack for the average backpacker but if your primary concern is weight, this is the lightest travel daypack on the market, weighing in at just 1 lb 1 oz!

This pack is extremely versatile and light and is perfect for ultra-runners, hikers and other types of athletes. If you are planning on going on plenty of adventures with your pack, this may be the right choice for you.

I’ve been a big fan of Deuter packs for a while and I tested a Deuter Speed Lite whilst hiking in Pakistan in 2017.

Pros of Dueuter Speed Light

  • Lightest daypack on the market
  • Perfect for athletics 
  • Quick-access mesh pockets
  • Comfortable and well ventilated

Cons of Deuter Speed Light

  • Not as practical for non-athletes
  • Zero padding on belt
  • Bungee chords prove to be fairly useless (for me at least) 
  • Not good for Digital Nomads

What I really like about the Speedlite is that it has quick-access mesh pockets along the front meaning you can easily grab a protein bar on the go. The padded back panel is comfortable and ventilates well, even in scorching heats. The Speedlite includes a hydration reservoir sleeve which is super handy if you want to drink on the go.

The Speed Lite does have one major disadvantage – this is a daypack designed for moving fast and the manufacturers have done everything in their power to keep the weight down, this mean you get zero padding on the removable hipbelt. This is only going to be a problem if you’re carrying real weight – which you shouldn’t be on a day hike anyway.

Is the Deuter Speed Light the best travel daypack for you?

For smaller loads and day hikes, the Speed Lite is widely regarded as the best travel daypack on the market and has a cult following amongst hikers, climbers, and mountaineers. As the most effective lightweight travel daypack on the market, this is an obvious choice if weight is your primary concern and you want a daypack that won't weigh you down whilst running or climbing... 9.5/10

#4

Osprey Stratos 24
The Best Day Hiking Backpack

Osprey Stratos 24
  • Stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment
  • Integrated raincover
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve

First things first, this is a day hiking backpack. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a daypack for traveling though – this a seriously comfortable, stylish and innovative pack which is widely considered to be the best Osprey daypack for hiking.

The Stratos 22 includes an integrated raincover, internal hydration reservoir sleeve and a stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment – this feature rich pack kicks ass and is probably one of the most comfortable daypacks around.

Pros of Osprey Stratos 24

  • Phenomenal for hikers 
  • Style points
  • Integrated rain cover
  • Trekking pole attachment (or possibly a spear)
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve

Cons of Osprey Stratos 24

  • Heavy
  • Very pricey
  • Does not pack down well
  • Pocket accessibility is just OK

The dual side stretch mesh pockets and front panel storage pocket provide you with plenty of places to store water bottles, snacks or other bits and pieces.

This is one of the most expensive packs on the list and it also is not especially light, it can’t pack down like packable daypacks but if you want the most comfortable, reliable daypack for your travels then this is it. 

The Stratos range by Osprey comes in several sizes so you could consider upping the size and picking up a 34 litre version instead – if you’re a pro at lightweight packing you could probably get away with making this your only pack for shorter trips.

Is the Osprey Stratos 24 the best travel daypack for you?

If you are looking for a stylish bag and don't need something ultralight, then the Osprey Stratos 24 is a keeper. Hikers in particular will find this bag awesome, and although it wouldn't be my first choice for travelers I can see the appeal. It looks sexy, and Osprey is the best ... 9.5/10

#5

The Best Compressible Daypack

The Tortuga Setout Packable Daypack is possibly the coolest travel daypack on this list.

Why?

Easy - it looks awesome, carries a ton, is durable and it COMPRESSES!

That's right, this bad boy is a perfect daypack for travelers. The fact that it compresses and it's lightweight nature make it very easy to transport.

Pros of Tortuga Setout Daypack

  • It compresses!
  • Lightest pack on this list
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Back ventilation

Cons of Tortuga Setout Daypack

  • Not an ideal hiking bag
  • Not everyone loves the look of Tortuga bags

At 19 liters, this bag is the perfect size for a day trip. The Setout Daypack is made from ripstop nylon, is air mesh, and made with YKK zippers.

Along with it's durability is its comfort - the Setout has padded mesh shoulder straps, and a well designed breathable back panel. 

Priced at only $40 this bag is a good deal, especially considering that the compressible case is included. 

Is the Tortuga Setout Daypack the best travel daypack for you?

While all the bags on this list are awesome in their own way - it's tough to beat the Tortuga Setout Daypack. Due to it's durability, size, and compressibility this backpack is the ultimate daypack for travelers looking to travel super light   ... 9.5/10

#6

Outlander Packable
The Best Packable Daypack

Outlander Packable
  • Water-resistant and DURABLE. The backpack is made from highly rip and water-resistant nylon fabric, which provides strength and long-lasting performance, with minimal weight. Stress points are reinforced with bar tacking for increased longevity. We use durable 2-way Abrasion Resistant SBS Metal Zippers across the backpack.
  • COMPACT. Folds into zippered inner pocket to fit anywhere. Unfolds from pocket to backpack. A must-have on any trip and a great gift for anyone. Dimensions: Unfold: 18.5x13x7.5 inches, Fold: 8.5x8.5x1.2 inches.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT (0.7 Pounds) and ROOMY (35 Liters). A true space saver. Stuff the bag into its own pocket for storage and unzip it when you reach your destination. Avoid overweight baggage charges by simply unfolding it from your luggage and using it as a carry on for your excess baggage.

What makes it special? Its size!

The Outlander is one of the smallest daypacks for travel and it folds up to become even more compact so you can pack it in your main backpack when needed. Besides the multiple compartments, this bag has an internal security zippered pocket to protect valuable items.

The fabric is water and abrasion resistant and it is reinforced to be ultra-durable.

Pros of Outlander Packable

  • Smallest pack on the list
  • Compact - a bag that folds up!
  • Multiple compartments
  • Water resistant
  • Very durable
  • Cheap!

Cons of Outlander Packable

  • Not for proper hikes/athletics
  • Simple style
  • Not many accessories when compared to competition
  • Little comfort
  • No lifetime guarantee

It is also very light (weighing in at just 0.7 lbs) but please note that it does not boast any of the comfort or functionality of a proper hiking daypack – this is a great daypack for wandering around town but would not be comfortable to wear whilst hiking.

The Outlander is only $20 so if you’re looking for a cheap packable daypack to cities with then this is a good choice.

This is probably one of the best value small packs for travel but it doesn’t come with a lifetime guaranteeAnd I almost forgot! The Outlander comes in different colours, in case you are a stylish traveller.

Is the Outlander Packable the best travel daypack for you?

If you are the type of traveler that is looking to travel as light as possible - even at the sacrifice of hiking comfortably and looking stylish - then the Outlander Packable could be a good pick for you. Ultralight travelers, you've met your match! Hikers, Digital Nomads or anyone with camera gear, please seek elsewhere.  ... 8.5/10

#7

Osprey Talon 22
The Sexiest Travel Daypack

Osprey Talon 22
  • Feature: Adjustable Torso Length
  • Feature: AirscapeTM Mesh Covered Accordion Foam Backpanel
  • Feature: External Hydration Access

I’ve been using Osprey packs for nine years now and my current daypack is the Talon 22.

And it’s awesome.

This is one of the best value lightweight hiking daypacks on the market and comes complete with an airscape back to keep you cool and comfortable, plenty of pockets, a whistle on the chest belt, a padded hip belt and external hydration access.

Pros of Osprey Talon 22

  • Perfect for hikers
  • Good for travelers
  • Plenty of pockets
  • You get to be like me! 😉

Cons of Osprey Talon 22

  • Not for Digital Nomads
  • If you don't hike, look elsewhere
  • Runs a bit small in size
  • Not the cheapest option

 For day hikes and other adventures, the Talon 22 is hands down the best travel daypack around.

This particular model is ideal because it has THREE exterior pockets and a mesh pocket for water bottles. It is also one of the most durable options out there, specially made for rough use. The pocket on the hipbelt is a nice touch and a good place to keep your phone or snacks.

Like all Osprey products, the Talon 22 comes with the almighty Guarantee meaning that Osprey will repair or replace your pack, no matter what. 

Is the Osprey Talon the best travel daypack for you?

In my opinion, this is the best Osprey daypack on the market right now however I admit that it's a better fit for travelers who plan on doing plenty of hiking and might not meet your requirements if you have a laptop you want to carry around in your daypack. ... 9/10

#8

Pacsafe Venturesafe
The Best Anti-Theft Travel Daypack

Pacsafe Venturesafe
  • Lightweight, durable daypack with anti-theft technologies ideal for long hikes, adventures abroad, your daily commute, and as a handy carry-on
  • Lightweight, hidden eXomesh Slashguard stainless steel wire mesh embedded into fabric helps protect against slash & run theft
  • AdjUstable wire-reinforced Carrysafe Slashguard Strap helps prevent cut & run theft; the Turn & Lock Security Hooks attach Strap to secure fixture

We recently reviewed the Pacsafe Venturesafe and were thoroughly impressed…

This tough anti-theft daypack features anti-slash material, lockable zips, hidden pockets and even a slash-proof strap which you can use to connect your backpack to heavy furniture.

Whilst this anti-theft daypack does have it’s drawbacks (read the review to learn more!), it’s definitely one of the toughest daypacks around, performs fairly well as hiking daypack and if you want absolute peace of mind for your electronics and valuables then the safest way to transport them whilst traveling is almost certainly going to be in the Venturesafe 15 litre daypack.

If safety is a concern for you, check out our epic guide to the best sling packs!


Conclusion: So what is the best travel daypack?

Once you hit the road, you will quickly fall in love with travel so it’s important that you stretch your money as far as possible… Therefore, I strongly recommend picking a pack that comes with a lifetime guarantee.

There’s several really high-quality Osprey daypacks on this list and I had a tough job forcing myself to choose only one Osprey pack for the grand daypack showdown! Ultimately though, I’m a huge fan of my Osprey Talon.

The Talon might not be cheap, but you are really getting your money’s worth. This is the same pack that I’ve been using for seven years and it is simply perfect for day hikes. In my opinion, this is the best travel daypack for adventurous travelers and will suit most people on the road. Here are my tops picks one more time…

IMAGE PRODUCT    
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Top Pick for BackpackersTop Pick for BackpackersOsprey Daylite

  • Feature Highlights:
  • Tablet sleeve
  • Lifetime guarantee
  •  
  •  
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Tablet sleeve
  • Lifetime guarantee
  •  
  •  
CHECK ON AMAZON
tbb-table__image

Best for ElectronicsBest for ElectronicsNorth Face Borealis

  • Feature Highlights:
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Lifetime guarantee
  •  
  •  
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Lifetime guarantee
  •  
  •  
CHECK ON AMAZON
tbb-table__image

Best for Day HikesBest for Day HikesOsprey Stratos 24

  • Feature Highlights:
  • Most comfortable hiking pack
  • Lifetime guarantee
  •  
  •  
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Most comfortable hiking pack
  • Lifetime guarantee
  •  
  •  
CHECK ON AMAZON
tbb-table__image

For Ultralight TravelersFor Ultralight TravelersOutlander Packable

  • Feature Highlights:
  • Fold to 8.5 x 8.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Only weighs .7 lbs
  •  
  •  
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Fold to 8.5 x 8.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Only weighs .7 lbs
  •  
  •  
CHECK ON AMAZON
tbb-table__image

Top Lightweight PickTop Lightweight PickDeuter Speed Light

  • Feature Highlights:
  • Weighs just 1 lb 1 oz
  • Great for trail running
  •  
  •  
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Weighs just 1 lb 1 oz
  • Great for trail running
  •  
  •  
CHECK ON AMAZON
tbb-table__image

Sexiest PackSexiest PackOsprey Talon 22

  • Feature Highlights:
  • Feature rich
  • Lifetime guarantee
  •  
  •  
  • Feature Highlights:
  • Feature rich
  • Lifetime guarantee
  •  
  •  
CHECK ON AMAZON

However, it is real tough to fit a laptop and everything else you may need to transport on a bus into the Talon and so my second recommendation is the North Face Borealis.

The Borealis is a tough, innovative daypack which can handle hikes and also stow your laptop away safely in the padded laptop sleeve. This is the most comfortable hiking daypack I have found which still has a padded laptop sleeve.

Both of these packs are more than adequate for hiking and for hanging around town and crucially both of these daypacks come with lifetime guarantees.

Need more inspiration? 

Happy travels, amigos!

Yay for transparency! The links in this post are affiliate links. That means if you buy any of the products using our links we’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Never fear, we actually use and/or want all of these things. We don’t endorse crappy stuff!

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2 Comments

  • Scotty says:

    Great article! Thanks for the info.
    Do you know anything about Ethnotek backpacks? I’m heading to SE Asia for 6 months and I need a day bag. I have a 48L Osprey Kestral as my main bag, so I want something in the 20-25L range to store my laptop and Canon G7X along with all the accompanying accessories.

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