You’ve already found the perfect travel backpack, and whisked off to your next favourite destination. Now, it’s time to hit the streets and the trails, and do what you do best—explore.
The backpack you trust to carry all your travel gear isn’t going to cut it for a day out on the town or in the country. You need something smaller, lighter, and more compact to store all the essential gear for the day ahead; it’s time to find yourself a daypack!
Seize the day in all its glory, and get organized with one of these 13 best daypacks for travel of 2018...
Looking for other luggage choices? Check out this guide to the best wheeled backpacks for travel!
Table of Contents
- Best daypacks for travel of 2018: The top 13 picks
- In a rush? Here’s a quick comparison of the top 12 travel daypacks of 2018…
- Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack
- Tortuga Setout Packable Daypack
- Marmot Kompressor Plus Pack
- The North Face Borealis Backpack
- Patagonia Arbor Pack 26L
- Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21
- The North Face Jester Backpack
- Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft 15L Backpack
- Osprey Talon 22 Travel Daypack
- Timbuk2 Uptown Travel Backpack
- BURTON Tinder Pack
- Deuter Speed Lite 20 Hiking Daypack
- Herschel Supply Co. Nelson Backpack
- Summary: The best travel daypacks of 2018
Best daypacks for travel of 2018: The top 13 picks
It’s amazing how often you’ll overlook the simple addition of a travel daypack when planning your itineraries. There are probably a million things that you’ll think about ahead of a daypack: clothing, outerwear, hiking shoes, and—how awkward would it be to forget this?—your favourite DSLR camera or a trusty vlogging camera for YouTube.
So, daypacks are hardly as glorious as a sleek lightweight rain jacket or snazzy pair of walking shoes. But what a solid daypack does is perhaps far more important: like the best travel backpacks, your daypack carries all of your essential travel gear.
Whether it’s waterproof outerwear to keep you dry, travel water bottles to keep you hydrated, or cameras to capture all your best moments, travel daypacks fulfill a massive role in your travel gear arsenal.
What you’ll find here is a general overview of some of the best daypacks for travellers. All of these top choices are comfortable, light and offer excellent options for cramming in all your most important gear. In each section, we throw a few tips your way to help you choose the daypack that’s right for you.
Let’s get daypacking!
In a rush? Here’s a quick comparison of the top 12 travel daypacks of 2018…
Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack
Best Use: Urban travel
With a lightweight framework, versatile design, and a 20L capacity, the Osprey Daylite Plus is a trendsetting backpack that doesn’t compromise with weight for size. It is made of a durable ripstop nylon, and is designed to keep your items protected from the vagaries of Mother Nature.
Additionally, the padded and perforated back and shoulder straps allow for a comfortable fit and ventilated feel, especially for those times when you’re venturing away for miles in hot weather. The roomy front panel allows you to stow away commonly used stuff, ranging from cellphones to lightweight rain jackets. Strap on the fuss-free hip belt to help you maintain an upright posture as you make your way through the trails.
All in all, the Osprey Daylite Plus is a nice option if you need of a durable backpack for your adventures and urban outings. The only letdown of the Daylite Plus is that the set of two side pockets are fitted with flimsy elastic panels. Water bottles don’t stay seated well here. For longer day hikes where more gear and lashing is needed, you may also want to review other options.
Tortuga Setout Packable Daypack
Best Use: Minimalist urban travel
For hard-lined minimalist travellers, nothing will get your light-packing sensibilities buzzing like the Tortuga Setout Packable Daypack. Built with a lightweight 30D ripstop nylon, this brilliantly-designed daypack weighs just 8.5 ounces, propelling it ahead of all its competitors as by far the lightest entry on our list.
Rest assured that the weight savings isn’t just about saving a couple grams on your shoulders. The true brilliance of the design of the Tortuga Setout Daypack is that it folds up into its own front pocket for portability. Unlike most travel daypacks, this won’t take up prime space in your luggage. It easily tucks into a small corner in your bag so that you’ll barely notice that you’re bringing it along.
Even with its extreme packability, the Tortuga Setout Daypack doesn’t skimp out on features. For comfort, the pack’s shoulder pads are made from an air mesh that provides excellent air flow to keep you cool on the hottest of days. They’re even adjustable and include a removable sternum strap to keep the load centred.
At just 19L capacity, the Tortuga Setout Daypack might not meet the needs of hardcore outdoor adventurers needing to carry a little more gear. But for urban outings, there’s more than enough room for your travel essentials including a lightweight rain jacket, sweater, books, passport, and more.
Marmot Kompressor Plus Pack
Best Use: Minimalist hiking
An ultralight daypack with a minimalist setup that is sure to complement your hiking gear, Marmot Kompressor Plus is a cut above an ordinary school bag. You can rely it to shield your valuables from erratic weather, as well as carry more than just a light rain jacket and laptop.
The shoulder straps are devoid of padding in a bid to reduce weight, but the pack is super easy to adjust for added comfort during hot, sweaty days. Plus, the top cover is reasonably waterproof, and does a good job of keeping your stuff dry inside.
Interestingly, the entire pack fits inside within its own lid when empty, making it easy to lug around or store. There are compression straps as well, for all you cyclists out there.
Long story short, if you are looking for a decent daypack at an affordable price point for your day hikes, then the Marmot Kompressor Plus is your answer. However, if comfort is the top criteria, you may be better off with a daypack with better padded shoulder straps and a more breathable back cover.
The North Face Borealis Backpack
Best Use: Casual urban travel & day hikes
An all-round in its own right, the The North Face Borealis is a burly, 28L travel daypack suitable for daily activities and casual day hikes. A novel FlexVent suspension system makes for a fresh and dry feel thanks to the padded mesh panel on the back. The spine channel is designed to align with the natural bends of your back, helping you maintain an upright posture even in the most tiring moments of your journey.
With concise pockets for your tablet and laptop, and reflectivity on main parts of your pack, you can be sure to stay connected and safe wherever you go. And if that’s not enough, the front pocket comes attached with a bungee mesh cord. Use it to tag in your helmet or an extra set of clothing while saving space within the pack itself.
The North Face Borealis is a versatile backpack for daily commuting in the urban environment. The lack of hiking-specific features such as a rain cover, bulky design and a substantial hip belt, however, make it unsuitable for strapping it on for long hours on the trail.
Patagonia Arbor Pack 26L
Best Use: Urban travel
If you care about aesthetics and design, you will have a hard time finding a more attractive daypack than the Patagonia Arbor Pack 26L. Besides a classic construction and a multi-functional framework, this travel pack features a patented DWR coating to keep your electronics safe from the negative effects of inclement weather.
The presence of Human Curve shoulder straps help you carry extra loads of weight without feeling excess pressure on your shoulders and chest. Inside, the bag has a padded laptop sleeve to cater to the needs of modern times, as well as some decent pockets to help you categorize your items accordingly. You can choose between a wide spectrum of colors that are sure to work seamlessly with any occasion.
Apt for the city and wilderness alike, the Patagonia Arbor Pack 26L stands up to the vagaries of time and use with elan. You can strap it on your shoulders any time adventure calls. While it could surely use a few more pockets and maybe a water bottle holder, it is surely one of those backpacks you’d want to be seen with everywhere!
Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21
Best Use: Urban travel & day hikes
The Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 flaunts a casual rugged style that appeals to anyone who wants to look different without being weird—or compromise with functionality. Its minimalistic look makes it perfect for navigating the city streets and buses.
When it comes to support and comfort, the Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 doesn’t disappoint either. Inside, the bag encloses a padded laptop sleeve, as well as the main compartment that comes with a drawstring-like closure style for a secure fit. Three outer compartments come in handy for those times when you are too lazy to open the zip and store your stuff inside.
The stiff leather shoulder straps provide a body-hugging fit, helping keep your arms free for tackling tricky trails. Only drawback is the side and front pockets that have little to stay fastened. Plus, the material used on them is pretty flimsy and tends to come apart at the seams after extensive use. Another disappointment is the laptop slot. It doesn’t always keep your device compact and snug, causing it to flop around annoyingly as you walk.
If you are planning to haul a moderate amount of stuff for a day hike—even a short multi-day hike or weekend trip—rest assured that the Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 will suit the bill. If support and organizational capacity are your main criteria, you should probably look elsewhere.
The North Face Jester Backpack
Best Use: Casual urban travel
A fuss-free backpack, The North Face Jester offers an impressive set of features for its cost. With this model, you know exactly what you are getting: a low-profile travel pack that gets the job done.
As a casual commuter bag, it’s roomy enough. It comes with two main zippered compartments, as well as a front panel that combines a bunch of smaller pockets. There are mesh pockets on the sides to hold your water bottles, too.
And while The North Face Jester lacks a dedicated laptop slot, the main sleeve is spacious enough to fit a 17″ laptop, along with some books and other items. The lightweight polyester coupled with the contoured design conforms to the natural bends of your spine and shoulders, giving you a vest-like fit and feel when you need it the most.
To top it all, The North Face Jester even repels water and dries quickly. Just keep in mind that it’s water-resistant, not waterproof; it can stand up to short spurts like light rain or spills from a bottle, not a massive downpour or a leap into a river.
This versatile 27L travel daypack is ideal for anyone who appreciates thoughtful detailing and multi-purpose use in their outdoor gear. If you want a bag with a separate laptop compartment—or one that offers more in terms of back support—you should probably check out other options.
Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft 15L Backpack
Best Use: Urban travel
One of the questions you will want to ask yourself while buying the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 is: Are you really serious about outdoor trips? If you like to strap on your sneakers and sniff the fresh air of the countryside every now and then, this is not the pack for you. However, if you live for urban travel and like state-of-the-art gear, then the Metrosafe is perfect.
This roomy rucksack is lightweight, comfy and comes with a built-in rain cover to negate the effects of the weather on your belongings. The design also includes lockable zips for a secure fit, and padded interior to keep your valuables protected.
The anti-theft property is one of the primary highlights of any rucksack by this company, and the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 is a true embodiment of their mission. It features an unslashable outer fabric, webbing straps, as well as a pocket that blocks foreign micro-chip readers. With the Metrosafe LS350, you’ll always have the confidence to travel around without danger of losing your most precious items.
Osprey Talon 22 Travel Daypack
Best Use: Day hikes & urban travel
With a light, nimble structure and a striking design, the Osprey Talon 22 checks all the boxes for day hikes and urban outings. It comes in the perfect size for a casual day on the trail, and encompasses plenty of storage space inside for storing all your essentials.
There is nice stretchiness to the fabric and the bag itself comes in two different sizes to dial-in for the perfect fit. The novel harness system and end-to-end wrap hip belt act together to create a stable carry system that supports you even when you are too tired to carry your own body weight.
The back panel has been refurbished to weigh less and allow unhindered escape of sweat vapor, helping you cool off on hot days. A pole carry system gives you the freedom of movement to tackle tricky uphill turns while the top-lid storage helps you load stuff on the go.
Overall, the Osprey Talon 22 is a robust 22L backpack suitable for short hikes and everyday travel. For longer day hikes, you are better off with a pack that uses a more robust hip belt, as well as a suspended mesh back panel for enhanced support. The thin backpanel of Talon 22 means that you will be feeling the bag’s contents on your back more often, especially if it’s loaded, which is why it’s not a great choice for prolonged travel.
Timbuk2 Uptown Travel Backpack
Best Use: Urban travel
Touted as the most travel-friendly backpacks ever, the Timbuk2 Uptown embodies all the best characteristics of this Californian brand. With abundant pockets, plenty of room and cushioned interior, this pack is an organized traveller’s dream. It lets you sort out your stuff in categories and place the commonly used ones close by for easy access.
If that’s not enough, the Timbuk2 Uptown encompasses a large volume of space and renders an adaptive fit that’s compact to carry. The customized strap design makes for a comfortable fit, and allows you to adopt an upright posture as you walk. The back panels are ventilated for increasing comfort on a long-distance ride while the tricot-lined pockets let you stow in your sun protection gear safely.
The Timbuk2 Uptown a suitable option for journeys where you are likely to carry lots of weight for long hours in the sun. One thing to remember is that this bag is not really weatherproof. For hiking in the rain, you’d do better elsewhere.
BURTON Tinder Pack
Best Use: Urban travel, casual use
The classic appeal and polished finish of the BURTON Tinder are sure to bowl you over at the first glance. But there is more to this daypack than just a pleasing design.
Combining modern features with an old-school style, BURTON Tinder is a versatile pack that is perfect for any occasion, be it work or play. You can stuff in your groceries, beer, hiking boots, harness, rain jackets and even your laptop, without any worries.
The laptop compartment comes with padded insides to safely store your precious devices as you carry them around town. The interior mesh pocket is zippered for convenient closure while the cushioned shoulder harness is designed to offset the pressure of lugging a heavy pack on a hot, sweaty day.
The BURTON Tinder is a brilliant all-around travel daypack for anyone who wants to tour the town and look good while doing so. It does, however, lack some of the organizational capabilities of other daypacks. There are no exterior pockets for water bottles, making it better suited for casual urban outings than serious hiking ventures in warmer weather.
Deuter Speed Lite 20 Hiking Daypack
Best Use: Hiking & outdoors
Representing the perfect balance between simplicity and light weight, the Deuter Speed Lite 20 comes with just the right set of features to keep you prepared for precarious conditions on the trail. The bag is designed with intuitive detailing in mind, and has two compression straps that reverse around the top part, allowing it to hold up to twice the suggested amount of weight.
This attachment option makes it possible to latch rope, skis, ice axes, camera equipment or even some extra pieces of clothing. The two mesh pockets on the sides are roomier than similar models, and are fairly resistant to wear and tear.
If you are looking for a lightweight daypack with multiple lashing options and a versatile fit for a lengthy hiking trip, you should definitely pick the Deuter Speed Lite 20. However, if you are a sucker for style, you should probably look for more contemporary-looking designs like the BURTON Tinder.
Herschel Supply Co. Nelson Backpack
Best Use: Casual use
The Herschel Supply Co. Nelson is easily one of the most durable middle-of-the-road travel packs out there. It ticks all the boxes you have in mind—breathable mesh, straps, body hugging fit, lightweight, spine support and comfort. Plus, it comes with multiple pockets attached on different sides of the pack to allow easy access of your contents.
There is even a separate space in the Nelson the for wet/dirty laundry, as well as compartments for keeping your phone, tablet, laptop and keys. It also has a padded iPad sleeve, just in case you want to gear up with gadgets for your trip.
To top it all, the Herschel Supply Co. Nelson comes with leather zipper pulls for quick closure, helping you strap it on and get going quickly. Its spacious interiors and ability to withstand heavy loads justify its cost, promising years of satisfactory use before needing a replacement.
Summary: The best travel daypacks of 2018
Still on the fence about which daypack is right for you? Here are a few final thoughts:
- Want to cut down on weight and space? You’ll hardly notice bringing along the ultra-minimalist Tortuga Setout Daypack.
- Need to keep your belongings safe? Let the awesome anti-theft features of the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 will take your worry away.
- Planning on day hiking to the max? The Deuter Speed Lite 20 with its top-notch comfort and lashing features is your best best.
- Looking for hip style on the trail and the street? The funky colour palettes of the BURTON Tinder will have you wearing your daypack with pride wherever you may roam.
- Just want an all-around performer? For the general traveller, the Osprey Daylite Plus does the trick in nearly every situation.