Best Packable Daypacks for Travel & TOP 10 Backpack Reviews 2021

When I first left to travel the world, I made one huge mistake.

No, I didn’t forget my passport.

Yes, I remembered to cancel subscriptions and bills.

It was an easy mistake to make. I departed my home with only one huge backpack with enough room to contain everything I would need for a long-term, round-the-world trip.

So, what was the problem?

I soon realized that, as useful as my main backpack was, I had nothing in the way of a daypack for shorter trips, excursions, days out or taking a holiday from my holiday!

I was basically lugging all my worldly belongings around in the “home” on my back – not too dissimilar to a snail!

Do you think this is practical?

Nope, nor do I.

Had I known otherwise, I would have been more prepared by taking the best packable daypack I could find at the time.

And so, in the wonder that is hindsight, that is exactly what I’ve been researching here.

Whether you’re a long-term traveler looking for a backup pack option, or you just need something for hiking close to home at the weekend, I’ve been digging through seemingly endless choices to bring you the best packable daypacks 2021.

But before we put a selection under the microscope, let’s examine what you should be looking for and the features you should be taking into consideration with a good packable daypack.

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What is Your Pack Going to be Used For?

explore Ireland with packable daypack in hiking trail

That’s the number one question you have to ask yourself.

There’s no point just throwing all your hard-earned cash at a flashy looking piece of kit that’s going to be useless for your chosen activity.

Many packs might look the same, but I can assure you they’re all different depending on what you need them for.

So, if you’re exploring the city for the day, hiking in the woods, climbing a mountain or just going to school, make sure you make an informed decision when you purchase the right pack for your needs.

Size Matters

This might be a no-brainer, but daypacks come in a variety of sizes.

It’s really important you choose something that fits your frame. I’ve seen people on the road with packs that are three times the size they are!

Ensuring you have the right size of a pack will literally take the weight off your shoulders.

Many manufacturers will offer packs in both male and female versions, so you can find the one that best suits you.

Duration of the Trip

How long do you intend to be gone for? Have you booked a romantic weekend away? Are you hiking Kilimanjaro? Maybe you’re trekking across the Sahara?

“Day” packs aren’t just useful for one day.

So, make sure you choose the right pack for however long you’re planning on being away.

Likewise, make sure you invest in the best possible quality if you’re planning on a longer or more challenging excursion.

Exploring the City

Most packable daypacks on the market are easily suited to this activity and you won’t need to tear your hair out too much when it comes to making your choice.

Ideally, though, you should be looking for a lightweight pack with enough space to carry your daily essentials.

Compartments for your camera, water bottle, and pockets for tickets/cash/passport would be ideal – while having additional security features might be a nice touch for when you’re in more crowded areas.

man with a small packable daypack for travel

Hiking

The best packable daypacks for hiking will usually be on the smaller side, sacrificing space for practicality. Let’s face it – you’re going to be leaving your laptop at home.

Many will come with the option to include a hydration reservoir (or have one already built-in) which is ideal for staying lubricated on the go. Failing that, if a hiking pack doesn’t have an exterior water bottle sleeve, someone’s head needs to roll.

If you’re trail running, make sure you’re looking at some of the best ultralight packable daypacks money can buy.

You’ll want something that fits you well and doesn’t move around too much.

Climbing

Climbing packs can come in a variety of sizes, depending on your personal preference and what you think you’ll need to carry.

Most climbers would prefer to keep it as slim as possible though, to maximize maneuverability.

Ultimately though, they’ll be all about comfort, excellent weight distribution, and breathability.

You might also want to look for extra loops, mesh pockets, webbing, and straps so you can tie your gear on, or have somewhere to stash stuff you’re not currently using.

However, packable daypacks aren’t the most durable for tougher extremes, so you should take that into consideration when making your purchase.

Cycling and Mountain Biking

Sleek and compact, decent cycling packs are built to not interfere with your ride.

They’ll have all the right straps and buckles to ensure the pack doesn’t come loose when you’re in the saddle.

General Purpose/School/Business

On the larger side, general purpose packs are built to carry all the stuff you need for your business trip, school day or for general, day-to-day use.

Aim for 35-40 liters and you shouldn’t want for an extra room.

Extra padding for your electronics should be a must, but packable daypacks are generally a little light on cushioning for your electronics – so watch out for that.

Cost

Last, but by no means least, is the cost.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, buy the very best you can afford.

There are packs built for all budgets out there, but you get what you pay for these days, so search down the back of the couch for those extra pennies.

TOP 10 Best Packable Daypack Reviews 2021

Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

I’ve been taking a look at the best packable backpacks 2021, and the following ten choices get my vote.

So, without further ado, check out these top picks.

There are literally loads of options out there, so I’ve gone with this eclectic selection and I hope it gives you plenty of food for thought!

Outlander Ultra Lightweight Packable Travel Backpack

A great budget offering to kick us off, this pack has notched up an astounding number of positive reviews.

Conveniently, it’s available in two size options – 20 or 35 liters, so remember what I said about figuring out what you need it for!

Heavy duty features including reinforced handles and security pockets to help keep your stuff safe in the city.

Pros

  • You can’t beat it for the price – it’s a great all-rounder.
  • Water resistant.
  • Comes with a handy carabiner clip.

Cons

  • Not as durable as other options.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a versatile daypack that you’re not going to ask too much of, you can’t go wrong with this option from Outlander.

Hikpro Lightweight Packable Backpack

Hikpro has seriously improved this model, boosting its durability. They claim it will last many years and you wouldn’t bet against it.

20 liters of space should be enough to cover most of your daypack needs. Zippered compartments keep things organized.

Packs down to a surprisingly small size – always useful with packable backpacks!

Pros

  • Another great budget option – it doesn’t get much better than this for the price.
  • Comes in a variety of colors to suit your style.
  • External meshed water bottle pocket for easy access to your hydration station.

Cons

  • Although it can handle a small laptop or notebook – padding isn’t going to be the best.

Conclusion

The perfect option for those on a budget, this effort from Hikpro is no frills, but it does the job with aplomb.

Zomake Ultra Lightweight Hiking Backpack

Colorful and stylish, the Zomake packable backpack offers a lot of bang for your buck.

At 35 liters and packing loads of pockets and compartments, it can fit all the gear you need for your trip.

The pack can manage a 13″ laptop in the main compartment and there are mesh pockets for water bottles and umbrellas.

Pros

  • You can’t go wrong with the capacity.
  • Anti-theft pockets for your important documents is a real plus.
  • Comes with an emergency whistle on the buckle in case you get into difficulty on the trails.
  • Available in more colors than a rainbow.

Cons

  • It might be a first – but none to speak of at the time of writing!

Conclusion

I seriously can’t fault this pack at all, there’s a strong possibility I’ll be picking one up myself soon!

Homfu Foldable Backpack for Travel

More suitable for school or business use, this foldable backpack isn’t as loud as some of its peers, available in a smart black or sky blue.

Plenty of pockets and compartments for all your bits and pieces.

Pros

  • A smart pack for more formal use.
  • Headphone hole is useful for listening to your tunes.
  • Tear and water resistant.

Cons

  • A minor niggle, but it won’t fold down as small as some other packs in its class and it appears a little tricky to do. Not great if you’re in a rush.

Conclusion

It’s a great option if you’re looking for a lightweight daypack that needs to be on the subtler side. Could easily be used for business or academic purposes.

Venture Pal Lightweight Travel Daypack

Venture Pal have upgraded this pack since its last outing and it now comes with improved lining and durable features.

Shoulder straps are well padded with breathable mesh to ensure comfortable use.

The torso strap is always really useful to keep the pack in position if you’re doing any physical activity. The safety whistle is a nice touch too.

Pros

  • This looks the business – and boasts a terrific amount of excellent feedback.
  • Having a reinforced base is always a plus point.
  • Comes in a variety of colors.
  • Multipurpose – hiking, biking, trekking…take it anywhere!

Cons

  • Not suitable as a laptop bag.
  • Could have incorporated water bottle tube holes to really make it pop.

Conclusion

Another terrific all-rounder, this pack is really useful for any day trip or activity, and it’s always nice to have multiple colors to choose from if you’re fashion conscious.

Zomake Small Packable Backpack

Another entry for Zomake on the list sees them register this number as one of the best packable travel bags.

It’s super compact and lightweight, but still offering 20 liters of space with a water bottle and umbrella mesh pockets.

A great alternative option to the larger version in this series.

Pros

  • One of the more lightweight packs out there, this is perfect for being on the go.
  • Surprisingly sturdy – it holds up pretty well.
  • One of the cheapest options out there – it won’t break the bank.

Cons

  • Not as water resistant as you would hope. But remember people – water resistant means it can take a splash or two. Waterproof means your stuff stays dry. Honestly, if more people understood that, it would solve most of all water resistance bags’ negative reviews!

Conclusion

A great option for lightweight wanderings, just don’t get caught in a downpour!

4monster Durable Packable Backpack

One of the smaller packable backpacks in the top ten, this little monster nevertheless does the job if you’re looking for something really compact and lightweight.

This is a great option for gentler hikes or city strolls.

Pros

  • Deceptively large inside once opened – it’s still a great pack for saving space.

Cons

  • Choice of colors is lacking (and the ones that are offered aren’t particularly attractive).

Conclusion

It’s not going to stand up to a real beating – so, bear that in mind.

Bago Lightweight Foldable Backpack

Bago enters the fray with this effort and it’s not a bad shout at all. The style is a little different from the other packs, but variety is the spice of life.

A large main compartment is backed up with mesh pockets on the sides and the back of the bag, as well as another external pocket and two inner pockets.

Super lightweight – a really good option for hiking.

Pros

  • I’m a fan of pockets, and the added mesh storage on the back of the pack would be really useful.
  • Straps are great for airflow – it’ll be a godsend in warmer weather.

Cons

  • By the same token, the straps seem a little too lightweight and might not stand up to any rugged wear and tear.

Conclusion

A solid option for a sports backpack, this would be ideal for carrying your kit to the gym.

It’s also a good packable backpack for outdoor activities such as hunting or fishing, with plenty of pockets for tackle and other kits.

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

Now we come into upper echelons of the best packable daypack for travel. Osprey is a byword for quality backpack products right across the board – but the trade-off is that they ain’t cheap!

Having said that, I’m always a champion for real quality, and Osprey’s gear has it by the truckload.

This daypack is no exception and you know it’s built to last.

Pros

  • Beautifully designed, this gear looks like it was made for the contours of your back – that’s because it was!
  • Peace of mind with a lasting product.
  • Stretch mesh side pockets are well built for water bottles and other kits.

Cons

  • One of the pricier options on the list.
  • Only one internal pocket.

Conclusion

A top option if you’re looking to spend a little more– you know you’ll be getting a quality pack here.

I would have liked more internal pockets to organize my stuff into though – but you can always go a size higher to find those specs.

WildHorn Outfitters Highpoint Packable Backpack

Looking at the size of this pack, I was actually amazed that it was still packable. At first glance, it certainly seems like it’s just a regular travel backpack, but it can, in fact, fold right down into its own carrier.

It’s got loads of features, including side mesh pockets for those all-important water bottles and a torso strap with safety whistle.

Plenty of interior and exterior functionality – toggles, and loops to attach walking poles or other hiking and climbing tools and gear.

Pros

  • Great size with loads of features.
  • Still packs down to next to nothing.

Cons

  • The price for what it is might put some people off.
  • Straps aren’t the sturdiest in general.

Conclusion

Altogether a great pack for hiking, but my gut feeling is that it would stand up to more rigorous trips or rugged climbs.

The Best Packable Daypacks 2021

Ahhhh decisions, decisions!

This selection will surely point you in the right direction when you’re researching the best packable daypack for your needs.

There’s a whole host of different options out there – more than enough to give you a headache – but with a bit of luck, you’re now armed with some decent advice to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Researching this sort of article always makes me want to head into the great outdoors, but in the meantime, let me know which one you’re leaning towards and why in the comments below – it’s always nice to hear some feedback!

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Karlis Kikuts

Karlis Kikuts

Coffee addict. Digital nomad. Solo traveler and blogger. Camping and hammocking enthusiast. Tiny book worm. In other words, the guy behind independentwolf.com