This post is a little different than my other gear posts. Rather than recommending a specific product that I own and love, I am going to take you through my process to compare possible day packs I am interested in getting.
Here’s how this all started. I recently had a friend ask me if I had any recommendations for day packs for her and her son’s trip to Costa Rica. Until she asked me that, I hadn’t really realized just how many years it had been since I actually bought one. My husband, on the other hand, has a day pack obsession. I think he buys himself a new one every trip.
This chain of events has inspired me to start researching what day pack might be my next travel gear purchase. So let’s get started!
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My Current Day Pack Situation
I have a small Camelbak L.U.X.E. (though mine looks a little different than the one in this link) hydration pack for hiking and biking. It works quite well for those short trips, unless someone (meaning me) needs to haul along a picnic, bottles of bug repellent and sunscreen, or other family necessities.
When I need a hydration pack that is larger, I have an old Kelty back pack with hydration capability that is probably 18 years old. It’s a very large hydration day pack, and most of the time it’s too big for what we need. It’s also pretty heavy.
I also don’t always need a hydration pack. In those cases I’ve often used a 20+ year old Eagle Creek day pack that zips onto my travel back pack. The pair were my first packs, and the carry-on sized back pack still goes with me on most of our adventures. I know they make much better equipment now, but I can’t break up with her. The day pack itself is nothing special, and it doesn’t have a water bottle pocket.
So the features I’m looking for are:
- Medium size capacity – somewhere around 26 L, give or take.
- Light weight – as with my travel purses, I do not want a heavy day pack.
- Pockets – I definitely want a water bottle pocket and at least one external pocket in addition to the water bottle pocket.
- No hydration bladder capability needed.
Some Possible Day Pack Options
First, let me say that there are thousands of day pack options out there! Wow. I’m a little overwhelmed by the volume. And the prices vary wildly. So I focused in on a couple different options that intrigued me.
Osprey Day Packs
My husband’s hydration pack is an Osprey. Because of its size (larger than mine) he can use it as a day pack without the hydration bladder. I always liked the features it has. So I’m intrigued by the day packs that Osprey has in the non-hydration category. Osprey’s design has a nice slim form, so they don’t look bulky.
A smaller volume day pack (18 L) that comes with a built-in rain cover, which could be really vital when out in the rain. The side straps would also hold my hiking poles.
Another 18 L option with an incorporated rain cover and a front pocket that could be really handy for a cell phone, map, or other stuff you need to grab. I like this simple look.
This is only a 13 L pack, so a bit on the small side, but it weighs less than a pound. It would be a simple, slim day pack choice with lots of color options.
This is a 26 L day pack with some great features, like a detachable waist belt and a rain cover.
At 31 L it’s another larger option, but I like that despite the size it doesn’t look too bulky and has some nice front pocket options.
Another contender, this one a non-Osprey brand. But I have gotten a recommendation about its durability over a few years of hard use.
Packable Day Packs
I have to admit, I’m intrigued by these super lightweight day packs that can be folded up and kept in your luggage until you need it. If you don’t think you’ll need a day pack for your travel to or from your destination, these seem like a great option. Here are a couple that caught my eye.
This 35 L backpack weighs just 11.2 ounces. Probably a little more volume than I need, but a great packable option.
This is a 15 L capacity that only weighs 7.2 ounces. It folds up into a small pack.
There is a lot for me to ponder here. What do you think? Any other suggestions? I don’t have an urgent need for one at this moment, so when I finally decide and make the purchase I’ll let you know how it goes.