Best Daypack for Travel

by eslevy17

The best daypacks for world travel will take you on adventures around the world and never weigh you down. Pick one up and go explore!

World travel can be demanding, and quality adventure gear is essential. The best daypacks for travel should be lightweight, durable, functional, simple, and hopefully compressible, so they'll never hold you back.

So, what should you look for in the ultimate travel daypack? For such an essential piece of gear that might see everyday use, feel free to get particularly selective here. So check out some of the best options and get adventuring!

How to pick the best travel daypacks

And what makes it a travel daypack anyway?

Since millions of backpackers have altogether different definitions of what constitutes a "travel" pack, ranging in size, weight and complexity from streamlined minimalism to full-featured portable closets, the category of travel daypack is as broad as the backpackers who use them. Some will be suitable for ultralight adventures, while others will be thicker, tougher, and bursting with all sorts of clever features.

Travel daypacks fall into a few broad, semi-overlapping categories:

  • Ultralight, compressible, packable daypacks
  • Specialized travel daypacks
  • Specialized hiking backpacks

A few models might have features from a few different categories, since there are plenty of options available for all sorts of people (on top of regular school backpacks), but you'll likely pick from one of these types. Think about what sorts of features you need or enjoy, and plan accordingly. Things to look for include light weight and packability, water bottle pockets, multiple compartments, capacity, durability, and maybe some safety features.

Best Lightweight Packable Backpacks

Ultralight, compressible daypacks for ultralight travel

For the most serious of ultralight backpacking adventures, the only suitable options are ultralight, compressible daypacks that stuff into their own internal pockets, taking up about as much space and weight as a t-shirt. These disappear into the pack, yet unfold into full-sized, though often sparse, backpacks for day trips, or even weekend-long adventures.

You'll trade a bit of durability and structure for the weight and size reduction, but many of these packs will last for years even with unpleasant care, and they can effortlessly stuff into a larger pack, so you don't have to wear two packs at the same time as you wander around town.

One of the best overall choices is the ChicoBag Daypack, made from recycled materials, and featuring two side pockets, and an internal pocket, yet weighing about 6 ounces. It's one of the best balances of size, weight, features and price you're likely to find.

Other good choices are the Eagle Creek Packable Daypack, which is a little tougher, but with no water bottle pockets, and the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack, which is the absolute lightest pack you'll ever be able to find, at 2.4 ounces.

Patagonia and LL Bean offer more full-featured models for those who want lightweight packs without pushing the boundaries of minimalism too far.

Click below to shop for similar options and see more details.

Travel Daypacks from the Travel Industry

"Official" travel daypacks

Moving up in size and features, these packs are larger, but more full-featured than those listed above. They might not stuff into a larger pack as easily, but they'll offer more structure and durability.

So, what makes it a "travel" daypack? Generally the only differences between bags like these and those carried to school everyday are simply the brand names of the manufacturers, except in the case of Pacsafe, which offers anti-theft features such as steel-reinforced straps that can't be slashed, or lockable zippers. These are helpful for busy train stations or other situations where thieves look for tourists to rob, but of course offer no protection for leaving your bag unattended in a busy place.

Some of the biggest manufacturers are Eagle Creek and Pacsafe, which offer a range of products to suit all sorts of different needs, generally made with extremely durable materials to last for years or decades.

It's a good idea to compare these to the hiking-specific daypacks that offer similar features, but often include a more refined or supportive fit for all day-comfort, descended from decades of mountaineering design experience. This is especially helpful for people with smaller builds on lengthy day trips who want to avoid sore shoulders.

Hiking and Camping Travel Backpacks

Mountain-inspired outdoor daypacks

Plenty of hiking and mountaineering companies design daypacks that are perfectly usable for travel, can be found more easily than travel-specific packs, and are just as suitable for the rigors of international travel.

These packs offer similar features, though often include design elements that are preferable to a lot of international travelers, such as ventilated back panels, hydration sleeves, weather-resistant fabrics, a more refined fit for all-day comfort, and sometimes lighter weight. Many hiking daypacks are large enough to accommodate long-term travelers, but light enough to double as a day trip or weekend getaway pack when they're loaded only with the essentials, allowing backpackers to pack only one bag instead of two.

Some of the best hiking and mountaineering packs come from Osprey and Gregory, with plenty of options available, even including women-specific designs to accommodate female travelers, a feature generally unavailable in travel-specific packs.

Click the options below to view more choices to find something that suits your needs. Things to look for include pockets, hydration ports, weather resistance, ventilation, and weight.

Final Thoughts on Travel Daypacks

Last tips and comments

A couple other options exist for travel daypacks; school backpacks, and larger bags with detachable daypacks. The first option is perfectly fine, as school packs are often just as durable and functional as any other product.

Bags with detachable daypacks, however, are often far less convenient than they might appear to be. They are almost always found on extraordinarily large bags, which many backpackers feel obligated to fill, weighing themselves down with possessions they never use, and the zip-off feature adds unnecessary weight compared to a regular daypack that you might stuff inside a larger bag. It's not a terrible idea, but just remember that the all-in-one convenience generally comes at a price of significantly extra weight, which will inevitably become excruciatingly annoying when running to catch that last train.

So, with those final thoughts, pick out the best daypack for travel you can find, and then put it to good use adventuring all over the world. Have fun!

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Updated: 05/01/2012, eslevy17
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eslevy17 on 03/11/2012

Thank you! I always try to encourage people to go as light as possible.

Mladen on 03/11/2012

These daypacks are really useful for any travel, hiking or camping. It is important they have lots of space, but still to be light, and friendly to your back. Thank you for all these useful information on daypacks!

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