How to Choose the Best Travel Daypack (Tips, Advice & Guide)

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Having the best travel daypack is a necessity for any traveler, no matter whether you’re hiking across snow-capped mountains or sunning it up on tropical islands.

There are a lot of options to choose from, and there is a daypack for every type of traveler out there. When deciding which is the best travel daypack for you, you are going to want to consider where you are traveling to, what the weather is like, how you are traveling, and what you actually might need to carry around with you on day trips or as you stroll through the city.

Will you be getting rained on? Do you have cameras or laptops to carry? Are you going to be hiking? There’s a lot to think about, but picking the best travel daypack can make your trip run just that little bit smoother.

To help you to make your choice, here’s our guide to the best travel daypacks on the market today.

How to Choose the Best Travel Daypack for You

What are your travel plans?

Best Travel Daypack

Firstly, you’ll need to think about what your travel plans are because automatically you can rule out many different styles or designs of a daypack that will be unsuitable for your particular needs.

If you are traveling long term, then you might have your travel daypack in addition to your main luggage, meaning you can have a smaller, more versatile day bag. If you are only traveling short term, the best travel daypack could also double as your main bag, but you might need a few more features.

Think about your environment, will it be humid, icy, tropical, or desert-like. Are you hiking, are you in urban environments, are you a photographer? These can all have important implications on the material, the number of compartments you need to store your gear and more.

The Top 5 Travel Daypacks 

Best Carry on BackpacksOsprey Porter 46 Backpack
- 3 lbs
- 23"H x 15"W x 13"D
- Comes in Black, Red, Grey, Teal
- 4.7 Rating out of 5
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Vanguard Alta Sky 45D Camera Backpack
- 4 lbs
- 12.25 x 9.0 x 19.5"
- Laptop Storage
- Side pockets for water bottles
- Lifetime Warranty
- 4.8 Rating out of 5
Check Price
Vitchelo 30L Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack
- 2.5 lbs
- 26.8 x 12.6 x 7.1 inches
- Side pockets for water bottles
- Truly Waterproof
- Extremely portable
- 4.7 Rating out of 5
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Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack
- 10.4 ounces
- 17 x 9 x 7 inches
- Packs down into its own carrying case. Built-in storage pocket
- Side pockets for water bottles
- Pockets: 3 exterior
- 4.7 Rating out of 5
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Best Carry on BackpacksPacsafe Venturesafe Exp45 Backpack
- 3.81 lbs
- 21.65"H x 13.78"W x 8.66"D
- Comes in Black or Blue
- 4.8 Rating out of 5
Check Price

Quick Answer: Best Travel Daypack

Things to Consider When Choosing A Travel Daypack


Sea lion pup with David Stock in the Galapagos Islands

By now, you should have a good idea of what you need to actually store in your travel day pack, and now you can start thinking about the sort of size that would be most appropriate for your trip.

The best travel daypack can come in a range of sizes, but most brands will conform to standard sizing using liters as the best estimate of the total capacity.

The total capacity though doesn’t give you an idea of the bulk of the bag or how small it will fold down, and this is another consideration to take into account, especially if you plan on packing it away when it’s not in use.

Larger capacities may not necessarily be suitable for a daypack, however, if you are planning on attempting lots of day hikes or you have a lot of specialist gear to carry around, then you may want to look at the larger end of the spectrum, particularly if you might only have one bag for your travels, that will act as both a daypack and as a carry on if you are flying.

The smallest sized day packs can be tiny enough to pack away entirely inside a larger backpack, or even in your pocket, however, these are never that durable or resilient and are only suitable for carrying smaller loads on your day out.

Good quality daypacks are generally sized at 20 liters or above, with anything larger than 30 liters being considered more than a daypack as such, but still capable of being used as one, especially if you have lots of gear.

Material and Durability

Hiking the Lavena Coastal Walk in Fiji

The material your bag is made from and the quality of its design will play an important role in selecting the best travel daypack, particularly so if you want it to last.

In general, you are better off investing in higher quality materials than poorly made, cheaper bags, as you will save money in the long run. This is particularly true if you have specialist equipment such as camera lenses to store in the daypack or if you want to take on long day hikes, and don’t want any malfunctions.

Hiking companies make great, lightweight daypacks that are also rugged and durable, ensuring that you get both a decent size capacity and can fold it away later.

If you have a laptop, you’ll want a material that is shockproof, or at the very least can stand a few knocks, while if you are traveling long term, you might want to consider daypacks that are stab-proof, slash-proof and made from theft-resistant material.

Regardless of where you are traveling to and when, a quality, versatile bag will need to give you at least some protection against rain, as you never know when it might take a turn for the worse.

Even if your bag is not fully watertight, the best travel daypack will at the very least have the capacity for a rain cover to keep the worst away.

If you have lots of electronics and are going to be near water – if you are island hopping or sailing perhaps – then you could even think about purchasing a fully waterproof, dry bag to keep everything safe when you are day tripping.


Hiker in Kyrgyzstan

Straps are another important aspect to look at, and you’ll quickly realize that daypacks can come with a wide range and variety of straps. The first thing to note is that the comfort of the straps can be a deciding factor for anyone.

If you are walking lots or hiking, you want the comfiest fit you can get and the option to extend and loosen the straps easily while on the move. Many daypacks intended for outdoor use also come with chest and waist harnesses, that allow you to take the load off your shoulders and walk for longer, in more comfort.

To be certain that the bag you are looking at is the best travel daypack for you, then you will want to try it on for size, and to make sure that the straps work well for you.


Ice caves in Juneau, Alaska

The number of pockets or compartments that a daypack has can be vital to its versatility and usefulness, and may well be a big deciding factor in your ultimate purchasing choice. This is particularly relevant for hikers and anyone needing to carry camera gear or electronics.

Many bags come with built-in laptop pouches, generally at the back, offering you a safe and padded place to store your devices.

For many, a water bottle holder on the outside of the daypack can be important, allowing you to easily reach your drink bottle when you are either out hiking or walking through the city.

Camera enthusiasts will want daypacks that have padded interiors and dividing partitions that can be moved around. This allows them to organize their gear for easy access when on the job.

Likewise, travelers may want to have secure inside pockets to hold anything from pens and notepads to hiding passports and spare cash away from sight. Pockets can make or break a bag, so make sure you get the set up that you need for your travels and activities.

Best Types of Travel Daypacks and Product Recommendations

There are some great travel daypacks on the market, from small, foldaway bags to padded camera bags and rugged hiking packs. Here are a few great options to consider.

Hiking Mount Roberts in Juneau, Alaska

Hiking Bags

Best Travel Daypack

Hiking bags come in a range of different capacities with a whole array of possible compartments, straps, and accessories to add.

They can be the most versatile option for travelers looking for a daypack that will last – potentially years – and that can be used in any situation, from touring around museums to intense day hikes.

Some great hiking bags to consider are the range produced by Osprey, who offers an incredible lifetime guarantee. Although they aren’t the cheapest, they are designed and manufactured from quality, lightweight material that will last forever.

The Osprey Talon is a great example of a small hiking day bag coming in at 22 liters in a capacity where if you are looking for something a little larger look at the Osprey Farpoint that offers 30-40 liters in compacity. 

Our Top 3 Recommended Hiking Daypacks:

Foldaway Bags

Best Travel Daypack

Although a foldaway bag will never be able to compete with a more traditional, and sturdy daypack, it does have the advantage of size or lack thereof.

Foldaway bags are perfect for light travelers, who want to keep their weight as low as possible, or for those travelers who might just need an additional pack to stow a few extra souvenirs away in.

Again, Osprey makes a great little foldaway stuff sack that expands to 18 liters, while Sea to Summit makes high quality, foldable pack that reaches 20 liters in capacity. 

Our Top 3 Recommended Foldable Daypacks:

Camera Bags

Best Travel Daypack

Photographers have a great range of sturdy daypacks that will protect their camera gear, lenses and have compartments for batteries, memory cards, tablets, drones, and laptops too.

Many of these are designed with travel in mind, including the excellent Vanguard Alta camera Travel Backpack, which can store almost anything and keep it safe.

Our Top 3 Recommended Camera Daypacks:

Waterproof Daypacks

Best Travel Daypack

Waterproof daypacks are a great addition to any travel arsenal, giving you the ability to keep your kit dry in the worst of situations. Perfect for beaches, boat trips or any hiking in storms or snow, there are some excellent options out on the market.

Our Top 3 Recommended Waterproof Daypacks:

For the photographers: The Lowepro Dryzone is a bag that’s aimed at photographers, and is completely waterproof, and even has the ability to float.

Other Great Daypacks:

Other Travel Items We Love:

Not finding what you are looking for? Check out our favorite places to go shopping for travel gear.

  • Shop Columbia – The industry leader in outdoor apparel and products; You can find anything from great jackets, gloves, hats, shirts, and travel pants.
  • Shop REI – They offer some of the best outdoor gear around. We love REI since they have a year Love it or hate it no questions guarantee.
  • Shop Moosejaw – Has a huge selection of outdoor gear at killer prices.

More on Travel Gear:

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About David Stock

I have always been an outdoorsman so becoming an adventure traveler was just the next natural step. I love nature, I love to get off the beaten path and I like to explore. I enjoy scuba diving and cars. And yes, Lina and I have a naked dog.

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