The Best Hiking Daypacks of 2023: Unveiling the Finest Gear for Outdoor Adventures

CEO Tam DT
Are you ready to take your hiking experience to the next level? If you're in the market for a new hiking daypack, you're in luck. We've scoured the market to bring you the top contenders...

Are you ready to take your hiking experience to the next level? If you're in the market for a new hiking daypack, you're in luck. We've scoured the market to bring you the top contenders for the best hiking daypacks of 2023. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just starting out, finding the right backpack is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable outdoor adventure.

How We Chose the Best Hiking Daypacks

Our team of experts has decades of hiking and backpacking experience under their belts. We've tested numerous daypacks from reputable manufacturers and emerging brands to ensure that we bring you the most reliable and high-quality options. From short day hikes to longer expeditions, we've put these packs through their paces in a variety of conditions and terrains.

Hiking Daypacks Clockwise from top left: Gregory Zulu, Mystery Ranch Coulee, CamelBak Rimrunner, Osprey Syncro, Exped Splash, Black Diamond Trail Zip, and Matador Freerain. (Image: Laura Lancaster)

The Top Picks for the Best Hiking Daypacks

After extensive testing, we've narrowed down our selection to the following top contenders:

Most Comfortable: Mystery Ranch Coulee

  • Capacity: 30 liters
  • Weight: 43 ounces
  • Support: Full
  • Not waterproof; no provided raincover

The Mystery Ranch Coulee takes the crown for its exceptional comfort and thoughtful design. With great padding along the hips and shoulders, this pack ensures a comfortable fit even on longer hikes. Its unique zipper system allows for easy access and efficient packing.

Mystery Ranch Coulee The Mystery Ranch Coulee zips open both horizontally and vertically, making it easy to find anything in your pack before closing it back up again. (Image: Laura Lancaster)

Best for Families: Gregory Zulu

  • Capacity: 30 liters
  • Weight: 43 ounces
  • Support: Full
  • Not waterproof; no provided raincover

If you're hiking with the whole family, the Gregory Zulu is the perfect choice. With its large capacity and excellent adjustability, it can accommodate gear for everyone. Its ample exterior pockets make it easy to stay organized on the trail.

Best for Small Loads: Black Diamond Trail Zip

  • Capacity: 14 liters
  • Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Support: Minimal
  • Not waterproof; no provided raincover

When it comes to light and fast hikes, the Black Diamond Trail Zip is the go-to daypack. Despite its compact size, it offers surprising comfort and durability. Its clever design includes features like protected side storage for trekking poles and a separate zip pocket for small items.

Best Minimalist: Exped Splash 15

  • Capacity: 15 liters
  • Weight: 3.7 ounces
  • Support: Minimal
  • Waterproof

For those who prefer a minimalist approach, the Exped Splash 15 is the perfect choice. This lightweight and waterproof daypack is ideal for shorter outings when you need to carry just the essentials. Its compact design doesn't compromise on capacity or durability.

Best Frameless: Matador Freerain

  • Capacity: 22 liters
  • Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Support: Minimal
  • Waterproof

If you're looking for a lightweight and packable daypack, the Matador Freerain is your best bet. Despite its lack of a supportive back panel, this pack offers surprising comfort and ample storage. Its waterproof construction ensures that your gear stays dry in any weather.

Best for Sweaty Hikers: Osprey Syncro

  • Capacity: 12 liters
  • Weight: 28 ounces
  • Support: Moderate
  • Integrated raincover

For hikers who tend to work up a sweat, the Osprey Syncro is the ideal choice. Its ventilated back panel allows for airflow, reducing moisture buildup and enhancing comfort. With its ample storage options and integrated rain cover, this pack is a great companion for all-day hikes.

Best with Hydration: CamelBak Rim Runner

  • Capacity: 22 liters
  • Weight: 28 ounces
  • Support: Moderate
  • Not waterproof; no provided raincover

Staying hydrated on the trail is crucial, and the CamelBak Rim Runner has you covered. This pack comes with the CamelBak Crux, known for being one of the best hydration bladders for hiking. With its dedicated hydration sleeve and multiple storage options, it's perfect for staying refreshed on your outdoor adventures.

Best Backpack Cooler: Hydroflask Day Escape

  • Capacity: 20 liters
  • Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Support: Minimal
  • Waterproof

For those who enjoy a refreshing drink on their hikes, the Hydroflask Day Escape is the ultimate backpack cooler. Its comfortable design and waterproof construction make it a top pick for carrying your favorite beverages while keeping them chilled. With its extra mesh pocket, you can conveniently store small items on the go.

Best for Travel: Mountain Hardwear Redeye 45

  • Capacity: 45 liters
  • Weight: 50 ounces
  • Support: Full
  • Not waterproof

If your adventures take you beyond day hikes, the Mountain Hardwear Redeye 45 is the perfect travel companion. With its spacious capacity and well-padded support, it's designed for comfort and convenience. Its thoughtful features, such as a dedicated pocket with a flap and quick access zippers, make it an excellent choice for any type of travel.

Best Budget: Decathlon Quechua MH500

  • Capacity: 20 liters
  • Weight: 39 ounces
  • Support: Full
  • Integrated raincover

If you're on a budget but still want a reliable daypack, the Decathlon Quechua MH500 is the answer. Despite its affordable price point, it doesn't compromise on features. With its padded hip belt, ventilated back panel, and integrated rain cover, it offers excellent value for money.

How to Choose the Best Hiking Daypack

When selecting a hiking daypack, there are several factors to consider:

Capacity

Choose a daypack that can comfortably accommodate your essential gear. Smaller packs are lighter and more comfortable, while larger packs offer more storage options.

Support

Consider the level of support you need based on the weight of your typical load. Look for features like adjustable shoulder straps, hip belts, and back panels to ensure a comfortable fit.

Pockets

While pockets can be handy for organization, too many can add unnecessary weight. Consider your personal preference and choose a pack with the right balance of pockets for your needs.

Waterproofness

If you'll be hiking in wet conditions, opt for a waterproof or water-resistant daypack. Otherwise, consider purchasing a rain cover to protect your gear.

Why Trust Outdoor Life?

Outdoor Life has a rich history of over a century in evaluating outdoor gear. Our team of experienced outdoor enthusiasts and trained journalists thoroughly test and review products to provide you with unbiased and reliable recommendations. We prioritize field testing and objective data to ensure that our reviews are trustworthy and informative.

In Conclusion

Finding the best hiking daypack can greatly enhance your outdoor adventures. Whether you prioritize comfort, versatility, or budget-friendliness, there's a perfect pack for you. Choose one of our top picks and hit the trails with confidence, knowing you have the best gear by your side. Happy hiking!

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