Best daypacks and mini-backpacks for hiking 2022

Planning a day hike and need something compact and uber-practical to pack in all your essentials? You’ll want to keep reading for Country Living‘s pick of the best daypacks and mini-backpacks for hiking.

A good daypack allows you to carry everything you need while out exploring the coast or country – from your water bottle to hand sanitiser and a snood to your waterproof jacket. It’s not just about having your gear close at hand either, as you’ll want something that feels lightweight and comfortable on your hips and shoulders throughout your adventures.

What is a daypack, or mini-backpack?

A daypack is essentially a small version of a backpack that’s large enough for you to carry the things you need for a short hike, lasting less than a day. They’re smaller than the large backpacking packs you’d use for multi-day treks and are easy to pack inside these larger packs or a suitcase.

What is a good size for a daypack or mini-backpack?

A daypack can come in any size between 10 and 35 litres, giving you enough space to carry what you need for a few hours of walking. A 20-litre daypack is the ideal size if you’re after one with a large enough interior that’s comfortable to wear too. Berghaus’ Twentyfourseven daypack, for example, offers 20 litres of space, giving you plenty of space to fit large items in the main compartment and smaller belongings, like your camera, wallet and compass, in the zipped pocket at the front.

What should you look for in a quality daypack or mini-backpack?

A good daypack or mini-backpack will most importantly feel comfortable to wear during your hikes. While many are available as unisex styles, you might want to consider a specific men or women’s design. Daypacks for women have narrower and curvier shoulder straps, as well as shorter, slimmer packs to fit smaller and narrower bodies.

Whether you’re buying a men’s, women’s or unisex daypack, you’ll want to consider one that offers padding on the shoulder straps and a sternum strap across the shoulder straps to keep them in place and relieve some of the strain on your shoulders. A mini-backpack with a hip belt is also useful for spreading the weight of the pack.

Most daypacks and mini-backpacks will feature a main compartment and zipped pockets for you to store smaller items. Other handy features to look out for include grab handles on the top, bike helmet or walking pole attachments and daypacks with an airflow system at the back for ventilation.

Many brands are now producing their daypacks from sustainable materials, such as Osprey, which uses recycled high-tenacity nylon, an ideal feature if the eco-friendliness of your hiking gear is as important as the quality.

What are the best daypacks and mini-backpacks to buy in 2021?

Country Living has rounded up the best daypacks to buy right now from brands including The North Face, Lowe Alpine, Patagonia and Montane. Check out the best lightweight, sustainable, small and durable designs.


Best unisex North Face daypack that lasts

The North Face Borealis 28 Liter Backpack

Hikers say this North Face daypack has “served them well” for years and is a go-to mini-backpack for all kinds of use – from commuting to hiking adventures. The Borealis offers 28 litres of space and is roomy enough for extra hiking layers and a packed lunch, as well as you laptop.

The hip belt and sternum strap offer extra comfort when hiking with a heavy load and the padded, air mesh back panel ensures it is comfortable whatever the season. One reviewer says: “Bought this bag for a trip to Uganda 12 months ago. The bag has all the compartments you need, it can take a hammering and with a quick wash, looks brand new.”


Best small unisex daypack

Patagonia Altvia Pack 14L

Ideal for those who don’t need to pack the kitchen sink, this small daypack from Patagonia offers 14 liters of space for you to stash the necessities. If you want to move quickly and comfortably, the beautiful Altvia is worth checking out.

It’s made of rugged 100 per cent recycled nylon, features highly breathable Regulator air mesh shoulder straps and has suspended mesh back panel construction for excellent airflow. A rain cover is included and it perfectly holds your water bottle and walking poles for easy access.


Best unisex daypack for fast-paced hikes

Lowe Alpine AirZone Active 22L Daypack

Loved for its “smart looking design” and air flow design that keeps your back cool and dry, Lowe Alpine’s 22-litre AirZone Daypack is ideal for fast-paced hiking trips. Its suspended mesh back panel creates a reliable ventilation space between the back and pack for rapid dispersal of moisture in high-sweat conditions.

The daypack is built from robust ripstop nylon with a HydroShield weatherproof coating. The TipGripper walking pole attachments, sternum strap with whistle, stretch mesh side pockets and integrated rain cover make it ideal for serious hikers. One happy hiker says the AirZone Active is “really light and the frame keeps my back so much cooler”.


Best multi-use unisex daypack

Osprey Archeon 24

For a mini-backpack you can use around town and on day hikes, look no further than Osprey’s unisex Archeon 24. The answer to sustainable, modern adventures, the 24-litre daypack is made from durable, recycled materials and is ideal for long walks , as well as commuting or city use, with its padded interior laptop sleeve.

The design features clean lines for a stylish daypack with practical features including the adjustable back panel for ventilation, the removable webbing hip belt and the sternum strap with emergency whistle.


Best lightweight unisex daypack

Montane Mezzo 22 Backpack

At 510g, Montane’s Mezzo 22-litre mini-backpack is one of the lightest daypacks you’ll come across. It’s super-functional, offering options to expand and overload the pack, while providing extreme comfort from the ergonomic padded shoulder straps and highly breathable air mesh back panel. The front zipped pocket gives easy access and there’s an open front stash pocket with stretch side panels that’s ideal for popping in your waterproof jacket.

One happy shopper says: “This is a cracking daysack. I’ve been shopping around for something in its class (for general use and commuting) and think that compared to similar products, the materials and finish are the best I’ve come across .”


Best classic-style unisex daypack

Vango Trail 35 Daysack

The Vango Trail 35-liter daypack comes in a classic backpack style with its side pockets and vintage colours. It takes Vango’s illustrious outdoor heritage and channels it into a design that’s modern and functional, featuring premium fabrics and components.

From the durable fabric and the strong, reliable aluminum buckles, to the adjustable harness for optimum fit and the walking poles attachment, the Trail offers a whole host of features for hikers. We love the bright orange, detachable rain cover found in the base of the pack to keep it dry and visible.


Best affordable unisex daypack

Berghaus Twentyfourseven 20 Rucksack

Berghaus’ Twentyfourseven 20-liter daypack is an all-round design. It’s affordable, a great size, comfortable and durable. The daypack offers plenty of storage solutions for all your gear and boasts a vented foam back system so you can avoid sweaty back situations.

The mini-backpack, which weighs 420g, has received glowing reviews, with one satisfied customer saying: “This bag is perfect for a short wandering in the hills. Enough room for food, waterproofs and water.”


Best women’s daypack for versatility

Osprey Tempest 20

Want a daypack or mini-backpack for women that you can wear comfortably on day hikes and biking adventures? Osprey’s Tempest 20 is a great all-round solution, with its continuous wrap harness and hip belt, as well as a breathable, close body-fit back panel.

The 20-litre daypack is lightweight and made from recycled high-tenacity nylon, while ideal for multiple sports, including hiking and biking. The backpack features attachments for trekking poles, an ice ax and a bike helmet.


Best body-hugging daypack for women

Montane Women’s Trailblazer 24

A close-fitting, lightweight daypack with a women’s specific fit, the Montane Women’s Trailblazer 24 was built for long hikes or trail runs in the mountains. Designed for mountain trails, where low weight, stability and quick access to your kit is essential, it’s one for the most active of hikers.

The daypack’s COVALENT harness offers a customisable, body-hugging fit, stabilizing your load without restricting movement. The 25-litre space and multitude of pockets offers easy enough room and access to hydration, food and kit while you’re on the move.

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