Daypack Buyers Guide: 8 Essential Features to Consider

Hiking can be a lot of fun. Even if you never venture into the backcountry, it is a good idea to bring some essential supplies with you in case something unexpected happens. One of the best ways to provide yourself with this access is to invest in a useful daypack.

This short daypack buyer’s guide will take you through the critical elements to evaluate when looking for the best possible product.

#1. Capacity

The ideal volume for a daypack is between 20L to 30L. Unless you’re going on a ski tour or hiking to an alpine summit, this is enough space to pack your essentials.

#2. Ventilation

Daypacks should offer ventilated panels that prevent your back from developing a lot of sweat. Look for a tensioned design that comes into contact with the body, keeping some air between you and what you’re carrying.

#3. Convenience

If you want more convenience with your daypack, then you’ll be carrying more weight. You will always carry the base weight of the product, no matter what you pack into it. Starting off with a lightweight option might eliminate some organization features, but it will also save your shoulders and back after a long day on the trail.

#4. Loading 

Daypacks offer panel loading or top loading as their primary access point. Top-loading models tend to be lighter, while panel-loading packs offer more features and pockets. A good rule of thumb here is to limit the number of zippers used for the pack because closures are more durable and will let you get more life out of the product.

#5. Rain Covers

Most daypacks don’t include rain covers. If you live somewhere that experiences precipitation frequently (or plan to travel to a location like this), then it’s an investment worth considering. This option covers the body of your pack, ensuring that the contents you’ve brought stay dry during your hike.

#6. Shape and Fit

The ideal daypack sits close to your hips, fitting along your back to stay on your weight-bearing bones. It should not put pressure on your lower back at all. Look for packs that offer adjustments to create comfort for everyone at some level. Remember that you’re not carrying this product – you’re wearing it.

#7. Outside Clips

Some daypacks come with clip areas where you can affix water bottles or other essentials with a standard carabiner. There may be elastic straps or pockets for some tools, like a hammer or pickaxe, depending on the hiking you plan to do. Match up the demands of the trails you’d like to explore with the features of the pack to ensure you get the results needed.

#8. Material

Daypacks are made from canvas, rip-stop nylon, or other durable materials. Think about the environment where you’ll be, then match the demands there with what the exterior of the pack provides. 

The best daypacks will provide you with support and storage while you go exploring. Whether you hike, climb, or ski, this is the product you’ll want to take along with you. 

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