Looking for a backpack that you can use on your commute, short trips, or weekend getaways — or as a secondary bag while you’re traveling? Then we have some great recommendations for you.
After compiling our popular guide to the best travel backpacks I set my sights on the best daypacks. One challenge with selecting this list is that people use daypacks for widely different purposes and trips. They’re also, I think, much more a matter of taste than with general backpacks. The following are daypacks I’ve used myself or that I hand-picked for this round-up.
1. Herschel Little America Backpack
Classic backpack with modern features
Canadian manufacturer Herschel creates backpacks with hipster retro look. Despite the classic look of the Little America Backpack, it has modern features such as a laptop sleeve (up to 15″), headphone cord access, comfy padded mesh back, and easy-to-access main compartment. (The classic straps look amazing but, shhh, they are just for show as they actually snap into place with little magnets!)
Although the Herschel bag doesn’t have that much internal organization, it does have a lovely striped internal lining. It’s a stylish option that comes in many colors and is often seen in travel Instagrams.
2. Osprey Daylite Travel
A great daypack for travel and outdoors
I’m usually a fan of Osprey’s bags — I’ve reviewed many on this site — and the Daylite Travel is no exception. Since Osprey’s roots are in making hiking gear, this daypack has an especially comfortable harness with a chest strap, hip belt strap, and two compression straps included. It has a protected sleeve for a laptop or tablet, and a pouch on top for sunglasses or other sensitive items.
This is a great daypack for if you’re going backpacking around the world but also nice on trips that may involve a little hiking. If you already have other Osprey gear, it may be compatible with the Daylite Travel. For example, it can clip to the front of an Osprey Farpoint Trek or Fairview Trek for a turtle-shell-style carry of two bags at the same time, as well as attaching to the back.
3. Patagonia Arbor Classic Pack 25L
The best daypack that’s sustainably made
These packs made of recycled plastics have a classic look while having everything you need to keep your gear organized, with zipped compartments as well as a laptop sleeve. At 25L, the Arbor Classic Pack is quite spacious and could be used for weekend trips as well. It comes in six different color treatments.
Patagonia not only makes great travel gear, but you’ve got to give a tip of the hat to their company philosophy which focuses hugely on sustainability, conservation, and social responsibility. Their travel gear is known to be highly durable, while the company also promotes repair over replacement and has a trade-in system for used gear.
4. Tortuga Setout Divide
26L everyday pack that expands to 35L
The Tortuga Setout Divide is ideal for carrying electronics, documents, and travel gear. I currently use it as my city commute bag. It looks great, and it’s great to use too. One of the coolest things is its accordion-like design, allowing you to increase its size if needed from 26L (best for day-to-day use) to 35L (good for short trips).
The included hip belt may be overkill for daily use, but you can easily detach it. With the main compartment expanded, light packer can fit even a week’s worth of clothes inside, and the dimensions are easily within airline carry-on restrictions. This makes the Setout Divide usable as a daypack but also as a (small) carry-on.
The only minor flaw are the zippers which aren’t entirely weather-sealed (wilderness adventurers may wish for a bag with maybe some YKK Stormguard zippers). Otherwise, this bag is rather versatile.
5. Peak Design Everyday Bags V2
Amazing daypack perfect for photographers
I’ve used the 20L version of the Peak Design Everyday Bag and it’s by far my top recommendation for techies and photographers. It’s been created with complete accessibility in mind, letting you access your stuff either through the top or via zips on both sides. Inside you can customize the space using modular walls. This is designed with storing camera lenses in mind but can be used for other purposes as well.
Yes, this bag is a bit pricier than others, but it’s got a billion clever features, such as hidden straps and magnetic pouches. It’s worth watching some YouTube videos to learn about everything it can do. The V2 was released at the end of 2019, iterating on the original design and adding several new color options. (Pictured above is my older V1.)
This is the closest thing to a Swiss Army Knife of daily carry backpacks. It’s got a bit of a techy look and a lot to love if you’re a photographer on the go. It can easily fit a mirrorless camera with several lenses and even a small drone, with plenty of space for accessories as well.
6. AER Fit Pack 2
A daypack + gym bag combination
If you’re looking for a minimalistic daypack that is also multifunctional, the AER Fit Pack 2 is an excellent choice. It’s designed to be both a gym bag and an office bag, but it can equally serve you well for city or general travel. The zipper down the middle may be a little theft-sensitive so this main compartment is best used for storing clothes, not valuables. That said, the inner compartment is nice and secure, offering space for plenty of travel accessories or electronics.
7. Osprey 24/Seven Series
Wide range of outdoor daypacks
If none of the above daypacks have yet tickled your fancy, I recommend taking a look at Osprey’s extensive line of everyday and commute backpacks, each with different features focusing on a different kind of use.
Their 24/Seven product line has 10 different variations (some unisex, some specifically male/female), of which I’ve reviewed the Tropos 32. What all of the models have in common is that they feature a wealth of compartments and storage options, all have nicely padded back panels, and all feature padded laptop sleeves and LED light attachments.
The Tropos (male) and Talia (female) backpacks also have another neat feature: a kickstand that ensures that if you put the bag down on the ground or on a desk, it won’t tip over. Although it adds a bit of rigidity to the design, I like this feature a lot.
If you count all the different color versions then there are actually 37 (!) variants of the 24/Seven backpacks, so chances are that at least one of the configurations will appeal to you.
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