The best daypacks for travel come in all shapes and sizes and vary wildly in price. What constitutes “the best” is different for each person, meaning choosing the right one can be difficult and stressful.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of the top daypacks on the market today.
It covers everything from good daypacks for hiking to supremely fashionable daypacks that will look awesome on your back.
Plus you’ll find everything in between, we’re talking large daypacks, minimalist daypacks, foldable daypacks, and daypacks with seemingly endless compartments.
There’s definitely one here for you, regardless of your requirements, price limitations, or style of travel.
Best Daypacks for Travel Quick List
How to Choose the Best Daypacks for Travel
There are numerous factors to consider when selecting the best daypacks for travel. Ultimately it comes down to personal choice and your individual needs.
That said, here’s what we’d recommend you look out for above all else.
The best daypacks for travel need to be able to fit everything you tend to take with you on a day out exploring. Obviously this is different for each person.
But generally, somewhere between 15 and 30 litres is ideal, with 15 being compact and 30 being pretty spacious.
Capacity is something you really need to think about though because so many daypack reviews are full of size complaints. But they shouldn’t be, because you should know beforehand what capacity you’re buying.
Maybe you’re someone that likes to travel light at all times. You probably simply want something to throw your phone, keys and maybe a lightweight jacket in. Go for something on the lower capacity end.
But maybe you’re the kind of person to take everything and the kitchen sink with you “just in case”. And then pick up souvenirs along the way. You’re gonna need something larger.
And remember, it’s always better to have a bit of extra space than too little.
The daypacks on this list range from uber-minimalist to verging on James Bond-levels of sophistication.
What kind of organisational features you should opt for will depend on two things. Your personality and your gear.
Are you the kind of person who needs everything to be in its own place, neatly tucked away? There’s definitely a bag for you.
Or perhaps you’re just a chuck-it-all-in-and-go kinda person? Well lay off on the pockets and compartments because they’ll get in your way and simply go unused.
No one wants to drop a load of cash on a cool daypack only for it to disintegrate after a few uses.
The very name ‘daypack’ suggest that it’s gonna get a lot of use on a daily basis. For that reason it needs to be able to withstand whatever you throw at it.
All of the daypacks on this list are made of high quality, long-lasting materials. Many have special features like being tear-proof or double fabric in susceptible areas.
Durability simply isn’t something you want to compromise on when choosing a travel daypack. So rest assured, these are the best daypacks for travel of any kind.
Obviously there are very few people that want to intentionally be trudging through the rain carrying a daypack.
But bad weather happens, and often you just can’t avoid getting caught in it. Because of this, you want your bag to be able to hold up when the elements conspire against you.
Unfortunately there are actually very few great daypacks which are fully waterproof. There’s a pay off with the materials it would require because they’re not necessarily suitable for daypacks.
However, the best daypacks for travel tend to have some measure of water resistance. For most people this is sufficient as it will buy you anywhere up to a couple of hours.
This is usually enough to get somewhere dry and stop your valuables inside getting damaged.
If you know you’re not going to be travelling in rain then water resistance doesn’t matter so much. But let’s face it, there are very few places on earth where you don’t have at least the possibility of getting caught in a shower.
This is even more important if you’re going to be carrying electricals like an expensive laptop in your daypack.
When your travelling somewhere unfamiliar the last thing you want is to ruin it by being preoccupied about your stuff. Or worse, actually having your gear nicked.
Because of this, security in a daypack is an important feature for many travellers.
Some daypacks are specifically anti theft, and this is what you should probably go for if you’re a big worrier.
But at the very least you want to be able to trust that your daypack won’t make it easy for opportunistic thieves to pilfer your valuables.
That means good zippers and fastenings and hard to enter pockets at the very minimum.
Obviously the most effective tool you have in keeping your valuables safe is your vigilance and concentration. But the best daypacks for travel also give you peace of mind to just enjoy your trip.
Depending on where you’re going and the type of trip you’re taking, the weight of your daypack could be important.
But regardless of where you’re going or what you’re doing, nobody wants to be lugging around extra weight unnecessarily.
That said, the more minimalist your backpack, the less features and generally less comfortable it will be. Particularly with heavy loads and for long durations.
This is because the benefit of heavier bags is that the weight tends to be in more padding. That’s thicker shoulder straps, the inclusion of sternum and possibly weight straps, and padded backs.
You might also get a bit more structure which can be vital for comfort.
The lightest bags aren’t necessarily intended to be used day in day out for long periods. Bear this in mind when selecting which of these is the best travel daypack for you.
Quite often a travel daypack isn’t necessarily for constant use. Many people want one that they can chuck in their main backpack or suitcase and just retrieve when needed.
The best option for this is a packable daypack. They’re made from super light but durable materials and tend to be quite minimalist in design.
Many of them fold down to the size of a sandwich and they weigh virtually nothing.
You shouldn’t expect them to be the most suitable for wearing over long periods of time or carrying large loads. This is because to make them packable they strip out all of the bulk.
This invariably means virtually no padding and often means limited organisational features. However, the best foldable daypacks for travel are still comfortable and extremely practical.
They’re fantastic for impromptu instances of souvenir or grocery shopping. You can literally put one in your pocket when you’re heading out and unfurl it when you need to.
These are also great lightweight daypacks for hiking shorter distances so you don’t need to take your large backpack with you.
Whether you’re looking for a foldable daypack or one with numerous bulky elements, it needs to be comfortable.
There are quite a few details that go into making the best daypacks for travel as comfortable as can be.
The straps are clearly vital as that’s what’s going to hold most of the weight. Padding is also one aspect of comfort, though not necessarily the be all and end all.
Another consideration should be airflow. Nobody wants the embarrassment of removing their backpack only to reveal sweaty marks where it’s been touching your body.
Mesh fabrics, airflow channels and structured panels can all help to keep you cool. If your travels will take you to warm climes then this is definitely something you should think about.
If you’re just looking for the most functional daypack on the market then ignore this section.
But there are plenty of travellers out there who like to look and feel good no matter where they are. And would happily compromise on comfort as a consequence.
We believe there’s a sweet spot where form meets functionality which all of the best daypacks for travel hit. There’s no need to look like a tool or to kill your back. You can have both.
That’s why you’ll only find cool daypacks on this list. Sure, some of them lean more in one direction than the other. But rest assured, none of these fashionable daypacks will draw unwanted stares.
The Best Daypacks for Travel
With all that in mind, let’s get down to it. Here’s our overall top rated daypacks for travelling abroad with.
Capacity: 20 litres
Weight: 0.45 kg, 1 lb
Weather proofing: Water resistant
Originally, Osprey’s Daylite range was designed simply as an accessory to their larger travel backpacks. They attach to the back of many of the brand’s models, allowing wearers to essentially carry two bags in one.
But Osprey soon realised that they had created one of the best daypacks for travel in its own right. It’s one of the most popular on the market.
It’s a fantastic daypack for everyday use and suitable for a wide range of activities thanks to its versatility.
Whether you’re headed to the beach or taking on a challenging hike, the Osprey Daylite Plus is a great choice.
It’s a super simple but well thought out design. There’s a large main compartment which has a padded interior sleeve that’s perfect for a medium sized laptop or tablet. On the back there’s also a separate hydration bladder compartment.
On the front you’ll find a separate grab-pocket with a mesh organiser and key clip inside. It’s perfect for throwing all your small items that you need to be easily accessible like phones, wallets or passport.
The Daylite Plus also features a stretch pocket on the front which is useful to chuck something like a rain jacket into. This also has its own zippered grab-pocket on its front too.
The padded mesh-covered straps and back panel mean it’s super comfortable to carry and also provide good ventilation.
High quality YKK zippers with attached loop pulls mean the zips are smooth and durable.
While the sternum strap and hipbelt are a welcome inclusion, they’re quite flimsy and thin. They’re fine for tightly securing the daypack to your body but not the most comfortable.
The mesh side pockets are not great to say the least. Side pockets are generally intended to store water bottles, but these are too shallow and flimsy to secure most models.
This isn’t necessarily an issue if you plan to use the water bladder instead. But beware, it’s easy for things to fall out of the side pockets.
Capacity: 28 litres
Weight: 0.89 kg, 1.96 lbs
Water proofing: Water resistant
As the name would suggest, the Vault daypack is designed to keep your belongings safe and secure.
But where this backpack’s beauty really lies is in its supreme comfort. It’s been designed to be worn all day, even with heavy loads thanks to North Face’s FlexVent suspension system.
The back panel has a number of well padded mesh pads with small channels running between them. There’s also a vertical “spine channel” that runs the length of the bag.
The channels are intended to provide airflow while enabling the bag to flex and adapt shape to fit your back.
Compression-moulded shoulder straps are extremely well padded with a material similar to memory foam. There’s a fully adjustable sternum strap to provide extra support.
You’ll also find a super comfortable, thick grab handle on the top of the bag for an alternative carry method.
Compartmentwise, there are only two, the main one and an organisational one in front of it.
The organisational compartment has numerous slots and pockets. These include a mesh pocket, a couple of pen slots, a velcro stash pocket and a larger zippered pocket.
The main compartment is quite large and spacious, though the shape isn’t suited to everyone’s needs. It’s quite tall and thin making some loads difficult to fit in.
Within this main compartment you’ll also find a padded laptop sleeve, suitable for up to a 15” computer. The laptop sleeve is suspended giving it added protection as it doesn’t touch the bottom of the bag.
The North Face Vault is one of the best daypacks for travel for those looking for extreme comfort. Its carry features are so advanced that it’s even endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association.
Capacity: 20 litres
Weight: 0.19 kg, 0.41 lbs
Water proofing: Water resistant
This is one of the most popular foldable daypacks out there for a wide variety of reasons.
It’s unbelievably light and compresses down into a tiny package. It’s about half the weight of a can of coke and folds away to the size of a sandwich. So it takes up virtually no space and none of your baggage allowance.
Despite being lightweight, it’s still a rugged piece of kit. The material has been updated to make it even more durable and tear resistant, with double-layered reinforcement in key areas.
On top of all this, the bag is water resistant for anywhere up to around an hour in light rain.
The main compartment is roomy with plenty enough space to carry your day to day equipment. There are also two pockets, one internal suitable for valuables, and another external perfect for stashing stuff you want handy.
On either side of this daypack you’ll find a mesh bottle pocket. They’re deep and elasticated so you can be confident nothing will drop out of them.
As with any foldable daypack, you’re going to compromise somewhat in some technical areas. There’s no back padding and the bag has no structure as such.
However, the straps do contain a small amount of padding. They’re also relatively wide, enough that the daypack is easily comfortable enough to wear all day with no issues.
The HIKPRO is definitely one of the best lightweight daypacks for travel on the market.
Capacity: 28 litres
Weight: 0.6 kg, 1.3 lbs
Water proofing: Water resistant
A well known name in the world of backpacks, Jansport also make some of the best daypacks for travel.
In their own words, the Jansport Hatchet is “Built for city adventures” making it perfect for a metropolitan fiesta.
The generous 28 litre capacity means you will never be short on space. But there are plenty of great organisational and functional features to keep your gear in order.
The huge, double zippered opening to the main compartment is really clever. It turns it into a cross between a top-loader and a front-loader, allowing easy access to the entire bag’s contents. Even the stuff at the very bottom.
On the inside there are multiple compartments, useful for stashing stuff like pens and phones and wallets. It also features a padded laptop sleeve suitable for anything up to 15 inches.
On the outside, the full length of the large front flap is a zippered pocket. Below that is another roomy zippered pocket.
There two side bottle pockets that are sturdy and secure, one of which uniquely has a vertical zip. This thoughtful addition gives you easy access to the bottom of the pocket in case you’ve dropped anything fiddly like coins or keys in there.
This daypack is extremely comfortable with wide padded straps and a sternum strap between them. There’s also plenty of back padding.
The Hatchet perfectly combines style and function with the result being one of the best daypacks for travel in urban environments.
Capacity: 20 litres
Weight: 1.8 kgs, 3.96 lbs
Water proofing: Weatherproof
As the name would suggest, Peak Design specialise in maximising every aspect of every detail of their products.
You can immediately tell just from looking that their Everyday Backpack is something special.
It was nominally designed with carrying a camera and gear around in mind. But it’s so versatile and flexible that it makes for a brilliant general use daypack.
Every single feature of this backpack has been designed to within an inch of its life. The end result is a highly functional daypack that’s perfect in almost any situation.
The main compartment has 3 main access points. The first is via the top flap, so far so standard.
But it’s secured using Peak Designs signature Maglatch technology which you can use with one hand without looking to fasten it to various points depending on how full the bag is.
The second and third access points are zippered side openings. The design of the openings allow you easy access to the main compartment without taking the bag off.
By simply swinging the backpack around to your front on one shoulder, you can then unzip them. And because there’s one on either side, it doesn’t matter which shoulder you prefer to swing it from.
The main compartment is customisable by using Flexfold Dividers. They’re basically a reconfigurable shelving system that you can arrange as you wish.
So rather than one large compartment, you can separate it down how you want with different things in each section.
There’s a separate, padded laptop compartment that sits flat with your back which can fit a 15” laptop.
You also have numerous handy interior pockets on the side entrances and two exterior pockets for drinks bottle or tripods.
The straps are padded and feature a detachable sternum strap and hidden waist strap for extra comfort.
Capacity: 25 litres
Weight: 0.94 kgs, 2.07 lbs
Water proofing: Water resistant
The Pacsafe Venturesafe model is one of the best daypacks for travel if you want to make certain your kit is safe.
It’s been specifically designed with numerous anti-theft features that make it virtually impenetrable to opportunistic thieves. This means you can get on with the business of exploring without having to worry about your gear.
So what are these anti-theft features? The bag is constructed from cut proof material to prevent so called “slash and run” thefts.
There are hidden hooks that you can attach the zippers to making it virtually impossible for anyone to unfasten them.
Turn and lock security hooks enable you to attach the daypack to a fixed object. This can be useful in restaurants, on trains, or anywhere where someone may try to grab your bag and run.
There’s also an RFID blocking pocket that will keep your credit cards and identification safe from scanning.
But not only is the bag built like a vault, it’s also got numerous other great style and comfort features.
The straps are well padded, as is the back of the bag itself making it comfortable to carry. There are also sternum and waist straps which make it suitable to carry for long periods of time.
The front stash pocket has a number of pouches including the RFID blocking one to keep your ID and credit cards in. There are two large, deep side pockets for water bottles etc.
This pack’s main compartment is spacious and has a separate suspended laptop sleeve. This means that your laptop won’t touch the bottom of the bag adding an extra layer of safety.
The Pacsafe Venturesafe is consistently one of the top rated daypacks for safety conscious travellers.
Capacity: 24 litre
Weight: 1.02 kgs, 2.25
Water proofing: Water resistant
Herschel’s Little America model has become a modern classic by combining trendy looks with unfussy functionality. The end result being one of the most fashionable daypacks available.
Based on an iconic, old-school mountaineering silhouette, it’s updated for the 20th century.
The back panel is split into 3 separate sections and covered in air mesh. This design allows for added airflow making it easy to carry for longer periods.
It features super-comfortable, contoured straps which also employ airmesh to stop you from sweating.
The attractive front buckles aren’t actually buckles at all. They’re actually all fastened with snap-button magnetic closures meaning no messing around with annoying clasps.
One of the only potential downsides of this bag is that it’s not packed full of organisational features. However, not everyone needs those in their daypack, and what it does include, it does well.
There’s a small front stash pocket secured which looks as though it’s fastened with the magnetic snap-buttons. In fact there’s a zip underneath the flap to keep your belongings doubly secure. Inside there’s enough space to put items like phones or wallets plus a handy key clip.
Next you have the large main compartment. Again, under the flap which is secured with snap magnets, you can ensure everything’s safe, this time with a drawstring.
It’s a large compartment lined with stylish, brightly striped material to make it really stand out.
At the back there’s a padded, fleece-lined 15” laptop compartment to keep your laptop out of harm’s way.
There are also two tiny inside side pockets on either side of the main compartment. One has a hole to feed headphones through, allowing you to store your device in the bag while still jamming out to your tunes.
This daypack is undoubtedly dapper yet highly practical.
Capacity: 21 litres
Weight: 1.72 kgs, 3.81 lbs
Water proofing: None
This eBags backpack features some really nifty design features which make it one of the top rated daypacks for travel based on reviews.
It’s completely different to a standard backpack in both design and function and well suited to those obsessed with organisation.
There are 4 main compartments, each with a defined intended role and extra pockets and pouches within them. The idea is that you have isolated compartments that are easy to access and keep everything in a specific place.
The back compartment has a fleece-lined padded laptop sleeve and enough space in front for some books or similar.
The main compartment is in front of this and has a larger space. It’s enough to fit, say, a pair of shoes, but also features another padded pouch where you can fit a tablet.
There’s a front compartment or stash pocket which contains numerous extra pockets and pouches. There are spaces for pens, cards, electricals, snacks and anything else you could think of.
Below this is a structured pocket, designed to fit an AC adaptor or other electricals like a charge pack.
The straps are well padded and super comfortable and have a sternum strap for extra support.
There are breathable, padded air mesh panels on the back of the bag. These make it comfortable to carry for extended periods of time.
Another well appreciated feature of this daypack is that it also has a top handle and a side handle. These allow it to be carried like a briefcase or lifted vertically.
You can even slip it over the handle of a suitcase to secure it to your rolling luggage.
This is one of the best daypacks for travel for those who like everything to be in its correct place.
Capacity: 30 litres
Weight: 1.16 kgs, 2.56 lbs
Water proofing: Water resistant
Most of the best daypacks for travel on this list are at least 5-10 litres smaller than the Thule Subterra. Packing a whopping 30 litres, it’s understandably extremely spacious.
The majority of the space is in the large main compartment. Within this there is a padded laptop sleeve which can also be accessed via a side zip. This means you can pack and unpack a laptop without opening the bag.
There’s a mesh pocket on the inside of the main compartment, but the majority of the organisational features are in the second compartment.
Here you’ll find a padded interior pocket, great for keeping valuables like a smartphone or sunglasses protected. There’s also a padded tablet pocket and various other sections for things like pens, passports and notepads.
Another great feature of this compartment is the PowerPocket, a storage compartment specifically designed to carry a battery pack. The wires then have dedicated spaces they slot through to keep them organised and stop them from getting tangled.
The PowerPocket allows you to charge devices on the go and keep your gadgets juiced up while you’re exploring.
Both the straps and the back panel are made from padded, breathable mesh material. This makes them both comfortable to carry and keeps you cool with great ventilation.
A zippered side pocket provides useful extra possibilities. While it’s suitable for a water bottle, you also can stash small stuff in there making it easy to access.
There’s also a luggage pass through panel which enables it to be easily attached to the handle of rolling luggage.
The Subterra backpack is a good choice for those wanting a slightly larger daypack.
Capacity: 18 litres
Weight: 0.09 kgs, 0.2 lbs
Water proofing: Water resistant
The Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack is one of the very lightest backpacks on the market. This makes it super portable and one of the best daypacks for travel if you’re really conscious about weight.
It’s perfect for use as a daypack that you can fold up and throw in your main luggage or even your pocket. Then you can simply unfurl it as and when you need it.
As with most foldaway bags, it doesn’t boast an overwhelming amount of features. But crucially, it gets the basics right.
There’s one main compartment that’s pretty spacious with a double zipped opening. There’s a small zippered stash pocket at the top of this where you can store small items for quick access.
This daypack also has a reasonably deep side gear or water bottle pocket made from stretchy mesh.
Adjustable straps are made from a mesh material that keeps them well ventilated. While they’re not heavily padded, they’re still comfortable to carry.
The storage pocket that the daypack folds into is built in to the bag itself making it even more compact.
Despite being so lightweight and small, it’s durable and hard-wearing. This is thanks to the quality materials used in its construction including rip stop nylon and YKK zippers.
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Travel lover, professional writer and football (soccer) obsessive, James loves nothing more than getting outside and exploring little known corners of the globe. He’s also very partial to a drop of Guinness.