What to Look for in a Day Pack

For outdoor treks where you need more than just a water bottle (but less than climber pack), a daypack is a necessity. That said, most daypacks look about the same at first glance. However, they can be very different in terms of their overall functionality. In order to find the perfect daypack to best suit your needs, be sure to consider the following tips.

Type of Activity

Activity level and type are vital things to consider when finding the best daypack. How the daypack will be used will determine what types of features you will need. For example, on a basic level, some may want small compartments on the exterior of the pack for urgent items, such as a pocket knife or headphones. At the advanced, specialized level, there are exclusive bags based on torso length, which are helpful for photographers, climbers, runners, snow sport athletes, cyclists, and hikers. In addition, daypacks come with even further possible customizations. For instance, a runner may want to choose a bag designed to not shift or remain firm on the back. Also, those who pack expensive cameras or other equipment should consider specialized daypacks designed for those purposes.

Daypack Capacity

In addition to activity level, overall capacity of the daypack is also important. The size of the bag will determine how much equipment or gear can be carried. Here are a few sample situations that can help you get a sense of how big of a daypack you may want to consider for your own experiences.

A parent packing for the entire family may want to consider a slightly larger bag, but this will also depend on the length of the trek. For students looking to use the daypack on hikes and in between classes, there are packs that have storage options that include laptop sleeves, various small compartments, zippers, travel locks, and hidden straps. For hikers that may want to pack a change of clothes or a light jacket, consider a daypack that not only has room for these items, but can fit food and other important items. Finally, for those traveling with daypacks on airlines, consider the required size limit for a carry on when deciding which one would be best.

Ultimately, daypack sizes are based on liters. Bags that are 10 liters or less will hold smaller items such as keys, a few protein bars, and a jacket. Bags that are 11-20 liters will hold multiple jackets, water bottles, a first aid kit, and various changes of clothes. Again, it’s best to know how you will use the bag before you decide on your purchase.

Daypack Features

Finally, a daypack shopper should consider the different features they may need. In general, there should always be a variety of access points at the top, front, bottom, and sides. In addition to packs offering specialized options for things like cameras or winter gear, each pack might include other features such as stash pockets, side pockets, tool loops, a hydration reservoir, load-lifter straps, ventilated back panel, a sternum strap, and/or a hip belt.

Bonus features may include a suspended mesh back panel, a rain cover, and a sleeping bag compartment. These variations may cost extra, but it is always best to be prepared for anything instead of regretting it later.

Also, make sure to find an appropriate sized daypack for your body. It should fit snugly around your back and comfortably grip your hips. In terms of torso length, many bags are sized between extra small and large. Waist sizes vary from 20-40 inches for adults. Another thing to consider is that some bags are meant either for women or men, while others are unisex.
Regardless, it is best to take your time while shopping for a daypack to choose the best one for you and your beloved outdoor activity.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Brock Swinson

Brock Swinson

Brock Swinson is a writer living in North Carolina with his wife, Jess. As a writer for Creative Screenwriting and the host of the Creative Principles Podcast, Swinson frequently interviews creators such as Mel Brooks, Aaron Sorkin, Taylor Sheridan, and William Monahan, on storytelling. Outside of work, Brock is currently training for an Iron Man, practicing jujitsu, and looking for new trails to run with his husky mix, Tessa.
Brock Swinson

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