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Best Backpacks for Day Hikes

Hiking is more popular in the U.S. than ever before. In fact, nearly 45 million people participate in hikes each year.

For those who are interested in getting into hiking, there’s some basic equipment they need to purchase first. One of the most important tools is a good day hiking backpack. There are tons of options on the market, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Hopefully, this list will simplify things.

Related: Best Small Hiking Backpacks

Explained in detail below are some of the best day hiking backpack options hikers may want to consider, along with tips on what to look for.

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Top Day Hiking Backpacks

Here are six of the best day hiking backpack options for hikers of all skill levels:

CamelBak M.U.L.E. Mountain Biking Hydration Pack

This backpack from CamelBak is perfect for an avid hiker who spends a ton of time out on the trail. It even features external hooks for your helmet and other climbing gear, making it ideal for those who like to include rock climbing or mountain biking in their excursions.

The Crux Reservoir included in this backpack allows you to get 20% more water with each sip than other reservoirs and it’s easy to fill it up before you head out.

The main downside to this backpack is that it’s pricier than other models, so it’s not ideal for hikers on a strict budget.

CamelBak also makes the Kids Mini M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack, which is an excellent day hiking backpack for kids.

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Thule EnRoute Triumph 2 Daypack

For those who want a day hiking backpack that doubles as an everyday backpack, this one is a great option. It is small and light, but it can also fit a 15-inch Macbook Pro and 10-inch iPad without any problems.

This Thule backpack is compatible with a hydration bladder, so you don’t have to haul a water bottle around. It also comes in several different colors, so you can find one that fits your style.

One of the main complaints people have about this backpack is that it can be hard to access some of the interior pockets, especially while you’re on the go.

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TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack

If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a hydration backpack but still want all the bells and whistles, this hydration pack from TETON is for you.

With its low price point, it’s perfect for those on strict budgets. You don’t have to sacrifice features, though. This backpack provides customizable comfort and boasts more than 1,000 verified 5-star reviews.

One of the only complaints about this backpack is that it’s a bit too small for everyday use. It’s best suited to those who only plan to use it for day hikes.

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OlarHike Hydration Backpack Pack with 2L BPA Free Leak-Proof Bladder

If you need a backpack that’s super lightweight, this OlarHike Pack is a great one to consider. It’s made from a super light, breathable mesh that won’t weigh you down or leave you feeling hot and sweaty.

It also features several internal pockets, including an earphone hole that allows you to listen to music while on the go. You’ll never have to worry about water leaks with this backpack, either. It comes with a 100% leak-proof promise.

This backpack is designed to keep you hydrated while on the go. Some people have complained about the size of the hydration pack, though, saying it seems smaller than the size that’s listed.

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Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack with 2L BPA Free Bladder

For those who want to enjoy ice-cold water all through their hike, this backpack from Mubasel is perfect. It features an insulated bladder compartment that will keep your water cold for up to four hours. The bladder is BPA-free and 100% leak-proof, too.

You’ll be amazed at how much this lightweight backpack can hold as well. It features three different storage compartments to hold all your belongings.

It is a bit on the larger side, though, so it might not be an ideal choice for those with smaller frames. Some people have also complained about the lack of external hooks and straps.

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Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack

This Osprey backpack is sleek and stylish, perfect for those who want to look good while out on a hike or walking through the city. It can hold all your hiking gear with ease, as well as a tablet or 14-inch laptop for everyday use.

It comes in several different colors for those who want to show some personality on the trail. It also features a handy front shove-it pocket perfect for stashing items you want to be able to reach in a hurry.

One of the only complaints people have about this bag is that it’s a little small for those with broad shoulders.

Osprey also made it to our best hiking backpacks for women list, which is a testament to their quality and versatility.


What to Look for in a Day Hiking Backpack

One of the main factors to consider when shopping for a day hiking backpack is comfort.

Look for a backpack that has padded shoulder straps, as well as a padded sternum strap. A padded sternum strap will help to provide extra support. Some backpacks come with an additional strap that secures around your waist, too.

Look for a day hiking backpack that is a good fit for the type of hikes you like to do. For example, you may want a lighter backpack if you plan on taking some impromptu climbing excursions during your hike.

Related: Check out our list of best hiking backpacks for photographers if you like to bring your camera on hikes.

Essential Day-Hike Backpack Features

Whatever type of day hiking backpack you buy, you’ll want to make sure it has the following features:

  • Few external pockets: This minimizes the risk that anything will fall out while you’re on the trail
  • Plenty of internal padding: This will help to protect your belongings during your hike
  • A place for your water bottle: Water will be your most important resource while on a hike, so you ought to have a place for it that’s easy to access
  • Load lifters: They make it easier for you to adjust the straps so it sits comfortably and doesn’t pull you down

What Size Daypack Do I Need?

Since you’ll be using this backpack for day hikes only, it doesn’t need to be very large.

Make sure you have enough room for your water, your lunch, maybe some extra clothing, and a first aid kit. As long as you can fit these essentials in there, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Remember, if your backpack is too large, you might be tempted to put too much in it and will end up weighing yourself down.

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