Outdoor gear is notoriously expensive, and it can be tricky to find a solid hiking daypack that doesn’t deplete your wallet. That said, there are packs out there that offer decent quality at reasonable prices — you just need to know where to look. When shopping for the best affordable daypacks for hiking, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, consider size. How long will you be hiking and how much stuff do you want to bring? Most daypacks range between 20 and 40 liters. If you're taking quick, half-day treks, smaller daypacks should suffice, whereas all-day hikes will typically require a carrying capacity on the higher end of the scale.
Another factor to keep in mind is weight. You don’t want your daypack to be too heavy or bulky. Some have features that let you compress them down or even pack them into pockets and stuff sacks, so aim for something that’s portable and easy to carry. Comfort is important, too — things like padding around the waist and shoulder straps will be appreciated as you start your second hour of a steep uphill climb.
A final consideration is moisture management. If you plan to do any hiking in the rain or wet climates, you’ll want something that can handle the elements. Plus, you’ll be sweating a lot, so breathable fabric will help — especially in the straps. There’s a wide range of waterproofing degrees, from lightly water-resistant to fully submersible, so think about your specific needs before making a decision. Below, I’ve put together a list of the best hiking daypacks to suit all types of outdoor lovers on a budget.
1. The Overall Best Daypack That's Breathable & Compact
Constructed with sturdy nylon material, this hugely popular daypack has almost 800 reviews on Amazon and boasts a fantastic combination of features. It's lightweight and breathable while still offering solid durability. With a roomy, 40-liter carrying capacity, it's large enough to hold what you need yet remains bulk-free at under 13 ounces. Plus, it has a generous amount of pockets, including a large main compartment, two pockets on top, a spandex pouch on the front, and two water bottle holders. The airy straps provide ventilation so your armpits don’t get drenched with sweat. Best of all: It can be folded up into a self-containing pouch for easy travel. The versatile daypack comes in multiple colors, including purple, gray, black, orange, silver, and several shades of blue. One reviewer wrote: "Very light pack, very comfortable. The elastic around the bottom of the top attachment makes it easy to strap compactly."
2. A Super Budget-Friendly Daypack For Hiking
If the most important thing to you is a daypack that's super affordable and you're willing to sacrifice a bit of durability to get it, this mega-budget daypack is the answer. It carries 33 liters and costs less than $10. It's also built with water-resistant nylon and a strong, two-way YKK metal zipper. Bar-tacking reinforcement adds to the bag's longevity, making it capable of lasting several years, according to manufacturers. Although that isn’t a remarkably long time as far as hiking daypacks go, it's a respectable life given the price. The pack has plenty of compartments, along with handy mini-pockets on the straps to hold keys, chapstick, and other small accessories. It comes in five colors and can be stuffed into a convenient pocket for storage. One drawback is that it can’t handle prolonged exposure to rain — several reviewers complained that it soaks through easily. However, if you don't usually hike in wet climates, it's a great budget option.
3. The Most Lightweight Daypack For Hiking
While the previous pick is also fairly breezy (totaling less than 13 ounces), this ultra-compact daypack blows it out of the water in terms of weight, clocking in at a mere 3.36 ounces. With its thinner material, it isn't quite as durable as others; however, it's a fantastic choice for hikers who want a small pack that can be tucked away in a suitcase or bag. Although it's thinner, the fabric is still relatively tough, constructed with a sturdy silk-nylon that's both stain and water-resistant. It features adjustable, non-slip straps, and the main section can be packed into a tiny sack with a drawstring closure. On top of being travel-friendly, it’s a great choice if you hate that heavy feeling on your back when you're hiking.
4. The Best Waterproof Daypack That's Fully Submersible
If you frequently hike in the rain or near water, this waterproof hiking daypack is a stellar choice. It’s built with tough, marine-grade PVC tarpaulin that can be fully submerged underwater while keeping cameras, electronics, and other valuables completely protected. The roll-top, dry-bag-style closure ensures the main compartment is 100 percent leak-proof, while the tough, 5-millimeter exterior adds further protection from the elements. Additionally, it has high-frequency welded stitching and durable buckles that create extra insulation. The pack’s 30-liter carrying capacity offers a nice, mid-size compartment with convenient mesh netting on the outside to hold water bottles or other accessories. It weighs less than 2 pounds, which is heavier than some of the other choices yet still notably light for a pack that's fully waterproof. "The straps on the backpack are comfortable which is a huge plus when you are hiking somewhere!" wrote one reviewer.
5. The Best Mid-Range Daypack That Expands To Fit What You Need
For avid hikers who spend a lot of time in the woods, this convertible mid-range daypack only costs a little bit more than the others yet offers a significant bump in quality and durability. I have tried it myself and can personally attest that the ultra-robust 210-D nylon ripstop is well-built and super durable for rugged adventures. The pack showcases a U-shaped top zipper with a small stash pocket on the lid. It has an expandable feature that lets you make it bigger when you're carrying extra things or cinch it down when you're hauling less so it doesn’t flop around. You can shift it between 18 and 23 liters of carrying volume, and the pack also boasts a removable waist-belt and mesh side pockets.
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