Image of the November 2021 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
November 2021 Issue
Home / Articles / Gear Guides

2021’s guide to buying daypacks

Simon Foley

A comfortable daypack that can be taken on afternoon outings to full-day missions in the hills, should be part of anyone’s backpack arsenal. 


If you’re only buying one daypack, make sure it’s roomy enough for all your waterproof clothing, food and water along with other outdoor essentials. Capacities range from 10 to around 30 litres.  


Some daypacks feature ‘breathable’ harnesses that create an air-space between the pack and your back, or use a combination of perforated foam and mesh. These provide additional comfort in hot weather and reduce pressure points. 

Hip belt

Further stabilisation comes from the hip belt, so if you plan to carry heavier loads or run with the pack, choose a model that has more than just a plain webbing belt. Some hip belts have small accessory pockets, good for on-the-go snacking.

Shoulder straps

The most comfortable packs have contoured shoulder straps and a sternum strap, which helps keep the pack firmly attached. Straps with perforated foam or a mesh component will breathe well in hot weather. Load stabilisers on the top of some shoulder straps draw the load close to your back. 

Fabric and water resistance

Most daypacks are made from nylon and polyester combinations although more waterproof canvas is sometimes an option. Water-resistant zips will help keep gear dry, but, on wet days, it’s recommended to pack gear in dry bags or to use a rain cover, which is sometimes included.

Compression and overflow

Compression straps or elastic overflow cord will help stabilise the contents of a partly-full pack, or allow the attachment of accessories, such as clothing or a tripod.


Stretch side pockets can hold water bottles or snacks. But if you plan to use a water bladder, choose a pack with a dedicated hydration sleeve and a hose mount on the shoulder strap. 

Tool attachment

If you need to carry an ice axe or walking poles, look for dedicated mounting points. 

Lowe Alpine Women’s AirZone Trail ND28 $299.95

Fixed AirZone back panel, single buckle entry, walking pole attachments, ice axe loop, rain cover, internal lid pocket, light loop, stretch side pockets, zipped front pocket, forward pull hipbelt, hydration compatible. Fabric 210D mini-ripstop Capacity 28l Weight 1140g.

Six Moon Designs Flight 30 Ultra $319.95

Adjustable torso length, side pockets, stash pocket, shock cord compression, removable hip belt, mesh back panel, roll-top closure, hydration compatible, ice axe and walking pole attachments. Fabric 100D Robic nylon Capacity 30l Weight 820g.

Macpac Voyager 35L $279.99

AirFlo harness with removable hip belt, internal zip divider, bungee for stashing gear, walking pole attachments, front zip pocket, stretch side pockets, hydration compatible. Fabric 210D ripstop nylon, 420D Oxford nylon base Capacity 35l Weight 1300g.

Lowe Alpine AirZone Spirit 25 $279.99

Suspended mesh back panel, zip entry, multiple compartments, phone compatible harness pocket, walking pole loops, quick-stash front pocket, webbing reinforcements. Fabric 210D mini-ripstop, 450HDP base Capacity 25l Weight 925g.

Lowe Alpine Aeon 27L Daypack $259.95

Top-loading zip entry, lid pocket, front stretch stash pocket, side stretch pockets, hydration compatible, walking pole attachments, ice axe loops, double side compression. Fabric Trishield 100D, 210D Taslan Dobby Capacity 27-litre Weight 854g.

Aarn Pace Magic 22 $259

Running pack with X Frame harness, suspended mesh backpanel, stretch shoulder strap with drink bottle pockets, twin sternum strap, roll-top closure, hydration sleeve, walking pole and ice axe attachments. Fabric 40D and 70D nylon, 70D nylon base Capacity 22l Weight 638g.

Macpac Rapaki 25L $199.99

3D moulded mesh back panel, recycled polyester lining, removable hip belt, walking pole attachment, padded laptop sleeve, internal pockets, front zip pocket, inner mesh pocket with key clip, front and side mesh stash pockets, hydration compatible, bike light loop. Fabric 420D Oxford nylon Capacity 25l Weight 910g.

The North Face Basin 24 $220

External hydration sleeve, easy-access bottle pockets, breathable back panel, rain cover, front stash pocket, walking pole attachment, zipped access. Fabric 210D nylon ripstop, 600D base Capacity 24l Weight 695g.

Marmot Kompressor Meteor 22 $179.95

Removable foam framesheet, Airmesh shoulder straps and back panel, side zipper entry, hydration port and clip, external water bottle pockets. Fabric 100D nylon/polyester ripstop, 210D reinforcing Capacity 22l Weight 570g.

Marmot Kompressor Plus 20 $149.95

Stuffs into lid, removable foam framesheet, Airmesh shoulder straps and back panel, top-loading wrap-around zipper, tool attachment, daisy chain for overflow storage, hydration port. Fabric 100D nylon/polyester ripstop, 210D reinforcing Capacity 20l Weight 350g.

Lowe Alpine Edge 26 $119.95

Air Contour carry system, removable hip belt, padded 2-litre hydration pocket doubles as laptop sleeve, walking pole attachments, reflective bike light loop. Fabric 420D polyester Capacity 26l Weight 600g.

Lowe Alpine AirZone Active 22 $139.95

Suspended mesh back panel, hydration compatible, walking pole attachments, zipped entry, sternum strap with whistle, side and upper compression straps, stretch mesh side pockets. Fabric 210D mini-ripstop Capacity 22l Weight 865g.

Marmot Kompressor Comet 14 $79.95

Stows into internal pocket, ripstop shoulder straps, deep pockets, bike light loop, zippered entry. Fabric 100D nylon and polyester ripstop, 210D reinforcing Capacity 14l Weight 150g.