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November 2023 Issue
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The best day packs of 2023

These small-capacity packs will hold all you need for an hour or more on the trail.

Fabric and water resistance

Most daypacks are made from combinations of nylon and polyester, although more waterproof canvas can be an option. All are treated with a durable water-repellent coating to improve water resistance. Water-resistant zips help to keep gear dry. Many packs come with a built-in rain cover.

Pack access

Zip-opening packs are convenient but more leak-prone, while packs with a storm throat and lid will take greater loads and are usually more water-resistant. An outside-accessible pocket is useful for things like sunblock or sunglasses.

Hip belt

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 accessory pockets 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 provide ventilation in hot weather. Load stabilisers on the top of some shoulder straps draw the load close to your back. 


Some daypacks feature a ‘breathable’ harness that creates 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. 

Compression and overflow

Compression straps, bungy cord and front stash pockets help stabilise the contents of a partly-full pack and allow the attachment of accessories and the stashing of quick-to-reach gear.


Most daypacks are hydration compatible – they include a sleeve for a water reservoir and a hole to feed the hose through. Stretch side pockets can hold water bottles or snacks.


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 10l to around 30l.

Tool attachment

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

Rab Aeon 35L $439.95

This pack fits close and moves with the user. It has Rab’s Air Contour X carry system with adjustable back length and forward pull hip belt, TipGripper walking pole attachments, ice axe loop and expanding stretch pockets. Fabric 50% recycled 70D x 140D Nylon S DOBBY/Trishield Capacity 35l Weight 1050g.

Big Agnes Ditch Rider 32 $379.99

A day hiking pack with compression-moulded back panel, contoured shoulder straps and articulated foam-padded hip belt. It’s hydration compatible and has a full-zip back panel and walking pole attachments. Fabric Recycled high tenacity nylon Capacity 32l Weight 907g.

Big Agnes Impassable 20 $359.99

A top-loading pack with internal organisation, walking pole attachments, hydration reservoirs and drink bottle features. It has an anatomically curved back panel with body-mapped foam, contoured shoulder straps and a foam-padded hip belt. Fabric Recycled high tenacity nylon Capacity 20l Weight 680.

Bach Quark 30 $299.99

A climbing/hiking pack with a roll-top closure and height-adjustable removable lid. It’ll carry up to 14kg and has a versatile attachment system – four reflective cords on the front and sides for ice tools, ropes and more. It also has two mesh side pockets and a padded hip belt with comfort foam cutouts. Fabric 100D cordura, 500D cordura Capacity 30l Weight 870g.

Lowe Alpine AirZone Trail 25 $279.95

This pack has a fixed AirZone carry system and ventilated back. There’s single buckle entry, secure TipGripper pole attachments, a hydration sleeve and tube port, a forward-pull hip belt with pockets, and side stretch water bottle pockets. Fabric 50% recycled 210D 6.6 Mini Ripstop Capacity 25l Weight 1014g.

Patagonia Terravia 28 $259.99

A pack made with 100% recycled fabrics, with a suspended mesh backpanel for airflow, an automatically closing lid (pull the drawcord), padded mesh shoulder straps and hip belt. It’s hydration compatible and has numerous pockets. Fabric 140D nylon, 210D nylon base Capacity 26l Weight 797g.

ONE PLANET Zipless $249

Australian-made canvas-fabric top-loading pack. It has a zipless design – nylon side release buckles and a metal C-clip secure pockets and lid. There’s a double-layered throat with a drawcord and barrel lock for compression and secure closure. Fabric WATERLOC canvas Capacity 25l Weight 800g.

Aarn Little Llama 20 $239

A day hiking pack with compression-moulded back panel, contoured shoulder straps and articulated foam-padded hip belt. It’s hydration compatible and has a full-zip back panel and walking pole attachments. Fabric Recycled high tenacity nylon Capacity 32l Weight 907g.

Mountain Equipment Orcus 28+ $239

A large-volume alpine approach pack with removable components – ropestrap, back panel and webbing hip belt – to save weight if required. It features roll-top closure, dual webbing axe retainers, a daisy chain and compression cord system for overflow gear. Fabric Abrasion-resistant nylon Capacity 28l Weight 520g.

Lowe Alpine AirZone Active 26 $219.95

A fully ventilated pack that maximises air flow for warm-day comfort. It is hydration-compatible, has stretch side water bottle pockets, TipGripper walking pole attachments, hip belt pockets and an integrated rain cover. Fabric 50% recycled 210D 6.6 Mini Ripstop/HydroShield Capacity 26l Weight 890g.

Montane Trailblazer Lite 20 $199

This pack has a customisable body-hugging Covalent harness, low weight and is designed for fast-packing. It has accessible pockets, including wrap-around wand pockets with security zips. There is roll-top closure, a bungee for external storage and underarm pole carry system. Fabric 40D nylon ripstop Capacity 20l Weight 300g.

Cotopaxi Batac 16L $149.99

This stowable pack is made with remnant materials so that no two share the same colourway. It has a zippered main compartment, a front vertical-zip pocket, two mesh water bottle pockets and ultralight mesh shoulder straps with sternum strap. Fabric 75D and 210D nylon Capacity 16l Weight 340g.