How to Choose the Best Daypack for You: A Lightweight Guide
Sometimes you need to carry more than you can fit in your pockets or fanny pack, but you also don’t need to trek around town with your 60-liter backpacking pack. Cue the hero of this story: the almighty daypack. Whether going for a long day hike, commuting to work, or heading to your favorite climbing spot, a daypack can help carry the gear you need for your adventure.
But there are many daypack options out there. How do you choose? Well, you’ve come to the right article, friends! Below, we’ll cover some of the key things to look for when selecting the right daypack: size, features, and uses. We’ll also introduce you to the Gossamer Gear line of daypacks with use case scenarios to help you choose the best one for you.
What Activities Will You Use Your Daypack For?
The first question to ask yourself when selecting the right daypack is what you primarily plan to use it for. The best day bag for sightseeing might be different from a daypack for camping trips.
For a frontcountry daypack, list the main activities you expect to use it for, as well as what it will hold. Maybe you’ll be commuting to work and need to safely transport your laptop. Or, you could need a daypack for grocery shopping trips and want a wider main compartment for holding ample bottles of kombucha and fancy kale salad ingredients.
An outdoor daypack could be for climbing trips, bike rides, long hikes, snowsports, or even a summit bag for when you’re backpacking and don’t want to take your full pack up the mountain. Consider your pace. Will you be running with your pack on or moving at a more leisurely rate?
Having a solid idea of how you intend to use your bag can help you start to hone the size and features that matter most.
What Size Backpack Do You Need for a Day Hike?
Once you know what you’ll use your daypack for, you can start considering the best size daypack for those activities. If you’re looking for a daypack for hiking, you’ll need to consider how much space your ten essentials take up, what extra layers you want to have on hand, and how much food and water you’ll carry.
If you need a travel daypack, you’ll want to think about what items you want to have available throughout the day as you explore town. You’ll need to think about the range of activities you expect to do before returning to your homebase.
Generally, daypacks between 19 to 36 liters in capacity work well for a range of scenarios like these. If you’re going to be out longer and need to carry more gear, lean toward the higher end. If you’re just making a quick trip to the gym, you’ll do fine on the lower side of the range.
What Features Are Best in a Daypack?
Again, the features you’ll need for a daypack will depend on the activities you plan to use it for. If you’re looking for a daypack that you mostly use in the frontcountry, you may want features like laptop or tablet sleeves or headphone ports. If you’re planning to use the daypack for hiking, you’ll want to consider features like hydration tube routers or water bottle pockets and attachments for key gear.
In general, consider a daypack’s comfort when reviewing your options. Features like hipbelts, special harnesses, or padded shoulder straps can all help your daypack ride easier. You’ll also want to look at the daypack’s style when it comes to access to your gear and transporting the pack around—things like top handles and zipped or fold-over closures. Daypacks should have some easy storage access for items like your phone, chapstick, or other quick-grab gear.
Durability and fabric choices are another feature to consider with your daypack. If you’ll be in rougher environments, look for a daypack that can handle the terrain.
5 Best Gossamer Gear Lightweight Daypacks
Our line of daypacks has been designed to fit your needs whether you’re traveling on a trail to a scenic overlook or to your cubicle for a day of spreadsheets. No matter what your adventure may be, we want our daypacks to help you take less and do more.
Below are five of our lightweight daypacks with different use cases and an overview of their features so you can compare each to your needs. Even if you can’t be outside, our daypacks will help you take your weekend warrior vibe along with you wherever you go.
1. Loris 25 Daypack
Bring your trail memories into your everyday life with the ultimate companion for ultralight day hikes and workweek commutes. The Loris 25 Daypack is our true do-everything bag. Seriously. Just read this article about 36 very specific scenarios where it performs at its peak—from pickleball to cross-country skiing.
Hikers who love our packs on long trails will feel right at home in the Loris, a daypack loaded with your favorite Gossamer Gear DNA. Its over-the-top closure system provides security, while the vertical zipper opens wide, allowing for direct access to gear in the main compartment. Along with 25 liters of capacity, the Loris includes:
- Large external mesh pocket
- Two secure zipper pockets
- Dual water bottle side pockets
- Corded trekking pole system
- Removable SitLight Pad
- Hydration or laptop/tablet sleeve
2. Vagabond Jet Daypack
The Vagabond Jet is our frontcountry go-to daypack. Our own founder Glen Van Peski has used a previous version of it as a travel day bag for Europe. A father detailed for us how it became his favorite daypack to use as a diaper bag.
This everyday bag is also now made from tough, recycled 210D Robic nylon fabric. It’s readier than ever for lightweight urban adventures, office commutes, and stylish travel. In addition to its 23 liters of capacity, the Vagabond Jet daypack is compatible with our Fastbelt and comes with:
- Integrated padded tech carry system for laptop, tablets, and hard drives
- Dedicated AirTag pocket
- Mesh shoulder strap pockets and water bottle pockets
- Top carry grab handles
- Exterior and interior accessory pockets
- Extra padding on shoulder straps for comfort
- Waterproof zippers with a DWR coating (highly water-resistant)
It also pairs perfectly with our matching Bumster Jet fanny pack!
3. Kumo 36 Superlight Backpack
If you’re looking for a daypack that can double as an overnight backpack, the Kumo 36 is your ticket. This super lightweight pack can hold your ten essentials and gear for long day hikes and also juuust enough for fast and light multi-day treks or ultralight overnights. If you’re an ultramarathon type, you’ll find lots to love about this pack.
The Kumo’s features are focused. The frameless design and lightest-in-category hardware and compression shed weight, while the recycled Robic nylon fabric is super tough and amazingly light. For easy access to your gear, enjoy five stretch-mesh pockets: two shoulder, two hipbelt, and one large back. Along with 36 liters of capacity, the Kumo comes with:
- Detachable Fastbelt
- Removable SitLight Pad
- Customizable compression options
- Corded trekking pole system
- Headphone port
4. Fast Kumo 36 Fastpack
Just getting started with fastpacking? The Fast Kumo is a new spin on our Gossamer Gear classic, the Kumo, and has fastpackers and trailrunners of all levels in mind. This pack has been re-designed with a vest-like fit and easy access storage to keep up at your fastest speeds.
Note that the Fast Kumo is designed to be worn higher and tighter than our original Kumo. For this reason, the back length for S/M is 16” and 18” for M/L. Whether you are new to trailrunning or a seasoned, record-setting fastpacker, this pack is built for the challenge. In addition to 36 liters of capacity, the Fast Kumo comes with:
- Over-the-top closure
- Removable SitLight Pad
- Easy access side pockets that can be accessed from the top or side while wearing
- Detachable Fastbelt with stretch-mesh zippered pockets
- Layered shoulder strap pockets for easy access to bottles and nutrition
- Dual sternum straps for a more secure fit
- Zippered phone pocket on shoulder strap
- Hydration tube routing system
- Trash stash pocket
5. Minimalist 19 Daypack
Meet mountain-to-metro awesomeness. The Minimalist 19 Daypack can wrangle gear for long day hikes in one moment, and offer simple interior organization for quick trips to town in the next. A removable back-pad and air-mesh shoulder straps keep things comfy and the drawstring top keeps load-and-go a breeze. With loops to rig your own compression, a removable sternum strap, and Fastbelt compatibility, the Minimalist is outfitted for maximum adjustability.
This daypack is a great choice for gym rats and climbers. You can stuff stinky shoes in the outside pocket and your quickdraws and other supplies inside for a day of cragging. You can also use the removable sitpad as a starting mat to keep your climbing shoes clean. Along with 19 liters of capacity, the Minimalist 19 comes with:
- Quick-open drawstring top with pull-tab
- Multiple stretch-mesh pockets
- Hydration sleeve and tube router
- O-rings and loops for hanging stuff
- Packable with foam pad removed
- Tough recycled Robic fabric
Grab the Perfect Daypack for Lightweight Hikes and Adventuresome Commutes
Finding the right daypack, whether adventuring through the frontcountry or trekking through the wilderness, is like sharing the perfect vibe with a best friend. Our line of lightweight daypacks aims to meet you where you are so you can take less, do more, and have a great time.
We’d love to see what you get into with your favorite Gossamer Gear daypack! Share your adventures with us by tagging Gossamer Gear on social media (@gossamergear) and using the hashtag #takelessdomore.
Hungry for more backpacking gear and planning knowledge? Check out some of our other articles on the Light Feet blog:
- What Is Fastpacking? Everything to Know to Get Started.
- 8 Top Accessories for Customizing Your Pack
- How to Take Care of Your Gear Post-Hike (And Get Motivated to Do It)
- 8 Tips & Tricks for Solo Hiking Trips
- Hydration 101: Your Guide to Water While Hiking
- Cold Weather Layering for Hikers: The Ultimate How-To Guide