12 Best Daypacks for Women for Any Hike or Adventure (2021)
By Kay Rodriguez
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Updated July 13, 2021
Whether you’re planning a short, easy hike or a day-long summit trek, you’ll need a place to store your water and gear comfortably. Many people opt to hike with a small, sturdy daypack to carry all of their necessities on their backs. There are so many women’s daypacks available, it can be overwhelming to choose one that best suits your needs and preferences on the trails. After lots of testing and research, we created this guide to the best daypacks for women so you can choose the perfect pack for your adventures!
With hiking backpacks, there’s no “one size fits all” option that works for every body type and individual. That’s why we’ve created this guide with our favorite women’s daypacks to give you a few of our favorite recommendations. We only included the very best hiking daypacks in our list, ones we’ve carefully researched and checked out using all of the resources available to us.
Daypacks for Women vs. Men – What’s the Difference?
While unisex and men’s backpacks are typically designed for males, there are obviously plenty of women who need packs too! Many gear manufacturers have become more intentional and inclusive with their products, and women-specific daypacks are a direct result of this change. Daypacks for women are, simply put, specifically created to accommodate the dimensions of a woman’s body.
With women’s packs, you’ll usually find options for shorter statures that accommodate wider hips/chest areas and take a female center of gravity into account. Women’s backpack straps are typically a bit more curved (to fit a narrow frame) and offer a higher chest strap configuration. If the pack contains one, the frame often has a slightly shorter height in women’s packs than men’s. Often (but not always), women’s packs run a bit smaller in volume than men’s. Lastly, women-specific products often come in brighter colors and have more style options to choose from.
What to Consider When Buying Women’s Daypacks
Comfort & Fit
The #1 most important attribute when choosing between daypacks for women is comfort and fit. If a backpack has all of the best qualities but it hurts to wear, it won’t be very helpful for you! A lot of the other criteria we’ve included in here can help you get a general sense for how a backpack will fit, but until you try it on, you won’t know for sure. We recommend buying with companies like REI who offer free returns/exchanges so you can choose the perfect pack for you.
The design of a backpack can greatly contribute to its comfort, fit, and functionality. Many elements play into the design of any backpack, including weight distribution and storage areas. Some things you may want to consider in different women’s daypacks include:
Hydration pocket & compatibility
Designs are also quite subjective, but you can typically tell pretty quickly which features best suit your needs and preferences.
Even the most comfortable packs can be cumbersome if they’re too heavy, and a pack’s weight is an important feature we always consider before purchasing. The lightest packs aren’t always the best because they often lack extra features, but packs with too many bells and whistles can also be prohibitively heavy.
Our recommendation is to determine the 2 or 3 features that are most important to you and find the lightest pack that has those features without too much extra bulk.
While we try to keep price largely out of the equation when we test gear, it’s definitely something you will consider! With gear, you often get what you pay for, but that doesn’t mean that the most expensive products are always the best daypacks for hiking. Most daypacks for women cost between $60 and $200, with some above and below that range. Set your budget ahead of time so you’ll know what you have to work with when evaluating your options.
What We Like: This pack has it all – spacious pockets, padded straps, a hydration compartment, and plenty of other useful bells and whistles, all wrapped up in a lightweight package
When we go hiking, we want a daypack that’s comfortable, lightweight, and easy to use. Sporting the ultimate in comfort and practicality, the Osprey Tempest 20 is among the best daypacks for women on the market today. Osprey makes top-of-the-line backpacks for hiking and travel, and the Tempest is no exception.
First of all, these hiking daypacks are some of the only ones on our list with a frame, which helps provide structure and ventilation to the back while you’re out on the trails. The hydration system holds up to 3L of water and is located between the frame and the main backpack compartment, separating it from the rest of the pack and minimizing risk of water leakage onto your gear. We also love the waist strap pockets and the front stuff pocket, providing easy storage and access to your most important items.
We had to look hard to find anything we didn’t like about the Osprey Tempest/Talon packs. The only thing we wish could have been included is a rain fly for inclement weather (although you can buy one here). For the price, these are the best day packs for hiking out there, and we’d recommend them to anyone wanting a sturdy and comfortable companion on the trails.
What We Like: Ultralight design cuts weight and bulk, and smart pocket placements offer handy storage on the go
A slightly more economical option, the Deuter Speed Lite 22 SL is a close second for on our list of the best overall daypacks for women. What we love the most about these packs is that they’re built to minimize weight without compromising on comfort. You’ll find padded shoulder and waist straps and Deuter’s Lite Air back frame construction paired with ultralight materials and designs on these packs.
We love this pack because of its lightweight, straightforward design. The outer stuff sack and waist pockets provide easy storage for your essentials, and the daisy chains along the outside make it easy to clip on jackets and other gear for quick access. The inner pocket offers a hydration compartment and lots of space for snacks, jackets, and more.
Like the Osprey Tempest, these daypacks do not come with a rain fly, but you can buy one here. If you prefer a larger size, the Deuter Speed Lite also comes in 30L & 32L options as well.
What We Like: Ultra lightweight, fully sustainable designs, and each one is unique
One of our absolute favorite ultralight daypacks for women is the Cotopaxi Batac 24. Made from excess fabrics from other gear manufacturers, Cotopaxi’s Del Dia line of backpacks is fully sustainable and characterized by its super bright color-block style. We included the Batac 24 on our recommendations for the best daypacks for women because our founder, a petite female, absolutely loves hiking with hers.
Each Batac 24 backpack is unique because the colors and designs depend on the fabrics they’re able to source at a given time. That means when you buy a Cotopaxi backpack, no one else will have the exact same one! While the Batac 24 does not have much in the way of padding, and there’s no frame, it’s easy to pack and is made of high-quality materials. The added laptop pocket makes this a natural fit for toting your gear on and off the trail.
What We Like: Has all the main features and comfort of a larger daypack in a compact, lightweight waist pack
If you’re a minimalist hiker or are simply looking for something different to stash your gear on the trails, the Osprey Tempest 6 Waist Pack is a fantastic lightweight alternative to traditional hiking daypacks. These ultralight packs are worn like a fanny pack around the waist, but the straps buckle in front and the main pack sits on your lower back.
With just 6L of storage, these waist packs are meant for shorter hikes or trail runs where you’ll only need to bring a few essentials. Don’t be fooled, though – the Tempest and Talon Waist Packs have a whopping 6 pockets (including the main compartment), including 2 water bottle holders. We wouldn’t recommend these for people who tend to carry a lot of gear or want to bring extra jackets along, but for those who want to carry a few snacks, electronics, and other main essentials, these waist packs are a great choice.
What We Like: Built-in hydration system and a spacious daypack construction make for a fantastic pack for high intensity trails
As a hydration pack suitable for hiking or biking, the Gregory Juno 24 Hydration Pack is one of our favorite daypacks for women. With 24L of storage space, easy-to-access pockets, and a built-in hydration system, this pack is especially great for high-intensity hiking, trail running, biking, and conditions where consistent water access is especially essential.
Unlike many other lightweight hydration packs, the Juno & Citro packs are built with a sturdy internal frame, 5 pockets in addition to the main compartment, and padded straps for maximum comfort. The hydration system, which is included in the pack, provides 3L of capacity and comes with tubing and a bite valve. If built-in hydration is what you’re seeking in your daypack, these are our go-to recommendations.
What We Like: This fully sustainable daypack is made from repurposed materials with a premium mesh suspension and a super practical design
Cotopaxi is, hands down, one of our favorite outdoor brands. Not only are their products designed with bright, fun, and cheery colors, but they’re also made from repurposed materials – excess fabrics from other outdoor gear manufacturers that would have otherwise been discarded. For more technical day hikes, we recommend the Cotopaxi Inca 26, which is Cotopaxi’s most technical hiking daypack.
Designed with a mesh suspension system for premium ventilation and padded straps, this is Cotopaxi’s most comfortable option, and it’s got all of the main features for day hikers of any level. With 7 pockets and 26L of storage space, there’s room for all of your must-have essentials and extra gear or electronics you might need along the way.
We’ll be keeping an eye on our Cotopaxi Inca with more use, but it was a serious contender for our Best Overall recommendation. More to come soon!
What We Like: These packs are the ultimate in structure and durability, and comes with an integrated rain fly and suspension mesh for great ventilation
Those seeking a pack with a lot of structure and comfort will love the Osprey Sirrus 24 daypack. With premium padded straps, lots of pockets in convenient spots, and a spacious interior with a hydration compartment, this backpack is one of the best daypacks for women because it’s so comfortable and practical.
While it doesn’t have stuff sack on the front, it does have a zippered compartment where you can stash a rain jacket or some snacks for easy access. We also like that the hydration pocket is separate from the main compartment of the backpack, preventing leaks from ruining your stuff. However, our favorite things about this pack are the included rain fly and the mesh suspension system, which prevents sweat and moisture buildup on your back while you’re hiking.
Although we love the Sirrus and Stratos packs, they are quite a bit heavier than some of the other options on our list. This is largely due to the included rain fly and the premium mesh suspension frame. All in all, the weight is not a huge drawback for us, and we’d wholeheartedly recommend this pack to any avid day hikers.
What We Like: Solid choice for a hiking backpack with a ton of pockets for organizing and storing your stuff
The last (but certainly not least!) options on our list are the Gregory Maya 22 daypack. With a whopping 8 pockets, these packs are the ultimate choice for those who like to separate and organize their gear and maximize space in their packs. With an external stuff sack, a top pocket, hip pockets, and more, you can find the perfect spot for all of your essentials on and off the trail.
While this pack is neither the most robust nor the most minimal on our list, it’s a fantastic middle-of-the-road option for hikers who don’t want the structure of the frame but do still want a bit of cushioning for longer day hikes.
What We Like: No-frills affordable daypack that’s ultra light and easy to pack for travel
While we’ve spent a lot of time in this article talking about padding and pockets and frames, the REI Flash 22 is actually the opposite of all of that. This bare-bones day pack is the lightest option on our list, weighing in at just 13 ounces, and has just enough features to be functional without adding any extra bells and whistles. For minimalists and people who want an ultralight offering and don’t need much in the way of comfort, the Flash 22 is an excellent, durable option to consider.
For day hikes and easy terrain, you may not need something as robust as many of the options we’ve listed here. Moreover, customers really like this backpack for travel, since they can collapse it down to a small size and pack it in a carry-on. It’s got all the basics – hip straps, shoulder straps, and water bottle pockets, but otherwise, this pack is very simple. We’d recommend it for people wanting something super lightweight to use on short, easy trails.
What We Like: Osprey’s take on the ultralight pack is a solid, no frills option for minimalist hikers
Similar to the REI Flash 22, the Osprey Daylite is another ultralight, simple option for hikers who don’t plan to carry a lot of stuff. Unlike most of Osprey’s other packs, this one doesn’t have padded straps or a flexible frame – it’s a backpack with 3 external compartments and not much else.
There’s a lot of value in the simplicity, especially if you aren’t going to do much strenuous hiking, and it weighs just a little bit more than the Flash 22 and holds just a little less volume (13L). If you want something slightly bigger, you can opt for the Daylite Plus, which has 20L of storage.
What We Like: This is one of the lightest packs on our list, but it doesn’t lack comfort or features, perfect for ultralight/minimalist hikers
If you’re looking for the absolute lightest hiking daypack without sacrificing premium quality or features, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak is the ultimate choice. Hyperlite Mountain Gear is one of the premier brands in the ultralight hiking and camping space, with gear that feels comfortable and durable at a fraction of the weight of comparable products.
This pack has all of the basics – a sizable main pocket, padded shoulder and waist straps, side water bottle pockets, and an exterior stuff pocket, to name a few – but weighs in at just 1.27 lbs. It’s also got an internal sleeve for a laptop or other electronics and is made of water resistant materials to protect your gear against the elements. We love the daisy chains located on the shoulder straps, which provide easy clip-on access to things like hats, headlamps, and more.
While this pack does have nearly everything a day hiker could need, we’d love to see a version with a dedicated hydration pack compartment to stash a water bladder. It’s definitely not a deal breaker, though, and if you’d prefer to have the lightest day pack with the most premium materials, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak is a no brainer.
What We Like: With padded straps, spacious pockets, and a solid build, this day pack is an incredible value for the price
For those looking for the best daypacks for women on a budget, the REI Trail 25 is our top pick. REI makes great gear, and their backpacks were designed for rugged trails and tough terrain. With its spacious storage compartments, padded straps, and streamlined design, the REI Trail 25 optimized for practicality without compromising on aesthetics.
With a 25L storage capacity and an internal hydration reservoir compartment, you’ll be able to store all the essentials – gear, water, snacks, clothes, and more. With its external daisy chains, you can hook on all your favorite gear using carabiners. This daypack also includes a rain fly, which is super handy for sudden downpours on the trails (and is a feature that’s left out in many of the other products on this list!).
What we don’t love is the lack of easy-to-access exterior pockets. While there are two water bottle pockets on the sides, there aren’t a lot of storage spots you can get to easily on the go. The upper pocket for keys and small essentials is a little more annoying to get to than on other packs, where it’s readily available. Otherwise, the Trail 25 is an excellent pack that comes at a fraction of the price of other options on our list.
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