When you’re traveling abroad, it’s a good idea to travel with two different backpacks, each with their own purpose.
For most people, it’s a good idea to consider bringing along a:
- Main travel backpack where you can pack most of your heavier, bulky stuff and that you can toss under the bus, check onto the plane, or leave behind at the hotel
- Smaller, more portable daypack that you can use for carrying things during the day such as your camera, smartphone, water bottle, travel guides, anything else that you want quick access to
In this post, I want to share with you some of my recommendations for the best daypack for travel that you can bring with you on your next trip to keep all of your small accessories and travel gear organized and close by so you don’t have to jam your pockets full when you’re spending the day exploring somewhere new.
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick look at my top recommendations for travel daypacks:
There are so many different options to choose from and I wanted to come up with a smaller list of my top recommendations so that you can get a better idea of the different daypacks that I consider to be well-suited for most types of travel.
Of course, finding a good travel backpack is important, and I find that it’s equally important to find a good daypack that you can use regularly as well.
Having a smaller and more portable backpack that you can bring with you during the day gives you a lot more flexibility on your trip because you can keep some of your essentials with you without having to head back to your hotel, hostel, or AirBnb to grab something you forgot or that you might happen to need.
These daypacks are also good when you’re in transit between different destinations because you can keep everything inside that you’re going to want to use on the bus, train, or plane, without having to hold everything and juggle it around when you’re trying to find your seat and get comfortable.
For something more geared towards hiking and other outdoor activities, I recommend taking a look at my post on the best hiking daypacks.
Otherwise, let’s dive into my recommendations and don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom part of this post for a more in-depth buyer’s guide and some helpful tips on choosing the right daypack.
The Best Daypacks for Travel
- 1 The Best Daypacks for Travel
- 2 Best Packable Daypack
- 3 Questions To Ask Yourself When You’re Looking For The Best Travel Daypack
In this post I’m going to go over, what in my opinion, makes the best travel daypack and the specific features you should look for if you’re in the market for one.
Since you’re going to be taking it with you everywhere and wearing it for multiple hours each day this is one piece of travel gear you’re going to want to make sure is perfect for you.
Before deciding on a specific bag you’ll want to ask yourself these questions about any of the packs you have in mind:
- What size do I need?
- Is it secure?
- Can it be easily packed away?
- Does it look fashionable and cool?
- Is it comfortable?
- Is there enough storage space for my gear?
If you scroll to the bottom of this post you’ll find all of these questions answered and you’ll be able to better decide on whether the pack you like is perfect for you or not.
Here’s my list of what I believe to be the best daypacks and the reasons why I think you’ll like them.
The North Face Jester Backpack
- Interior Storage: 26L
- Weight: 1 lb 11 oz
The North Face Jester is one of my favorite daypacks and I’ve been fortunate enough to use a few different models over the years.
North Face is one of the most popular brands when it comes to backpacks and any daypack you get from them is likely going to be durable and reliable.
I’ve actually had the same North Face Jester bag for almost 10 years and I still use it on a regular basis.
You can read my personal review here.
As for the Jester itself, it boasts a spacious 26L interior but it’s not that bulky, making it a suitable choice if you’re looking for something to use for carrying your travel accessories and other things like an umbrella, rain jacket, or sweater during the day.
It comes with one large main compartment, that you can use for bigger items, and a smaller organization panel where you can keep smaller items like your smartphone, camera, documents, or anything else you want to quickly access.
One reason I really like the Jester is because it comes with a dedicated padded laptop pocket that you can use for laptops up to 15-inches in size, and this is awesome for when you’re traveling between destinations and want to keep your laptop closeby.
Some other cool features include:
- Bungee system on the front, where you can stash your sweater or rain jacket
- Removable hipbelt that you can leave at home or bring with you depending on whether or not you think you might need it
- Two side mesh water bottle holders so you can stay hydrated when you’re out exploring a new city.
When you’re walking around, the mesh ventilated back panel and mesh shoulder straps help to keep you cool and are rather comfortable, even with the pack is full.
I would definitely recommend taking a look at the North Face Jester if you’re looking for a daypack that’s versatile, comfortable, and that offers plenty of internal space and organization to make it easy for you to carry everything with you during the day.
Osprey Packs Daylite Plus
- Interior Storage: 20L
- Weight: 1 lb 3.8 oz
The Osprey Packs Daylite Plus is a slightly larger and upgraded version of the base Osprey Daylite.
I’m also a huge fan of the original Daylite, but I find that the Osprey Packs Daylite Plus offers a little bit more versatility when it comes to traveling.
The Daylite Plus comes with an internal capacity of 20L, and it’s fairly lightweight at just 1 lb 3.8 oz.
When it comes to storage, there is a large main compartment, a zippered mesh organizer pocket, 2 side mesh pockets, a small front zipper pocket, and a stash pocket right at the front.
This offers plenty of options for internal organization and you can easily carry your water bottle, a rain jacket or sweater, travel documents, your smartphone, your camera, and any other small accessories that you want during the day when you’re out exploring somewhere new.
To help with comfort and support, there is a dedicated hipbelt, shoulder straps that feature a mesh design, and even a mesh covered back panel that provides plenty of support and offers great ventilation.
The Osprey Packs Daylite Plus is great to use when you’re out exploring a new city, traveling between destinations on public transportation, and you can even use it for day hikes and outdoor adventures.
A few more things that I want to mention include that this pack comes with a hydration pocket, so you can add your own hydration reservoir if you want to stay hydrated during the day, and there’s even an internal laptop pocket for better laptop storage and protection during transit.
Overall, I believe that the Osprey Packs Daylite Plus is another great choice if you’re looking for a smaller backpack that you can use to carry some gear and travel accessories when you’re exploring abroad.
- Interior Storage: 16L
- Weight: 0.64 lbs
The Fjallraven Kanken is another one of my top recommendations if you’re looking for a well-built and versatile travel daypack to take with you on your next trip.
Fjallraven has become quite popular over the last few years, and if you’re traveling in Western Europe then you’re going to see their bags, hats, and clothes everywhere you go.
The Kanken pack is no exception.
This small backpack features a very simple design and comes with just 16L of internal storage space, making it a great choice if you’re looking for some lightweight and minimalist that you can use for carrying some of your travel gear and accessories.
Keep in mind that 16L really isn’t that big, but once you pack your sweater or rain jacket inside there is still definitely enough room for things like your smartphone, camera, travel documents, and you can even pack a water bottle in there if you wanted to.
The pack itself comes with one main large compartment that’s big enough that you could pack a 15-inch laptop inside, and there was also a smaller front zipper compartment and two side pockets for more storage.
The front zipper compartment can be used for smaller accessories, like your smartphone, passport holder, or hotel card, and you can use the side pockets for storing your umbrella or selfie-stick for quick access.
The Kanken comes with just shoulder straps, there isn’t a hipbelt or anything, and they’re rather thin so you might want to avoid completely overloading it with stuff if you’re having to carry it around on your back all day.
At just 0.64 lbs in total weight, it’s still a very lightweight daypack that provides a surprising amount of versatility thanks to the water resistant and dirt resistant Vinylon F material that it’s made from.
I would definitely recommend checking out the Fjallraven Kanken if you’re looking for something that boasts a classic and stylish design, and that’s also lightweight and practical enough to use for travel, daily use, and even for short hiking trips.
Camelbak M.U.L.E Hydration Backpack
The Camelbak M.U.L.E is a great choice if you’re looking for something small, portable and that comes with a built-in hydration pack.
This is one of the smallest packs that I recommend for traveling, and it boasts a very minimal 11L of internal capacity – making it a suitable choice for those of you looking to travel light.
As for the storage, there are tons of external straps and hooks that you can use for attaching items to the exterior of the pack, and on the inside you’ll find some great organization capabilities for keeping your travel gear and accessories well organized and easy to quickly access.
You probably wouldn’t think that Camelbak could make a great daypack but they’ve really outdone themselves with their latest M.U.L.E hydration/travel hybrid.
When you’re walking around exploring somewhere new, the M.U.L.E comes equipped with great ventilation features on the shoulder straps and back panel, helping to keep your back dry and well-ventilated.
If you’re travelling somewhere hot in the summer then this bag is a great choice if you want to be easily able pack your stuff and always have access to a fresh drink of water thanks to the hydration capability.
Related: Check out my own Camelbak M.U.L.E review!
I never thought I would be one to bring along a Camelbak with me but after using it for a few months I realized that it’s a pretty awesome bag and perfect for the more sporty/adventure travellers. The hydration setup is great and it’s easy to add a 100oz water bladder so you can stay hydrated for hours in the hot summer sun.
It’s got a great fit and you can easily make any adjustments to make it as comfortable and portable as you need for your trip.
Osprey Escapist 18
Don’t be surprised that Osprey has made it on this list again.
The Osprey Escapist 18L bag is ideal for anyone spending a lot of time abroad who wants a quality pack they can count on and if you’re wondering what the best Osprey daypack is I’d say this is the one.
They are, in my opinion, one of the best backpack making companies and if you’re looking for the best travel daypack it’s hard to go wrong with anything by Osprey.
- Ventilated shoulder straps and hip belt
- Small and minimalist
- Lots of internal storage options
The Osprey Escapist 18 is light, comfortable to wear and a suitable choice for travelling with. It’s sleek and has enough storage that you can keep your camera, snacks, and ID in a safe place while being able to easily access it.
The ventilated straps mean you won’t get too sweaty if you’re using it during the summer and thanks to its size you’re unlikely to bump anyone out of the way when you turn around.
This pack is great if you’re doing a lot of walking, checking out museums, or hopping on and off public transportation a lot during your trip.
Lowepro Flipside 300
The Lowepro Flipside 300 is definitely a suitable choice when it comes to travelling with a camera.
Lowepro is known for making some of the best travel camera bags and it’s only right that I add the Flipside 300 to my list. Not only is the bag super sturdy and reliable but it has a ton of storage for all your camera gear and electronics.
The entry to the pack is from the back so it has that as additional security and photographers will also enjoy a hideaway tripod holder that can easily store your camera mounting gear.
- Comes with a removable accessories pouch for camera and electronic gear storage
- Removable hip belt
- Compact and water resistant
Not only is the Flipside 300 a great travel daypack but it’s one of the best choices for people travelling with DSLR cameras and all the related photography accessories.
Even if all you have is your point and shoot it’s still a great choice since there are a ton of storage options. The pack is entirely black and when you use it you’ll definitely look like a local just out for a walk.
At less than 2 pounds it doesn’t feel very heavy at all and with all the strap adjustments you can make it’s simple to carry your stuff for the day comfortably.
The removable accessory pouch is really the icing on the cake for the LowePro Flipside 300 and makes it incredibly easy to get to your most important electronic cables, memory cards and other accessories.
Best Packable Daypack
If you’re looking for something a bit smaller that you can easily pack-away when you’re not using it then you’ll want to consider bringing along a packable daypack for your trip.
Here are my recommendations for best options:
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack
- Portable – will pack down into small carrying case
- Mesh pocket for water bottles
- Dual zipper access
- 3 exterior pockets for additional storage
The Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack would be my first recommendation if you’re looking for the best ultralight daypack that you can easily pack down and travel with without having to sacrifice too much weight or additional space.
At just 0.19 pounds in total weight you’ll hardly feel this pack on your back when you’re walking around with it during the day. It’s great for carrying all of your essential items and it comes with unique features that you don’t usually find on other packable day bags.
For example, the water bottle holder it is such a great addition to the pack and allows you to stay hydrated on those hot summer days and even allows you to save money by not having to buy fresh bottles or other drinks during the day. The pack itself is very streamlined and I find the material to be durable enough for withstanding regular use.
There are two separate compartments, a small top compartment along with the main compartment, and it’s not too big or bulky that you can’t access all of your gear if you’re in a hurry.
It’s comfortable to wear, the straps are padded and covered in mesh for additional support, and even after wearing it for a few hours I didn’t notice any neck or shoulder pain.
If you need an ultralight daypack to store your daily travel essentials and you want something more robust and durable than many of the other options on the market I definitely recommend you check out the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack.
New Outlander Packable Travel Daypack
- Easily packs down into inner zippered pocket
- Practical interior and exterior compartment layout
- Designed from a durable nylon fabric
- Lifetime warranty
The New Outlander Packable Travel Daypack is another good choice if you’re looking for an ultralight day bag that you can easily pack down and toss in your backpack or suitcase without having to sacrifice too much space.
It’s a suitable alternative to the Osprey that I just mentioned and, with two different models to choose from, is bound to meet all of your lightweight traveling requirements.
This bag comes into different sizes, a 20L and a 33L capacity, and both of them weigh in at around 0.5 pounds or less. For such a lightweight bag I found it to be surprisingly durable and it’s probably from the water resistant, nylon fabric that it’s designed from.
Another thing that adds to its durability is that all of the stress points on the bag itself are reinforced to help it stand up to the rigors of travel.
It’s easy to pack down, simply stuff the backpack back into its packing pocket and it’s just as easy to unpack and start using. The straps are comfortable, easily adjustable and breathable so that you won’t get too sweaty when you’re wearing it throughout the day.
There are a few different compartments for storage – a main compartment for storing bigger items, two zippered front pockets for any smaller travel accessories, to side pockets where you can store a water bottle, rain jacket or umbrella and finally, there is a zippered security pocket on the inside that’s perfect for storing your passport, local currency or anything else important that you want to keep tucked away.
If you’re looking for a practical, durable and affordable lightweight daypack for travelling or hiking with I definitely recommend you check out the 20L or 33L options from New Outlander.
Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Day Pack
- Low profile design
- Reinforced bar tack stitching on stress points
- Ideal for long-term travel
At just 0.15 pounds in weight the Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Day Pack is one of the light packable backpacks that you can get. It has a capacity of 20L and is a great choice and my recommendation if you’re looking for the best ultralight daypack for travel.
The pack itself is designed from silnylon, which is very durable and the reason why it’s such a lightweight bag. You can easily pack it down and it packs so small into its stuff sack that it’s actually easy to lose track of.
It’s perfect for carrying around your daily essentials and while there aren’t any exterior pockets you can easily fix everything you need into the interior.
On its own the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil is comfortable to carry and, although it can get a bit bulky once you add items to it do you simply need to organize them in a way that they don’t poke you in the back and all of your problems will be solved.
As I mentioned earlier, this pack is a great choice if you’re looking for a ultralight and packable daypack for travel that will be able to hold all of your daily travel essentials while still being lightweight and comfortable enough to carry throughout the day.
Questions To Ask Yourself When You’re Looking For The Best Travel Daypack
What size do I need?
This is probably the most important thing to consider when you’re looking for a new daypack. You don’t want to pick something too big because it will end up being too heavy and cumbersome to wear on your back all day.
On the other hand you want to make sure it’s not too small that you can’t fit everything you’ll need in it. A smaller bag also makes it easier for you to hop on and off public transportation and walk through museums and attractions without bumping into people or getting in their way.
The ideal size you want to keep an eye out for is anywhere between 10L and 30L.
At the smaller end, 10 litres, this is just enough room for your camera, some snacks, a map or two, and a few other small things.
At 30L you’ll be able to fit everything you need including a sweater, umbrella, and a bigger DSLR camera. For me the middle of the range, around 15L, is perfect for my daily needs but it will be different for you depending on how much you want to carry.
Is it too heavy?
Since you’ll be wearing your daypack every day you want to make sure it’s light enough that you’ll be comfortable walking around with it for hours at a time. If it’s too heavy you’ll be prone to chaffing and you’ll probably sweat a lot more than if it was lighter.
There is no minimum weight but if it looks too heavy or bulky you might want to take a look at another bag. After a few days of walking around with something too heavy on your back you’re going to experience neck and shoulder pain which can really but a damper on your trip. In this case, going lighter is always the better choice.
Can it be easily packed?
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to pack your daypack into your main luggage but you still want to make sure it’s portable enough that you can easily swing it on top of the bus or train racks when you’re in transit.
It’s not going to be a good journey if you need to sit with your backpack on your lap for a few hours so keep an eye out for a sleek bag without too many straps or buckles hanging off it.
Is it secure against prying hands?
When something is on your back it’s nearly impossible to keep an eye on it at all times. You’re going to want a pack that’s secure enough that someone looking to steal something won’t be able to very easily. This doesn’t mean you need fancy locks or anything but you want a bag that has sturdy zippers and not too many velcro openings.
Locking your zippers together makes you much more of a potential target so you’ll want to avoid that if you can but choosing a bag that is more secure than your typical school bag can go a long way in protecting your stuff.
Does it look cool?
A lot of the packs available today look super technical like you’re getting ready for a multi-day hike or something. Thankfully there has been a rising trend lately in companies designing bags that are more trendy and cool looking for the more casual traveller.
You have to wear it every day so you want something that looks cool that you’re happy with. There are quite a few options when it comes to travel daypacks so if you happen to be interested in the more technical look or you want something that will help you blend in chances are you’ll be able to find it.
Is it comfortable?
When you’re looking at the size and weight of a potential bag you also want to make sure it’s comfortable. You don’t necessarily need to try it on but you want to see if it has padded straps, a reasonable waist belt, good air-flow and ventilation along the back.
As I mentioned earlier you’ll probably be wearing your pack all day every day so you definitely want something that’s as comfortable as possible.
What’s the storage like?
The total size of the bag and the storage options are two separate features but are equally important. You don’t want a 30L bag that is just one huge open space where everything will be mixed together and hard to reach.
Ideally you’ll want to look for something with a few pockets on the outside and inside and also something with a water bottle holder if that’s what you’re interested in. More pockets also makes the bag more secure so you can spread your valuables around while still being able to easily access them.
Choosing The Best Travel Daypack
Now that you’ve learned about the features and certain specifications you want to keep an eye out for here is a list of backpacks that I’ve used, or my friends have used, that I highly recommend for your trip.
I want to mention that you’ll want to avoid any packs which claim to be packable or theft-proof. The bags that you can roll up and fully pack down are super flimsy and a pain in the butt to carry around all day since you’ll feel every little thing jabbing you in the back.
The theft-proof bags are also useless because nothing is truly theft-proof and you turn yourself into a bigger target by carrying one around. A regular looking bag is the best choice in all scenarios and will help you blend in a lot more.
Overall, any of these packs will make for the best travel daypack. Each of them is sturdy, rugged, and completely reliable.
Some of them are better than others in varying situations but any one of them will make the perfect choice if you need something to store a few of your things while you’re walking around for the day.