What is the best backpack for day hiking? There are many choices but we think a few key features will make you the happiest with your gear.
Every so often, we take a break from profiling a travel destination to share with our readers a piece of gear that we have come across that, in our opinion, is the best one for the job. We receive no compensation from the manufacturers, and we tell it like it is.
If your hikes extend beyond a short stroll in the woods, especially if you hike in the mountains or in other potentially unstable weather conditions, you will likely benefit from a dedicated backpack to carry essential items like water, food, clothing layers, and rain gear. We are specifically targeting day hikes here, not overnight treks or backcountry camping.
One of our favorite stores is REI. They have great staff that can talk you through the essential decisions when purchasing gear. They did a fantastic job for us. We selected Osprey packs, and will go through the features that were factors in that decision.
First is capacity. Not too big, not too little, but just right. For us, this is in the 24 liter range.
Second, fit. Multiple adjustments are standard on most packs. Osprey makes packs specifically to fit women, the Sirrus series, and to fit men, the Stratos series…
Third, comfort. Fit is the most important factor in comfort, but a nice feature is a breathable mesh separating the pack from your back.
Forth, water storage. We are big believers in hydration systems with collapsable reservoirs and tubing rather than using loose bottles, due to the even weight distribution and the ability to drink hands-free.
Lastly, rain protection. These packs have a built-in rain fly. Something that is not important at all, until it is. You will be glad you have it if you need it.
If you don’t have a pack, or have an outdated or ill-fitting one, make the upgrade. And happy hiking!