How to Choose the Best Daypack

One of the best parts of travel is days spent exploring a new place. Taking in the sites, sounds, tastes, and everything else associated with a new destination is invigorating. When you're out exploring you want your daily gear and essentials close by and easy to access, that’s why a great daypack is the traveler’s ultimate companion.

Use this guide to narrow down your choice and make sure you have the right daypack for you and your trip.

Why you Should Travel With a Daypack

When you’re moving between destinations a suitcase, duffel, or a travel backpack are all great options. These bags offer large capacity and are meant for moving your gear and clothing between locations. But once you’re at your destination and out exploring day to day, there’s no better option than a great travel daypack.

Seasoned travelers rely on daypacks as lightweight, portable, and convenient carrying options for all the daily essentials. The right daypack will offer the perfect balance of versatility, organization, and durability based on where and how you’ll be using it.

A daypack is smaller and more portable than larger luggage or travel bags and meant to be used for day to day exploring compared to moving larger volumes of stuff between locations. Their lightweight and compact profile make them easy to carry for long stretches of time and accessible storage, convenient pockets, and security options make them suited for daily use.

From walking tours through the city, hikes across mountain tops, and afternoons at the beach, the right daypack can elevate your trip and help you experience more by sacrificing less.

How to Choose the Best Daypack | Travel More | Flashpacker Co

How to Choose the Best Daypack for Travel

There are many factors to consider when selecting your daypack. Where and how you will use it is a great place to start but also consider the capacity, material, carrying style, and special features on the bag.


The best daypack for Hiking the Sawtooth Mountains is probably a hiking daypacks whereas the best daypack for travel in Europe is probably an urban daypack. Consider where you will be traveling and what you will need the daypack for. Will you be in a hot climate or a wet one? Is style more important than function? How important are anti theft features? Will you be going on frequent excursions and wearing it for long stretches of time? Once you have a good idea of how and where you’ll be using your daypack you can narrow down the following criteria to find the best daypack for your specific travel style.


How to Choose the Best Daypack | Travel More

Daypacks range in size from just a few liters to fit the essentials to 20-25 liters for larger quantities of gear. Consider where you will explore day to day and how long you’ll be away from your accommodations to determine how much you’ll be carrying. If you’re with a travel buddy a great option is to share one larger daypack and take turns carrying it.

Here’s a rough capacity guide and what you’ll be able to fit:

  • 1-5 liters: Essentials (phone, keys, wallet, sunglasses).
  • 6-15 liters: Essentials plus daily gear like a water bottle and snacks, maybe a towel on the higher end range.
  • 16-30 liters: Essentials plus daily gear and extra room for a towel and change of clothes. On the higher end, you could use this to carry a laptop or photography gear or you could even get away with it as an overnight bag.


The material of your daypack should also be a consideration based on your destination. A standard nylon bag will be pretty universal whether you’re hiking, going to the beach, or walking in a city. But there are plenty of additional options to consider. Many bags, regardless of material, have scratch or stain resistant coatings which help weatherproof the bag from dirt, dust, and spills. That doesn't necessarily mean it’s waterproof though. Where you’re going and what you’re doing will tell you the best materials to consider.

Ripstop: Designed and used frequently for products that are used outdoors, nylon ripstop fabric will add durability and longevity to your pack. Ripstop is generally weatherproof as well as stain and abrasion resistant meaning it will survive your hikes and camping trips without showing severe signs of wear and tear.

Waterproof: There are numerous waterproof daypacks available if you’re heading to a wet climate. Poly/ nylon materials with reinforced rubber seals will keep water out and your gear dry. If you’re headed out to the water or visiting during the rainy season, a waterproof bag can be a lifesaver. Pro-tip; waterproof bags are also generally sand proof. If you’re beachbound or avoiding a sand storm, a waterproof bag can keep your gear and especially your electronics safe from the sand.

Sustainable: Sustainable travel is booming and your gear can contribute to this as well. Several brands are introducing bags made from 100% recycled materials (for example the Repreve fabric). This material is typically lightweight, breathable, and allows travelers to maintain a sustainable lifestyle through their gear choices.

Leather/ Canvas: When style is important it's hard to beat a leather daypack. A range of quality is available including water repellent coated leather, waxed canvas, and high quality leather. Look for reinforced leather accents on canvas bags to know it's solidly built. Both leather and canvas are great options for the urban explorer who values style & function.

Carrying style

How to Choose the Best Daypack

The carrying style of your travel daypack can largely be based on personal preference, although use might dictate your best options. If you’re exploring a city you can probably go with any option whereas hiking trips will be most comfortable with a backpack.

Backpack: A classic for travelers, daypack backpacks are plentiful and practical in nearly all situations. Potential downsides are pickpocketing could be a concern with everything behind you and you don’t have quick access to your gear when its on your back.

Sling/ Crossbody: A great option for urban exploration, a sling or crossbody daypack can keep your gear easily accessible while remaining hands free.

Waist: A favorite among backpackers and growing in popularity, a waistpack daypack gives you security with everything right in front of you, easy access, and hands free mobility.

Tote: A tote style daypack is a great for option beach days, exploring shops or markets, and hauling groceries. Not suited for long term carry.

Convertible: Some daypacks can convert between carrying options giving you more flexibility. A quick swap between tote and backpack or backpack to sling bag can make a bag more comfortable and flexible for a variety of uses.

Special Features

Packable: A packable daypack is one of the most versatile travel products available. They typically fold up into a self contained pouch not much larger than a fist for easy transport to your destination and then unfold when you’re ready to use. This offers the unique advantage of packing your daypack into your primary bag then when you arrive you still have a daypack ready to use.

Anti Theft: Unfortunately theft is a risk of travel that isn’t going away anytime soon. As pickpockets and scammers become more sophisticated, so has anti theft travel gear. Security zippers, RFID blocking panels, chair wire locks, and anti slash bottoms & straps can all help keep your valuables secure. Of course, none of these are a substitute for following practical safety guidelines, but all offer extra peace of mind.

Expandable Storage: When you need to fit in a little more gear an expandable storage daypack could be the answer. Roll top bags can offer some extra room by simply not rolling the bag as far. Alternatively, an external cargo net can give you extra room for things like an umbrella or sandals.

LaptopIf you're traveling and working like we did as Digital Nomads in Barbados, a daypack with built-in protection for your computer can be a necessity. Look for padded sleeves and suspended panels for protection from drops if possible. 


Choosing the best daypack will be a gamechanger for your next trip. Now that you know what to look out for when making your selections, check out our list of the best travel daypacks ranging from small to large capacity and highlighted by best use and key features. You can also review our full curated collection of daypacks for more options and varieties.

Product Comparison


Capacity (liters)


Key Features


Best For

Chrome Industries Packable Waistpack Fanny Pack


Nylon ripstop

Ultra lightweight & packable.


As an easily transported secondary daypack

Hadaki Urban Sling



Blends style & function. Easy access side zippers.


Urban exploration in style with room for the essentials.

Chrome Industries Kadet Messenger Style Sling Bag


Abrasion resistant nylon

Higher capacity sling bag, ultimate ease of use and access.


Functional urban exploration with room for the essentials.

Sherpani Soleil Crossbody Anti Theft Travel Bag


Melange & nylon

Built in anti theft zippers, anti slash reinforcement, RFID protection.


The traveler concerned with theft.

Sherpani Dispatch Tote Backpack


Repreve; 100% recycled materials

Sustainable fabric and convertible carrying options.


Flexible carrying options and sustainability minded.

ChicoBag Recycled Materials Packable Daypack


Repreve; 100% recycled materials

Packable down to the size of a fist and sustainable fabric.


Easily transportable and sustainability minded.

Jack Foster Waxed Canvas & Horween Leather Daypack


Waxed canvas with Horween leather accents

High quality materials and high end style.


The urban explorer who values style and longevity.

Chrome Industries Urban Ex Rolltop Waterproof Daypack


Waterproof poly/ nylon, rubber base, reinforced seams

100% waterproof.


Trips where you might get wet.

Chrome Industries Rolltop Packable Daypack


Nylon ripstop

High capacity daypack that packs down to nothing for transport.


Traveling light to your destination, but exploring far once there.

Ascentials Pro Meta 3 in 1 Business Laptop Backpack


Ballistic nylon

3 ways to carry, business ready, large enough for overnight.


Business traveler or digital nomad.

Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo Rolltop Waterproof Backpack


Waterproof tarpaulin liner & abrasion-resistant nylon

100% waterproof & expandable storage. 


Long days exploring outdoors with lots of gear.

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