Image Credit: Calpak
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We’ve all been there. You’re five miles into a five-mile hike, and the endpoint is nowhere in sight—plus you have to head back to the car at some point. With weather warming (and those mountains looking even more appealing on bluebird days), it’s important to be prepared when you venture off into the wilderness.
Primarily, that means picking the proper day pack or backpack to keep you company on your hike. Whether you prioritize features like a water reservoir, cooler compartment, light weight, or capacity, your perfect pack is just a few clicks away.
What You’ll Want to Pack In Your Daypack
We’ll do another piece on *what* exactly goes in the daypack, but as a general rule of thumb, you’ll want your backpack to be able to hold sunscreen (duh), bug spray, sunglasses, water, snacks, ideally some hydration boosters, perhaps a hat if you’re really feelin’ prepared. Maybe a swimmie if you’re headed to a waterfall or river along the route.
Different hikers prefer different styles. I tend to load myself down a little more because I’d rather veer towards prepared than lightweight, while other “ultralight” styles prefer limited supplies so they can move more quickly. (I’m slow regardless, y’all.) Your backpack’s size, weight, number of pockets, and more will each influence how much you bring on your hike. Scroll on for a few of our favorites.
5 Hiking Backpacks and Day Packs for Spring and Summer Trails
- Cotopaxi Luzon 24L Pack, $80.
- CamelBak Rim Runner X 20 Hydration Pack, $100.
- Hydro Flask Slingback Bottle Pack, $60.
- Brevite Backpack, $130.
- Calpak Terra 26L Laptop Backpack Duffel, $175.
I don’t know about y’all, but I see this backpack everywhere. Perhaps it’s the vibrant collection of colors—bright, but attractive enough to feel stylish instead of chaotic. The style girlie in me wants to call it a symptom of dopamine dressing sweeping the outdoors, but TBH, it’s also just a really solid pack.
While the “not like other girls” in you might balk at the thought of having a popular backpack, rest easy: each pack is actually fully unique. Every Luzon pack is one of a kind, and made by employees who are given creative control to determine its unique color scheme. It’s also ultralight, made of nylon and lightweight mesh. There are two mesh bottle pockets, in addition to a separate pocket for muddy or spontaneous dip in the lake anyone? Nomads also note that a compartment has enough room for a laptop.
Personally, I always need easy access to water. Even on runs, I’m always concerned about running out, carrying my water bottle with me as I jog. On a trail, in the middle of the woods, that worry is dialed way up, making a backpack with a hydration pack even more appealing to me. It carries both a day’s worth of gear as well as two liters of water.
Believe it or not, this pack is actually crafted for women. And no, it’s not just a “shrink it and pink it” mentality. The backpack has an S‑curved shoulder harness to better accommodate curves. It’s lightweight, but also has a load-bearing hipbelt with pockets (à la a “backpacking” backpack) so you can shift the weight as necessary. And for the “it has pockets!” girlie in each of us, there are six organizational pockets so you can reach anything you need, at any time.
For the record, I was not expecting Hydroflask to have my favorite sling bag of the bunch. I’ve used this pack every single day of ski season. It’s surprisingly roomy, fitting my water bottle (its star-studded quality—it fits your giant Hydro Flask!), wallet, snacks, sunglasses, and (dork alert) my Kindle, which I’ll read on the bus to and from the slopes. It has such a slim profile that people often don’t realize I’m wearing it. It’s also relatively waterproof and snowproof because I’ve eaten it quite a few times on piste, with nary a leak. The slingback pack is crafted of 100% post-consumer recycled polyester air mesh, body fabric and ripstop lining. The shoulder strap is removable, making it easy to click on and off, and it has an additional support strap.
At just $60, it’s an affordable and versatile pick that I’ll use across activities. It’s positively ideal for those who don’t want a *real* backpack on their hike, but want to know that they have easy access to the essentials.
The Brevite Bag—$130.
For those adventurers who love documenting their travels and trails, you’ll want a backpack that protects your camera gear. This Brevite Bag is crafted for photographers, and (better yet!) comes in eleven funky colors ranging from bright yellow to charcoal gray to vivid red. It’s compact, light, and functional, but even more importantly, has an easy-access side pocket to stow your camera in, meaning you can grab it immediately before the perfect shot disappears. Better yet, it’s machine washable and even comes with a lifetime warranty. Splurge for an extra $32 on a removable rain cover.
Looking for something bigger? No worries. A solid, weatherproof backpack is extremely helpful to have around for traveling too. This sleek Calpak version can be either a backpack or a duffel, making it both a daypack and an overnight pack. Crafted from recycled polyester and available in five stylish colors, this 26-liter backpack includes compression straps with buckles (so never worry about overpacking!), a clamshell opening, pass-through trolley sleeve, padded laptop sleeve, and more. It’s so feature-rich that I find myself reaching for it again and again. Oh, and it’s made from 27 recycled water bottles.