Best Daypacks for Women

Best Daypacks for Women 2023

Getting our families out into nature is the goal.  Ensuring our kids are comfortable, nourished, and safe requires us to carry a variety of gear through all kinds of weather and terrain. A well designed, thoughtfully packed daypack sets you up for a successful adventure, no matter your destination.

Whether you’re a newcomer to outdoor activities, an experienced adventurer adjusting to the abilities of your smaller hiking partners, or simply in need of a daypack to carry your gear for solo expeditions, we’ve got you covered!

Our team of experienced outdoor mamas has dedicated years to putting various daypacks for women to the test.  These reviews are based on our firsthand experiences using these packs in real-life scenarios, ensuring that the information you receive is practical and reliable. We understand the unique needs of outdoor mamas, and our aim is to provide you with genuine insights and only recommend products we love and use.

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best daypacks for women showing all packs

What to Look For in a Daypack for Women

An essential piece of outdoor equipment, a daypack is useful in multiple venues yet can be chosen to enhance your favorite outdoor activities. Chosen well, it is comfortable, supportive, and appropriately sized for all your essentials. Here’s what to look for when you select a pack.

Size or Volume of Pack

Rather than choosing the largest pack you can carry, determine what you will carry regularly and make your decision based on that. Packs range in size from 1 liter to well over 50 liters. Having a pack too large for what you need makes carrying your gear cumbersome and encourages overpacking. But too small and you might not be able to get your family’s essentials.

Quality of Daypack

Ergonomic Design

In recent years companies have been customizing packs to cater more to women’s and diverse bodies. As of 2021 Gregory has an entire line of plus size packs as well. With all the choices available it is definitely possible to find a pack that is comfortable on your unique body for whatever activities you pursue.

Padded Straps

Look for shoulder straps that contour with your shoulder shape and provide extra padding wherever you have discomfort when carrying a load. Plus size packs features wider shoulder straps. If you are petite look for a smaller size pack, straps that are too large can rub against your arms while hiking and won’t support your pack effectively.

Ventilation

Moisture wicking materials, suspended mesh back panels that hold the pack body away from your back, and more are used to help keep you as cool as possible while hiking. Find a pack that feels comfortable for you, keeping in mind what weather conditions you will often use it in.

Waist Belt

The waist belt secures your pack to your torso and allows your hips to carry the weight of your pack. Find one with plenty of length for your waist/hips and feels comfortable and supportive. A belt often includes zippered pockets for snacks and other small items. If it’s important for you then make sure your phone fits where you can access it.

Women’s Daypack Features

Weather Considerations

Winter packs may include features such as gear loops and attachments for skis or snowboards. The hydration sleeve may be insulated to keep your water from freezing. Buckles and zippers are designed to be easier to use with gloved hands. If you do a lot of cold weather activities it’s worth getting a winter specific pack such as the Osprey Kresta.

Packs for hot weather include additional ventilation and breathable materials to keep you cool. Consider a pack with a larger reservoir for adequate hydration.

Waterproofing

Many packs have fabric coated with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating that helps shed water, though it is not considered waterproof.

Rain covers are sometimes provided with a pack, often in their own zippered pocket on the pack’s exterior. They are easy to pull out and over the pack when wet conditions hit. Though the pack itself is not waterproof the rain cover is.

Waterproof packs are constructed of waterproof fabric, have sealed seams and zippers, or may feature a roll top waterproof lid.

Woman poses with rain cover on backpack near wildflowers in forest
TMM Team Member Sara wearing the Osprey Sirrus 24 with its included rain cover.

Hydration Needs

Internal water reservoirs are common in hiking packs of all sizes. However, reservoirs are not always included in the purchase of a pack. Make sure the reservoir you purchase is compatible with the internal hanger and sleeve size of your pack.

Packs often have side pockets that accommodate a water bottle or two. Check to make sure you can pull a water bottle out and put it back without removing the pack.

Access to Your Gear

When it comes to accessing your gear on the trail consider what gives you joy and will make you a more efficient adventurer. Do you like to throw your gear in a top load pack and hit the trail? Or have a big panel up front you can open to see everything inside?

Do you like to organize in multiple pockets and panels? Or would you rather have one main compartment you pack everything into?

Are you constantly reaching for your phone to shoot pictures of your kids adventuring? Does the pack your’e looking at have a waist belt or shoulder pocket big enough to hold what you want on hand?

There are so many iterations of daypack out there and they are an investment. Take time to find your perfect pack!

Get Fitted for a Daypack

Heading to a reputable outdoor retailer (like REI) and having the staff help fit a pack to you is a great place to start. Stores will likely have many packs to choose from and they can throw in some weighted items to make it more realistic.

If possible, you should always try on a pack weighted since it can fit very different than when empty. Then, go for a walk around the store and try different movements to see if anything seems off, or if its a great fit!

Weight (Both Pack and Gear Load)

There are so many packs out there, from ultralight to heavier with lots of features. Find the combo that works for you and your hiking goals. Also, make sure you have a pack that can appropriately carry the load you plan to carry. Sometimes ultralight packs can’t carry heavy loads well, so plan ahead.

Waist Packs, Hip Bags, and Crossbody Packs for Women

These low profile packs are great for short hikes to errands around town, they hold the essentials and then some.

REI Trail 2 Waist Pack

REI Trail 2 Hip Pack

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 2 litre
  • Size – One size (fits waist/hips up to 45”)
  • Weight – 4.3oz
  • Waterproofing – water resistant
  • Hydration – none

What We Love About This Pack

The multiple internal pockets, secret back pocket, and clean design make the REI Co-op Trail 2 Waist Pack a great classic choice.

My new go-to for the farmer’s market, dog walks, and might just become my minimalist purse. The pack looks very basic from the outset. However, with three individual pockets, an internal key fob, and two internal pockets it has plenty of options for organization. It’s lightweight, durably constructed, and affordable.

There isn’t any padding or support with the waist belt but I haven’t been uncomfortable while walking or jogging several miles with my dog. I can’t foresee packing it heavily enough to make that an issue. Great basic pack!

TMM Team Member Jen L.

Cotopaxi Kapai 1.5L Hip Pack – Del Dia

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 1.5 liter
  • Size – one size
  • Weight – 5 oz
  • Waterproofing – none
  • Water reservoir – none

What We Love About This Pack

We love Cotopaxi’s one of a kind color patterns. They are made from 100% remnant fabric so their packs are environmentally friendly as well as totally unique. The padded back panel and top grab handle of the Cotopaxi Kapai 1.5L Hip Pack – Del Dia are a couple of fun features.

This little pack is fun and holds the essentials like phone, wallet, keys and a little snack. I like that I can toss over my shoulder or use as a waist pack and it’s great for travel as it is super lightweight and compact!

TMM Team Member Jami

Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack

Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 1 liter
  • Size – one size
  • Weight – 3.5 oz
  • Waterproofing – weather resistant silicone coating
  • Water reservoir – none

What We Love About This Pack

The Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack stashes in it’s own security pocket, making it easy to throw in your purse or carry-on for travel. It easily transitions from waist to cross body carry.

From the trail to traveling, TMM Team Member Kara makes the most of the Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack.

“It is pretty small (1L) but it fits my phone, keys, hand sanitizer, and little wallet! I’m able to wear it mountain biking no problem!”

TMM Team Member Kara

Fjallraven High Coast Hip Pack

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 1.5 liters
  • Size – one size
  • Weight – 4.4 oz.
  • Waterproofing – waterproof
  • Hydration – none

What We Love About This Pack

The Fjallraven High Coast Hip Pack is waterproof and has ventilating mesh at the back, making it great for wet or sweaty adventures. It’s rectangular shape makes stowing and accessing your phone or other items a breeze.

This bag has become a bit of a disability safety belt with ear plugs, meds, oils, sunscreen etc. I wear it almost everywhere. I like the easy zip, big compartments, casual slouch of the bag and comfy fit.

TMM Team Member Jen G.

Osprey Seral 7 Hydration Pack

Osprey Seral 7 Hydration Pack

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 7 liters
  • Size – one size (fits waist/hips 26-50″)
  • Weight – 1.115 lbs
  • Waterproofing – DWR (durable water repellent) finish
  • Hydration – internal sleeve, 1.5 liter reservoir included

What We Love About This Pack

The Osprey Seral 7 Hydration Pack is a great option those who prefer a minimalist approach to day hikes. The 7 liter capacity holds a surprising amount of gear – It can fit bear spray, a lightweight rain jacket, a couple of snacks, car keys and phone.

It comes with a 1.5 liter capacity Hydrapak water bladder which fits inside a lumbar sleeve. 1.5 liters of water is usually more than enough water for me. The spout comes out of the pack, wraps around the waist belt and has a magnetic clip on the hip area so that the tube is always in reach, and doesn’t dangle.

The back panel which sits on your lumbar is made of mesh which helps keep you cool and sweat-free. No one likes a sweaty lower back! The straps are super adjustable and I like that this hip-pack fits snug and doesn’t bounce.

Team member Sarah

Hiking Day Packs for Women – 20-25L

A 20-25 liter daypack is a great size for solo activities, around town, or on the trail with your little people if they can carry some of their own gear. They have hydration sleeves for around 1.5-2 liters of water and can carry a couple of 1 liter bottles in their side pockets.

They aren’t designed to carry heavy loads so may have a more or less structured waist belt depending on the design.

Osprey Sirrus 24 Women’s Daypack

Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack - Women's
  • Gear Capacity – 24 liters
  • Size – one size (fits torso length 15-19″, fits waist/hips 26-50″)
  • Weight – 2lbs. 12 oz.
  • Waterproofing – integrated waterproof raincover
  • Hydration – inner sleeve (reservoir not included), holds two 1 liter bottles in easy to reach side compartments

What We Love About This Pack

The ventilated mesh suspension system of the Osprey Sirrus 24 is ultra comfortable and keeps the pack firmly in place with no hip-belt rubbing. The frame is adjustable and makes it easy to get just the right fit.

Woman poses with backpack near wildflowers in the forest

The first thing that wowed me when I put on my Osprey Sirrus was how incredible light it felt. The pack weight a little over 2 lbs, and even fully loaded to the brim with water and gear, it was easy to carry.

On a recent 4-mile hike with my kids, I easily fit 3 lunches, water for all of us, rain jackets and rain pants, bear spray and tons of snacks.

This pack is so light and comfortable that even my husband is wearing it! Ssshhh…don’t tell him it’s a “women’s pack”.

TMM Team Member Sarah

REI Co-op Trail 25 Pack – Women’s

REI Co-op Trail 25 Pack - Women's

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 25 liters
  • Size – one size (fits torso length 17-19″, fits waist/hips 28-40″)
  • Weight – 1 lb. 15 oz.
  • Waterproofing – included raincover stows in zip pocket
  • Hydration – inner sleeve (reservoir not included), holds two 1 liter bottles in easy to reach side compartments

What We Love About This Pack

Like its big sister the REI Co-op Trail 40, the REI Co-op Trail 25 features a U shaped panel but just uzips halfway instead of the full length to offer quick access to gear. We love the many pockets that keep everything organized.

Woman wearing hiking clothing and orange backpack holds laughing toddler up in the air. They are in the forest.

I love my trail pack for everything from hikes with my four kiddos to carrying our swim lesson gear. I particularly appreciate the generously sized side water bottle pockets, which securely hold my Stanley water bottles without any risk of slipping. Its comfort during wear is exceptional, but it’s worth noting that the waist belt, while functional, is not padded and can be a snug fit on my 5’9″ 160-pound frame.

TMM Team Member Anna

Gregory Maya 20 Pack

Gregory Maya 20 Pack - Women's

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 20 liters
  • Size – one size
  • Weight – 1lb. 14.4 oz.
  • Waterproofing – DWR (durable waterproof repellent) finish
  • Water Reservoir – internal sleeve (reservoir not included)

What We Love About This Pack

We appreciate how spacious and breathable the outside pockets/compartments are on the Gregory Maya 20 Pack, a sweating water bottle doesn’t leave you with a soggy pack and wet clothes stuff into the outside back panel. The waist belt pockets are plenty big for a phone and snacks.

On a recent trip into the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) in northern Minnesota I loaded up the Gregory Maya 20 and tossed it into one of our canoes. When I portaged canoes from lake to lake it was comfortable to wear, even loaded down with heavy beverages and gear.

TMM Team Member Jen L.

Daypacks for Women – Multi-Use

These daypacks are still 20L packs, but pack some extra features for different types of activities.

Osprey Tempest 20 Women’s Daypack

Osprey Tempest 20 Pack - Women's
  • Gear Capacity – XS/S 18 liters, M/L 20 liters
  • Size – XS/S, EF (extended fit) XS/S, M/L, EF M/L
  • Weight – XS/S 1 lb. 12.5 oz, EF XS/S 2 lbs. 1 oz., M/L 1 lbs. 14.6 oz., EF M/L 2 lbs. 3 oz.
  • Waterproofing – none
  • Hydration – internal sleeve (reservoir not included), holds two one liter bottles in easy to reach side compartments
  • Bicycling Features
    • LidLock bike helmet attachment keeps your headwear on hand
    • Blinker light attachment (light not included) lets you add visibility to your kit

What We Love About This Pack

The extra features of the Osprey Tempest 20 make it a great cross platform pack. The Biostretch harness and hipbelt make it a great option for climbing while the LidLock helmet attachment could be used for a bike or climbing helmet.

The Tempest is great for shorter day hikes and biking. The 20-liter capacity holds a surprising amount of gear. On a recent family hike, I carried water for myself and 2 kids, lunch, snacks and bear spray.

This pack comes in Extended Sizing, with a hip belt that fits up to a 70-inch hip and it has longer sternum straps. It is great to see Osprey making inclusive sizes to fit all bodies!

TMM Team Member Sarah

Ultralight Daypack – Sea to Summit SIL 20L

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Travel Day Pack

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 20 liters
  • Size – one size
  • Weight – 2.5 oz
  • Waterproofing – water resistant
  • Hydration – none

What We Love About This Pack

The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil travel day pack must be the lightest, most packable daypack out there. We love the asymmetrical zipper design and durable fabric. Even though it’s bare bones and unpadded the generous width of the shoulder straps keep them from digging in.

On a recent short hike with our family one of my daughters asked for a pack to use. I happily whipped this out of my own daypack, stowed in it’s tiny egg size bag. It won’t win awards for padded shoulder straps or waist belt (there isn’t one) but it is comfortable, easy to use, and will be living in my purse or camping supplies as a solution whenever I need a pack on the fly.

TMM Team Member Jen L.

Osprey Kresta 20 Snow Pack – Women’s

Osprey Kresta 20 Snow Pack - Women's

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 20 liters
  • Size – one size (fits torso 14-19″, fits hips 24-45″)
  • Weight – 2lbs. 6 oz.
  • Waterproofing – DWR (durable water repellent) coating
  • Hydration – pocket with insulated harness sleeve (reservoir not included)

What We Love About This Pack

The Osprey Kresta 20 snow pack boasts a bunch of winter adventure compatible features. An onboard avalanche safety kit storage area has dedicated sleeves for shovel and probe, the hydration reservoir sleeve is insulated, the dual position stowaway helmet carry system gives multiple options, and so much more.

Woman on skis poses on snow covered mountainside

The Kresta is my favorite ski pack for the backcountry. I’ve tried several and I’ve yet to find a pack I like as well as the Kresta. It is a little heavier than some other packs but the functionality and pocket placement in this pack is smart and intuitive. It’s also super comfortable to wear on long days outside.

TMM Team Member Stephanie

Best Women’s Daypacks 30-55L

A daypack 30 liters plus is perfect for those longer trips, when you are carrying the bulk of the gear, or traveling to a distant destination. They may feature stowable straps for carry-on use, hydration sleeves that carry up to 3 liters of water, and a more structured waist belt for carrying heavier loads.

Travel Daypack – Osprey Porter 30

Osprey Sojourn Porter 30 Travel Pack

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 30 liters
  • Size – one size (fits torso length 15-21″, fits waist/hips 24-47″)
  • Weight – 3 lbs.
  • Waterproofing – none
  • Hydration – none
  • Laptop Sleeve – yes, fits laptop up to 16″
  • Carry On Size

What We Love About This Pack

The Osprey Sojourn Porter 30 travel pack is spacious, well padded to protect your stuff, and comfortable to carry. The compression straps help reduce your load size for carry on if that’s needed and shoulder straps stow securely in the back for airline travel.

The Osprey Porter isn’t a trail daypack but days of vehicular travel are long too and you need a pack that keeps your gear safe, no matter where in the world you wander. We’ve used a Porter for years: international and domestic air travel, weekender road trips, carrying my doula supplies, on and on! The pack has Osprey’s signature quality and design, it’s held up to some beating without wear and I’m sure we’ll have it for years to come.

TMM Team Member Jen L.

REI Trail 40 Pack – Women’s

REI Co-op Trail 40 Pack - Women's

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 40 liters
  • Size – Small (fits torso length 16-18″, fits waist/hips 26-38″) Medium (fits torso length 17-19″, fits waist/hips 28-40″)
  • Weight – Small 2 lbs. 13 oz. Medium 2 lbs. 15 oz.
  • Waterproofing – integrated raincover in it’s own pocket
  • Hydration – holds two 1 liter bottles in easy to reach side pockets, internal reservoir sleeve (reservoir not included)

What We Love About This Pack

Like its little sister the REI Co-op Trail 25 one of our favorite features of the REI Co-op Trail 40 is that the whole front panel can open up. Because it has four zippers you can open a specific portion of it or the whole thing. Perfect for mamas who need to find something quick!

The REI Trail 40 is a big pack that can hold all the gear for all your people. The U shaped full panel with four zippers opens fully to allow you to quickly find anything. It’s very comfortable with a full load, the waist belt is wide and well padded. Water bottles slide easily in and out of the side pockets and roomy waist belt pockets hold your phone, snacks, some Band-Aids, whatever you need at hand. It’s not the lightest pack of this size but it’s strong and durably built. Hiking, biking, canoeing, or as a carry on the REI Trail 40 is a solid pick!

TMM Team Member Jen L.

REI Co-op Flash 55 Pack – Women’s

REI Co-op Flash 55 Pack - Women's

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – XS: 53 liters, XS Torso x M Hipbelt: 54 liters, S: 55 liters, M: 57 liters
  • Size
    • XS: Fits torso length 15-17 “, Fits waist/hips 30-38”
    • XS Torso x M Hipbelt: Fits torso length 15-17″, Fits waist/hips 34-44″
    • S: Fits torso length 16-18″, Fits waist/hips 32-40″
    • M: Fits torso length 17-19″, Fits waist/hips 34-44″
  • Weight
    • XS: 2 lbs. 10 oz.
    • XS Torso x M Hipbelt: 2 lbs. 11oz.
    • S: 2 lbs. 11 oz.
    • M: 2 lbs. 12 oz.
  • Waterproofing – water resistant but multiple reviewers praised its performance in rainy weather. Keeps your gear dry!
  • Hydration – internal reservoir sleeve (reservoir not included), holds two 1 liter bottles in side pocket positioned forward on the hip belt for easy access

What We Love About This Pack

Though it isn’t advertised as waterproof this pack has amazing water shedding performance. It also comes in tons of sizes and with lots of adjustability making sure you get a perfect fit!

Woman wearing yellow backpack poses with two children near a river in the forest

This is a big pack for a day hike but it doesn’t feel like it because it is so light weight.  This is my favorite daypack to use when I am carrying my toddler on the front in a Trail Magik because it does such a great job distributing weight and makes a heavier load feel much more comfortable.  Bonus the entire pack is waterproofed and has a roll top design so there is no need for a rain cover.

TMM Team Member Anna

Women’s Plus Size Daypacks for Women – They Exist!

We’re so glad to be able to recommend plus size daypacks that are specifically designed for those of us that are plus size and killing it on the trails. Made to hug curves without digging in or causing discomfort, they feature widened shoulder harness angles, extended shoulder harness lengths, and enlarged hip belts.

Gregory Maya 20 Pack – Women’s Plus Size

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 20 liters
  • Size – one size (fits torso length 14-19″, fits waist/hips up to 60″)
  • Weight – 2 lbs. 2.9 oz.
  • Waterproofing – durable water repellent (DWR) finish
  • Hydration – internal reservoir sleeve (reservoir not included), holds two 1 liter bottles in side pockets

What We Love About This Pack

Besides the obvious larger sizing to the women’s plus size Gregory Maya 20 pack we love that the waist belt pockets are closer to the front, making it easier to grab your phone or snacks. The construction of the pack includes lots of ventilation for comfort during long hikes.

Gregory Juno 30 Pack – Women’s Plus Size

REI Co-op Flash 55 Pack - Women's

Specs

  • Gear Capacity – 30 liters
  • Size – one size (fits torso length 14-19″, fits waist/hips 38-60″
  • Weight – 2 lbs. 1.6 oz.
  • Waterproofing – none mentioned, no rain cover included
  • Hydration – Internal sleeve, 3 liter hydration reservoir included

What We Love About This Pack

We love that the generous 3 liter hydration reservoir is included with the Women’s Plus Size Gregory Juno 30 H2O Pack. The suspended ventilation frame design keeps you cool!

REI Co-op Packmod Hipbelt Extender (Great for Pregnancy Too!)

REI Co-op Packmod Hipbelt Extender

Specs

  • In combination with existing hip belts this extender fits sizes 3x-6x
  • Perforated EVA foam and air mesh elevate hip belt comfort by distributing weight and providing breathability
  • Compatible fit with a simple quick-clip attachment for all current REI brand 38 mm (1.5 inches) webbed packs
  • Threads also onto most forward-pull 38mm webbed packs to extend hip belt length

What We Love About This Strap

The REI Co-op Packmod Hipbelt Extender is a great option to keep using your existing pack while giving you a little extra breathing room! We love that it’s able to be used for a variety of packs and brands.

Years ago, backpacking with my 8 month old in a baby carrier, while pregnant, I would have been thrilled to have an option like this to extend my treasured baby backpack waist belt. I managed, but those days were numbered according to how large around I was getting!

If you’ve already got a backpack but need a longer waist belt, for a season or more than a season, here’s a solution.

TMM Team Member Jen

Daypacks for Women

From urban adventures to bushwhacking treks there’s a daypack for every situation. Choosing one that fits your lifestyle and adventure-style is a great way to make more outdoor activities happen for you and your family. When you have the gear you need to pick up and walk out the door that’s one more hurdle you’ve overcome to getting outside. We hope our recommendations provide the inspiration you need for a great new piece of outdoor gear!

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Best Women’s Daypack

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Authors

    by
  • Jen Levin, mama of six, lives in St Paul Minnesota. Raised in the north woods of Michigan at a year round camp, she had a wild and free childhood. Jen and her husband ran an outdoor adventure program for college age participants for 7 years in Arkansas. They enjoyed helping others experience nature through canoeing, climbing, backpacking, and caving in the Ozark National Forest. Now Jen is figuring out how to nurture outdoor kids in an urban location. She’ll drive the extra miles for a clean lake and is happiest on, in, or near the water. Her family loves camping, swimming, canoeing, backpacking, and harvesting maple syrup at their family farm.

  • Anna is a proud Washingtonian living in the Cascade mountain range with her park ranger husband and their four kids 6 and under. Their family is lucky enough to live in a ranger house in a state park and have lots of access to the outdoors year-round.

  • Sarah Toal is a Colorado native who now calls Jackson, Wyoming, home. Sarah, her husband Evan, and two kids August, age 7, and Harper, age 5, spend their (long!) winters snowboarding, and (short!) summers riding bikes, floating on the Snake River, and hiking. Follow our adventures and general family chaos on Instagram: @sartoal

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