Camping Gear

Gear Review: 5 Favorite Daypacks

Posted On June 30, 2016 at 10:09 am by / Comments Off on Gear Review: 5 Favorite Daypacks

Osprey Manta AG 20

Osprey Manta AG 20

By Michael Lanza

What do you need a daypack for? That’s really the critical question to consider when choosing from the dozens of widely varying choices out there today, which range all over the map in terms of volume, weight, carrying capacity, features—and cost. Some are very specialized, others built as all-purpose dayhiking sacks, but still designed with an eye toward making them stand out from a crowded field.

I’ve picked out five favorite daypacks I’ve tested and reviewed at The Big Outside—all different enough from one another to offer you clear choices.

The comparison chart offers a quick look at features that distinguish the packs from one another.

 

Daypack Price Volume Weight Carrying Capacity Features
Osprey Talon 18 and Tempest 16 $90 16-18 L/976-1,098 c.i. (men’s Talon)
14-16L/854-976 c.i. (women’s Tempest)
1 lb. 5 oz. (men’s S/M) 15 lbs. * Men’s and women’s models
* 5 external pockets
* Ventilating harness, hipbelt, back pad
Arc’teryx Velaro 24 $175 24L/1,465 c.i. 1 lb. 10 oz. 15 lbs. * Nearly waterproof
* Durable construction
* Zipper access to main compartment
Marmot Aquifer 24 $129 24L/1,465 c.i. 1 lb. 11 oz. 18 lbs. * Supportive framesheet & stay
* Ventilating harness, hipbelt, back panel
* 5 external pockets
Gregory Salvo/Sula 28 $129 28L/1,708 c.i. 2 lbs. 7 oz. 20+ lbs. * 2 spacious main compartments
* Ventilating harness, hipbelt, back panel
* 5 external pockets
Osprey Manta AG 20/Mira AG 18 $155 20L/1,220 c.i. 2 lbs. 11 oz. 25 lbs. * Anti-Gravity suspension
* Ventilating harness, hipbelt, back panel
* 7 external pockets
* Rain cover

 

In the brief reviews below, click on the name or photo of each daypack to read its complete review at The Big Outside.

 

Osprey Talon 18

Osprey Talon 18

Osprey Talon 18/Tempest 16
$90, 16L/976 c.i., 1 lb., 5 oz. (men’s S/M)

Far and away the best value on this list, the men’s Talon 18 and women’s Tempest 16 are simply solid, all-around packs for dayhikers who are frugal in what they choose to carry. These packs—which come in larger and smaller volumes, too—are comfortable with up to 15 pounds, and lightweight while having good functionality and access, including a top pocket, mesh side pockets, and two roomy, zippered hipbelt pockets.

BUY IT NOW: You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to purchase an Osprey Talon 18 or Tempest 16 at backcountry.com.

 

Marmot Aquifer 24

Marmot Aquifer 24

Marmot Aquifer 24
$129, 24L/1,465 c.i., 1 lb., 11 oz.

On huge dayhikes of 17 miles and 6,800 feet through New Hampshire’s rugged Northern Presidential Range, and 25 miles in the Grand Canyon—outings of 12 to 15 hours on which I carried this daypack without much rest—the Aquifer 24’s supportive framesheet kept me from feeling any soreness in my shoulders or back. That’s kind of amazing. The Aquifer 24 has the capacity for big days, an overall weight that’s reasonable for shorter hikes, and a versatile feature set for everything from family hikes to technical peak-bagging.

BUY IT NOW: You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to purchase a Marmot Aquifer 24 at backcountry.com.

 

Arc’teryx Velaro 24

Arc’teryx Velaro 24

Arc’teryx Velaro 24
$175, 24L/1,465 c.i., 1 lb., 10 oz.

If you’re hard on gear and don’t perceive falling rain or snow as a reason to abort plans for a dayhike or peak scramble, the Velaro 24 may be the daypack for you. Nearly waterproof and impervious to the harshest abuse in rocky terrain—thanks to almost seamless construction and 400-denier nylon ripstop fabric that’s polyurethane coated inside and out—the Velaro has plenty of capacity for long, one-day outings and carries up to 15 pounds comfortably.

BUY IT NOW: You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to purchase an Arc’teryx Velaro 24 at backcountry.com.

 

Gregory Salvo 28

Gregory Salvo 28

Gregory Salvo/Sula 28
$129, 28L/1,708 c.i., 2 lbs. 7 oz.

The Freespan suspension in the men’s Salvo and women’s Sula delivers more support and comfort than you’ll find in many daypacks, thanks to a steel perimeter frame with an aluminum leaf spring for lumbar support. But unlike many daypacks with a trampoline back panel, the Freespan uniquely ventilates well without its concave shape effectively consuming part of the pack’s interior space; and it keeps the pack bag close to your spine, so it doesn’t feel like it’s tugging you backward. At 28 liters, it has plenty to capacity for all the clothing, water, and food you could possibly need for an all-day hike in any terrain or weather, and abundant external pockets.

BUY IT NOW: You can support my work on this blog by clicking one of these links to purchase a Gregory Salvo 28 at backcountry.com or a Sula 28 at backcountry.com.

 

Osprey Manta AG 20

Osprey Manta AG 20

Osprey Manta AG 20/Mira AG 18
$155, 20L/1,220 c.i., 2 lbs. 11 oz.

If you routinely carry a lot of stuff dayhiking, it really makes sense to get a pack designed for that kind of payload. With Osprey’s Anti-Gravity suspension—a trampoline-style panel of lightweight, tensioned mesh extending from the top of the back panel to the hipbelt, with a wire perimeter frame that flexes slightly—the Manta AG 20 and women’s Mira AG 18 are built for hauling 15 to 25 pounds all day. They’re nicely featured, too, with quick access to the main compartment via a two-way, clamshell zipper, plus seven external pockets for organization, and tricked out with extras like a trekking poles attachment on the left shoulder strap and an integrated rain cover. Both are available in larger-volume versions, too.

BUY IT NOW: You can support my work on this blog by clicking one of these links to purchase an Osprey Manta AG 20 at backcountry.com or a Mira AG 18 at backcountry.com.

See all of my reviews of daypacks and hiking gear at The Big Outside.

See also my stories “My 10 Most-Read Gear Reviews,” “The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun,” “Buying Gear? Read This First,” “5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear,” and “Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza

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Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, at the top of the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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