Women's dayhiking backpackWhen you’re out for a full day of adventure, you need to be able to carry your 10 Essentials with you, including extra water, food, and clothing. That’s where the Daypack comes in. It carries all your “stuff” on the trail.

Daypack Shopping Tips:

  • Hydration bladder compatible. I use my CamelBak reservoir (here’s my gear review if you aren’t familiar with CamelBak hydration reservoirs) to carry 3 liters of water with me on most day hikes, therefore I look for daypacks that have a pouch inside to hold the bladder and a neatly sewn hole for the CamelBak tube. I rarely see packs made anymore that aren’t compatible with hydration bladders, but double check before you make an investment in a daypack.
  • Size. Most daypacks are about 30 to 35 Liters. That is typically a sufficient size to carry what you need for a long day hike, or even a full day snowshoeing. Packs are measured in Liters, which reflects the volume of contents you could stuff inside. Here’s a quick conversion guide because some brands label the size in Liters, while others use cubic inches:
    • 20 Liters = 1,200 cubic inches
    • 30 Liters = 1,800 cubic inches
    • 40 Liters = 2,400 cubic inches

    If you trail run, and need a smaller, sleeker design, check out my tips on Hydration Waistpacks and Hydration Packs.

  • How do you like to organize your gear? There are two main types of daypacks: top loaders and panel loaders.
      Top loading daypack
      Top loading daypack

    • Top loaders: A top loading daypack is one where there is one big compartment where you store all your gear and that is topped off with a little “hat” where you can stash a few extras. The benefit of a top loading pack is that they allow you to overstuff them. If you want to squeeze in that extra fleece jacket you can just extend the top of the pack higher. The drawback is that it is hard to stay organized because the majority of your gear is in the main, large compartment.
    • Panel loaders: A panel loading daypack is similar to a school backpack – there are lots of outside compartments where you can stash gear. You don’t
      Panel loader daypack
      Panel loading daypack
      have to dig to the very bottom of your pack to get what you need. The drawback of panel loading daypacks are that they have lots of zippers (which add weight) and if you have some extra gear that just doesn’t quite fit, you can’t just extend the size of the pack like you can with a top loader.
  • Waterproof zippers. This is more relevant for panel loading daypacks because they have a lot more zippers. You never know when that surprise thundershower will come down, and while waterproof zippers aren’t foolproof, they are definitely much more helpful than standard zippers when you’re caught in the rain.
  • FIT FIT FIT! You need to be comfortable wearing your daypack for long periods of time with somewhat heavy loads. Even if it is a women’s specific daypack, it might not be right for your body. Check to make sure that the waistbelt fits comfortably on your hips and distributes the load to your hips, not your back. Also make sure that the shoulder straps are comfortable. A lot of women’s specific daypacks have contoured straps that are designed to accommodate the curves of a woman’s body. Also make sure that the sternum strap, which comes across your chest, is adjustable. Generally it is more comfortable for women to have the sternum strap hit above the breasts rather than directly across the chest like with men’s packs.

Hiking Lady’s Favorite Women’s Daypacks

REI Women's Traverse Daypack REI Women’s Traverse Daypack: This is a great women’s specific 30 Liter daypack that will be more than sufficient to carry everything you need on short day hikes and even full day hikes during the summer. It is a panel loading daypack, so it is very easy to keep your gear organized. I have this daypack and use it all the time for hikes, especially in the summer when I don’t have to carry many extra layers of clothing.

Check out my full review of my REI Women’s Traverse Daypack under my “Gear Review” pages.

Marmot Women's Diva Daypack Marmot Women’s Diva Daypack: Yes I own this daypack too! I wanted something larger than my REI Traverse Daypack for long dayhikes (like when I hiked Mt. Whitney in a day!) and snowshoe outings when I need to take lots of warm clothes. If you are looking for extra space and a comfortable, women’s specific pack, this is a great top loading daypack that is light weight, carries 35L of gear, and has lots of bells and whistles (or in hiking terms: loops, stash pockets, and bungees!) so you can keep your gear organized.

Check out my full review of my Marmot Women’s Diva 35L Pack under my “Gear Review” pages.

More info about Hydration Waistpacks, Daypacks and Backpacks


  1. Luvs2Hike says:

    Another really great daypack is Deuter ACT Trail 28SL, which is a women’s specific daypack. It is a top loader with access to the bottom of the pack through a zippered panel in the front, like a panel loader. It holds plenty for a full day, much more room than you would expect for it’s rated 1800cc capacity. It is extremely comfortable, with many features of backpacking packs.

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