You’ve got lots of baggage. The duffel. The messenger. The suitcase. The briefcase. The tote? Maybe not the tote. Of them all, the daypack is arguably the most mission critical, ideal for bagging peaks or cycling to the office. While the lifetime warrantee on your North Face pack from grammar school is meant to be honored, there’s something to be said for retiring before things unravel (see: Kobe Bryant). Today’s daypacks are designed to haul both your climbing gear and your laptop over mountains and through airports. There’s a lot to love, and these are our favorites.
Black Diamond Bolt
Best Hiking Pack: Black Diamond’s new Bolt expands on their excellent line of serious mountain packs and bags with some added comforts for serious hikers. The reACTIV suspension allows for shifting weight between your shoulders and hips while on the move and is incredibly breathable. The hybrid top loader also has a side panel zipper for accessing essentials on the trail. Extra water bottle and hip belt pockets and trekking pole/ice axe attachments are icing on the cake.
Montane Dragon 20
Best Ultralight Pack: Originally designed for serious mountain runners and ultra distance athletes, the Dragon is Montane’s new flagship ultralight daypack. A roll-top closure and silicone and TPU-coated Raptor fabric create an entirely waterproof pack body. The shoulder and waist belts fit more like a mesh vest, allowing your load to ride as close to your body as possible. Expect to see it on the podium of more than a few adventure races and ultra marathons.
Bergans Rondane 12L
Best Running Pack The Rondane line of packs from Bergans incorporates some welcome innovations for trail running. Rather than the typical running vest design, the Rondane uses a simple elastic cordlock system at multiple points across the wearer’s chest sides to stay in place on even the roughest trails. At 12 liters, it’s just large enough to carry essential gear and a 2L hydration bladder on your next training run or race.
Best Cragging Pack: If your day in the mountains is going to involve hauling a full kit of climbing gear between a few of your favorite spots, CAMP’s Roxback is the perfect rope bag. The most prominent feature is a unique zipper down the back that splits the bag in half like a clamshell. This allows for easy gear organization and lets the Roxback double as a rope tarp, keeping your precious climbing rope out of the dust and mud. Extra pockets for water, valuables and climbing chalk round out this burly bag.
Best Camera Pack: We can’t all take Ansel Adams-quality photos of our time out in nature. Still, a dedicated camera pack can help you get all your gear out on the trail. With separate compartments for your DSLR, a 17-inch laptop, and tripod and light stands, the Borealis has everything a budding wildlife or adventure photographer needs to set up a backcountry studio.
Arc’Teryx Astri 19
Best Urban-to-Backcountry Pack: The Astri is a new “outdoor commuter” pack from Arc’Teryx. At 19 liters, it’s a perfect adventure travel pack for carrying all your gadgets and creature comforts off the beaten path for a day of exploring. Waterproof zippers and 100 percent sealed seams protect your precious laptop and smartphone, while the contoured harness looks out for your shoulders and back.
Mountain Hardwear Hueco 35
Best Alpine Climbing Pack: If your summer adventures take you on some serious vertical endeavors, the Hueco 35 is perfect for chasing long alpine routes or hard hikes on Colorado’s 14ers. The ballistic nylon main body is built to take serious punishment on and off the trail. Designed to swallow rope, helmets, ice axes, trekking poles, and any other gear you may need, the Hueco’s streamlined design begs to be put to the test above the treeline.
Camelbak VOLT 13 LR
Best Biking Pack: The biggest difference between the Volt and other hydration packs? Its bladder sits across the bottom of your pack around your hips rather than along your back. This helps stabilize the Volt, even when you’re ripping single track at full speed. The upper pouches will carry everything you need for a day on your bike.
Madden Equipment Daylite
Best Throwback Pack: Madden Equipment has been making packs in Colorado since 1974. After a 10-year hiatus, the Daylite remains one of their most popular packs, and it’s easy to see why. The single compartment panel loader has enough internal organization to accommodate all your daily gear, a fully padded back panel, and a unique welded ring lashing system on top for rope or an extra layer.
Gregory Miwok 34
Editor’s Pick: The Miwok is the latest incarnation of Gregory’s superb Active Trail line. What sets this pack apart is its BioSync suspension, which flexes at multiple points along a wearer’s hip and back, allowing a load to always ride on the most comfortable spot. At 34 liters, this top loader can tackle everything from long days on the trail to multi-hour layovers en route to your next adventure. Minimalist lashing points on top and bottom and side compression, allow the Miwok to expand or shrink to fit any mission.