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Help finding a daypack

I’m looking for a good hiking daypack. I’ve tried on a small handful of day packs in my local REI, but honestly the stock is so low and sad. My main issue is almost all the day packs I’ve tried on seem to rub at the top of my shoulders creating a hotspot. The straps feel too narrow at the top (closer together). I’ve filled the packs so they have the amount of weight I’d be carrying, I’ve had help with adjustments by team members and most of them have had the same issue. I’m not sure if it’s just me or the packs aren’t the right fit. The packs that have felt the most comfortable for me so far are the Trail REI 40L women’s medium (but is too much capacity for what I need ideally 20-25L), and the Deuter Futura 27. I’m also hoping for something neutral colored. I find all the women’s packs to be too colorful for me with pops of baby blue, purple or pink. I like grey, tan, or brown 😂

Osprey packs don’t seem to fit me well.

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8 Replies

How much weight are you planning on carrying?

What other features do you want/need? Hydration bladder compatibility? Outside pockets?

It sounds like you might want a men's pack, in a small size. At least you might get a color you like! (And shame on REI for differentiating between men's, women's by color!)

If you're not carrying too much weight and don't need a fancy suspension, you might want to try one of the Patagonia daypacks. They're not cheap, but they seem to hold up well. Only problem my son and I have ever had with either of ours is that the sternum strap pops off the adjustable slider, and we're both hard on them. (They're aware of the problem with the sternum straps. I don't know if they've somehow corrected it now, or not.)


Thanks for commenting! That’s definitely an idea I’ve been playing with. I did just get the camelbak rim runner 22 in the mail because it came with all the specs I wanted; hydration compatible (but bonus: it came with one), 20-25L, hip belt pockets, and neutral color…. But after trying it on it too… rubs my neck 🤦🏻‍♀️ I’ll see if I can find a small men’s size though, as this one only came in one size. I may have to make the trip an hour and a half north of me for a bigger REI that hopefully has more packs in stock than mine. I’ll definitely give the Patagonia ones a look! Thanks!


Good advice from Dave about trying a men's pack. Generally the shoulder straps will be spaced slightly wider. 

A pack with a supportive hip belt may relieve your shoulders and make rubbing a non issue...maybe why you liked the Trail 40 and the Deuter Futura 27 (seems not stocked by REI and one size fits all).   If you go for a pack with a good hip belt you need to pay attention to your torso length to get the right size for it to work properly.   Most 25L and below packs do not have supportive hip belts.   As a rule of thumb, you want a supportive hip belt when carrying over 10-15lb but that is is just a rule of thumb.  A lumbar pack might be another option but they tend to max out at around 10L. 

If you liked the Trail 40 then you might try the REI Traverse 32.  It is also a bit larger than you say need but it has a decent hip belt and this year's model has a similar harness design to the Trail 40.  I have the previous model Traverse 35 and it compresses down well which is why I think you should try it.  They changed the design this year making the pack a bit smaller and lighter and a little less over built which may suit you.  However they also changed how the compression works and it is not clear to me that aspect is "improved" so I would test out the compression with your stuff.  It is hydration compatible but also has very good side bottle pockets, the one feature which they did not change.

The Traverse is more "technical" where the Trail is more of a travel pack despite its name.  Family members have used Trails as carry on luggage for air travel vacations.  I use my Traverse 35 for actual all day hiking.  However for shorter hikes on well traversed local trails where I'm not carrying much...basically water,  I generally just use a shoulder bag (actually a cycling "musette") since it is much more convenient.


I’ll definitely go give a looks at the traverse pack!  I’ve definitely noticed how most day packs don’t have decent hip belts or hip belt pockets. I’m not trying to carry much more than 10lbs ish. Just water for me, nalgene for my dogs water, a layer for rain, and some snacks, possibly my lightweight helinox chair. Hip belts would just be great for easy access to my phone, chapstick, and dog poop bags. I could wear my fanny pack for those things, but I’d rather not feel like I’m over doing it for a simple day hike by taking another “thing”. Then again it’s not a big deal and it’s just my first world problems 😂

Thanks for the recs! Very appreciative of the time you took to reply!


Women-specific outdoors gear is (or at least ought to be) designed for people with narrower shoulders, larger breasts and hips and generally shorter torsos.   If you have wide shoulders or a figure that's not very curvy you should try on some men's packs to see how they fit.

Personally, I'm quite fond of fancy colors, but I have a funny story about that.  I wanted to buy my younger daughter a new rain jacket. I was looking through the sale rack at REI but  the only ones they had in her size were black.  I told her, I'm sorry , it only comes in black so we'll have to look somewhere else. But my daughter scolded me, "Mom, I WANT black."   I guess I should have known that, but honestly, it never even occured to me to want a black rain jacket.  Mine is peacock blue. 

I am a fan of bright colors.  Easy to find, a useful quality in many situations.  i remember when all pack were a drab khanki.  We tied bright ribbons on them so we could find them in the woods onc we had laid tem down.

I have also spent a lot of SAR time looking for people dressed in grays, browns, and blacks.  Not that everything has to be fire engine red, but you should have at least a few colorful items for certain occasions.

Fit in packs is all important; color is a minor consideration.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Late to the party (as usual).

First, I think the idea of trying a men's or unisex pack is an excellent idea. One thing you didn't mention is your height. Or, more accurately, your torso length.

I have a torso length of 21" and since most day packs are neither adjustable and designed for a max length of 19", most packs were uncomfortable for me. I ended up with a Gregory Zulu 30 for my day pack. 30L is a bit big for what I carry but I can easily cinch it down so that the contents aren't flopping around while I am moving. Plus, it adjusts up to 22" in torso length. This thing fits me wonderfully.

So I would recommend measuring your torso length as well. And take a look at Gregory or Mystery Ranch - both have wider shoulder straps and excellent hip belts to take the weight off your shoulders.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I love my North Face Recon, and after purchasing it I realized that most of the NC State Park rangers around here - male and female, from what I've seen on guided hikes and around the parks - use the same pack. So if the experts are using it, I think I'm on the right track. I definitely recommend trying it. The pack is a great size and weight, has ample storage, and a key feature that won me over above all the others is that the water bottle pockets on the side are deep enough that my Nalgene OTF bottles don't fall out.