Best Hiking Daypacks for Women in 2024

Learn how to choose the best daypack for hiking and get our favorite pack recommendations with tips for finding the right fit, capacity and technical features.

Check out the best hiking daypacks for women in a variety of sizes and get tips for finding the right fit, capacity & technical features.

Are you an avid hiker looking for the perfect daypack? Or maybe you’re new to the outdoors and not sure what type of day hiking backpack is best for you. Either way, we’ve got you covered below with our roundup of the best hiking daypacks for women.

Bearfoot Theory is made up of an all-women team of experienced hikers who understand the unique needs and challenges faced by women when selecting gear for their outdoor adventures.

We also provide a few tips on what to look for when choosing a daypack, so you can make sure you pick the perfect one for your needs. The best women’s daypacks for hiking are specifically designed with women’s anatomy in mind. They typically include features like more padded hip straps and narrower shoulder straps that will fit better overall. If you’re a female and struggling to find a pack that fits you comfortably, we’ve got your back.

Osprey Mira 22 Hydration Pack

Bearfoot Theory Favorite

Key Features

  • Gear capacity: 22 L
  • Weight: 2 lbs 13.9 oz
  • Hydration reservoir compatible? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 3
  • MSRP: $200

Where to shop

  • Great for: Long and short day hikes, strenuous hikes thanks to the highly breathable mesh back air panel
  • What I like: 2.5 L hydration reservoir included, internal frame distributes weight evenly, mesh back panel allows for great airflow, exterior webbing and straps to attach hiking poles and extra gear, lifetime warranty
  • What I don’t like: On the expensive side of daypacks (although hydration reservoir is included), heavy due to robust internal frame

The Osprey Mira 22 Hydration Pack is a Bearfoot Theory favorite because it has a lot of great features that make it versatile and comfortable to hike with. I like that the large zipper on the main compartment provides easy access, especially if you are carrying a camera that you are frequently pulling out of your backpack.

The Mira 22 comes with a 2.5-liter hydration reservoir and it features lots of pockets as well as a comfortable hip belt. I also like to use the outer mesh pouch to stash extra layers. The hip belt hugs nicely around your body, which I like, but may not be as comfortable depending on your body type.

I took a similar Osprey daypack with me to Everest Basecamp and Becky, our behind-the-scenes assistant uses the larger 32 L model for many of her bikepacking adventures.

Kristen standing on rock ledge on hike in Colorado looking out over mountain range wearing blue Osprey backpack and holding hiking poles
Wearing an older version of the Osprey Mira backpack on a hike in Southwest Colorado

Osprey Tempest 9

Best Small Daypack for Hiking

Key Features

  • Gear capacity: 9 L
  • Weight: 1 lb 13 oz
  • Hydration reservoir compatible? Yes (external)
  • Number of pockets: 6
  • MSRP: $140

Where to shop

  • Great for: Shorter day hikes where you don’t need to carry much gear, mountain biking
  • What I like: Multiple pockets and attachment points for gear, mesh back panel for airflow, made from bluesign®-approved materials, lifetime warranty
  • What I don’t like: 9L capacity doesn’t allow for much extra gear, expensive for its size

The Osprey Tempest 9 is the daypack that BFT Contributor Linda Romero uses on short day hikes. She says “with only a 9-liter gear carrying capacity, it’s definitely on the small side, but when I don’t need to carry much, it’s a perfect companion for the trail.”

She loves the zipper pockets for storing small essentials like keys and a phone, and the main interior is big enough to fit all the basics including warm layers, a camera, and snacks. There’s even a handy sunglasses holder on one of the shoulder straps and the small hip belt pockets are great for easy-to-access items.

This daypack is small, lightweight, and comfy to wear with padded, breathable backing and straps that help keep you cool as you hike. Linda says “The hydration sleeve makes it super easy to take out my hydration reservoir to refill it.” The hydration reservoir is sold separately – Linda uses the 2.5L Osprey hydration reservoir with this daypack although you could probably go as big as the 3L size.

And finally, this pack comes in two sizes (XS/S and M/L) so you can find the right fit for you. Linda is 5’3″ and wears the XS/S. Overall it’s our favorite small and lightweight women’s daypack for hiking.

Female hiker wearing day pack posing for photo in Sedona, Arizona with beautiful red rock bluffs in the distance
Linda wearing the Osprey Tempest 9L daypack (Jasper Green) while hiking in Sedona

Hyperlite Daybreak Ultralight Daypack

Most Weatherproof Daypack

Key Features

  • Gear capacity: 17 L
  • Weight: 1 lb 4 oz
  • Hydration reservoir compatible? No
  • Number of pockets: 2
  • MSRP: $210

Where to shop

  • Great for: Hiking in rainy or stormy weather, overnight backpacking trips, hikers who want a lightweight and minimal pack
  • What I like: Made from durable and weather-resistant material, ultralight, external pockets add 6 L of space
  • What I don’t like: Expensive, no load lifter straps, no place to run hose for a hydration bladder

If weight is a factor when deciding which daypack to choose, the Hyperlite Daybreak Ultralight Daypack is our top choice. Not only is it super lightweight at just 1.2 lbs, but it’s also made from durable Dyneema fabric and features a minimalistic design. While it’s not completely waterproof, it is water-resistant and can withstand rain or even storms.

I have a Hyperlite Mountain gear backpacking pack and it’s so durable and lightweight with a simple yet functional design, and their daypack is no different.

The biggest complaint I have about this pack is that while there is a sleeve inside where you could technically put a hydration bladder, there is no hole to run a hose through to the outside of the pack. So your best bet when using this daypack is to keep your water in bottles on the outside of the pack. Also, I personally love lots of pockets, and I get frustrated with the lack of organization in this pack.

Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia 18L Daypack

Most Packable Daypack

Key Features

  • Gear capacity: 18 L
  • Weight: 10.6 oz
  • Hydration reservoir compatible? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 1
  • MSRP: $60

Where to shop

  • Great for: Easy day hikes with light gear, trips that require airplane travel
  • What I like: Super lightweight, packs down small, easy to travel with, made from 100% repurposed fabrics, each pack is unique
  • What I don’t like: Frameless design so pack will lie flat on your back without much breathability, not very supportive for long strenuous hikes, few organizational pouches and attachment points

The Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Del Dia Daypack is a frameless hiking daypack, so it’s very lightweight and packs down easily making it great for travel. I took this with me to New Zealand, and it was great for small outings when I didn’t need a bigger daypack.

The main compartment is large enough to cram extra layers into and it has a drawstring closure so there’s no fumbling around with a zipper. Plus, there’s a hydration sleeve and adjustable straps that allow you to customize the fit.

The lack of technical features and support means that this is not the best daypack for serious hikes, but for travel, light day hikes, and other activities, it’s a great option. I also love Cotopaxi’s ethos and their use of recycled fabrics handpicked by their staff.

If you like the look and idea of this pack but need something a bit larger, check out the Luzon 24L version.

Hiker sitting on large rock near water wearing brightly colored Cotopaxi Luzon daypack
I took the Cotopaxi Luzon 18L on my trip to New Zealand and it was the perfect travel pack

Deuter AC Lite 22 SL Pack

Best Daypack for Hot Weather

Key Features

  • Gear capacity: 22 L
  • Weight: 2 lb 1.6 oz
  • Hydration reservoir compatible? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 3
  • MSRP: $110

Where to shop

  • Great for: Day hikes in hot or humid environments, hikers that tend to sweat a lot
  • What I like: Highly breathable mesh back panel, lightweight
  • What I don’t like: Not as many pockets as other daypacks of this size, no pockets on the hip belt, no load lifter straps

If you’re like me and you get really sweaty when you hike, then the Deuter AC Lite 22 SL pack is for you. The mesh back panel provides excellent airflow along my back, making it a great choice for hot summer climates. I normally sweat a lot and this pack leaves me feeling dry.

It’s also lightweight and sits nice and tight to your body for a streamlined fit. The pack has one big compartment with a drawstring opening that you can stuff your gear into along with a zippered pocket in the lid. There is a water bottle pocket on each side as well and a little zippered slot for your phone.

There isn’t as much organization and pockets as some of the other daypacks on the list, so that may be a dealbreaker for you. I also don’t like that there are no pockets on the hip belt and there are no load lifter straps so the fit isn’t that adjustable. But I love the new color options!

Kristen looking back at camera while on a hike along snowy road in Golden, British Columbia
Wearing the Deuter AC Lite 22 Pack – you can see the great space for airflow along the back

Gregory Juno 30 H2O Hydration Pack Plus

Best Women’s Plus Size Hiking Daypack

Key Features

  • Gear capacity: 30 L
  • Weight: 2 lb 1.6 oz
  • Hydration reservoir compatible? Yes (reservoir included)
  • Number of pockets: 5
  • MSRP: $179.95

Where to shop

  • Great for: plus size hikers
  • What I like: fits waist/hips 38-60 inches, extended-length shoulder straps and hip belts, comes with an included hydration bladder, easily accessible mesh front pocket
  • What I don’t like: Hip pockets are very small for fitting phone, keys, etc.

Gregory makes some of my favorite backpacking backpacks, so it’s no surprise they deliver great women’s daypacks as well. The Gregory Juno 30 H2O Pack Plus is the ideal day hiking pack for plus-size women due to its thoughtful design and superior comfort features. The pack is fully adjustable, with a suspension system that can be customized to fit your unique body shape and size.

The extended-length shoulder straps and hip belt are also specially designed to fit a plus-size body compared to a traditional daypack, providing extra support and comfort during hikes.

The pack also features an integrated hydration system, allowing you to stay hydrated on the go without having to stop and access a separate water bottle. Its durable construction and lightweight design make it a perfect choice for plus-size women who want a comfortable and reliable day hiking pack that can keep up with their active lifestyle.

Gregory Jade 28

Best Women’s Day Pack for Long Hikes

Key Features

  • Gear capacity: 28 L
  • Weight: 3 lb .8 oz
  • Hydration reservoir compatible? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 4
  • MSRP: $169.95

Where to shop

  • Great for: hikers who carry a lot of gear or heavy loads
  • What I like: easy access to the main compartment, lots of organization, easy hydration reservoir access, carries & distributes weight well
  • What I don’t like: back ventilation isn’t the best

The Gregory Jade 28 has been my latest go-to women’s day hiking backpack. It’s very comfortable, has a very supportive waistband, and has an adjustable torso you can customize the fit based on your torso length.

There are lots of pockets for organization and the side pockets are big enough for a Nalgene. I really like that access to the main compartment is through a zipper rather than a lid with clips. It makes it really quick and easy to get in and out of the pack – this is especially important for me because Ryan can quickly grab the camera out of my pack without having to deal with a bunch of clips.

The pockets on the waistbelt are large enough for a normal-sized iPhone (the Max would be too big). While the back panel is ventilated, I still get sweaty in hot humid weather, but it’s not so bad in dry climates though.

A woman stands on the hiking trail in Italy wearing the Gregory Jade 28 day pack
Hiking in Italy wearing the Gregory Jade 28 day pack

REI Co-op Trail 25 Pack

Best Budget Daypack

Key Features

  • Gear capacity: 25 L
  • Weight: 1 lb 15 oz
  • Hydration reservoir compatible? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 5
  • MSRP: $79.95

Where to shop

  • Great for: Short or medium day hikes, wet weather
  • What I like: Included rain cover, affordable price, made from recycled materials, compatible with the REI Trail 2 Waistpack for more storage
  • What I don’t like: Can be top-heavy if not packed well, no front mesh pocket for stashing easy-to-reach layers, back panel isn’t super breathable

The REI Co-op Trail 25 Pack is a very popular choice for day hikers because it’s lightweight, comfortable, and comes at an affordable price. It’s designed with a hydration pocket, padded straps, and side mesh pockets for easy access. I also love that it’s made with recycled materials. An added bonus is an included rain cover in case you’ll be hiking in wet weather.

Mystery Ranch Scree 32L Backpack

Best Daypack for Organization

Key Features

  • Gear capacity: 32 L
  • Weight: 3 lb 1.6 oz
  • Hydration reservoir compatible? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 3 including main compartment
  • MSRP: $209

Where to shop

  • Great for: Keeping gear organized, all-day hikes, 1-2 night backpacking trips
  • What I like: Double layer bottom for extra durability, meets carry-on size restrictions, can double as a backpacking pack for short overnight trips, excellent reviews
  • What I don’t like: Heavier than the other packs on this list

The Mystery Ranch Scree 32L Backpack is one of the best women’s daypacks for hiking, especially if you plan on doing all-day hikes and adventures and need to keep your gear organized. I find that the unique 3-zipper design provides quick access to interior items, which is super convenient for getting my camera in and out of the backpack. The zippered stash pockets on the lid and hip belt also keep my smaller essentials easily accessible.

The padded mesh backing and straps should keep you comfortable on the trail and the hydration sleeve and side water bottle pockets will help you stay hydrated. This women’s specific pack comes in two different sizes frame sizes, XS/S and M/L, and it makes a great airplane carry-on as well.

REI Co-op Trail 40 Pack

Best High-Volume Daypack

Key Features

  • Gear capacity: 40 L
  • Weight: 2 lb 15 oz
  • Hydration reservoir compatible? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 6
  • MSRP: $129

Where to shop

  • Great for: Longer day hikes, keeping gear organized, traveling
  • What I like: Affordably priced, made with recycled materials, U-shaped front panel provides easy access to gear, included rain cover
  • What I don’t like: Doesn’t come in a L torso length, no front pocket to quickly stuff an extra layer

The REI Co-op Trail 40 Pack is a great option for all-day hikes when you want room to carry everything you need. This higher capacity daypack has awesome organization compartments and a helpful U-shaped zipper in the front that fully opens the main compartment making it super easy to pack and locate items. This makes it a great option for travel.

The zippered belt pockets are large enough to hold your cell phone and other must-haves that you want at your hip. It’s also affordable and can double as a backpacking pack for short overnight trips. It comes in two frame sizes to accommodate different torso lengths.

How to Choose a Daypack

Female hiker carrying day pack in Sedona, Arizona looking out at views of red rock cliffs and green trees
A good hiking daypack should be comfortable, lightweight, and large enough to carry all your hiking essentials

The kind of hikes you plan on using your daypack for and how versatile you want your pack to be will be big factors in determining the best daypack for you. I’ll cover that below along with a couple of other key factors to consider. But first, what exactly is the difference between a regular backpack and a backpack for hiking?

The best women’s daypacks for hiking are made to be durable, lightweight, and comfortable while you’re on the trail. With the right size and fit, you should hardly even notice you’re carrying one when you’re hiking. A good hiking daypack should stand up to the wear and tear of the trail – it shouldn’t rip if you snag it on a thorny bush or slide it across rocks. 

They also have a number of technical features that come in handy while hiking – things like a place for your water bottle or hydration reservoir, exterior pockets for easy access to snacks, your phone, extra layers, or whatever else is important to you, straps for attaching things like trekking poles, and more.

If you’ve never hiked with a good hiking daypack, you’ll never go back once you get one. And if you’re in the market for a new one, we hope the tips below will help you upgrade to a new daypack that you absolutely love.

Kristen outside hiking in Montana wearing a women's daypack.
For a good fit, check to make sure the top of the waist belt falls just above your hips

What Size Daypack Do You Need?

Going on a serious, all-day hike requires a more technical pack with more support than you would need for a two-hour hike. For a longer hike, you’ll want a slightly bigger pack to fit more snacks, layers, water, and other hiking essentials. You’ll also want something more comfortable with padded backing, padded straps, and a hip belt and chest strap to distribute the weight so it’s not all on your shoulders. And you’ll likely want something with space for a hydration reservoir so you can carry more water for easy drinking compared to packing a water bottle.

A typical daypack is between 21-35, however, there are exceptions so if you know you want to be able to carry more, then go ahead and size up. Here’s a brief overview of daypack sizes and the best activities to pair them with:

  • 10 Liters or Less: Short, light day hikes, trail running, road biking
  • 11-20 Liters: Mountain biking, longer day hikes, trail running
  • 21-35 Liters: Long, intense day hikes, all day excursions, travel
  • 36-50 Liters: Any activity that requires more gear like climbing, or photography, etc
Female hiker standing on top of mountain looking out over nearby mountain ranges. She's wearing a blue jacket and blue hiking day pack.
Daypacks range in size from small to large. Choose a size based on the kind of activities you most enjoy doing

Remember that you don’t need too big of a pack if you aren’t planning on carrying additional gear or lots of extra clothing layers. A smaller capacity pack will be more lightweight, compact, and comfortable while you hike. Why carry more than you need?

If you’re looking for a multi-day hiking backpack, check out our favorite backpacking pack recommendations.

Daypack Features to Consider

There are a few common technical features you’ll see on many of the best women’s daypacks for hiking, which you may or may not need. Here’s a rundown of what they are and when they might come in handy.

  • Frames vs Frameless Packs: Some daypacks have an internal frame or lightweight frame sheet that makes the pack a bit sturdier. The frame helps the pack hold its shape and often helps keep it off your back to allow for airflow as well. A frame does make the pack slightly heavier overall, but the best daypack for more serious hiking will be one with a frame. Frameless packs are more simple and lightweight and can often be packed down to a compact size. If you want something you can throw in your travel backpack or carry on for shorter hikes and outings, a frameless pack might be the perfect choice for you.
  • Waistbelt & Sternum Straps: Waistbelt and sternum straps help distribute the weight of your pack so it doesn’t all fall on your back and shoulders. They also help keep the pack in place which is not only important for hiking, but also for other activities you might use your pack for like trail running or biking. We consider them a must for longer hikes because they make hiking with a pack much more comfortable overall.
  • Hydration Compartment & Water Bottle Pockets: Most daypacks have space in between the interior compartment and the frame to store a hydration reservoir. Not familiar with the term? A hydration reservoir is a plastic bladder that can be filled with water; it has a long tube attached so you can drink the water from the hydration pack while it’s in your backpack rather than digging out your water bottle. For those who’d rather stash their water on the outside of your bag for easy access, a water bottle side pocket is a common feature that is on nearly every pack. Some of the smaller, frameless, packable daypacks don’t have these features so consider this when making your purchase.
  • Padding: Most daypacks out there, aside from the frameless, packable ones, have padding on the back and the straps. This provides added comfort and reduces chafing, and in some cases, the shape of the padding helps with airflow too.
  • Mesh Ventilation: When you start to work up a sweat outside, a pack that sits close to your back can trap heat and start to become pretty uncomfortable. Many brands add mesh paneling to the inner back portion of the pack for ventilation. Believe us, you may not appreciate it at the start but on a hot hike, you’ll be glad to have it.
  • External Pockets: Think about the items you normally bring along when you hike and what type of pockets and compartments would come in handy for you. We generally prefer daypacks with multiple pockets so we can pack all our extra layers in one, and smaller items like snacks and sunscreen in another. If you want to easily be able to take a layer on and off, you may want to look for a daypack with an external pocket. If you want snacks and your phone or other small items easily accessible while you hike, look for a daypack with hip belt pockets.
  • Accessory Straps: Many hiking daypacks have straps for things like trekking poles, ice tools, climbing gear, and more. If you think you might want to carry gear like this on the outside of your pack, look for one with accessory straps.
Female hiker and service dog on trail carrying a daypack looking out blue lake surrounded by pine trees.
Daypacks range from simple design to very technical with a lot of features that you may or may not need

Frequently Asked Questions

How should a daypack Fit?

When you put the pack on, the top of the waist belt should sit slightly above the center of your hips. Tighten the waist belt so it’s snug but comfortable. Then you want to cinch the shoulder straps down. If there is a gap between your shoulders and the shoulder straps, the torso of the pack is too long. If the shoulder straps feel like they are weighing you down, the torso of the daypack might be too short, meaning you should size up.

What is a good daypack size?

The size your daypack depends on how long of a hike you are going on, and what type of gear you need to carry. My go-to daypack for summer hikes is 28 liters which is big enough to carry the 10 essentials, including water, snacks, extra layers, and a first aid kit. If you are hiking in winter when you need to carry extra gear and heavier layers, you may need a daypack around 35 liters.

What makes a good day backpack?

A good day backpack for hiking has a supportive hip belt that transfers the weight of the load off of your shoulders onto your hips. It will also have adjustable shoulder and load lifter straps that allow you to get the perfect fit. In addition, a quality daypack will have a variety of pockets to keep all of your gear organized and a dedicated pocket (also called a sleeve) for a hydration reservoir.

Have you found the best women’s daypack for hiking? Which one do you love the most and why? Let me know in the comments below!

Discover the ultimate women's hiking day packs for your next adventure! Our top picks combine comfort, durability and style to keep you moving in the great outdoors. From spacious compartments to convenient hydration systems, these backpacks have it all. Read on and get ready to hit the trails with confidence!

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  1. I have found my Mystery Ranch Coulee 25 liter pack to be very versatile. The frame sheet doubles as a Velcro separator that allows you to adjust the torso length of the pack. The waist belt is padded but also thin enough to shove behind the lumber pad when not in use. Last but not least, the design of the “Y zip” main zipper system offers you the choice of accessing the contents of your bag either through the top like a top loader, or unzip the whole thing like a panel loader. The materials that the bag is made from is pretty tough too, it’s made from some sort of Cordura. The only downsides to the bag are it’s a little expensive, and a little heavier than other bags I own.

  2. I would highly recommend the arcteryx index 15 as a light day pack, and the Matador beast 28. Bonus: both can be packed away for travel in compact form.
    Thanks for the great tips!

  3. Great post! I love the REI Flash pack for mountain biking or moderate hikes! The back support is annoying if you fill it too much though and I would definitely choose a bigger pack for longer, more strenuous hikes!

  4. Great post! I love my LL Bean Ridge Runner day pack. And using their credit card, I earn points and purchased the bag for free (points). It’s a great pack and has a pouch for a hydration bladder.