What to Look For in a Day Pack

While a day pack is a pretty simple piece of outdoor gear, choosing one is a little more complicated. You’re going to get a lot of use out of a single day backpack, so it’s important that you find one that meets all of your needs. Here are some key features to look for to help you choose a day pack.


Weight isn’t as important as with day packs as backpacking packs, but it’s still something to consider. Sometimes you want to go fast and light, and a lightweight day pack makes this possible.

Weight varies greatly by pack volume, materials used, and design. Compare the weights of different packs that fit your needs.


Your day pack should be one of your more rugged outdoor gear items. It’s going to get a lot of use, and you’re going to put it through the ringer, so it should be durable and well made.

Check stitching and the quality of construction. Also look for a pack made from durable materials. The higher fabric denier, the more durable your pack will be.


You’re probably not going to carry more than 20-25 pounds in your day pack, which means that heavy duty padding isn’t a requirement. Comfort is still important, however, and some type of padding is nice to have.

Check the straps as well as the pack panel to see if the pack has adequate padding.


Unlike a backpacking pack that will house items you don’t touch for hours on end, you want to have access to everything you bring in your day pack. Knowing exactly where these items are is really convenient, and organization features make this possible.

Look for compartments, separations, pockets, slash pockets, daisy chains, gear loops, exterior cording for extra storage and gear attachment, and other features that will help you organize your outdoor gear.

Hydration sleeve

Most hiking day packs now come equipped with a hydration sleeve. Still, it’s a good idea to check and make sure there’s a sleeve if you want to use a water reservoir such as a CamelBak.


Again, you should use your day pack more than you use most of your other outdoor gear. This means that you should like the way that your day pack opens.

There are lots of options when it comes to the way that packs open and close. Some packs have a roll top closure, others use a draw string, but most will make do with zippers. Test out a few bags to see which closure method you like best.


The best day packs can be used in a variety of situations. You want a day pack that you can use for a day at the park, a one day hike, paddling, mountain biking, and everything in between.


You can easily provide waterproof protection to any day pack with dry bags, pack covers, or even just a trash bag. If you want built in waterproofing, however, many day packs now offer this feature.

Keep in mind you’ll sacrifice breathability with a waterproof day pack, which can lead to a sweaty back on hot summer days.


Looking to try out some day packs in Northwest Arkansas? Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters to browse our selection of day packs, hiking backpacks, and backpacking packs!

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