Packable backpacks are a very handy travel accessory to pack.
Large backpacks or suitcases are great for traveling from home to hotel, but they useless when you want a smaller bag to go sightseeing.
Packable daypacks are very light and don’t take up much room in your suitcase, but once you reach your destination you have something to use while you are out and about.
Also when you are coming home, if you find you can’t fit everything into your suitcase, you can use your packable backpack to take some of the things out of your suitcase. You can then take use your backpack as a personal item on the plane and put it under your seat. So these, small items provide great emergency extra luggage capacity if you are coming home with more belongings than you left with.
The best ones are sturdy when in use but pack down to a tiny pocket-sized package when not in use. I’m still amazed at how useful such a small and lightweight travel accessory can be!
This post looks at the marketplace and tries to find the best packable backpack to throw into your suitcase for your next trip.
What Makes A Good Packable Daypack?
All packable day packs are not created equally. The best daypacks have most of the following characteristics:
- Easy to pack
- Comfortable to wear
- Durable and well made
- A grab handle to pick it up easily
And here are things that you won’t find on a packable backpack:
- Laptop compartment
- Well-padded shoulder straps
- Sternum straps
- Waist straps or a hip belt
- Water bladder holders
- A hydration sleeve
Let’s take a look at some of the best-selling brands.
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack
The Osprey Ultralight is a well respected day pack but it is at the higher end of the price range.
The backpack has a pocket inside it and when not in use the entire backpack can be stuffed in the little pocket. The end result is a little sack that fits in the palm of your hand.
It had a mesh side pocket for a water bottle or anything else that you want to keep handy.
It doesn’t pack down to the smallest size but then it’s also easier to pack away. Some of the very tiny packs can be quite a struggle to pack down.
It’s a pity that there is no sternum strap because that would make the backpack more comfortable, however, some people have come up with their own DIY solutions using clips and elastic that seem to work well.
It’s 3.5 oz so very light, despite the fact that the material is 40D nylon which is slightly thicker and heavier than other packs that you’ll see on this page.
This means that the Osprey feels a little more sturdy than some of the other products. Yes, it’s still a flimsy fabric but 40D nylon will be more puncture-proof than 30D nylon.
It’s water-resistant but not fully waterproof, but even the best day pack has to have some sacrifices somewhere!
All in all the build quality makes the Osprey one of the best day packs around if you don’t mind the fact that it costs a little more.
- Respected brand name
- Well made
- Not the cheapest
4monster Packable Daypack
The 4monster comes in 2 sizes: 16 liters and 24 liters.
The 16-liter version is 16.5 x 9 x 6 inches.
The 24-liter version is 18.5 x 11.8 x 7 inches.
And it’s also available in a range of colors and designs and made from 30D Nylon CORDURA. The YKK zippers add a touch of luxury and dependability.
The 16-liter size is probably better for most people since if you pack the 24-liter pack full it might end up being too heavy and uncomfortable. Packable backpacks are not meant for carrying heavy loads.
As with all packable backpacks, the best thing about it is that it fits in a pocket when you are not using it.
Judged only as a backpack you’d say it was terrible. Very filmy material, no padding on the straps etc but that would be missing the point.
It’s in emergency situations that the 4monster comes in really handy. The main compartment is great for throwing a jacket into if the sun comes out unexpectedly.
Hikpro Packable Backpack
The Hikpro weighs only 7.5 oz so it’s very light and the cost of throwing one into your suitcase is minimal. It won’t make any noticeable difference to the weight of your luggage.
And yet, once you reach your destination and want to go out exploring for an afternoon you might be glad you packed this little thing.
It holds 20 liters which we think is about the best daypack size, not too large and not too small.
The outside pockets are good for a water bottle or an umbrella. The bag is well made and sturdy. The shoulder straps are great so long as there is nothing heavy in the bag.
There are a few different colors to choose from with plain black the best option for around town. The material is ripstop nylon and it has a double layer of fabric at the bottom of the backpack for extra protection.
The side pockets are great for stuffing in a water bottle or an umbrella.
The shoulder straps have a little bit padding but as with all packable backpacks, this is an area that has been reduced to enable the compact form.
- A practical size of day pack
- Only 7.5 oz
- As with all these products it’s uncomfortable to wear when it’s heavily packed
- No protection for fragile laptops or cameras
Naturehike Foldable Backpack
The Naturehike has a weight of 4.2 oz and the main compartment has a roomy capacity of 18 liters.
The mesh shoulder straps are fine so long as the backpack isn’t heavily loaded.
There are side bottle pockets for water bottles or items that you want to keep handy and the Naturehike also has a deep front pocket.
The fabric is silicone-coated nylon that is water-resistant.
All in all, the Naturehike is
Gonex Ultralight Packable Backpack
We have tested Gonex products in the past like their compression packing cubes and found them to be well-made and competitively priced.
The Gonex Ultralight is a 20-liter packable backpack that comes in a range of vibrant colors.
At 6.5 oz it’s not the lights of the products we looked at.
- Good for day hikes and extra emergency luggage capacity
- Not the lightest packable backpack
Sea To Summit Ultra-SIL
Sea To Summit are well known for making high-quality outdoor adventure products.
Their Ultra-SIL backpack compresses down to a package so small you might be worried you lose it!
At their price point, it’s more a product suited to a serious day hiker than a traveler on a day trip who wants somewhere to keep his sweater and sandwich.
- Well made
- The lightest product we looked at
- Typically priced at the higher end of the price spectrum
- As the lightest product, it’s also one of the most flimsy
Eagle Creek Packable Daypack
If you feel most packable day packs are too thin and flimsy for your liking and would prefer to trade additional weight for a more sturdy fabric then take a look at the Eagle Creek.
This day pack has a weight of 5 oz which is significantly heavier than it’s competitors.
However, this lends towards a more sturdy feel. The 70D Heathered Nylon also looks better than the ripstop nylon that is commonly preferred.
As a stuff sack to pack clothes or anything else unbreakable the Eagle Creek is well designed, but it’s still nowhere near sturdy enough or padded enough to pack anything breakable like a laptop or camera without a laptop sleeve or a padded camera bag.
There is a front pocket and a mesh water bottle pocket at 1 side only.
One thing that makes it stand out from its competitors is the eyelet that allows you to lock the zips using a luggage padlock.
Packable daypacks are as a rule very flimsy. This is the tradeoff that you make for them to be so lightweight and packable.
It means that if you want to throw in some clothes, your jacket, a guidebook, a water bottles and go sightseeing they are great.
But if you have any fragile equipment like a laptop, tablet or a camera they offer virtually no protection. If you tend to take fragile gear with you on your day trips then you might want to look for a better solution.
Packable backpacks are great for light loads. If you have a heavy load the shoulder straps will probably start to dig into your shoulders and become uncomfortable.
They are still a great item to pack in your case because they give you options and hardly take up any space at all in your case.