The Top 10 Travel & Hiking Daypacks of 2018

The best travel and hiking daypacks of this year so far, based on our extensive testing of more than 100 backpacks each year. Check our selection and read our reviews.

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Planning a day trip out in the wilderness? Going on a cycling trip? Don’t bring just any old bag; daypacks are the perfect companion for your active lifestyle.

Highly versatile and usually brightly-colored, daypacks are the lightest backpacks available. When every pound counts, manufacturers tend to opt for fewer features and compartments compared to everyday bags or laptop backpacks. As these bags are meant to be worn for longer periods of time, comfort is also a primary concern.

While their designs tend to be simpler than other types of bags, as you’ll see below, there’s a ton of variety within this category to choose from.

When Should I Use a Daypack?

Although most daypacks are capable of serving multiple roles, most packs have features that allow them to specialize. Some are better for hiking, or rock climbing, or cycling and so on. Don’t feel limited to only using the bag for that activity though; those are merely guidelines.

In general, a daypack is designed to carry at least one day’s worth of supplies and clothing. Daypacks are also ideal when you’re exploring a new city. As a matter of fact, many daypacks are durable enough to double as urban everyday carry (EDC) packs.

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What Features Should a High-Quality Daypack Have?

Excellent Build Quality 

No matter what kind of niche daypack you’re after, good build quality is an absolute must. I like to see ballistic nylon that’s at last 400D if not denser. Sure, 680D is about the limit past which you’re sacrificing weight for durability but weight isn’t really an issue with daypacks. Because of that, more robust fabrics are better. In addition, YKK or similar quality zippers are also a strong indicator of a bag’s longevity, as zippers are one of the most common points of failure on a backpack.

Comfortable Suspension

One misconception about daypacks is that they don’t have to have good suspension systems because they’re light. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A good frame supported by well padded straps can make all the difference after a long day of hiking. Look for packs which offer more than just basic straps.

Ease of Access

Although daypacks aren’t generally complicated by design, I think that at least one quick access pocket is a must-have. Being able to reach small essential accessories with ease without removing the pack entirely is essential when you’re focused on the physical activity at hand.

Hydration Bladder Compartment

Ever since hydration bladders became a thing, they have become an integral part of numerous daypacks. Ideally, every daypack should have a dedicated compartment for a hydration bladder. Most of the time these compartments will serve as laptop sleeves as well.

Osprey Stratos 24

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Osprey Stratos 24 Pack

Brand:Osprey
Volume: 24L
Weight: 2.75 lbs (1.25 kg)
With panel-loading convenience and plenty of pockets for organization, the Osprey Stratos 24 pack carries everything you need for a day hike.
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Weight

2.75 lbs (1.25 kg)

Volume

24L

Dimensions

56 cm x 30.5 cm x 30.5 cm (22"h x 12"w x 12"d)

Shell Fabric

Nylon

Lining

Unknown

Water Resistant?

Yes

Zippers

Unknown

Laptop Compatibility

Fits most laptops up to 15"

Opening Type

Half-Zip

The idea behind the Osprey Stratos 24 was to deliver a lightweight pack to those who are operating in hot weather. That means hikers, rock climbers, trekkers and just about anyone else who is likely to find themselves sweating a lot outdoors. It is a super light pack centered around providing a comfortable fit with its contoured design and ergonomic lines. This is one of those packs that stays up against your back while still offering optimal airflow.

Osprey is a premium brand, but there’s no question that their emphasis on build quality is second to none in the outdoor product category, which often translates to robust fabrics paired with durable hardware. The Stratos 24 comes in four different colors, all of which are fairly neutral. One thing to note is that Stratos 24 offers a good deal of volume but not much in terms of quick access pockets. There is just one small compartment at the front of the pack and two small pockets built into hip pads.

It’s clear that Osprey intended this bag for serious hikers with features like trekking pole straps and hatchet slings. The only thing in the spacious 24L main compartment is the water bladder sleeve built into the back panel. In terms of comfort, you are looking at a full soft frame with hip pads and adequate padding.

MORE: Osprey Stratos 24 Pack Full Review

Average Score 8.5
Design/Aesthetics
8
Materials & Craftsmanship
8.5
Organization & Features
9
Comfort
9
PROS:
  • Extremely comfortable day pack that adapts to your needs
  • Features the Airspeed back panel
  • Internal organization as well as the overall layout are great for hiking
  • Adjustable design that allows you to compensate for your torso size
CONS:
  • Heavier than the average hiking daypack
  • Large footprint for limited storage space

Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack

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Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack

Brand:Osprey
Volume: 20L
Weight: 0.56 kg (1.24 lbs)
Take the Osprey Daylite Plus daypack on a one-day hike or a plane trip as your carry-on. A padded harness and simple webbing hipbelt make it easy and ...
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Weight

0.56 kg (1.24 lbs)

Volume

20L

Water Resistant?

No

Dimensions

46 x 25 x 23 cm (18" x 10" x 9" (L x W x H))

Shell Fabric

210D Nylon Double Diamond Ripstop

Lining

400HD Nylon Packcloth

Zippers

Unknown

Laptop Compatibility

Fits laptops up to 13"

Opening Type

Half-Zip

Where as the Stratos 24 has a well-defined mission, the Daylite Plus is Osprey’s take on a modern everyday pack that can also handle light hikes as well. Osprey didn’t settle for typical urban design patterns and gray colors, but they placed a strong emphasis on the bag’s versatility. One thing that defines it is its lightweight nature. The Daylite Plus is a compact pack, meaning that even when full, you’re never going to be carrying a heavy load. However, Osprey took things a step further by building the whole pack out of 210D Nylon.

This bag features a single front pocket, a front compartment and the main storage compartment. That front quick-access pocket is fairly easy to reach and offers enough room for various accessories. To access the main compartment you have to pop the compression strap buckles and unzip the main zipper. Inside, you’ll find a wide open space with a padded laptop sleeve built into the back panel.

Comfort is one of the variables Osprey usually gets right and the Daylite Plus is no exception. The pack features decently padded straps, ventilated back panel and a removable hip belt, all of which are valuable features for travelers, hikers, and urban users alike.

MORE: Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack Full Review

Average Score 8
Materials & Craftsmanship
8.5
Design/Aesthetics
7
Organization & Features
6.5
Comfort
9
PROS:
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Comfortable
  • Simple and sleek
CONS:
  • Water bottles can slip out of the side mesh pockets easily
  • Limited organization and capacity

REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack

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REI Co-op Flash 22

Brand:REI
Volume: 22L
Weight: 0.41 kg (0.9lbs)
$54.95
Light, reasonably comfortable, and budget-friendly, the REI Co-op Flash 22 is the highest-quality bag you're going to get at this price point.
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Weight

0.41 kg (0.9lbs)

Volume

22L

Water Resistant?

Yes

Dimensions

46 x 25 x 20 cm (18" x 10" x 8" (L x W x H))

Exterior Shell

Nylon

Lining

Unknown

Zippers

Unknown

Laptop Compatibility

None

Opening Type

Top-Loading

REI’s Co-op Flash 22 pack is a great entry level daypack that offers plenty of bang for your buck. The pack is a simple design meant for trekking and hiking for the most part. Build quality is excellent for the price. They have used a type of light nylon that feels very durable. Overall, the pack looks quite awesome, especially if you get it in gray.

Looking at the Flash 22’s exterior reveals no exterior storage options aside from the bottle holder. Considering that this pack is all about speed and efficiency, we can definitely live with lack of quick access pockets. The interior is not substantially different. There is no clutter or forced organization to be seen; just a open storage area. The only feature inside is the bladder sleeve. Should you decide to run a water bladder, the Flash 22 offers a good hose retention system.

Last but not least lets touch upon comfort. Right away you will notice that there is a lack of usual padding on the shoulder straps. They are padded but nowhere near enough as most other models in this category. Considering the light nature of Flash 22 and the fact that it comes with a hip belt, the lack of padding doesn’t really affect the overall comfort too much.

MORE: REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack Full Review

Average Score 8.5
Materials & Craftsmanship
7
Design/Aesthetics
7.5
Organization & Features
8
Comfort
7
PROS:
  • Seriously ultralight
  • Quick-dry material is fast acting
  • Despite the unassuming size, there’s decent storage space
CONS:
  • Not particularly durable
  • Shoulder straps could be more comfortable

Timbuk2 Launch Pack

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Timbuk2 Launch Pack

Brand:Timbuk2
Volume: 18L
Weight: 0.59 kg (1.3 lbs)
A lightweight and ergonomic multi-purpose backpack with more capacity than meets the eye.
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Weight

0.59 kg (1.3 lbs)

Volume

18L

Water Resistant?

Yes

Dimensions

43 x 28 x 16 cm (16.9" x 11" x 6.3" (L x W x H))

Shell Fabric

40-denier nylon

Lining

Unknown

Zippers

YKK

Laptop Compatibility

Fits laptops up to 13"

Opening Type

Top-Loading

Timbuk2’s presence on the market is mostly anchored by their urban packs. Timbuk2 Launch Pack is a proper urban assault daypack designed for those who need functionality and simplicity in their lives. Its streamlined design is more suitable for urban use, but certainly could be used for occasional light day hikes as well.

The pack is made of quality laminated 400D nylon. It comes in a variety of color options, some of which use different materials. Timbuk2’s use of YKK Aquaguard zippers is well known, so it’s no surprise that this pack features several. Exterior pockets come in form of an admin compartment at the front of the pack, a side bottle holder and a top pocket big enough for your shades. Overall it’s a fairly standard setup but one that works.

The main compartment is accessed by popping the lid and undoing the drawstring membrane. The interior is mostly wide open aside from the built in laptop sleeve that accepts any 13″ model. The pack is marketed as water resistant although it’s not without its limits. As far as urban use goes, it ticks all the right boxes.

MORE: Timbuk2 Launch Pack Full Review

Average Score 9
Materials & Craftsmanship
9
Design/Aesthetics
8.5
Organization & Features
8
Comfort
9.5
PROS:
  • Bottomless capacity in a slim silhouette
  • Ergonomic and breathable carrying experience
  • Weatherproof design
CONS:
  • Does not stand on its own
  • Lacks organization

Osprey Escapist 18 Pack

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Osprey Escapist 18 Daypack

Brand:Osprey
Volume: 24L
Weight: 0.79kg (1.74lbs)
Equipped with bike-specific tool pockets, helmet and blinker light attachments and an integrated raincover, this truly versatile pack tackles day ...
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Weight

0.79kg (1.74lbs)

Volume

24L

Water Resistant?

No, but comes with integrated rain cover

Dimensions

48.3 cm x 28 cm x 16 cm (19"h x 9"w x x 11"d)

Shell Fabric

210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop, 420HD Nylon Packcloth

Lining

Unknown

Zippers

Unknown

Laptop Compatibility

None

Opening Type

Half-Zip

Osprey Escapist 18 belongs to their highly mobile family of daypacks designed mostly for mountain biking and cycling in general. However, due to its versatile nature, you can run this pack in just about any scenario. The pack comes in three different colors including black, red and blue.

Build quality meets and exceeds all expectations which is generally what Osprey is known for these days. They have used 210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop – a material with a fancy name but rock solid performance. A closer look at the pack reveals a number of features that cyclists will surely enjoy, such as Osprey’s LidLock system which allows you to securely mount and lock in bicycle helmets.

The interior offers plenty of room although you also get bike-specific organization pockets like air pumps and similar hardware. The suspension system is pretty impressive. Osprey went with the AirScape back panel supported by BioStretch harness and hip belts. Comfort-wise, the Escapist is hard to match.

MORE: Osprey Escapist 18 Pack Full Review

Average Score 7
Design/Aesthetics
7
Materials & Craftsmanship
6.5
Organization & Features
7.5
Comfort
8.5
PROS:
  • Easy to compress for convenient storage
  • Sturdy and light
  • Lots of pockets for convenient storage
CONS:
  • Its small size may seem ill-fitting on a larger person
  • Zippers sometimes struggle to open and close smoothly
  • Too much weight from cargo can constrict ventilation

Cotopaxi Kilimanjaro 20L Backpack

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Cotopaxi Kilimanjaro 20L

Brand:Cotopaxi
Volume: 20L
Weight: 0.68kg / 1.49 lbs
$80.00
A clean and sleek daypack with enough space for all of your daily essentials, the Kilimanjaro 20L Backpack combines a casual design with technical ...
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Weight

0.68kg / 1.49 lbs

Volume

20L

Dimensions

50 cm x 29.2 cm x 16.5 cm (19.5" x 11.5" x 6.5")

Shell Fabric

630D nylon/cotton canvas, suede leather bottom panel

Lining

Cotton/polyester

Water Resistant?

Yes

Zippers

YKK

Laptop Compatibility

Fits laptops up to 15"

Opening Type

Half-Zip

The Cotopaxi Kilimanjaro 20L is a slim and streamlined daypack designed to get you to your destination in maximum comfort. Due to its flexible design it can be used in a variety of scenarios. Whether you need a good urban pack or something to take out for a hike, this pack will deliver. The exterior is extremely clean, to a point where it feels like the pack is made of three pieces of fabric.

Speaking of fabric, Cotopaxi went with a polyester cotton mix which offers good ventilation and durability. The pack is offered in black, blue with red accents and rust red with green details. All three versions are quite attractive, and the colored versions are especially vibrant and eye-catching.

You might not be able to tell immediately, but the Kilimanjaro 20L features more exterior pockets than most packs in its category. The zippers for the two front pockets are skillfully covered and tucked out of the way. Each pocket offers plenty of storage for your accessories, smart devices, and other items. To access the main compartment you have to unzip the main zipper. The interior is pretty much what you would expect – a wide open space with a dedicated laptop sleeve.

Since this is a 1lb 8oz, 20-liter pack, Cotopaxi probably didn’t see a need for additional straps beyond an adjustable sternum strap. Even so, they features plenty of padding which definitely improves comfort.

MORE: Cotopaxi Kilimanjaro 20L Backpack Full Review

Average Score 7
Design/Aesthetics
7.5
Materials & Craftsmanship
6.5
Organization & Features
6.5
Comfort
7.5
PROS:
  • Unique colors available
  • Durable and water resistant
  • Suede accents add durability and class
CONS:
  • Grab handle is flimsy
  • The small compartments suffer with even smaller openings
  • A full pack doesn’t easily support water bottles in the external pockets

Topo Designs Daypack

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Topo Designs Daypack

Brand:Topo Designs
Volume: 20L
Weight: 23.04 oz (0.65 kg)., Leather 27.36 oz. (0.78 kg) , Ballistic 33.28 oz. (0.95 kg)
$179.00
An ideal travel companion, workmate or pack mule for the daily hike in the hills.
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Weight

23.04 oz (0.65 kg)., Leather 27.36 oz. (0.78 kg) , Ballistic 33.28 oz. (0.95 kg)

Volume

20L

Dimensions

48 cm x 33 cm x 20 cm (19"h x 13"w x 8"d)

Shell Fabric

1000D Cordura

Lining

Coated pack cloth liner

Water Resistant?

Yes

Zippers

YKK

Laptop Compatibility

Fits most laptops up to 15"

Opening Type

Half-Zip

The Topo Designs Daypack isn’t necessarily a vintage pack, but it definitely brings that vintage vibe which is back in vogue these days. More than just good-looking, the Daypack is an extremely robust pack that deserves all the credit it gets.

For starters Topo Designs offers the bag in a wide variety of finishes and colors options. Most of the packs are made out of 1000D Cordura, which may be a bit of an overkill in terms of protection. Some variants feature a leather bottom, adding an additional layer of protection on top of that.

Being a more traditional pack, the only exterior pocket you have at your disposal is a large one located at the front of the pack. It features a covered zipper designed to keep rain out. On the inside, there is an internal organizing panel on top of a dedicated laptop sleeve. Based on these features and its durable materials, it’s clear that this is better suited as an urban daypack and not the best choice for the trail.

Wide and thinly-padded shoulder straps are there to disperse the weight of the pack and they do it rather well. However, the lack of a sternum strap will definitely be a concern for some when the pack is fully-loaded.

MORE: Topo Designs Daypack Review

Average Score 8.5
Design/Aesthetics
8.5
Materials & Craftsmanship
8.5
Organization & Features
8
Comfort
7.5
PROS:
  • A truly functional design that covers a variety of applications
  • The diversity of colors and finishes is quite impressive
  • Rock solid build quality, durable materials and reliable hardware
  • Functional internal organization
CONS:
  • Could use more padding around the laptop
  • Design of the back panel limits airflow

North St. Davis Daypack

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North St. Davis Daypack

Brand:North St
Volume: 20L
Weight: 0.54 kg (1.25 lbs)
$99.99
This simple daypack is a versatile companion that is both comfortable and highly utilitarian.
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Weight

0.54 kg (1.25 lbs)

Volume

20L

Water Resistant?

Yes

Dimensions

46-61 x 25 x 15 cm (18"-24" x 10" x 5.75" (L x W x H))

Shell Fabric

1000 denier CORDURA® nylon

Lining

Waterproof X-Pac™ sailcloth liner

Zippers

Water-resistant

Laptop Compatibility

Fits laptops up to 13"

Opening Type

Top-Loading

Urban daypacks come in a variety of formats, with rolltops being one of the opening types that people find especially valuable for its added weather protection and simple organization system. North St Davis has taken this old-school design and refined it.

The result of this effort is a proper urban daypack which meets just about every requirement and standard for packs of this type. Right off the bat you can tell it is built like tank. North St builds these by hand and the fact that they are using 1000D Cordura nylon, X-Pac liners and heavy duty hardware underscores that point.

The pack feature a rather simple, spartan aesthetic that balances functionality and appearance. The number of exterior pockets is limited to two side bottle holders and a single zippered pocket. Limited quick access options might be a deal-breaker for some, but all in all it’s still an excellent bag.

To access the main compartment, you unbuckle the massive top buckle and unroll the top. The interior hides an interesting feature you won’t see too often: interior Velcro strips attached to the lining. This offers a number of customization options and also means you can opt to place a laptop sleeve inside as well.

The suspension system is a pretty standard one. Weighing in at just over a pound, you don’t really need too sophisticated of a suspension system. The pack is more than comfortable enough for urban exploration.

MORE: North St. Davis Daypack Full Review

Average Score 7.5
Materials & Craftsmanship
8.5
Design/Aesthetics
7.5
Organization & Features
8.5
Comfort
6.5
PROS:
  • Reasonably light, durable, and water-resistant
  • Designed to easily to make use of the full 20L volume
  • Lifetime warranty by North St
CONS:
  • Shoulder straps lack adequate padding, making them less comfortable for prolonged use
  • The back panel needs more structure

Osprey Talon 22 Daypack

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Osprey Talon 22 Daypack

Brand:Osprey
Volume: 22L
Weight: 0.82 kg (1.8 lbs)
$110.00
The Osprey Talon 22 pack will quickly become your go-to panel-loading carry solution for day hiking, peak bagging and biking.
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Weight

0.82 kg (1.8 lbs)

Volume

22L

Water Resistant?

Yes

Dimensions

51 x 28 x 28 cm (20" x 11" x 11" (L x W x H))

Exterior Shell

Nylon

Lining

Unknown

Zippers

YKK

Laptop Compatibility

N/A

Opening Type

Top-Loading

Yup, it’s another Osprey pack. It’s indisputable fact that when it comes to outdoor gear, Osprey consistently makes damn good bags.

The Osprey Talon 22 might seem similar in design to some of their other offerings, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They’ve clearly found a design that works and are experimenting with small tweaks here and there. What Talon 22 offers is a good balance between performance, volume, features and comfort.

Built from a lightweight nylon, Talon 22 offers good durability without adding to the weight of your setup. Even though daypacks are meant for shorter hikes, even just a few additional ounces can quickly add to the strain on your shoulders over time. The exterior pockets come in form of a top zippered compartment and two smaller pockets located on the hip pads. On top of that, you also get two bottle holders. The interior is fairly minimalist and lacking in special features aside from the water bladder sleeve.

One of the cool features Talon 22 is known for is its fully adjustable suspension system. The AirScape-covered back panel allows you to adjust the fit so that it matches your torso length. Along with a dedicated hip belt, hip pads and a sternum strap, comfort is definitely not an issue with this pack.

MORE: Osprey Talon 22 Pack Full Review

Average Score 9
Materials & Craftsmanship
8
Design/Aesthetics
7.5
Organization & Features
9
Comfort
9
PROS:
  • Lightweight materials make for a comfortable carrying experience
  • Highly durable exterior that will last a long time
  • Plenty of additional pockets on the outside
  • Highly water resistant, which is always good for outdoor activities
CONS:
  • Rain cover and hydration reservoir sold separately
  • Hard to reach certain compartments while walking

Gregory Inertia 20 Hydration Pack

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Gregory Inertia 20

Brand:Gregory
Volume: 20L
Weight: 0.64 kg (1.41 lbs)
Just big enough for shoulder-season hikes, the Gregory Inertia 20 hydration pack is sized for grab-and-go adventures, and the included 3L reservoir ...
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Weight

0.64 kg (1.41 lbs)

Volume

20L

Water Resistant?

No

Dimensions

51 x 29 x 21 cm (20.1" x 11.4" x 8.25" (L x W x H))

Shell Fabric

210D Honeycomb CryptoRip nylon

Lining

Unknown

Zippers

YKK

Laptop Compatibility

Fits laptops up to 13"

Opening Type

Front-Loading

The Gregory Inertia 20 is a true outdoors daypack that is sufficiently versatile for the urban jungle. Yes, it comes with a hydration pack, but it can accompany you on more than just hikes.

Its main purpose is to offer a light and functional piece of gear to those who like their packs to be feature-rich from the get-go. Not many other packs use magnetic sternum straps!

Built from quality materials, Inertia 20 inspires confidence when you first pick it up with its solid and sturdy fabrics hardware. The exterior of the pack is fairly simple and clean looking. Instead of a bunch of zippered pockets, Gregory has opted for three elastic pockets – two side bottle holders and a main pocket at the front of the pack. This way they’ve kept the weight down without sacrificing too much functionality.

To access the main compartment, you will have to undo the compression straps and unzip the main zipper. In here you’ll find the 3D Hydro Reservoir, the included hydration bladder which is designed to fit neatly in this bag.

Looking at the back panel, there’s a suspended mesh layer that covers a contoured panel, offering optimal airflow and plenty of ventilation, even on scorching summer days. The padding on the straps is more than enough to minimize fatigue, while the hip belt ensures plenty of support.

MORE: Gregory Inertia 20 Hydration Pack Full Review

Average Score 9.5
Materials & Craftsmanship
9
Design/Aesthetics
8.5
Organization & Features
9.5
Comfort
9
PROS:
  • Versatile design means it can be used in the outdoors and urban areas
  • Hydration bladder included
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Affordable
CONS:
  • Cannot be adjusted for different torso lengths

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