Whether you’re headed out for a quick tour, an all-day adventure, or maybe even a light-and-fast overnight, your pack choice can make or break the journey. As you’re enjoying the peace and tranquility of nature or exploring the trails with your family, the last thing you want to mess with is a poor-fitting or wrong-size pack. We’ve put these three packs to the test so you can optimize your trail-blazing fun and leave the worries behind.
Black Diamond Distance 15 Backpack
Weighing in at a mere one pound, this ultralight speed pack is a brilliant crossover between a traditional daypack and a comfort-fit, stay-put running vest. With enough room for a long day outdoors, this pack is built for fast travel – perfect for lighter loads or a trip that combines running with hiking or climbing. While all these packs accommodate a hydration system, the Distance 15 allows for a bladder on your back and easy-access flasks (sold separately) in the front two pockets. This feature makes it easy to carry both water and a sports drink on your adventures. We loved this pack’s versatility of use as a sleek and effective running companion or on a hike with the kids.
Gregory Mountain Miwok 12 Daypack
Compact, but mighty: If you’re not looking for super light or super big pack, this is your go-to tried-and-true hiking daypack. The Miwok 12 is perfect for those that prefer a more traditional backpack feel (versus the Distance 15’s vest-like fit). The pack boasts a comfortable and breathable waistbelt, giving your shoulders a break while capably managing slightly heavier loads. The waistbelt comes complete with easy-access pockets to stash quick snacks for yourself or your hungry little hikers (a handy, and somewhat rare, feature on a pack this small). In addition to multiple inner and outer pocket configurations to store your hiking accessories (think camera, first aid kit, extra clothes, etc.), there is an insulated sleeve for your water bladder. If you’re wanting a reliable, light (only 1.5 pounds), economical pack that fits the bill for most days out, this is your pack.
Deuter Futura PRO 36
Looking for the ideal one-pack solution for long day hikes and overnight backpacking trips? The Futura PRO 36 isn’t the lightest of this bunch of daypacks, but certainly makes the cut for a bigger pack that doubles as an overnighter. Weighing in at 3.5 pounds, this pack holds a whopping 36 Liters. The Futura PRO 36 has all the perks and feel of a multi-day backpack (easy access outside pockets, a separate lower compartment for a sleeping bag, a top pocket for headlamp and snacks, and an integrated waterproof cover) but is light enough to grab for a day hike as well. Our testers were particularly fond of the extra-plush waist belt and ventilated back mesh system. This feature kept us cooler even while carrying a full pack on days with temps in the upper 80s. If you’re looking for extra space on day trips (plenty of room for extra clothes, food, and water for the family) and ventilated comfort on overnight trips, this pack is worth the extra cost.