Patagonia Altvia 22L
$119, 22L/1,343 c.i., 1 lb. 8 oz. (S/M)
Sizes: unisex S/M and L/XL
For many dayhikers who hit the trail for anywhere from a few hours to a long day carrying just food, water, adequate layers, and a few extra items like a camera, a daypack of around 20 liters with a basic feature set does the job. And dayhikers carrying a load under 15 pounds—commonly true with many—don’t need a heavily engineered and heavy pack. Enter the Patagonia Altvia 22L, which marries good capacity and easy access in a light package.
With the new Altvia, Patagonia seems to have taken its well-designed Nine Trails daypackand pared it down to a lighter sack with incrementally more space. I’ve carried it on dayhikes of up to 12 miles with at least 1,500 feet of up and down in my local foothills—including two laps up and down one very steep trail that rises 2,000 vertical feet in just 2.2 miles—in August temps from the 60s to the 80s with little shade and more than 12 pounds inside. And I’ve come away impressed with its simple functionality, versatility, and value.
With just a simple, foam back pad that’s flexible enough to fold the pack in half, the Altvia lacks a rigid frame or stiffeners in the hipbelt to provide structural support for carrying more than about 12 pounds—although plenty of hikers could carry about 15 pounds comfortably enough. That design also keeps the pack light and makes it more packable. The breathable mesh shoulder straps and hipbelt help release moisture and the mesh back panel allows for good air flow when you’re working up a sweat.
In keeping with the Altvia’s lightweight design, the main compartment is quickly accessed by a clamshell zipper that extends nearly halfway down the pack’s sides. And it has plenty of space for all the water, food, layers, and incidental items most hikers would carry on even long dayhikes in any weather and season. Plus, an integrated rain cover deploys quickly from a pocket on the pack’s bottom, making the pack storm-worthy.
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External organization includes six pockets: a zippered top pocket for sunglasses and small items; a zippered front pocket large enough for a rain shell; two stretch-mesh side pockets large enough for a liter bottle that, with a little difficulty, can be reached while wearing the pack; and two hipbelt pockets each large enough to hold a couple of bars or just barely squeeze in a smartphone.
The PU-coated, 140-denier and 210-denier nylon fabric—durable enough for most dayhikers—is recycled from postindustrial waste fiber and discards from weaving mills and postconsumer fishing nets and treated with a PFC-free DWR (durable, water-repellent coating).
The Altvia has a couple of shortcomings: no means of attaching much gear, like axe, trekking pole, or other attachments or side compression, beyond one substantial bungee that secures a jacket and/or poles; and it comes in just two unisex sizes, with no women’s-specific sizing. Sizing matters somewhat less in a daypack that’s not intended for heavier dayhiking loads. Still, while I found the S/M fit my 18-inch torso well, many smaller women will find the Altvia too big for them.
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The Patagonia Altvia 22L offers a simple, lightweight design with good organization for dayhikes of any length in any weather.
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See my picks for “The 10 Best Hiking Daypacks” and my “5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack” (which includes daypacks) and all of my reviews of hiking gear.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.