The Best Day Packs of 2022

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Kelty Asher 35 ($100)

Kelty Asher 35
(Photo: Courtesy Kelty)

Best Value

A 35-liter pack weighing under two pounds for just $100 is almost unheard of, but the Asher nails those specs and provides performance to boot. Its impressive host of features includes a U-shaped zipper that wraps around the top and halfway down both sides, so you can easily flay the pack open to dig out that buried hat. Water bottles fit into twin side pockets, while extra layers tuck into a stretchy dorsal pocket. We’ll note that while the shoulder straps are padded, the waist belt is cushioned only at the hip bones, and the flat nylon back panel lacks the weight redistribution required for loads over 20 pounds. Some testers found it most comfortable carrying less than ten pounds. This pack is best for hikers who consider their pack weight judiciously but still want extra space for stashing a spare puffy. 1.75 lbs

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Gregory Inertia 24 H20 / Swift 22 H20 ($120)

Gregory Inertia 24 H20 / Swift 22 H20
(Photo: Courtesy Gregory)

Best for Hydration

For years, the Swift/Inertia has been among our favorite basic daypacks. This season was no exception. The pack comes with the brand’s increasingly popular 3D Hydro reservoir, made from extra-stiff plastic that keeps the sides from sticking together, allowing the inside to dry thoroughly and avoid bacteria buildup. A molded foam back panel (perforated for breathability) and padded shoulder straps and hipbelt sat comfortably under a full day-hike load that included lunch, snacks, layers, and three liters of water. We love the ample storage—hipbelt pockets that each fit a small smartphone and energy bar, plus angled side pouches, one stretchy mesh and one zippered. And we were grateful for the brightly colored interior, which makes sundries easy to find. 1.7 lbs (men’s) / 1.6 lbs (women’s)

Men’s Women’s

Mountain Hardwear Huell 25 ($90)

Mountain Hardwear Huell 25
(Photo: Courtesy Mountain Hardwear)

Best for the Urban Adventurer

If you want a work bag that’s durable enough for mellow trail adventures after hours—or a travel pack that can pull double duty on trips that involve a combination of touristing and low-key adventuring—the Huell is your answer. Its 1,200-denier, 100 percent recycled polyester fabric stood up to sandstone and cactus spikes with no rips. It also lends a ruggedly fashionable aesthetic. Otherwise, the Huell’s feature set prioritizes city sleekness over technicality: non-elasticated side pockets with snap-operated expansion pleats, a laptop sleeve, a single wallet-sized interior zippered pocket, lightly padded shoulder straps, and a sternum buckle but no waist belt. That minimal suspension system means this pack is best suited to loads of 15 pounds or less. 1.68 lbs

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Big Agnes Impassable 20 ($150)

Big Agnes Impassable 20
(Photo: Courtesy Big Agnes)

Best for Doing It All

This is the all-around pack you’ll want to use every day. It has all the comfort and features of other technical packs on this list, plus a padded laptop sleeve that’s sewn shorter than the pack body to keep your computer off the ground. We hiked in it, climbed with it, brought it to work, and basically just never wanted to leave it at home. Designers used a similar suspension system to the one in Big Agnes’s 60-liter packs: a molded foam back panel that promotes airflow, stretchy mesh straps that don’t chafe, and a hipbelt made with a laminate-EVA foam similar to many climbing harnesses. The result feels weightless, even under 15-plus pound loads. The Impassable cuts weight via a 100-denier ripstop nylon gridded with 210-denier yarn. We tossed it against cobbly New Mexican rock faces without causing any damage. 1.5 lbs

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Osprey Stratos 24 / Sirrus 24 ($160)

Osprey Stratos 24 / Sirrus 24
(Photo: Courtesy Osprey)

Most Comfortable

When big days call for large loads, we want this pack. It’s been among our favorites for years. For 2022, designers did away with multiple sizes and instead added extra torso-length adjustability, so the back panel can expand from 18 to 22 inches long. A new, lighter mesh material also boosts breathability on the top portion of the shoulder harness—one tester came home with a dry shirt even after 8.5 miles and 5,500 feet of climbing on a crisp fall day on Colorado’s 14,070-foot Humboldt Peak. The padded hip belt was the most thickly cushioned of any we tested, and an external trampoline mesh suspension system kept our backs comfy under 20-pound loads. Bonuses: multiple small pockets, a rain cover, quick-stow trekking-pole attachments, and two stretchy side pockets. 2.78 lbs (men’s) / 2.7 lbs (women’s)

Men’s Women’s

Rab Aeon LT 12 ($100)

Rab Aeon LT 12
(Photo: Courtesy Rab)

Best for Going Fast

Rab’s first backpack looks and acts a lot like a running vest, with wide panels that wrap around the side body for a snug fit, plus roomy pockets on the shoulder straps and waist belt for keeping snacks, phone, and soft flasks easily accessible so you can fuel without having to break stride. But the Aeon LT also preserves the best elements of a daypack: side pockets that each fit up to a 40-ounce water bottle, and a molded foam back panel that adds cushion and support for moderate, 15-pound loads. The resulting bag fit bounce-free on a scrambly hike in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, even when we ran for cover from late-afternoon showers. The main pocket accommodates one thick layer or a light shell with room to spare and has a hydration bladder sleeve. It’s perfect for days when you’re packing light and don’t want to stop. 1.1 lbs

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