We are not backpackers, that much is well understood. That said, over the last six years, we’ve been on short trips, long trips, weekend breaks, and month-long journeys. During this time we’ve learned a lot about what is needed in a day bag for travel. We know we need something lightweight, flexible, functional, and what we’ve realized more recently, something a bit stylish. That’s why this post focuses on the best daypack for travelers who are not backpackers.
Obviously, the best travel daypack for any traveler is the one that makes the best sense for them. But, after doing a lot of research for the best travel daypack, and after reading loads of daypack reviews, I realized many of them focus on daypacks for hiking. I wanted to offer travelers something a little different, something that doesn’t focus on backpacks for backpacking for daypacks for hiking.
The Best Travel Bags for Travel (and for Home)
What I like about these recommended daypacks is that they can also be used as backpack bags at home. There’s no reason why the best travel backpack can’t also be a good backpack for home as well. There are backpacks that look like you should be on the trail and there are backpacks that look like you should be in the city. What I look for in a daypack is something that could work for both occasions. Because the best backpack travel bag is one that can be used for a variety of purposes.
Why Buy a Travel Daypack?
The first thing to talk about is why anyone needs a daypack backpack anyway. Travel packing is not easy for everyone. Knowing you have a great option for day backpacks, the bags that you carry with you during the day during your trip, can be of great comfort. A travel daypack can help.
There are loads of options for travel packs, but a travel daypack can be super convenient, here’s why:
- Be Hands-Free With a Good Travel Pack: It’s a great way to be hands-free while traveling, whether you are traveling with children, or are taking pictures during your trip, or just handing over a boarding pass when boarding an airplane.
- Better for Your Back: A well fitting and lightweight backpack can distribute your load evenly, which saves your shoulders and arms from undue stress.
- More Compact: Daypacks are more compact than a pack intended for multi-day trips or overnight trips. They can be used as a carry on backpack as well.
How to Choose the Best Travel Daypack
When choosing the best travel daypack it’s important for you to consider your needs and your travel style. Think about what you need to put in your daypack, where you are traveling to, and for how long. Do you carry a laptop, camera, or other electronics? Are you a day hiker or a city slicker? Do you want to use your daypack for your flights, to make it a carryon daypack, or add a packable daypack to your luggage?
What To Look For in a Travel Daypack
- Material: Most good travel backpacks need to be resistant to wear, but also lightweight, to make it easy to carry around for a full day. I also tend to choose darker colors so I don’t worry about dropping it on the ground when I want to snap a photo. The best daypack for travel is one that is made of a material that is rugged, stylish, and stands up to my hard usage!
- Size: Size is one of the most important features for a travel daypack. It’s important to think about what you plan to carry with you each day, to make sure there is enough room for everything. At the same time, the best travel day bag is one that you don’t think about every five minutes. Great backpacks are ones that are not a hindrance to you actually enjoying your day. The best lightweight backpack should be no more than twenty or thirty liters. But a good travel daypack should be just big enough to carry what you need for a day. A mini travel backpack is also easier to carry when navigating public transport and busy environments. It’s also easier to keep secure.
- Weight: Size and weight go hand-in-hand when it comes to choosing the best small backpack for travel. A good compact travel backpack should also be lightweight. Most good carry on backpacks and good day packs are pretty lightweight these days. The most important thing is to avoid a large backpack and focus more on the best quality backpacks.
- Weather-Resistance: When talking about material, some of the top backpacks for hiking need to be weather resistant. They should be made with a dry-fast material too. When looking for the best urban backpack, or for a travel daypack for a weekend away, weather resistant materials might be less important. That said, I tend to avoid leather daypacks because they can get destroyed in bad weather (and they can be heavy too).
- Comfort: The best good quality backpacks should be comfortable. This is not only a light travel backpack that is comfortable to wear but also the most comfortable backpack for what you are doing. For me, I don’t want a traditional backpackers’ backpack if I want to look like a local. In the end, comfort is based on the right size and weight, but also style.
What to Look for in a Small Backpack – Organization
- Compartments: It’s important to have at least a few compartments even in a small travel pack. Having multiple compartments will make your travel pack more practical and functional. That said, I have a purse that has so many compartments I never know where to find anything. A small daypack backpack should have at least a few compartments, but probably not overload you with compartment options. I recommend top daypacks that have between three and five compartments.
- Laptop Sleeve: Although having a lightweight day backpack with a laptop sleeve is important if you plan to travel with a laptop, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have one. I have a stylish lightweight daypack for travel that doesn’t have a laptop sleeve. Instead, I have a separate laptop sleeve that I add to my backpack when I need it to carry a laptop.
- External Pockets: My ideal travel pack includes a few external pockets, which allow easy access to certain frequently used items. I like putting a water bottle in the outside, and usually have a zipped pocket on the outside to hold a pen, tissues, lip gloss, and other non-valuable items.
Best Day Backpack When Considering Style
Because the focus of this post is not to find the best backpacking bags for hiking, we can spend a little more time talking about style rather than function. Maybe what you want is a cool rucksack rather than a backpacking backpack, and that is okay. Sometimes the best backpack in the world is the one you feel most comfortable with.
Style is a personal preference. There are a lot of possible options for the best city backpack, something that’s a little more urban than outdoorsy. An urban daypack is designed for everyday use. That means it can be used for travel and for work and home use. An urban daypack is usually a bit more fashionable.
What I like about an urban daypack is that I don’t feel as much like a tourist, and that means I feel less like a target. Some of the top-rated backpacks that are more performance bags are good for athletic activities but might make you look more like a tourist. They tend to look a little out of place in city environments.
What Makes These Daypack Reviews Different?
We are not backpackers, not in the least. When we started traveling, we each carried a backpack on our back and a daypack on our front. I have pictures to prove it! We started to feel strange checking into luxury hotels looking like a backpacker. We wanted to look more like luxury travelers than backpackers. That doesn’t mean we wanted to sacrifice functionality, though. That’s why this is a review of travel daypacks for the non-backpacker. We don’t need hydration sleeves or places to hook fancy filtration water bottles in our travel pack. We want functional daypacks that could work for a weekend trip to London and wouldn’t look out of place in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton or the Four Seasons. I want to be able to through my camera into my bag and even take it to a nicer restaurant. I want a travelers backpack that can do everything for me. That’s why this travelpack review is different than so many others.
As I mentioned above, the best travel pack is the one that fits your needs, not my needs. That’s why these daypack reviews include all sorts of travel packs – for men and women, for digital nomads, for weekend travelers, and more.I may use the words daypack and backpack interchangeably. My goal here, though, is to recommend the best tourist backpack regardless of the words you use to label it.
Best Packable Daypack
We’re going to start with a travel pack that’s probably a bit more outdoorsy than stylish, but it can be super useful – a packable daypack. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to pack your daypack into your big travel backpack or another carry on backpack. This allows you to bring a carry on backpack or bag, a checked bag, and an additional lightweight bag for day use. It also allows a little bit of extra space in case of souvenir purchases.
Some daypacks are designed to be compressed or even rolled up, into a ball or even smaller. They are ultra-lightweight. The downside here is that there isn’t a lot of comfort or support built into the daypack, which means you can’t add a lot of weight to the bag.
How to find the best daypack for non-backpackers: The best travel daypack reviews for people who are looking for a travel pack with a little style.
Best Packable Backpack – Eagle Creek Packable Daypack
I’m a huge fan of Eagle Creek bags. My main travel bag right now is an Eagle Creek, but I’ve been a fan of theirs for years. This packable daypack ticks off a few of our must-haves. It’s lightweight, at less than six ounces. It folds into its own pocket and will easily fit into your main cabin bag or carryon backpack. It’s pretty comfortable because it has mesh shoulder straps. There is a side water bottle pocket, which is super important for me.
What’s really great about this bag is its lockable main compartment. This makes it easy and safe to carry for a day of shopping or sightseeing without concern about safety. It is a bit simple, in that there aren’t a ton of extra compartments for organization. But, in comparison to other packable daypacks, which tend to be made for hiking and backpacking, this one comes in a slate grey that looks pretty slick in an urban environment. It’s also a pretty amazing price for a travel daypack.
Purchase the Eagle Creek Packable Daypack on Amazon
Other Packable Daypack Options:
Homfu Foldable Backpack for Travel Packable Daypack, which looks great and offers some great organizational compartments inside.
AmazonBasics Ultralight Packable Day Pack, which is a more functional, less stylish option, but still at a good value.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
Best Lightweight Daypack
One step up from a great packable daypack is a lightweight travel backpack. Of course, in one way or another, all of our travel daypack options would fit into a lightweight daypack category. But, some lightweight daypacks are lighter than others. The problem with looking for a lightweight daypack is that most of them look a lot more outdoorsy than stylish. We have one option that fits the bill for this category.
The Best Lightweight Backpack – Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack
I’ve had great experiences with Osprey in the past. For years, I carried what has to be the best Osprey backpack for travel. The only reason why I switched was to protect my back as I get older. But, we still have the Osprey Porter and use it for local trips (Eric carries it!). But, the Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack is a great lightweight daypack. It has a little more substance than the Eagle Creek packable daypack talked about above.
It also has to be the best Osprey daypack. It weighs just over a pound. It can be used on its own or attached to a larger Osprey pack. There’s also an interior sleeve that holds a tablet or a lightweight travel laptop.
Check out our recommendations for the Best Laptop for Travelers
The great thing about Osprey is that they have an “all might guarantee” so they will repair any damage to your pack as long as you own it. I’ve never tested this out, though, as we’ve never had a problem with our Osprey pack. As for the Osprey lightweight daypack, I would recommend the black or maybe the blue and orange if you are looking to fit in while traveling on city breaks. They also come in a half dozen other colors for a little more fun!
Purchase the Osprey Packs Daylite Lightweight Daypack from Amazon.
While looking for the best lightweight backpack, here is our recommendation for the best ultralight daypack. Most of the ultralight daypacks tend to be very outdoorsy, but the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack looks slick without looking too outdoorsy. It’s a slim down version of the Osprey Daylite.
Best Backpack For Urban Travel
Really, at the end of the day, an urban travel backpack, to me, means one that is more meant for city use than country use. For a while, I might have assumed an urban travel backpack meant hipster, but I no longer think that’s the case. I will make a few recommendations for the best urban travel backpack, but really many of our recommendations could be considered urban travel backpacks.
Best Urban Daypack – Travelon Anti-Theft Urban Backpack
A backpack for urban travel is really just one that can do it all. In this case, the Travelon Urban Daypack can hold everything, while looking slick and contemporary. Certainly, this is not a typical hiking backpack. It’s a little heavier than the lightweight travel backpacks above, weighing in at a little more than two pounds. But, it’s slick and practical, with space for a water bottle on the outside and plenty of internal pockets to keep things organized.
This Travelon daypack is also a great anti-theft daypack. Pickpockets are a problem in many of the largest European cities. Having an anti-theft day pack might not be required, but if you feel a little unsure of your travel experience, then this kind of daypack can provide a little extra piece of mind. I don’t think something like this is needed to travel through most of Europe or even Asia. That said, the larger cities like Barcelona and Paris are known for pickpockets and this could help. The anti-theft device works by keeping the main compartment all zipped up and secure!
Best Daypack for Women
Thus far, most of the travel daypacks recommended can be used by both men and women. But, let’s be honest, they tend to be a little more masculine. It’s the nature of the beast. When it comes to a primary backpack for women, size does matter as women’s bodies are built different and need a different design than a man. The best travel backpack for women is one that takes these issues into consideration. When it comes to a women’s daypack, though, you can focus a little more on finding stylish backpacks for women, but also ones that have a similar function to the more masculine, gender-neutral daypacks above.
I have a few recommendations for a women’s small daypack here, including the bag I use. Mine is not necessarily a travel backpack, but it is from a brand that makes stylish backpacks for women that are lightweight and practical. The reason why I wanted to write this post and focus on the best daypack for non-backpackers is that I try to at least appear more feminine, and professional when I travel. Generally, I use a Neoprene Laptop Sleeve to protect my MacBook, and slide it into my carryon travel bag. I prefer this to using a laptop backpack with a set spot for a laptop because I don’t generally carry my laptop with me during the day. Once I am at the hotel, I leave my laptop there. I don’t necessarily need a laptop travel backpack.
My Favorite Women’s Daypack – Anello Mini Lightweight Rucksack
My favorite women’s small daypack is the Anello Lightweight Rucksack, which is lightweight and still fashionable. I use this as a carry-on bag, and it fits my laptop, cords, a sweater, wallet, water bottle and more. It keeps my travel laptop safe discretely. As far as a travel daypack, without the laptop sleeve taking up room, the bag is even more lightweight and has even more room. It comes in a variety of colors, and although the nylon version is the most lightweight, Anello also makes some canvas versions that are a little more rugged. Mine is well over two years old and will need to be replaced soon. But because I bought it for less than $75 I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of use out of it in that amount of time. As much as the Anello small daypack is not “anti-theft” the handles snap at the top, over the zipper, giving me a little more confidence when in big cities.
Small Travel Backpacks for Women – Pacsafe Citysafe Anti-Theft Women’s Daypack
One step up from the Anello Women’s Daypack is the Pacsafe Citysafe Women’s Backpack. It’s a similar size and style, but there is a built-in laptop sleeve. And, as all Pacsafe products, it is anti-theft. Having just had my purse stolen in Europe, I like the anti-theft function that allows you to secure this bag to your chair so it doesn’t get swiped (that’s what happened to me). The could make it the best travel bag for Europe.
Buy the Anello Mini Lightweight Women’s Rucksack on Amazon now.
But the Pacsafe Citysafe Backpack on Amazon now.
Other options for the best small daypack for women:
The Tumi Women’s Voyageur Calais Women’s Daypack is one step up from both the Anello and Pacsafe brands. It’s still stylish, but it’s a Tumi, which means the quality is undeniable. This bag is worth the investment because it will last and last and last. And it’s a pretty classic design, so it will not go out of style. Or, try the Longchamp Women’s Le Pliage Sac À Dos Backpack, a foldable and packable daypack with a little bit of style. The Longchamp brand is also a great travel backpack for Europe.
What are the Best Backpack Brands
Even with all of the recommendations above for the best travel daypacks, sometimes our recommendations don’t fit your exact needs, and we understand that. In that case, we wanted to provide some advice about good backpack brands that might fit your needs even if we don’t have the perfect travel daypack included above. Some of the top backpack brands include Osprey travel backpack and Eagle Creek travel backpack. But, there are some newcomers, as well as established brands, who’ve tried to focus more on practical and stylish daypacks rather than backpacking and hiking daypacks. For European travel, I like Fjallraven. I also like the contemporary look of Herschel Supply. The PacSafe brand of anti-theft travel daypacks is also great because they don’t sacrifice style for functionality.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
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Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.