BEST PACKABLE BACKPACK FOR TRAVEL AND HIKING IN 2021

by | Gear Guides

Packable backpacks are one of the handiest items you can carry in your bag. Whether you are travelling through different countries or spending time backcountry hiking and camping, a packable bag is a great item to have with you. Having spent many years travelling and now backcountry camping most weekends, we understand what qualifies as the best packable backpack and what to look for in the best packable daypack for all of your adventures.

Our list of packable daypacks is designed to give you a wide range of options, from the smallest and most lightweight daypack, to some that are a little bulkier but will offer more support. Each person has a slightly different use case and need for their packable day pack and we are sure there is a bag on our list that is perfect for you.

*Wild About BC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Please note we only link to products & services we personally use or trust. 

What is a Packable Day Pack and Why Do You Need One?

Packable backpacks are small bags that can be packed into your larger backpack or suitcase and can then be pulled out to use while out exploring for the day. They usually compress down quite small and pack into their own pocket or pouch to make them easy to carry. These are usually ultralight daypacks, making the extra weight easy to carry around in your larger bag.

There are many reasons that you may want to have a bag like this for travel or hiking. For travel, it is great as you won’t want to carry your large backpack around while you are out and about for the day. Having a small bag that you can use for daily essentials like food, water, your hiking camera, a packable jacket and any other small items you want to carry around with you for the day.

If you want to travel with hand luggage only, many airlines only allow one bag so this is a good way to ensure you also have a small bag for your days of adventuring.

We also love having a small hiking daypack when we go on backcountry hiking trips. We will often go deep into the backcountry to set up our camp for a few days but we will use it as a base to go and do different day hikes. Having an ultralight daypack means that we can fit this in our larger hiking backpacks with no issue but we can then use these for our day trips, rather than our large hiking bags.

The best foldable backpack

Things to Consider When Buying a Lightweight, Packable Rucksack

There are numerous different types of these foldable backpacks and while we have our favourites (more on this below) each person will want a slightly different type of bag based on their needs. Below are some of the key things that you should consider when buying a packable backpack.

Size and Weight

Probably the most important thing to think about before buying a collapsible daypack is the size and weight of the backpack, especially when it is packed away. Ideally, you want your bag to be as small and light as possible when you aren’t using it so you don’t even notice it in your larger pack as you carry it around. Whether you are travelling or hiking, this is a key consideration.

For those who want to pack ultralight and where space is at a premium, something like the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Day Pack is ideal as it is ridiculously small and lightweight. If you aren’t as worried about saving space then you can consider a slightly bulkier bag that has more features.

Volume

We’ve tried and tested our fair share of backpacks and we find that 20 litres is the perfect size for a daypack. This gives you plenty of room to store a camera, water bottle, jacket etc. but yet is still small enough to fold away into a compact size and you can wear it all day without it feeling too heavy on your shoulders.

Features

The features that you want will closely correlate with the packed size and weight of the bag that you choose. Fewer features usually mean that the bag will be smaller and lighter and vice versa. If you want a bag with several zippered pockets, water bottle holders on the sides, a sternum strap, padding etc. then you are probably going to be looking at a larger and heavier bag.

The ultralight bags often have one main zippered compartment and that’s it. You’ll need to decide exactly what features you want before selecting your bag.

Budget

How much you are willing to spend will also be a determining factor as you shop around for a great daypack. Luckily, there are plenty of great options on a tight budget, and even the higher quality bags are still very reasonably priced. This is one item that you really don’t need to spend a fortune on which is always nice.

Materials

Durability and weatherproofing are the two key considerations when looking at the materials. Look for quality materials and zippers when selecting your bag if you want it to last the test of time. Most bags in this category are also somewhat weather resistant. This means while you might not keep your gear dry in a torrential downpour, your things should be safe in light rain.

Best packable daypack

Our Overall Top Pick for the Best Packable Backpack

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

When it comes to making amazing backpacks, Osprey stands out as the best of the best. Whether it’s for travel, hiking or day use, they make incredible products that are high quality, functional and will last for years. We have used numerous different Osprey backpacks of all shapes and sizes so it was no surprise that our favourite packable daypack was the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack.

With a 20 litre capacity, this is also the perfect size for a day of adventuring. You’ll be able to fit in a packable jacket, lunch, water and anything else you need for a day out exploring. There are some smaller bags on our list but we think that 20l is the ideal size and it only weighs 91g (3.2oz). It also has a stretch mesh side pocket that you can fit a smaller water bottle (you won’t fit the classic 1 litre Nalgene in, unfortunately) or other small bits of gear into.

Like most of the bags on our list, this foldable backpack packs into its own carrying case so you can easily store it in your larger bag and you don’t need to worry about losing a separate stuff sack. The air mesh straps are wide enough to not hurt your shoulders if you wear the bag all day, while also being breathable. The main downside of this foldable travel backpack is that it isn’t the smallest on our list when it is packed away. But we think this is a fair sacrifice to make for such a great product.

What we like:

  • High quality, durable build
  • 20l capacity
  • Packs into its own carrying case

What we don’t like:

  • Not the smallest when packed away
  • No support or padding in the back

>>See prices for the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack here

The Best Lightweight Packable Backpack

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Day Pack

While we love the Osprey bag above, we understand that for some people the size and weight of a bag like this matter more than anything and that is where the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Day Pack comes in. The first time I saw this lightweight foldable backpack packed away in its case I couldn’t believe it would fold out to be a 20 litre bag. This makes it a strong contender as the best packable backpack for travel or hiking for those putting together an ultralight setup.

When packed away this Sea to Summit packable backpack is not even close to being the size of your palm and it can easily fit in a jacket pocket, purse or pretty much any other tiny space you can think of. It weighs in at just 30g (1oz) so no matter where you store it, you won’t notice the size or the weight of this pack ever which is why we think it is the best ultralight packable backpack.

We are a big fan of Sea to Summit gear and they make high-quality products across the board and this is no different. Our friend Kevin carried this bag through some of the 96 countries he visited over several years and now regularly takes it on backcountry hiking and camping trips and it is still going strong. The bag packs into itself and comes with a handy carabiner if you want to clip it to the outside of your bag instead for easy access.

As this is designed to be so lightweight it is quite a thin material so you do need to be careful around rough surfaces but it is surprisingly durable if you are careful with it. The lightweight straps can be slightly uncomfortable under heavy loads but for normal use, we didn’t have any issues with it.

What we like:

  • Absolutely tiny when packed away but still has 20l capacity
  • Weighs just 30g (1oz)

What we don’t like:

  • The lightweight material can be damaged on rough surfaces
  • Shoulder straps can be uncomfortable with heavy loads

>>See prices for the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Daypack here

Best Budget Foldable Daypack

ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

Most of the bags on our list are very reasonably priced in our opinion, but if you are looking for a great packable travel backpack on a budget then the ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack is an excellent choice. We like the storage options with this backpack as it has one main zippered compartment, a front pocket and two side mesh pockets to keep your things organized and separated.

The 20l capacity means you can easily store all of the gear you need for the day, although the cheaper material does mean this bag weighs a little bit more, coming in at 249g (8.8oz). This makes it one of the heavier bags on the list and while it does pack into itself it also isn’t the smallest when packed away. This is to be expected for the price and if you don’t need something super small and lightweight then this packable travel bag will work perfectly for you.

For the price, this is a great collapsible daypack and you’ll be impressed with the quality considering how cheap it is. The wide straps also make it a comfortable bag to have on your shoulders all day, even with a slightly heavier load. While not quite a waterproof packable backpack the water-resistant material does a great job in most circumstances.

What we like:

  • Impressive quality for the price
  • Separate pockets are great for organization

What we don’t like:

  • Reasonably heavy
  • Doesn’t pack away super small

>>See prices for the ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack here

Other Great Options for the Best Foldable Backpack

NamePictureWeightCapacityRating Price
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack91g (3.2oz)20 L4.8/5See Prices
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Day Pack 30g (1oz)20 L4.8/5See Prices
ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack 249g (8.8oz)20 L4.6/5See Prices
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack 71g (2.5 oz)20 L4.6/5See Prices
REI Co-op Flash 18 PackPackable backpacks - REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack255g (9 oz)18 L4.6/5See Prices
CamelBak Octane 18 L Hydration Packpackable day pack - CamelBak Octane 18 L Hydration Pack397g (14 oz)18 L4.5/5See Prices
WANDRD VEER 18L Packable Bagbest packable backpack - WANDRD VEER 18L Packable Bag414g (14.6 oz)18 L4.5/5See Prices
REI Co-op Stuff Travel Packfoldable backpack - REI Co-op Stuff Travel Pack171g (6 oz)20 L4.4/5See Prices
Outlander Ultra Lightweight Backpack 209g (7.4oz)20 L4.4/5See Prices
AmazonBasics Ultralight Packable Day Pack159g (5.6 oz)25 L4.3/5See Prices
HIKPRO 20l backpack213g (7.5oz)20 L4.3/5See Prices
Herschel Packable Daypack227g (8oz)24.54.1/5See Prices
Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Dry Sack50g (1.8oz)20 L4/5See Prices

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Travel Day Pack is the slightly bigger brother of the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Day Pack that we mentioned above as our favourite ultralightweight backpack. This bag still has a 20l capacity but it is slightly heavier, weighing 71g (2.5 oz) and packs down into the size of a tennis ball. It doesn’t stuff into its own pocket but it does come with its own stuff sack and aluminum carabiner.

The main reason this bag weighs more and is larger than the nano is that it uses slightly more durable material. The nylon for this bag is 30D, rather than the 15D in the nano, which makes it more water-resistant and the thicker material should make it last longer. The main drawbacks for this bag are that the straps still aren’t the most comfortable under heavy loads and there is only one main zippered compartment so you can’t organize your gear.

We are big fans of Sea to Summit gear though and this is another excellent product from them that is a really great choice, especially as a packable hiking backpack or similar situations, where size and weight are extremely important to you.

What we like:

  • Lightweight and packs down very small
  • Good quality material and quite water resistant

What we don’t like:

  • The straps aren’t the most comfortable
  • Only one main compartment

>>See prices for the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Travel Day Pack here

REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack

One of the more comfortable bags in this category, with a bit more support, is the REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack. This backpack has some light padding in the back as well as on the shoulder straps and it also has removable hip and sternum straps to help reduce the load on your shoulders. This small foldable backpack is one of the few to offer features like this making it much more comfortable for a day of exploring with heavier items on your back.

The hydration-compatible design includes a hose exit port and an internal sleeve for a reservoir so it is ideal for hiking. This bag doesn’t stuff into a sack or into one of its own pockets but it will fold down very small and won’t take up much room in your bag. It is designed to be turned inside out and used as a stuff sack for your gear in your larger bag.

It has an 18l capacity and weighs 255g (9 oz) so it is on the heavier side but you get a lot more features with this weight and it will be more comfortable to wear for extended periods. There is one main compartment with a drawstring close and one small zippered compartment on the front.

What we like:

  • Padding on the back and shoulders
  • Hydration-compatible design

What we don’t like:

  • It is quite heavy
  • It doesn’t stuff into a sack when you aren’t using it

>>See prices for the REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack here

Packable backpacks - REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack

CamelBak Octane 18 L Hydration Pack

The CamelBak Octane 18 L Hydration Pack is an awesome pack for anyone that wants something more geared towards hiking and carrying a reservoir in it, plus you get a reservoir included with this bag which is brilliant. The bag has an 18l capacity and weighs 397g (14 oz), making it on the heavier side for sure.

While it is heavy, you do get a lot of extra functionality for your money that obviously starts with the hydration sleeve and tube management to keep your tube secure and accessible when you need it. It also has dual sternum straps, hiking pole attachments, a safety whistle and several internal and external pockets to store your gear. This includes a stretchy mesh pocket on the front so while it is only 18l, you can actually store more gear than you think.

The biggest drawback of this bag is the size and weight. This bag won’t pack away into itself but you can still fold it down to be quite small to fit in your bags but won’t be ideal for the most weight-conscious adventurer. If you are looking for a bag with lots of bells and whistles then this is a superb choice.

What we like:

  • LOTS of features
  • Comes with a reservoir

What we don’t like:

  • Heavy at 397g (14 oz)
  • Doesn’t pack into itself

>>See prices for the CamelBak Octane 18 L Hydration Pack here

packable day pack - CamelBak Octane 18 L Hydration Pack

WANDRD VEER 18L Packable Bag

The WANDRD VEER 18L Packable Bag was designed with comfort in mind. It has an inflatable back panel that enhances the structural integrity of the design and makes it much more comfortable to carry, especially with heavy loads. This, combined with the ultra-wide mesh straps makes this one of our favourite bags when you are carrying lots of heavy gear. It has an 18l capacity and weighs 414g (14.6 oz).

There are several different pockets, a key clip and webbing loops to securely clip all of your gear. You can also buy an inflatable camera cube to safely store your camera in this bag which we think is pretty cool. The bag does pack into its own top pocket but it is relatively big and heavy when packed. Again, this sort of bag is ideal for someone who wants slightly more features and is willing to take up a bit more space in their bag for it.

What we like:

  • Inflatable back panel
  • Quick access side zipper

What we don’t like:

  • It is heavy and bulky when packed away

>>See prices for the WANDRD VEER 18L Packable Bag here

best packable backpack - WANDRD VEER 18L Packable Bag

REI Co-op Stuff Travel Pack

We have a couple of REI bags on our list and unlike the REI Flash Pack the REI Co-op Stuff Travel Pack does stuff into its own pocket to make it easier to pack and travel or hike with. This small packable backpack has a 20l capacity and weighs 171g (6 oz). You’ll get one main zippered compartment and a front stuff pocket that can hold a packable jacket or a water bottle.

We really like the thick shoulder straps on this bag as it makes it really comfortable to wear and makes it a great small hiking daypack that you can take anywhere with you. It’s right in the middle of the range in terms of its size when packed away, so you shouldn’t have any issues packing this into your larger bag. Our only complaint is we wish there were some mesh pockets on the side but otherwise, we love this REI packable daypack.

What we like:

  • Thick shoulder straps are comfortable

What we don’t like:

  • No side mesh pockets to help organise gear

>>See prices for the REI Co-op Stuff Travel Pack here

foldable backpack - REI Co-op Stuff Travel Pack

Outlander Ultra Lightweight Backpack

This nylon packable backpack is another great choice for the budget backpacker or hiker. You’ll get an impressive bag without having to shell out too much of your hard-earned cash. The Outlander Ultra Lightweight Backpack comes in a range of sizes so you can pick the size that best fits your needs. They offer a 20 and 33l version of this bag with the 20l bag weighing 209g (7.4oz).

The nylon material is highly rip- and water-resistant, so it’s ideal for most types of weather and should keep your gear safe. You’ll also find it easy to store and organize all of your gear as this bag has one main compartment with an internal zippered security pocket, two front zipper pockets and two mesh side pockets. It also comes with a carabiner so you can attach it to the outside of your bag or attach other items to this bag while it is in use.

Like most budget bags in this range, the main downside of this bag is the packed size and weight of the backpack. But other than this we think this is a great buy.

What we like:

  • Excellent value for the price
  • Lots of compartments to organize your things

What we don’t like:

  • Doesn’t pack very small
  • Relatively heavy

>>See prices for the Outlander Ultra Lightweight Backpack here

AmazonBasics Ultralight Packable Day Pack

When it comes to a well-priced packable backpack, Amazon is home to many great options. One of these is the AmazonBasics Ultralight Packable Day Pack which is a really solid offering. We are impressed by the size this folds down into, which is a good deal smaller than some of the other budget backpacks on our list. This bag will fold down into its own pocket and you will hardly notice it when it is stashed away in your bigger backpack.

This Amazon packable backpack weighs 159g (5.6 oz) making it lighter as well as smaller than most other budget options. This bag has a 25 litre capacity with one main zippered compartment, a small front zipper pocket, an internal zippered pocket and 2 mesh side pockets. This makes it easy to organize and carry all of your gear while you are out and about.

The straps are fairly flimsy on this bag so if you carry some heavier items for a few hours then you will feel the pressure on your shoulders. And as this is a smaller and lighter bag, the material is thin and there is no padding so expect to feel any items you carry in here poking you in the back. These are fairly standard issues with a bag like this and we think it is still a great buy even with these minor complaints.

What we like:

  • Packs down small making it easy to carry in a larger backpack
  • Lightweight for the price

What we don’t like:

  • Straps are uncomfortable when carrying heavier objects
  • No padding anywhere on the bag

>>See prices for the AmazonBasics Ultralight Packable Day Pack here

HIKPRO Backpack

Another great packable backpack at a budget-friendly price is the HIKPRO 20l backpack. This bag has three zippered compartments and two mesh pockets on the side of the bag to easily store and organize all of your gear. This bag weighs 213g (7.5oz) and is made from water-resistant nylon. One of our favourite features of this bag is the wide, breathable mesh shoulder straps which make it quite comfortable to carry.

Like many of the lightweight packable backpacks on our list, there is no padding on this bag so it can be uncomfortable to carry unless you pack it really well. The major downside of this pack is its durability. If you plan to use it constantly and will be putting it through its paces, then it is unlikely to stand the test of time. However, if you are just looking for a bag you will use occasionally then this is still a great choice.

What we like:

  • Wide straps are comfortable
  • Several zippered compartments and mesh pockets to keep gear organized

What we don’t like:

  • Not the most durable backpack
  • No padding

>>See prices for the HIKPRO Backpack here

Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Dry Sack

While not quite a backpack, we had to include the Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Dry Sack as it is fully waterproof and makes for a great waterproof packable daypack. It comes in a variety of sizes, from 1l to 35l and the 20l version weighs just 50g (1.8oz). This bag doesn’t pack into itself like most of the other bags but you will be able to compress it down into next to nothing.

The high-tenacity, siliconized nylon is extremely waterproof and will keep your valuables safe in adverse weather conditions. The reason we don’t rate this as one of the best backpacks on our list is simply that it isn’t really a backpack. It has no backpack straps so you have to carry it in your hand which isn’t ideal for longer trips. We just wanted to include it as we always carry a dry bag with us on our travels and they don’t come much better than this.

What we like:

  • Fully waterproof
  • Compact and lightweight

What we don’t:

  • Not really a backpack as it has no backpack straps

>>See prices for the Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Dry Sack here

Herschel Packable Daypack

While probably not the most functional bag on our list, it is probably the best-looking bag. If looking good while out and about is top of your priority list, then the Herschel Packable Daypack may be the one for you. It has a 24.5l capacity and weighs in at 227g (8oz). You’ll get the classic old-school design with this packable backpack from Herschel and they offer a wide range of colours for you to choose from.

This bag is definitely meant for function over fashion and it definitely isn’t the most durable backpack that you could buy. Similarly, it won’t be the most comfortable as the straps aren’t particularly wide and there is no padding on them. But all of this may be worth it to have a bag that looks this good that you can still pack away.

What we like:

  • Classic design and lots of colour combinations
  • Plenty of room with a volume of 24.5l

What we don’t like:

  • Not very durable
  • Not the most comfortable

>>See prices for the Herschel Packable Daypack here

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of options to choose from when searching for the best packable backpack for travel. Whether you want something simple and ultralight or a bag with a few extra features, you will have a lot of options. Each person is slightly different in what they are looking for but we are confident there is a bag on this list that you will absolutely love.

Whether you are travelling, hiking or just need something for around town, you’ll be able to find the perfect bag above without breaking the bank.


Planning a hiking or backpacking trip? Check out some of our other gear guides:

Share!

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Wild About BC About Us

Hi, we’re Luke and Roxy, a couple of adventurers that are head over heels in love with British Columbia, Canada.

We share our activities and outdoor adventures with the hope of inspiring others to get out and enjoy beautiful BC!

Thanks for visiting our blog!

Popular Posts

St Marks Summit Hike, Vancouver

ST MARKS SUMMIT HIKE | Cypress Mountain

Things to do on Vancouver Island

THINGS TO DO ON VANCOUVER ISLAND | Complete Bucket List

Cox Bay Trail, Tofino

COX BAY TRAIL | 

Epic View in Tofino

Get your FREE day hike packing list!

 

 Subscribe to our email list and get your FREE downloadable day hike checklist straight to your inbox. 

Success! Check your email for your packing list.

Download your FREE Vancouver itinerary!

 

 Subscribe to our email list and get your FREE downloadable PDF Vancouver itinerary straight to your inbox. 

Success! Check your email for your downloadable PDF guide.

Download your FREE checklist of things to do in Tofino!

 

 Subscribe to our email list and get your FREE downloadable checklist of things to do in Tofino straight to your inbox. 

Success! Check your email for your checklist.

Download your FREE checklist of things to do on Vancouver Island!

 

 Subscribe to our email list and get your FREE downloadable checklist of things to do on Vancouver Island straight to your inbox. 

Success! Check your email for your checklist.

Download your FREE Banff bucket list!

 

 Subscribe to our email list and get your FREE downloadable Banff bucket list straight to your inbox. 

Success! Check your email for your Banff bucket list.

Download your FREE checklist of things to do in Tofino!

 

 Subscribe to our email list and get your FREE downloadable checklist of things to do in Tofino straight to your inbox. 

Success! Check your email for your checklist.