Packing for long trips can be such a struggle for one simple reason: How do you pack a backpack? If you’re going on a long trip for which you need a suitcase, it can be exhausting to think about where you’ll keep all of your more day-to-day items and how you’ll sightsee and go on day trips without bringing all of your stuff with you. Don’t be like me and try doing the airport shuffle while wearing multiple backpacks and dragging a suitcase behind you.
Finding a good packable backpack that can fit in your suitcase is a great way to help you prepare for your trip, and it’ll help you limit your number of luggage pieces to stay within the guideline of whichever airline you’re flying. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the best packable backpacks so that you can find the best backpack that will help you stay prepared for every individual day of your next vacation and not just the overall trip. We want you to be able to focus on the details just as much as the big picture.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best packable backpacks, followed by a recap breaking down what makes each product on our list stand out. Or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
- How Small Do Packable Daypacks Get?
- What Should You Look For in a Packable Backpack?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Packable Backpacks
- #1: Eagle Creek Packable Daypack (Best Value – All-Purpose)
- #2: Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack (Best for Hiking)
- #3: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack (Most Compact Large Bag)
- #4: Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack Packable Daypack (Best Low Cost)
- #5: Naturehike 18L Rainproof Lightweight Packable Backpack (Best for Camping)
- What About the Cheapies? Our Best Budget Products
- #1 Budget Product: AmazonBasics Ultralight Portable Packable Day Pack
- #2 Budget Product: Gonex 35L Lightweight Travel Daypack
- Verdict: Your Best Packable Backpacks
How Small Do Packable Daypacks Get?
The slightly unsatisfying and expected answer is that it depends. That being said, you can definitely expect your packable bag to get compact enough for you to place it in one of the smaller compartments of a suitcase or another backpack or carry-on. You know those weirdly placed side compartments that you never thought you’d find a use for? Turns out they’re perfect for other bags. The most compact packable bags on our list will be able to become truly pocket-sized. While the average bag won’t fit in your pants pocket, it may fit in the larger pocket of a jacket.
What Should You Look For in a Packable Backpack?
Packable backpacks are a bit of a niche product. If you’re not a serious travel junkie, you might not have bought one before, and you may not know what to look for in your packable backpack. Not to worry – that’s what we’re here for. We’ve listed our simple criteria below to help you know what to look for in the best packable backpacks. After reading our criteria, we hope you’ll better understand how we picked the backpacks on our list. Also, you’ll be able to understand the market and conduct your own research, if you so choose.
Criteria #1: Packability – Shockingly enough, the most desirable trait in a packable backpack is that it’s…packable. We want to find the best packable backpacks that can shrink down to an amazing, compact size and let you be ready and prepared for a day trip at the drop of a hat. Note that this does not necessarily mean small. There are packable backpacks out there that can collapse and shrink to a surprisingly small size, and the absolute best products will be able to maintain a larger unpacked size while still being able to shrink down to fit in your suitcase or even your pocket.
Criteria #2: Size – Our second criterion is a bit subjective, but that doesn’t take away from its importance at all. Depending on the day you have planned and your travel habits in general, you may want a bigger or a smaller bag. It all depends on the situation and what you want. For example, if you’re going on a hike, you may want a bag that’s just big enough for water and maybe some snacks. If you’re going to have a more relaxed day, you may be willing to pack more since you won’t tire yourself out as quickly. Only you can know what’s best for you, but we’ll make sure to detail the size of all of our backpacks while reviewing them.
Criteria #3: Design – Every backpack will have a different design, and while this criterion is admittedly a bit vague, those little features and quirks can go a long way. In regards to the design criterion, we’ll consider features such as the number of pockets a backpack has, whether or not it has pockets for certain specific and common purposes, the strength and durability of the bag, and of course, comfort. We want to make sure you get all of the amazing features that are sometimes hard to put on paper, so we read between the lines and found the best packable backpacks that offer value beyond their specs.
Criteria #4: Price – We’re not here to make you spend a ton of money for no reason. Meeting this criterion is less about being cheap and more about justifying your price. We’d rather buy an expensive product that’s cheaper than it should be than waste money on a cheaper product that isn’t worth the money and that will just break on you or not perform well. The good news is that packable daypacks, in general, are pretty cheap, and you should have no problem staying within your budget while still finding a product that’s up to your standards.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Packable Backpacks
We measured the specs of the top products on the market against our listed criteria to see how they held up and if they’re worth buying. We then checked customer reviews, blog posts, and “best packable backpacks” articles to see if the products on our list performed as advertised. We also made sure to look for pictures that adequately highlighted how small the packs on our list get when they’re collapsed and shrunk down to their carrying size.
And without further ado, here is our list – tailored to your specific needs – of the best packable backpacks. By the time you’re done reading our list, you’re sure to find the perfect backpack that will let you travel freely and comfortably.
#1: Eagle Creek Packable Daypack (Best Value – All-Purpose)
Eagle Creek starts off our list with their packable backpack, and I have to say that if you didn’t know any better, you might think this was just any typical backpack, and you’d never guess that it can be collapsed and packed into a suitcase or even into a different backpack.
This packable backpack features two large pockets, as well as two mesh pockets on the side perfect for a water bottle or a portable power bank. It also features two-way lockable zippers on the main pockets that are perfect for keeping your possessions safe, so you’ll be able to sleep easy if you’re using this daypack in a youth hostel or similar communal living space. Finally, the Eagle Creek Packable Daypack comes equipped with comfortable, breathable, mesh shoulder straps that will keep you nice and cool for your long day out on the town, and you won’t have to worry about coming home with the infamous shoulder-strap-sweat pattern.
The Eagle Creek Packable Daypack measures at 11 x 17.5 x 4.75 inches when expanded and fits about 13 liters total, but when it collapses, it can easily fit into a suitcase or carry on and could probably fit into some large jacket pockets. It also comes in at an amazing price, and it’s just about the best value you can get for your packable backpack.
And you don’t need to take just our word for it. Customers love it, and this daypack garnered one 5-star review after another on Amazon that praised the Eagle Creek product for being cheap, sturdy, lightweight, and portable.
This packable daypack offers something for everyone, and it can be used for just about any traveling purpose. That, plus its great price, is what earned the Eagle Creek Packable Daypack the number one spot on our list of the best packable backpacks.
#2: Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack (Best for Hiking)
The second packable daypack on our list is the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack, and it was honestly a very close call between the Osprey and Eagle Creek packable daypacks. The Osprey daypack is a bit more expensive, and while that did cause us to list it as second place, it has a few standout features that the Eagle Creek bag is lacking. Here are some reasons you might decide to splurge a little and choose the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack as your packable daypack.
Reason #1 to Choose This Product: Larger Size
Pretty easy to understand this one. The Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack fits about 18 liters in its main compartment, compared to the 13 liters of the Eagle Creek packable daypack. That’s an extra 5 liters that go a long way towards making sure you’re able to pack everything you need – and some extra – for your big day trip. And you won’t even have to play Tetris with your belongings to do it. It also has a mesh pocket on each side of the bag that’s perfect for your water bottle or any other item to which you might want quick access. The biggest potential drawback of this bag is that it only has one main compartment, though as we’ll address below, some travelers may prefer that.
Reason #2 to Choose This Product: One Big Compartment
Yes, one big compartment may get a bit unorganized and messy. But it’s also much more efficient if you have larger items that need all that extra room. That’s what makes the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack packable daypack so perfect for camping or hiking. On a camp or a hike, you’re a little less likely to be concerned with perfectly arranging your backpack, and you’ll definitely want the option of easily packing certain larger items. This large compartment will allow you to pack a sleeping bag and maybe even a smaller tent. You’ll be ready for any detour your travel plan takes with this large bag.
Besides the larger size, this bag also has a convenient loop to help you keep it locked with a padlock, and it has breathable mesh shoulder straps that will help you stay cool on the trail.
Just as with our first bag, it’s been featured on “best packable backpacks” blog posts, and the Amazon review section shows nothing but praise, with one reviewer calling this bag the “perfect packable day-pack.”
If you want to save a few bucks, or if you want more compartments, you should go with the Eagle Creek packable daypack, but if you’re going for size over everything and don’t mind spending the extra money, the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack is the perfect packable daypack to let you squeeze a hike into your longer vacation.
#3: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack (Most Compact Large Bag)
If your main concern is finding that golden ratio of the size-to-portability, look no further than the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack, because this bag is basically impossible to beat in that regard. It’s both the biggest bag on our list so far and one of the most portable.
Despite having a volume of 20 liters, this Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil bag can collapse all the way to a tiny pocket-sized pouch. Forget packing this travel backpack in your suitcase or carry-on, you can just stick it into your jeans pocket if you want. This bag also has a two-way zipper closure that’s perfect for threading padlocks through, and as a little cherry on top, it’s even water-resistant. The water-resistance and the large (unpacked) size of this bag make it perfect for ore outdoorsy activities like camping or rafting, and it has Bar tack reinforced stitching on all stress points, so it can take a fair beating.
The biggest flaw with this bag is that, in addition to only having one compartment, it’s also missing any sort of water bottle holder. That means that even with the water-resistance, durability, and size that this hyper-portable collapsible backpack offers, it may not be best for hiking, though it could still be incredibly useful for camping or other outdoor activities that won’t have you constantly reaching for your water bottle. If you don’t mind paying a little more and keeping everything in one compartment, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack is perfect if you just want the biggest bag possible that will be able to keep up with your active lifestyle.
#4: Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack Packable Daypack (Best Low Cost)
Replace Image below with Amazon SiteTools Image
If you’re trying to save as much money as possible and our packable daypacks haven’t been within your budget so far, you’ll have to check out the Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack Packable Daypack. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cheaper bag that actually delivers a decent product.
This budget collapsible backpack holds 20 liters just like the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack, and while it doesn’t pack up into the same tiny size, it does get small enough to easily fit in a carry-on backpack. Plus, the Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack Packable Daypack has two compartments and a mesh water bottle holder on each side. The smaller compartment on the front of the bag is perfect for quick access to possessions like your wallet or passport or maybe a power bank to keep your phone charged while you wander the unfamiliar streets of whichever new city you find yourself in. On top of that, the bag boasts a completely water-proof nylon design, and it has nice durable stitches that will last years.
The only real compromises on this lightweight backpack are that it doesn’t get quite as compact as some other options and that its zippers are not as suitable for threading a lock through, though you should still be able to manage it and secure your belongings. The ultralight packable daypack comes with the same breathable, mesh shoulder straps that are becoming standard, and as a nice bonus, it comes in a myriad of different colors so you can fit it to your own personal style.
The multiple compartments make this daypack for travel equally suitable for school since you can keep your laptop or books int the main compartment and keep pens, pencils, and other materials in the smaller compartment.
If a slightly less compact bag that’s maybe a little harder to lock seems like a small price to pay for a large packable waterproof backpack with multiple compartments, then you’ll definitely want to buy the Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack Packable Daypack. This bag is one of the cheapest packable daypacks on the market, and it’s a complete steal at this price.
#5: Naturehike 18L Rainproof Lightweight Packable Backpack (Best for Camping)
If you want a completely waterproof, lightweight packable backpack that’s perfect for hiking, camping, and any other outdoor activity, look no further than the Naturehike 18L Rainproof Lightweight Packable Backpack. This 18-liter packable backpack is a bit smaller than the 20-liter Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack, but its waterproof fabric compares to the water-resistance of the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack and makes it perfect for any outdoor activity that might involve a little accidental splashing. So if you’re worried about some rain on your upcoming camping trip or have a hike planned that goes through some wet areas, this is the perfect bag for you.
It also gets as compact and pocket-sized as the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack. So if you’re on a hike that will see you losing baggage over time – for example, if you’ll be eating all of the food you packed – you could find yourself lightening your load entirely by sticking this ultralight packable bag into your pocket at the end fo the trail and being on your way completely unburdened.
This packable backpack weighs just 4.2 ounces, and it has two large compartments as well as a mesh water bottle holder on each side. As we’ve learned to expect as the standard, the Naturehike 18L Rainproof Lightweight Packable Backpack has two zippers on the main compartment which will allow you to lock them together, and it features mesh breathable shoulder straps.
Customers loved this bag for shorter trips, and they obviously loved the waterproof fabric. One reviewer provided a great photo showing that this packable backpack gets smaller than a jar of peanut butter.
So if you want a completely waterproof packable bag that’s perfect for any hike or campaign trip, you want the Naturehike 18L Rainproof Packable Backpack. This high-quality daypack is also one of the cheaper options available, and the zippers are waterproof as well as the fabric, so you can be sure nothing will seep in and get your clothes or food wet.
What About the Cheapies? Our Best Budget Products
We covered a pretty wide price range on our list so far. Some of our items were incredibly cheap, while some were a bit expensive. If you know you’re only looking for the cheapest packable daypacks out there and you don’t want to comb through our list, we’ve got you covered. We’ve added a bonus budget section to our list so you can quickly and easily isolate the cheapest bags out there and make sure that you’re only looking at packable daypacks that fit your budget.
#1 Budget Product: AmazonBasics Ultralight Portable Packable Day Pack
Replace Image below with Amazon SiteTools Image
As the name suggests, AmazonBasics specializes in budget options for a variety of different products. So if you’re trying to limit your spending, AmazonBasics is usually a good place to start.
Here we have their budget packable backpack, the AmazonBasics Ultralight Portable Packable Day Pack, which is both the largest daypack on our list and the cheapest so far. This budget daypack has a volume of 35 liters, and it features one large main compartment plus two mesh water bottle pockets on the sides. If 35 liters feels excessive to you, there is a 25-liter option, though it isn’t any cheaper than the larger size, and at that point, there are probably better deals available, so I would really only recommend this bag if the large size is calling your name.
This affordable pack has a two-way zipper mechanism and a smaller compartment on the front of the pack. This secondary compartment, which is angled sideways, is a bit awkwardly placed, but a convenient pocket to store smaller items like your wallet, passport, phone, or power bank.
The AmazonBasics Ultralight Portable Packable Day Pack does a pretty impressive job of shrinking down. It goes from its massive 35-liter size to not-quite-pocket-sized, and it will very easily fit in any other bag. This bag also features the classic breathable mesh shoulder straps.
With over 7,000 reviews on Amazon, the consensus on this budget pack is pretty clear, and you can be sure you’re getting a solid product even with your efforts to save. It is worth noting that one reviewer complained about the lack of structural support on this pack, which means it will shape to match its contents, which may become a bit awkward. For some people, that’s a deal-breaker, but if you pack a little carefully, you may not even notice.
If you want an extra-large collapsible daypack with all of the classic features at a cheap price, the AmazonBasics Ultralight Portable Packable Day Pack is one of the best options around.
#2 Budget Product: Gonex 35L Lightweight Travel Daypack
Replace Image below with Amazon SiteTools Image
Gonex was the top budget option on the main section of our list, so it’s no surprise to see them make an appearance in the dedicated budget section. Another extra-large budget packable daypack, the Gonex 35L Lightweight Travel Daypack comes in at the same 35-liter size as the AmazonBasics daypack, is even cheaper, and offers more pockets. Honestly, you’ll find yourself wondering what the catch is.
This affordable, high-quality packable pack features 3 compartments, two mesh water bottle pockets, an inner laptop compartment, and an inner mesh pocket that’s perfect for smaller items like pens and pencils. This is one of the best budget packs around when it comes to staying organized, and it’s just as good for school or a weekend getaway as it is for hiking or a longer vacation.
The Gonex 35L Lightweight Travel Daypack features a chest strap, breathable adjustable shoulder straps, and a tear- and water-resistant nylon fabric design. On top of that, it’s backed by a 12-month warranty, so you’re getting security and savings all in one.
Though not as widely popular as the AmazonBasics bag, this product did feature plenty of glowing reviews and is sure to be a reliable pick for your pack. I would say that the only prominent reason why you might opt out of the Gonex 35L Lightweight Travel Daypack and go with the AmazonBasics Ultralight Portable Packable Day Pack is that the Gonex pack has a lot of straps and buckles that you may find annoying. Of course, you may also prefer the simplicity and fewer compartments of the AmazonBasics Ultralight Portable Packable Day Pack.
The Gonex also doesn’t do quite the same job of shrinking down to a compact size that the AmazonBasics bag pulls off. But if you want a large packable pack that has a lot of compartments to help you stay organized, the Gonex 35L Lightweight Travel Daypack might be the only reliable budget option out there.
Verdict: Your Best Packable Backpacks
That’s it for our list, we’ve provided you with seven of the best packable daypacks out there, including three great budget options, so I won’t be too surprised if your head is spinning from all of the choices available. I know how tough choice paralysis can be, and we want to make your decision as easy as possible. That’s why we’re going to quickly recap our list and focus on the standout features of each pack so that you can focus on the traits that are important to you and find the best bag without giving yourself a headache.
If you want the best value for money, pick the Eagle Creek Packable Daypack.
This 13-liter bag is a bit on the smaller side compared to some of our other travel backpacks, but you don’t always need to pack everything but the kitchen sink. If you don’t mind keeping the packing for your day trip a little late, this is the perfect bag for you. It has easily-locked zippers, multiple compartments, and two side pockets. Despite being so affordable, this pack is also lightweight and durable. It also has a nice design that makes it feel suitable no matter what the occasion. This pack will fit in just as well in the classroom as it will on the hiking trail, and it’s perfect for both travel and day-to-day life. This multifacetedness is exactly why it’s great for everyone and why the Eagle Creek Daypack earned the number one spot on our list.
If you need the most compact travel backpack, pick the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack.
Despite being one of the larger packs on our list, this water-resistant back also shrinks down to the smallest size by far, and for a lot of customers, that convenience is just too good to pass up. This bag also has a sturdy design, and it can take quite a beating, so it’s great for those living a more active lifestyle. The biggest drawback of this bag is that it’s missing the side pockets that most bags have, but it’s still great for camping or maybe even a day out on a boat. If you want a bag that can go from large to pocket-sized in the blink of an eye, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack is the bag for you.
If you want to keep the spending cheap, pick the Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack Packable Daypack.
Just like our number one bag, the Eagle Creek bag, the Gonex Ultralight Handy Backpack Packable Daypack wins some points for having a design that makes it feel natural in any setting. You can easily use this bag for school on Friday and a hike on Saturday. Of course, the real selling point of this bag is its price. While being cheap, this bag manages to have multiple compartments and all of the standard features, but it doesn’t collapse quite as well as some other options. If that doesn’t bother you, the Gonex Ultralight Handy Backpack Packable Daypack is one of the most functional budget picks, and it’s sure to meet all or your basic needs without charging you too much.
If the bags above aren’t quite what you’re looking for, you may be more interested in the simple, large, and reliable Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack. You also might have your eyes on the sturdy and waterproof Naturehike 18L Rainproof Packable Backpack, or perhaps one of our budget options.
Remember to think about and articulate what it is you’re looking for in your packable backpack. That’s a sure way to narrow down the choices and bring the bags most suited towards your needs to the forefront. Good luck and safe travels!