Matching the backpack to the activity is critical when choosing a small, lightweight backpack, according to REI. A small, lightweight backpack best fits activities such as day hikes, ski touring and trail running. It also works well for school and commuting. Other considerations include capacity, shape and comfort features. Daypacks tend to be smaller and lighter than most other backpacks.
Top-loading daypacks tend to be lighter than a panel-loading design, but locating gear inside a top loader can be challenging, states REI. Panel loaders have wide openings that make staying organized easier, which is why they are commonly used as school backpacks.
Having a good idea of what gear the pack needs to hold is necessary to determine capacity requirements. Daypack capacity typically ranges from 10 to 40 liters. Waistpacks are even smaller and only cover the lumbar portion of the back. Pack contents also influence the type and quantity of compartments, pockets and loops desired.
Some comfort features to consider include padding on the straps and back panel as well as stabilizing straps and belts at the sternum and hips. Women-specific daypacks are designed to contour to the female body for additional comfort.
A shopper must balance budget with quality. Price can impact material quality, water resistance, number of pockets and structural integrity, explains REI.