Best Women’s Daypack for Hiking

Finding a daypack to fit in all your hiking essentials without sacrificing comfort can be a chore. In our buyer's guide to the top packs for women, we’ve done the hard work for you!

Monica Nigon Avatar
Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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Looking for a small hiking backpack in which you can store all the essentials needed for a day trip on the trails? If so, our guide and reviews of the best options for women has you covered!

We’ve tried and tested the top models on the market to separate the wheat from the chaff. And along with our reviews of 9 of the best daypacks on the market, we’ve put together detailed buying advice to ensure you have all the info you need to find the perfect pack for your needs.

Top Choices by Category

Budget: REI Co-op Flash, Osprey Ultralight, and Osprey Daylite
Best for Organization: Patagonia Refugio, Deuter Trail SL, Gregory Juno, and UD FastpackHer
Most Comfortable: Osprey Tempest 20, Gregory Juno, Deuter Trail SL, and Osprey Daylite

Editor’s Choice

Osprey Tempest 20

Osprey Tempest 20 Women's Hiking Backpack , Jasper Green, X-Small/Small

If you’re looking for a woman’s daypack for hiking that does it all, the Osprey Tempest 20 is the bag for you. With a dialed-in, women’s specific fit, and a padded harness that keeps the pack high on your hips and takes the weight off your shoulders, the Tempest is as comfortable as backpacks are made.

The Tempest 20 is also flush with features, including a helmet attachment for climbers or bikers, an external hydration sleeve, hip belt pockets, and an external mesh pocket for stashing extra layers.

If you’re looking for a green backpack, the Tempest is a great option too. It is constructed with recycled, high-tenacity nylon (which also provides nigh-one peerless durability) and is Bluesign-approved.

Bottom line: If you’re looking for one pack that ticks every box in need of ticking, the Osprey Tempest 20 fits the bill!

At A Glance: Quick Recommendations

  • Editor’s Choice:  Osprey Tempest 20
    “A fully-featured, comfortable, and versatile backpack that’s good for anything from travel to hiking and climbing.”
  • Runner Up:  Mystery Ranch Scree 32L Backpack
    “A durable, larger-volume pack that’s chock full of features and ideal for longer hikes that require more gear.”
  • Best Features:  Gregory Juno 24L
    “The best hiking daypack for nifty features! These include a dedicated sunglass pocket, hip belt pockets, and a suspended mesh back panel.”
  • Best Minimalist:  Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack 18L
    “The go-to option for weight-conscious hikers.”
  • Best Budget:  REI Co-op Flash 18 Pack
    “The best choice for budget-minded hikers or those who need to pack along a smaller bag on multi-day adventures.”
  • Best Value:  Patagonia Refugio
    “Awesome organization, comfort, and durability at an affordable price point.”
  • Best Waterproof:  Deuter Trail SL
    “A slightly heavy but seriously badass hiking daypack that’s ideal for summit missions, wet-weather hiking, and anyone who enjoys a full complement of convenience-enhancing features.”
  • Honorable Mention:  Ultimate Direction FastpackHer
    “One of the lightest hiking daypacks on our list, but also one of the most comfortable.”
  • Best Ultralight:  Osprey Daylite
    “The best choice for ultralight enthusiasts who also value comfort and sustainable construction.”

Reviews Of The Best Women’s Day Hiking Backpacks

Editor’s Choice

Osprey Tempest 20

One of the most versatile packs we tested, the Osprey Tempest excels no matter how you use it – on the trail, around town, or even on your bike. It features a women’s-specific fit with a lumbar-to-hip belt wrap that allows you to keep the pack high on your hips. This ensures better load distribution and also reduces the risk of the belt digging in or chafing at the hips.

Adding to the versatility of the pack, the Tempest has a helmet attachment for your biking or climbing expeditions. You’ll also find a mesh, breathable back panel, and external hydration sleeve for those hotter days.

The Tempest has a plethora of external pockets for stashing a variety of different-sized items. On top, you can stash your keys and phone, while the front mesh pocket is perfect for stashing an extra layer on rainy or cool days.

The Tempest 20 is also sustainably made from Bluesign-approved, recycled, high-tenacity nylon, meaning the construction is safe for the environment, workers, and users.

  • PROs

    • Adjustable torso length
    • External storage pockets
    • Zippered pockets in hip belt
    • Water-resistant
  • CONs

    • Mesh front pocket is a bit small
    • No hydration reservoir included

Bottom-Line: An intelligently designed, fully-featured pack that trumps the best of the rest in the comfort stakes.

Runner Up

Mystery Ranch Scree 32L Backpack

The Mystery Ranch Scree 32L backpack is a great pick for hikers who anticipate carrying larger loads, whether you’re hiking with kids, packing a picnic, or heading to the crag for a day’s climbing.

In addition to its 32-liter capacity, this pack features two rows of daisy chains for attaching gear to the pack’s exterior, two external water bottle holders, and a front stash pocket for extra layers. There are also smaller pockets in the hip belt and lid to store smaller items like keys and snacks. Although the Scree is hydration-pack compatible, a hydration pack is not included.

Made with 210D Robic nylon fabric, the Mystery Ranch Scree 32L is one of the most durable packs on our list. A reinforced, double-layer base also lets you set the pack down on sharper rocks without fear of tearing.

All of these features come at a cost, however, as the Scree 32L is the priciest model on our list and also the heaviest.

  • PROs

    • Larger volume
    • Durable fabric
    • Reinforced base
    • Multiple external pockets and storage options for your hiking gear
    • Adjustable yoke and hip belt
  • CONs

    • Heavier than other models tested
    • Hydration reservoir not included
    • Pricey

Bottom-Line: The Mystery Ranch Scree 32L wins our Runner-Up award due to its plethora of handy features, durability, and larger volume for day hikes that require a bit more gear.

Gregory Juno 24L

Best Features

If bells, whistles, and fancy frills are your thing, the Gregory Juno 24L is well worth a place on your shortlist.

There’s no shortage of external storage options on this pack. It boasts a large stretch front pocket, dual mesh side pockets, a zippered top pocket, a duo of hip belt pockets, tool attachment points with a bungee closure system, and a handy sunglasses pocket on the shoulder strap.

On top of all this, you also get a 3-liter water reservoir for on-the-go hydration. The reservoir is housed in a dedicated, zippered hydration sleeve that has a SpeedClip hydration hanger for easy one-handed, snap-and-go connection.

Comfort-wise, the Juno is a winner, too. The shoulder harness has a Breathable ActiveFlex construction for better airflow, while the VaporSpan ventilated suspension backing uses moisture-wicking mesh to minimize sweat when you’re hiking hard. The harness also features a handy magnetic sternum buckle and a hose clip for the bite valve of your hydration bladder.

  • PROs

    • Awesome ventilation
    • Sunglass QuickStow system
    • Magnetic bite valve
    • Women’s-specific padded hip belt
    • Bungee attachment loop for trekking poles
  • CONs

    • Not water resistant
    • Lacks adjustability

Bottom-Line: The Gregory Juno 24L is the bag to beat when it comes to clever features and comfort.

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack 18L

Best Minimalist

Tipping the scales at a tiny 4 ounces, the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack wins our vote as the best women’s daypack for fast-and-light adventuresses.

Despite being incredibly lightweight, this frameless backpack packs a lot of features and is relatively tough to boot. Made with 40D ripstop nylon, it’s flimsier than bags like the Osprey Tempest or Mystery Ranch Scree but is more than tough enough to survive multiple years of regular use.

Despite its smaller volume and piddly weight, the Osprey UL also has plenty of external storage. A top zippered slash pocket is perfect for storing your sunglasses, keys, and wallet, while a dual-zippered main compartment helps organize your load. There’s also a stretch mesh side pocket for your water bottle and dual zippers to access the main compartment.

The pack also packs into its own pocket, making it perfect for packing along on longer trips and whipping out for your day hikes.

The only downsides to this pack are the lack of a hip belt and the frameless design, which might prove to be a dealbreaker for buyers who like a little more padding, ventilation, and support in the back.

  • PROs

    • Ultralight
    • Affordable
    • Great organizational features
    • Dual zippered main compartment
  • CONs

    • Smaller capacity
    • Frameless
    • No attachment point for trekking poles

Bottom-Line: An ultralight and affordable pack that doesn’t skimp on features.

REI Co-Op Flash 18 Pack

Best Budget

The Flash 18 is perfect for the adventuresses out there who need to pack along a daypack on a longer trip or day hikers who need a simple, frill-free pack for carrying an extra layer and some eats.

Unlike most frameless hiking daypacks, the Flash 18 is remarkably comfortable. It features breathable stretchy mesh shoulder straps with extra padding to prevent uncomfortable pressure points when carrying larger loads. There’s also a padded back panel that slips out for use as a cushion.

At 9.5 oz., this pack weighs more than three times as much as the other frameless pack in our review, the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack. They both have the same capacity however the Flash 18 uses sturdier, more durable materials. Furthermore, the hip belt and sternum strap can be removed for extra weight savings.

If you’d like a slightly larger and more featured version of the Flash 18, check out the REI Co-Op Trail 25.

  • PROs

    • Cheap!
    • Lightweight (9.5 oz.)
    • Hydration compatible
    • Converts into a stuff sack by turning it inside out
    • Bluesign-approved materials
  • CONs

    • Short on padding
    • Lacks ventilation

Bottom-Line: The best hiking backpack for women who are of the minimalist persuasion or for base-camping trips where you anticipate needing a smaller pack for day hikes.

Patagonia Refugio

Best Value

Looking for a simple but stylish little hiking backpack that boasts all the organizational features you need for gear-intensive day hikes or even overnight trips? If so, then the Patagonia Refugio is well worth considering.

This pack doesn’t have an adjustable harness, but it’s nicely tailored for a woman’s fit. The shoulder straps have a more in-line cut and taper to fit a woman’s torso, while the sliding sternum strap can be adjusted to fit your bust.

The Refugio has three pockets plus the main compartment. The main compartment even fits a 15-inch laptop perfectly or a hydration reservoir (not included).

You’ll find a zippered pocket in the front to hold your smaller books, chargers, or guidebook. The stash pocket is perfect for the smaller items you want to access quickly like a wallet or lip balm. The pack’s exterior also has a DWR finish, so will keep your kit dry in light rain showers without the need for a dedicated pack cover.

In terms of ventilation, the Refugio isn’t a standout like the Gregory Juno 24L, but the soft mesh on the shoulder straps and back panel breathes well and provides plenty of comfort.

One downside to this pack is that it lacks a waist belt, a feature it shares with lighter-weight models like the Osprey Daylite. This will put more weight on your shoulders and could lead to discomfort on longer hikes.

  • PROs

    • Price
    • Water-resistant
    • Durability
    • Sustainably made
    • Plenty of pockets and compartments
  • CONs

    • No waist belt
    • Harness isn’t adjustable

Bottom-Line: One of the best daypacks for women who like to keep their hiking gear neat, tidy, and easily accessible.

Deuter Trail SL 28L Women’s Hiking Backpack

Best Waterproof

The Deuter Trail SL pack is an ultra-durable and comfortable women’s day-hiking backpack that’s ideal for wet-weather hiking. Unlike the other packs in our review, it comes with a removable rain cover to keep your belongings dry when the weather shifts.

But what we love most about this pack isn’t necessarily its wet-weather performance but, rather, the ergonomics of its women’s-specific fit. Like all women’s packs, it has a shorter back length and narrower construction. For extra comfort, however, the pack uses an “ActiveFit,” pivoting, S-shaped shoulder harness which automatically adjusts to the body shape of the wearer.

In terms of storage, the Trail SL is no slouch, either. It has a helmet attachment loop to save space in the main compartment, trekking pole loops, a hip belt pocket, and multiple pockets on the exterior. While it doesn’t come with a water reservoir, it’s compatible with a 3-liter bag.

  • PROs

    • 1,500mm HH shell fabric
    • Sustainably made
    • Durable
    • 28-liter capacity
    • Hip belt pockets, side access, and multiple exterior pockets
  • CONs

    • Heavy
    • No hydration reservoir included

Bottom-Line: One of the best hiking daypacks out there for hikers who don’t want to let the weather hold them back.

Ultimate Direction FastpackHer

Honorable Mention

The FastpackHer is one of the best hiking daypacks for women to hit the market in the last few years. It’s lightweight, uber-comfortable, and boasts some of the coolest organizational features of any pack we’ve ever worn.

This lightweight backpack uses a roll-top closure and a full-length side zipper to provide easy access to your gear. Two large side pockets can hold a couple of water bottles, while daisy chain webbing allows you to clip extra gear to the pack’s exterior.

On the padded shoulder straps, you also have a duo of pockets for your phone, camera, or another water bottle. These allow you to keep any items you’re likely to need while on the move ready to hand.

When it comes to comfort, the FastpackHer’s up there with the best of them. While frameless, it uses a women-specific harness for a snug but supportive fit, while the seamless mesh back panel increases breathability and helps to prevent direct contact between your back and your pack’s contents. There’s also an adjustable, sliding chest strap and fully-adjustable waist straps.

  • PROs

    • Lightweight (1 lb. 3.6 oz.)
    • Daisy chains for external storage
    • Roll-top closure and zippers front access
    • Shoulder-strap pockets
  • CONs

    • Fewer exterior pockets
    • Frameless
    • Webbing hipbelt

Bottom-Line: One of the best daypacks for women who want to travel fast and light without compromising on comfort and convenience.

Osprey Daylite

Best Ultralight

Looking for a simple, functional, ultralight women’s daypack for shorter days on the trails? If so, the Osprey Daylite is well worth considering.

Weighing just 1lb. 1oz., this is one of the lightest packs on our list but is far more comfortable and better-ventilated than other frameless packs like the Osprey Ultralight and REI Flash 18 thanks to its use of a mesh-covered, ridged-foam back panel.

The Daylite’s 13-liter capacity and skinny webbing hip belt mean it’s not a great option for larger or heavier loads. However, its large, panel-loading main compartment, adequately padded straps, DWR coating, and hydration compatibility make it ideal for anyone looking for a small pack that offers a comfort and practicality upgrade on the minimalist models listed above.

  • PROs

    • Lightweight
    • Affordable
    • Sustainably made
    • 2 water bottle pockets
    • Durable for such a lightweight pack
  • CONs

    • Frameless
    • No hydration reservoir included

Bottom-Line: This affordable, durable, lightweight daypack is ideal for shorter day hikes and one of the best daypacks out there for ounce-counting minimalists who don’t want to compromise on comfort.

How To Choose The Best Women’s Daypack For Hiking


10 liters? 15? 25? 30? For this, it’s important to think about how much food and gear you generally take on your average day hike. 

If all you’ll be carrying is an extra layer, water bottle, map, and a few granola bars, then a small hiking daypack like the REI Flash 18 or Osprey DayLite will fit the bill. 

If you’ll be carrying more gear or want a pack that can be used for the odd overnight trip, a larger pack with a built-in metal or plastic frame, hip belt, and more substantial padding will be more comfortable. In this case, larger-capacity packs like the Mystery Ranch Scree 32L or Deuter Trail 26L are better options. 

Variety of backpacks in different sizes sitting in a row
Daypacks come in a variety of sizes to cater to all types of trips. (©Kieran Cunningham/My Open Country®)

Weight: Fully-Featured Vs Minimalist

It’s again imperative to consider what you’ll be using your pack for. If you’re a trail runner or are packing a daypack along on an extended expedition, you may want to choose a minimalist, packable daypack like the Osprey Daylite, REI Flash 18, or Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack 18L, all of which are frameless and pack down to a tiny bundle. 

If comfort and convenience are more of a concern, or you’re looking for a feature-rich pack for longer hikes on which you’ll be carrying more gear, then you’ll be better served by a fully-featured model like the Osprey Tempest, MR Scree, or Gregory Juno. 


Fit and Sizing

Most daypacks for women come in different sizes. For example, the Osprey Tempest comes in an XS/S and S/M option, as well as having adjustable torso length to let you get a more dialed-in fit. 

Ideally, you want your pack to sit so 80% of the weight is placed on your hips and 20% on your shoulders. To get this ratio right, we recommend heading into your local store to have your pack fitted. If buying online, check the brand’s sizing charts to ensure you get the right size pack for your torso length. 

Woman holding walking poles and carrying a backpack looking out over mountains
The ideal weight distribution of your daypack should be 80% on hips and 20% on shoulders.


Most hiking backpacks for women have some form of ventilation in the back panel. However, the effectiveness of that ventilation varies widely from model to model. 

As a general rule, frameless packs offer the least ventilation owing to their lack of a back panel that creates airflow between the pack and your back. While this isn’t as much of a concern on cold-weather or shorter hikes, it’s sure to cause unwelcome (and irritating) stickiness when hiking in warmer weather. 


The quality (and quantity) of the padding used in the shoulder straps, back panel, and hip belt of your pack is a big contributor to comfort. While most of the load (roughly 80%) should be on your hips, scantier shoulder straps can dig into the skin and cause serious discomfort if you’re carrying any more than a 10-pound load. 

Because so much weight is placed on the hips in a well-fitted pack, a nicely padded hip belt is of the essence, especially on longer hikes or if carrying lots of gear. 

Woman sitting on rock wearing backpack
For longer hikes, or when carrying more gear, a padded hip belt is a must.

Some ultralight packs like the Osprey Daylite and Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack use only a webbing hip belt, so aren’t suited to carrying loads over 8 lbs. Packs like the Deuter Trail, Osprey Tempest, and Mystery Ranch Scree, on the other hand, all have plushly padded hip belts and shoulder straps designed to boost comfort on long hikes with heavier loads.


There are two options when it comes to frames: internal or frameless. An internal frame will add more integrity to the structure of your pack and keep it off your back, which provides more airflow and thus prevents excessive sweating. 

Frameless packs are lighter and pack down to a tiny size, but have several downsides. They can stick to your back when working up a sweat and have little or no padding to boost comfort. You’ll also have to arrange your pack’s contents carefully to ensure none are poking into your back while you hike.

Water Resistance

Many packs are treated with DWR (durable water repellent) fabric for water resistance. The only fully waterproof daypack on our list is the Deuter Trail SL, though it’s worth noting that this comes courtesy of an integrated rain cover that adds weight. 

Water beading on material surface due to DWR treatment
DWR coating causes water to ‘bead up’ rather than soak through the surface of your daypack.


It’s essential to consider the material the backpack is made with and strike a balance between durability and price. Heavier packs with thicker, higher-denier fabrics like Osprey Tempest, Mystery Ranch Scree, and Deuter Trail SL are pricier than ultralight packs like the Osprey Stuff Pack and REI Flash, but stand up to far more use and abuse.

Pockets And Organization

Extra interior compartments and exterior pockets might add weight to any pack but are useful for various reasons. They not only help you keep your kit organized, but also make it more readily accessible and allow you to separate wet from dry, sharp from soft, and so on. 

In this metric, packs with kangaroo pockets, hip belt pockets, interior compartments, and/or pockets on the shoulder straps (Patagonia Refugio, Deuter Trail SL, Gregory Juno, and UD FastpackHer) are all standouts.

Closure System And Access

Traditional backpacks use a single top opening for access to the main compartment. While the simplicity of this system has its benefits, there’s no denying the convenience of a side or front access zipper, as found on the Mystery Ranch Scree, UD FastpackHer, Osprey Tempest, and Deuter Trail. 

This feature allows you to access gear at the base or sides of your pack without having to empty the rest of the pack’s contents – a huge boon if you need to grab something in a hurry or are simply not blessed with saint-like patience.

Woman carrying daypack with zippered access to main compartment
Daypacks now often have zippered access to the main compartment.

Other Features

A few non-standard features can greatly enhance a pack’s comfort, convenience, and practicality. The most important ones to look out for are:

  • Integrated rain cover
  • External storage (gear loops & daisy chain)
  • Hydration bladder compatibility
  • Front stuff pocket (aka “kangaroo pocket”)
  • Hipbelt pockets
  • Pockets on shoulder straps

Best Women’s Hiking Daypack: The Verdict

All of the packs featured on our list bring something a little different to the table, with each model offering certain features or attributes that make them better suited to different users. As such, picking just one winner from the bunch wasn’t an easy task.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking for the perfect balance of comfort, weight, features, and capacity, the Osprey Tempest is a hands-down winner.

If the price tag of the Tempest is a little too princely for your tastes, we recommend the Patagonia Refugio or Osprey Daylite, both of which pack plenty of practical features, score highly in the comfort stakes, and offer outstanding value for money. 

If you have any questions about any packs on this list of the best daypacks for women, leave us a comment in the box below. And if you’d like to share this post with your friends, share away!

Last update on 2023-05-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Monica Nigon Avatar

Monica is a freelance writer, ski patroller, and raft guide based out of Colorado, and is passionate about mountain biking, rock climbing, and playing Irish music on her fiddle in her spare time. Growing up in rural Minnesota, she learned how to brave the cold in the pursuit of adventure from an early age.

In the winter you’ll find Monica skiing at her home resort of Wolf Creek, near Pagosa Springs, which she now calls home. In the summer, you’ll find her guiding the Class III-IV whitewater of the Arkansas River nearby. She’s also taught skiing, environmental education, kayaking, and canoeing. 

Her favorite adventures have involved backpacking the Rockies with her best friends and mountain biking the slick rock of the deserts of Utah. Even better are long meanders through the woods and mountains on her backcountry skis. She’s also done irresponsible things internationally like sledding down a volcano in Nicaragua and surfing off the northwest coast of Ireland. 

She holds certifications in avalanche rescue, professional ski instruction, and wilderness medicine. She enjoys reading and writing about all of the above.

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