Common issues with hiking daypacks may include inadequate storage space, durability concerns, subpar water resistance, and limited ventilation. For women, ill-fitting designs that overlook differences in torso length and shoulder width between the genders, as well as insufficient padding in crucial areas, can create even more issues.
After thorough testing, we’ve evaluated the leading daypacks for women on the market today. Our top choice is the Osprey Tempest 20, closely followed by the Mystery Ranch Scree 32L Backpack, Gregory Juno 24L, Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack 18L, REI Co-Op Flash 18 Pack, Patagonia Refugio, Deuter Trail SL 28L Women’s Hiking Backpack, Ultimate Direction FastpackHer, and Osprey Daylite.
To help pick the ideal pack for your particular needs we’ve put together detailed buying advice covering everything from capacity, weight, comfort, fit & sizing, ventilation, padding, frame, water resistance, durability, pockets & organization, closure system & access, and other additional features.
Table of Contents
- Womens Daypacks by Category
- What Are The Best Daypacks for Women?
- How To Choose The Best Day Hiking Backpack For Women?
- Best Small Hiking Backpack For Women: The Verdict
Best Daypack For Women: At A Glance
Osprey Tempest 20
“A fully-featured, comfortable, and versatile backpack that’s good for anything from travel to hiking and climbing.”
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.”
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.”
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack 18L
“The go-to option for weight-conscious hikers.”
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.”
“Awesome organization, comfort, and durability at an affordable price point.”
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.”
Ultimate Direction FastpackHer
“One of the lightest hiking daypacks on our list, but also one of the most comfortable.”
“The best choice for ultralight enthusiasts who also value comfort and sustainable construction.”
Womens Daypacks 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
What Are The Best Daypacks for Women?
The following list details our most recommended women’s hiking daypacks, with the Osprey Tempest 20 leading the pack.
- Osprey Tempest 20
- Mystery Ranch Scree 32L Backpack
- Gregory Juno 24L
- Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack 18L
- REI Co-Op Flash 18 Pack
- Patagonia Refugio
- Deuter Trail SL 28L Women’s Hiking Backpack
- Ultimate Direction FastpackHer
- Osprey Daylite
Osprey Tempest 20Editor’s Choice
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 mesh, breathable back panel and an external hydration sleeve for warmer days, and even includes a helmet attachment for biking or climbing expeditions.
It has 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.
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.
- Adjustable torso length
- External storage pockets
- Zippered pockets in hip belt
- 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.
Mystery Ranch Scree 32L BackpackRunner Up
The Mystery Ranch Scree 32L backpack is an excellent choice for hikers expecting to carry a larger load, whether hiking with kids, packing a picnic, or heading to the crag for a day of 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.
- Larger volume
- Durable fabric
- Reinforced base
- Multiple external pockets and storage options for your hiking gear
- Adjustable yoke and hip belt
- Heavier than other models tested
- Hydration reservoir not included
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 24LBest Features
If you prefer abundant storage and convenient features for hydration and comfort, the Gregory Juno 24L is a great addition to 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.
- Awesome ventilation
- Sunglass QuickStow system
- Magnetic bite valve
- Women’s-specific padded hip belt
- Bungee attachment loop for trekking poles
- 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 18LBest Minimalist
Weighing in at just 4 ounces, the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack gets our vote as the top women’s daypack for minimalist fast-and-light adventurers.
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, this Osprey women’s daypack 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.
- Great organizational features
- Dual zippered main compartment
- Smaller capacity
- No attachment point for trekking poles
Bottom-Line: An ultralight and affordable pack that doesn’t skimp on features.
REI Co-Op Flash 18 PackBest Budget
The Flash 18 is ideal for budget-conscious hikers requiring a daypack for backpacking or for day hikers seeking a simple, no-frills pack for carrying an extra layer and some snacks.
Unlike most frameless hiking daypacks, the Flash 18 is remarkably comfortable. It features stretchy, breathable 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.
- Lightweight (9.5 oz.)
- Hydration compatible
- Converts into a stuff sack by turning it inside out
- Bluesign-approved materials
- 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 RefugioBest Value
The Patagonia Refugio is a simple yet stylish little hiking backpack that boasts all the organizational features you need for gear-intensive day hikes or even overnight trips making it great value as well!
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.
- Sustainably made
- Plenty of pockets and compartments
- 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 BackpackBest Waterproof
The Deuter Trail SL is a highly durable and comfortable women’s day-hiking pack ideal for wet-weather excursions. Unlike other packs in our review, it includes a detachable rain cover to keep your belongings dry during unpredictable weather.
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.
- 1,500mm HH shell fabric
- Sustainably made
- 28-liter capacity
- Hip belt pockets, side access, and multiple exterior pockets
- 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 FastpackHerHonorable Mention
The FastpackHer is lightweight, exceptionally comfortable, and has a number of innovative organizational features, making it one of the best hiking daypacks for women to hit the market.
This 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.
- Lightweight (1 lb. 3.6 oz.)
- Daisy chains for external storage
- Roll-top closure and zippers front access
- Shoulder-strap pockets
- Fewer exterior pockets
- 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 DayliteBest Ultralight
For a simple, functional, ultralight women’s daypack suitable for shorter excursions on the trails, the Osprey Daylite is 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.
- Sustainably made
- 2 water bottle pockets
- Durable for such a lightweight pack
- 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 Day Hiking Backpack For Women?
The key features to look out for when choosing a good women’s hiking daypack are shown in the following list.
- Fit & sizing
- Water resistance
- Pockets & organization
- Closure system & access
- Other features
The capacity you require depends on the type of trip you’re planning and how much gear and supplies you typically take. Therefore, it’s essential to consider your average day’s hiking food and gear requirements before purchasing your backpack.
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.
The pack’s weight is usually influenced by its features. Therefore, it’s essential to consider the intended use of your pack to determine a suitable weight.
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.
When it comes to finding a comfortable hiking daypack the four most important aspects to take into consideration are shown in the list below.
- Fit & Sizing
Fit & Sizing
To help with fit, most women’s daypacks are available in various sizes, some with adjustable torso lengths, but aim to distribute 80% of the pack weight on your hips and 20% on your shoulders for optimal comfort and balance.
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.
The Osprey Tempest is a great example of varied sizing coming in an XS/S and S/M option, along with having an adjustable torso length for a more customized fit.
While most hiking backpacks incorporate some form of back panel ventilation, the efficiency of this feature can vary significantly among different models.
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 amount of padding integrated into the shoulder straps, back panel, and hip belt of your pack are major contributors to comfort. While the majority of the load (approximately 80%) should be supported by your hips, even lightly padded shoulder straps can end up digging into your skin and cause considerable discomfort, especially when carrying loads exceeding 10 pounds.
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.
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 pack 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.
Many packs are treated with DWR (durable water repellent) fabric for water resistance. However, the Deuter Trail SL is the only fully waterproof daypack on our list, achieved through an integrated rain cover that adds extra weight.
It’s important to consider the material of the backpack to find a balance between durability and price. Packs made with thicker, higher-denier fabrics, such as the Osprey Tempest, Mystery Ranch Scree, and Deuter Trail SL, are pricier but more resilient compared to ultralight packs like the Osprey Stuff Pack and REI Flash.
Pockets & Organization
Additional interior compartments and exterior pockets can increase the weight of a pack but are valuable for organizing your gear. They also provide easy access and enable you to separate different items, such as wet from dry or sharp from soft.
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 & Access
Conventional backpacks typically feature a single top opening for accessing the main compartment, while more recent models incorporate a side or front access zipper.
While the simplicity of a top opening has its benefits, there’s no denying the convenience of side or front access zippers, 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.
A few non-standard features can greatly enhance a pack’s comfort, convenience, and practicality. The most important ones to look out for are in the list below.
- 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 Small Hiking Backpack For Women: The Verdict
If you’re looking for the perfect balance of comfort, weight, features, and capacity, the Osprey Tempest is a clear 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.
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.
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!