Best Packable Backpack For Travel and Day Hikes 2021

Packing NeatPack Foldable Daypack - 4

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A backpack that folds into a pouch is super light and handy.

Imagine, you are on the trip of your lifetime and traveling with all the necessities. Yet, you don’t want to carry all the belongings with you all the time. So, will a small lightweight backpack serve a true traveler on a day hike or a city walk? Yes, it will if you choose wisely! Let us help you to find the best packable backpack for your needs.

Here is a list of the best travel daypacks.

Best Packable Backpack For Travel and Hiking

All of these backpacks are multi functional and good looking.

Some of the top daypacks are more versatile than others. Keep your personal needs in mind when comparing. To learn more about each one of them, see them on Amazon.

1. Outlander Packable Backpack (click for more details)

A universal packable day pack for day-to-day use or occasional travel.

Overall, the best packable backpack, our favorite.

This cool looking foldable backpack has the best set of pockets – the main compartment with one inserted zippered security pocket, two zippered front pockets and two side pockets. The additional side pocket strap makes sure that a water bottle or umbrella is kept in place. Given its weight, the shoulder straps are made as comfortable as possible, being made of breathable mesh fabric and even having sponge padding.

Although the nylon fabric is water resistant, it is not made for long walks in the rain. On the other hand, the fabric is also abrasion resistant and so are the zippers. The additional carabiner clip offers unlimited options for different add-on combinations.

SIZE: 20 and  33 liter

WEIGHT (for 20L): 0.45 lbs (0.2 kg)

The idea behind a folding backpack is to offer an ultralight extra bag option that is possible to pack to a size of a sandwich or even less. Air travel has a strict policy regarding the number of pieces of luggage allowed. All of these packable backpacks take very little of the luggage space when folded.

2. ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack (click for more details)

A versatile packable backpack for a day trip.

A good set of pockets – the main compartment with one inserted zippered security pocket, one front pocket and two open-mesh side pockets. The breathable shoulder straps are great for a longer walk. And the nylon fabric makes it resistant to a small dose of water and abrasion, as well as it also has the abrasion resistant zippers.

What makes it extra durable? It has strengthened stitching in over 28 places.

SIZE: 20 liter

WEIGHT: 0.49 lbs (0.22 kg)

3. 4Monster Hiking Daypack (click for more details)

An extra light pocket backpack / light daypack.

When folded it gets to a 3.1×5.5″ size rectangle and the 16 liter bag weighs only 0.2lbs. Both the 30D nylon fabric and zippers are water resistant. Straps are made from a mesh material, so they are breathable. And all the stitchings are strengthened for long term use. It has only the main compartment and zippered front pocket, and two open-mesh side pockets. 

If you are simply looking for the lightest backpack that there is, this may be your choice. 

SIZE: 16 and 24 liter

WEIGHT (for 16L): 0.2 lbs (0.09 kg)

4. FENGDONG 35L Backpack (click for more details)

A unique foldable daypack with a wet compartment for a towel.

Besides the main compartment that has a separator and a small zippered security pocket and two side pockets, it also has a special waterproof front pocket. The front compartment is made to conveniently carry wet items like a towel or clothes after a gym session so that they are isolated from the rest of the belongings. The packable daypack is made out of water resistant nylon and two way heavy duty SBS zippers.

Double bottom layer makes it extra durable. And the little sponge padding for shoulder straps makes it a little more comfortable to wear.

SIZE: 35 liter

WEIGHT: 0.55 lbs (0.25 kg)

5. QS Hiking Daypack (click for more details)

A waterproof packable backpack with different useful details.

The 210D nylon fabric and waterproof zippers make it rain-proof, however, the inside won’t be kept dry in a heavy rainfall. The various small details like the front strap for hanging items using carabiner clips or the convenient zipper pulls stand out. It has a main compartment, two zippered front pockets and two side pockets. The shoulder straps are made from breathable mesh fabric.

A good choice for versatility and perhaps hiking when there are extra items to hang on the bag.

SIZE: 22 liter

WEIGHT: 0.44 lbs (0.2 kg)

6. Columbia Lightweight Packable 21l Backpack (click for more details)

A minimalistic daypack for a city stroll or as a cabin bag.

If you are searching for a neat looking extra bag that you can fold out and use for a city visit on a sunny day or on a plane, this may be the one. It is not water resistant (you may want a rain cover). But if you are a minimalist you will like that it has only two pockets. Also, there is a convenient internal divider for the main compartment. Reflective zipper pulls make it a little more special.

In summary, a backpack that doesn’t take much space when stacked in the main luggage, but has a professional look when folded out. 

SIZE: 21 liter

WEIGHT: 0.66 lbs (0.3 kg)

Kaspars wearing NeatPack Foldable Daypack

How to Find the Best Packable Backpack For Yourself?

How to find the best daypack for your needs?

Let’s make this super simple.

Generally speaking it’s mostly about these 4 simple things.

1. Dimensions

What are you going to carry in the packable backpack?

Perhaps the largest item that you will want to put in the backpack when going for a day-long walk is going to be a water bottle. A 16.9 oz / 500 ml bottle will easily fit in most of the bags, but it may be challenging to carry a bigger bottle in some of the folding backpacks. We don’t recommend carrying a laptop in these bags because they are not padded enough for that. But if that’s what you want to do, you may want to find a bag that has enough space for it.

Pay attention not only to the unfolded bag dimensions, but also to the folded dimensions and weight if you are planning to carry it in your checked baggage.

2. Set of Pockets

All these small backpacks have different pocket arrangements.

The two mesh fabric side pockets for a bottle or umbrella may become handy on a short hiking trip and some of the bags offer extra strap to keep the items in place. A zippered security pocket inside the main compartment helps to keep the most vulnerable items safe. To have more pockets is great! But the more pockets there are the more the bag weighs and less foldable it becomes which sometimes is solved by using lighter, yet less durable and less water resistant fabric.

The best balance is met when there are just enough pockets and the fabric along with the zippers are of a good quality.

3. Durability

Quality fabric and extra stitching is used to make these small bags more durable.

To make the backpacks foldable, in most cases a very light nylon fabric is used which water resistance abilities are limited. For water resistance look for density measured in a score of denier, e.g., 210D. But keep in mind that you may need a better solution for a rainy day. These bags are not made for an unexpected plunge on a kayaking trip. Zippers are another detail that you want to keep an eye on. A plastic zipper won’t last long and won’t be able to support heavy bag content.

Some backpacks are produced using double stitching, while others have bar-tack stitch to strengthen the stress points. It’s good to check if any strengthening technique is used.

4. Convenient Extras

The small details like shoulder straps, extra strips and zipper pulls make the difference.

Even little shoulder strap padding can make wearing a packable backpack a little more comfortable. But for a short walk in hot weather the simple breathable shoulder straps will do too. The 20L foldable backpacks have enough space for a day trip, however, they become even more versatile when having extra strips where a carabiner clip can be attached. With those you can carry an extra pair of shoes without using the inner bag space.

When crossing a path with a rare bird in a jungle, zipper pulls can save the day by allowing you to get your camera from inside your bag in a quick moment. As well as, they can be handy on a winter hike when gloves are mandatory and you wouldn’t want to take them off just to open the bag.

But maybe another unique extra that perfectly suits specific needs like a wet item compartment will make a significant difference just for you.

What is your experience with packable bags? What’s the best packable backpack you have tried so far?

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