The Best Travel Daypacks For Women (Are They Really Useful?)

Yes, investing in one of the best travel daypacks for women is worth the hassle!

While some of you may be on the fence about using day trip backpacks for your travels (and think they just take up space), take it from me: they’re absolute gold. 

Think about it. Without a day backpack, you might be fumbling with a map while holding your cellphone in one hand and your guidebook in the other, trying not to drop anything and staring suspiciously at everyone to make sure no one takes advantage of your confusion.

Backpack for traveling

But I don’t suggest you go out and purchase any old daypack backpack, not at all.

The best daypacks for women who travel wisely are the ones designed to keep all your travel gadgets protected and accessible while you’re out and about.

I shudder at the number of daypacks for traveling abroad I have sitting on my shelves.

Some I’ve loved, some less so, some I haven’t even tested yet.

So if you’re searching for the best travel daypack for your next trip, then please read my daypack reviews below. When I look at the following women’s day pack options, I don’t just consider what to look for in a travel day backpack – I recommend some of the best daypacks, which I either own myself (a few too many, I’d say) or which come from friends’ recommendations. 

TAKING ALONG A WOMEN’S DAY BACKPACK: FOR OR AGAINST?

Still not convinced the best day backpack is worth it? Let me try harder.

Good daypacks for travel are essential if you plan to do a lot of walking. Anything heavier than a lightweight day backpack will feel like you’re carrying an elephant around all day.

By getting the best lightweight daypack for travel, on the other hand, you’ll be making sure the weight you’re carrying is distributed evenly across your body, preventing aches and pains in your shoulders, neck and back.

Not to mention unexpected shopping… how often have you been caught with impulse buys from markets or local handicraft shops, with no way to carry them but an offending plastic bag?

So be prepared: he best daypack will not only leave your hands free and help you carry unexpected purchases but when properly fastened, it will also keep your stuff relatively safe from theft (see box below for what happened the one time I didn’t take my own advice). If someone tries to get that daypack off your back (or your front, if you prefer to carry it there), you will notice.

THE BEST TRAVEL DAYPACKS FOR WOMEN COMPARISON TABLE

There is no one best day backpack for travel, as they come in all shapes and sizes to suit a range of travellers and their individual needs. I talk more about the factors you should consider when looking for the best travel day bag next, but for now, here is a quick overview of the women’s day backpack options for which I’ve provided longer reviews in this article.

Keep reading below for further details about these top-rated daypacks.

BEST TRAVEL DAYPACK REVIEWS: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE TRAVELING WOMAN

I shudder at the number of day backpacks I have sitting on my shelves. Some I’ve loved, some less so, some I haven’t even tested yet.

I’ve also talked to friends about their own favorites so I include them here as well. Just remember, the best women’s day backpack will be a compromise between security, comfort, style, size, and weight.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST DAYPACKS FOR WOMEN

As I said above, there is no one best day pack backpack for everyone - we all travel differently.  Perhaps you’re a keen photographer take along a range of different lenses with you on a day trip, or you may be the compact packer in search of the best small daypack for your essentials. Whatever type of traveler you are, you’ll choose the best day trip backpack out there - but you’ll have to take account of the following factors.

The best daypack for women should have as many of these features as possible

Capacity/dimensions

How much do you usually take with you on a day trip?  Before purchasing your travel backpack daypack, consider exactly what you’ll need for a typical day. Once you know this, make sure the pack you purchase is big enough to carry everything you need, plus a bit of spare space (it shouldn’t be so large that’s there’s wasted space, though).  

I’d also recommend you get out a measuring tape to actually picture the size the backpack - a photograph can be deceiving. I’ve listed the dimensions of all the travel daypacks for women reviewed in this guide in the comparison table above.

And finally, unless you wear it on the plane (absolutely a possibility), make sure you can fit it into your luggage.

Weight

The best day rucksack is one that is lightweight. However, this is a bit of a balancing act as the lightest daypack often doesn’t offer a lot of padding to protect either your valuables or your back.

If you need padding for a laptop or require the most comfortable daypack, the lightest one probably won’t be your first choice. 

For the best travel day pack, look for one with all the features you need and then weigh up the weight of the bag (pun intended).

You’ll find the weights of all ladies daypack options reviewed in this guide in the comparison table above.

Compartments and hooks

Some backpacks come with a single compartment, while others come with too many! Usually, a few different compartments are enough to keep your items organized and easy to access.

If you want to carry your laptop with you or anything else that is delicate, ensure you get a padded compartment to protect it properly. 

Some other compartments I find handy include side pockets for a water bottle, small pockets for keys and a mobile. I also like external straps or hooks so you can attach things like shoes or a wet towel. With just an external loop or two, you can attach a carabiner.

Some packs also have hidden pockets that fit against your body; these are designed for your important papers and your money and cards. I personally prefer to keep these on my body with either a money belt or a crossbody anti-theft bag (but many of my friends swear by their daypacks…)

Comfort

If you’re likely to be wearing your day pack all day every day during your trip, a comfortable one is absolutely a must.

Adjustable straps are an essential factor for your comfort.  If you’re getting a larger backpack or if you’re headed for adventure and in search of the best women’s daypack for hiking, make sure it also has a hip and sternum strap to help with weight distribution.

Other factors that contribute to comfort are padded straps and back padding that prevents contents from poking into your back. If you’re travelling to hot climates, the best day travel backpack will be one with an air escape flap or vent to prevent sweat and chafing.

Security features

These days you can get a good range of backpacks with built-in security features. Some of the anti-theft features include lockable zippers, anti-slash fabric and built-in RFID blockers.

But security isn’t just about having your bag stolen; you can also get backpacks that will help keep you physically safe, such as bags with reflective strips, so you’re visible when walking at night. Even if your bag doesn’t come with these stripes, you can always sew some on yourself.

Another good suggestion is to just look for a subdued backpack, in duller colors, rather than one that will instantly call attention to itself. 

Security and durability

The best backpacks are those that can stand up to tough use because you’re likely to use it every day while you’re traveling.  Check the zippers and look at how the straps are attached to the pack, because these are the weaker points where things often fall apart.

Also, look for packs that come in a color that stays clean. Black gets dusty, while light colors can get dirty easily. I tend to stick khakis or dark beiges. 

Waterproof, water resistant and dustproof

Waterproof and dustproof qualities are nice to have, especially if you’re carrying anything electronic and don’t want anything ruined by a tropical shower or dust or sandstorm. The alternative is to use a poncho or cover for your daypack. 

At the very least, look for a water-resistant backpack, so that if it starts to rain you have a few minutes to find some shelter before everything inside your pack becomes soaking wet.

Also look for a backpack that is quick-drying so that if it does get wet, it will dry quickly. And make sure your pack is color-safe, with no cheap dyes – for the same reason.

Style

Backpacks don’t have to be unattractive – you’ll be surprised at just how stylish some are. No matter what your taste, there’s one out there just perfect for you. Just beware of calling too much attention to yourself: an expensive-looking pack could turn you into a target. After all, if you can afford a designer daypack, what’s in it might be worth a look…

Still not convinced? There are some alternatives to travel daypacks. (I already mentioned travel handbags and my own favorite Pacsafe Citysafe 200 Gii.)

You can use a combination hip bag with a photographer’s vest, or a fanny pack (fine if you’re slim but if you’re a little more ‘comfortable’ in circumference as I am, this is not how you want to carry your stuff!)

One of my favorite travel accessories is a large travel backpack with a daypack attached. For years I used a Gregory front-loading backpack (it’s so old I can’t even find the model) with a detachable daypack, which was a godsend: extra packing space during travel, and just unzip to use it as a travel daypack. (And remember: no valuables!)

HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT PUT INTO YOUR DAYPACK: important papers or credit cards. They should be stashed safely in your travel money belt or leg or neck walletLet me tell you why.

I was walking in Beijing when I was passed by a group of chatty young foreign men. Didn’t give them a second thought until I got to the pastry shop and tried to pull out some money from my pack: it sat open, still on my back, with no money, no passport, no anything. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I rarely carry valuables in my day pack, and when I do I make sure my pack is slash-proof and well-fastened. I ignored my own rules, something I’ll never do again. I never felt a thing!

ONE LAST QUESTION: BACK OR FRONT?

North Americans often carry their daypacks on their chest, while most Europeans do not. This is really a personal matter. Wearing one on the chest might deter thieves – I certainly would have noticed that gang in Beijing – but unless you’re very flat-chested, it can be quite uncomfortable. (And let’s face it, it’s not particularly attractive.)

It is also a sign that you are carrying something of value.

And please, please don’t put it on the back of your chair when you’re sitting somewhere public! Wrap the straps around your chair leg or your own leg. What a waste of all those efforts to get the right pack only to have it snatched while you’re dreamily sipping your espresso…

— Originally published on 30 March 2012

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