7 tried-and-tested daypacks

Posted by Matt Sterne on 15 November 2019

Ventilated back panels, air-flow systems, foam ridges – daypacks these days are almost making it too easy for us. Gear Editor Matthew Sterne looks at the latest crop.

Here are seven tried-and-tested daypacks for your outdoor adventures:

1. Gregory Packs Float Jade 28L

R2,799, houseofsamsonite.co.za

Image: Catherine Hofmeyr

Gregory is a recent entrant into the South African market, yet they’ve been making mountain gear since 1977. Its FreeFloat suspension system (which has won an OutDoor Industry Award) allows the belt to pivot and flex with the body so it feels like the pack is floating as you walk. The Jade is designed for women and has some deft touches that were handy on our hikes, such as quick-stow pockets, an alloy frame, the U-shaped lid, raincover, ventilated back panel and stretchy mesh side pockets.


2. Thule Capstone 22L

R1,899, thulestore.co.za

Image supplied

The Capstone has the cleanest design of all these packs, with one main compartment, two mesh side pockets, a sleeve for a bladder and a small, zippered pocket at the top to store small items. The zippers are excellent (and run the length of the bag for greater access) and the tensioned mesh back panel does its job well – a pack for those who want to go light and fast.


3. First Ascent Flint 25L

R1,299, firstascent.co.za

Image: Catherine Hofmeyr

It was refreshing to see this bright red pack among the darker shades, and I’m sure there are a few people who’d be drawn to it purely for its colour. With a Direct Air Flow System to keep your back cool, the Flint ticks off the essential features such as side pockets for bottles, loops for walking poles and a built-in raincover. The main compartment has space for a bladder and the front compartment has smaller pockets for valuables.


4. Osprey Hikelite 26L

R1,499, adventureinc.co.za

Image: Matthew Sterne

I love how Osprey strikes a balance between a light pack and stuffing it with useful features. The Hikelite (which weighs just 740g) has comfortable straps with padding that feels like memory foam and a ventilated mesh back-support system. The raincover comes in a zippable pocket, there are two stretch-mesh side pockets and a stash pocket on the front for an extra layer of clothing or a map.


5. Black Diamond Bolt 24L

R2,259, rammountain.co.za

Image: Catherine Hofmeyr

If the Batmobile was a backpack, it would probably be the Bolt. This slick pack handles heavy loads particularly well as the weight sits low in the narrow bag, enhancing stability. The light but sturdy frame is cushioned by ventilated foam to keep your back cool. There are side pouches for water bottles, a large stash pocket plus top and hip pockets, one-clip access to the main compartment and a stealthy zip down the side if you need quick access.


6. K-Way Denali 25L

R1,199, capeunionmart.co.za

Image supplied

My immediate impression of the Denali was that the material, Polyester 600D, felt a little rougher than the other bags. The straps and back system, however, are super comfortable, and it’s hydration compatible. Weighing 1,2kg, it’s the heaviest bag of the seven tested. It comes with two mesh side pockets with compression straps, has two main compartments and a whistle on the sternum strap.


7. Deuter Trans Alpine 30L

R1,699, capeunionmart.co.za

Image supplied

This Trans Alpine was originally designed for cross-Alp bicycle rides, but it also makes for a fine hiking pack. Its signature feature is the Deuter Airstripes, which are two contoured foam ridges to reduce contact with your back and keep you cool. Storage options are ample – there are more nooks and crannies in here than a Hogwarts castle. It even has ‘alpine emergency instructions’ inside the pack explaining hand signals – German sensibility at its best. 


Also read:

Hiking the Oorlogskloof Rock Pigeon Route

7 coffee gear essentials for the outdoors

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