I love backpacks.
I especially love Osprey backpacks.
I bought my first Osprey bag when I moved to Tallahassee and hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail with my friend Chelsea. The towering 65 liter beast was exponentially more comfortable than any of the backpacking packs I had rented from Campus Rec, and after that one week long trip I became a life long Osprey fan.
Fast forward a year and a half and I am now the proud owner of four Osprey packs (I think I have a problem). I’ve tested these bags on the trail and in the classroom and I’ve learned a lot about the pros and cons of each. Today I’m going to compare my two Osprey daypacks: the Daylite Plus and the Hikelite 18.
I bought the Osprey Daylite Plus from a local outdoor outfitter before my second trip to Utah – you can read about the trip here and here! I wanted a pack that was large enough to carry my camera, journal, and snacks (ya know, the essentials) but small enough to fit in a Subaru full of three other people and their gear. When I saw the bright yellow color of this pack I instantly fell in love and knew it was meant to be mine.
Here’s a general rundown of the Daylite Plus:
- The pros: I already mentioned that I love the color of this backpack, but I feel like it’s worth reiterating. Another thing that I absolutely love about this pack is the external pocket with a zipper on the front of the bag. It was really convenient for me to stuff a beanie or a cliff bar into the big pocket on the outside, and the zipper made getting to my keys or pocket knife super easy. The big external pocket is the main reason I went with the Daylite Plus as opposed to the plain old Daylite.
- The cons: One of the major downsides of the Daylite Plus is that the mesh pockets on the sides for water bottles are a little too big; my hydroflask fell out numerous times and is now dented all over from my road trip to Utah. I managed to work around this issue by putting a carabiner on one of the compression straps and hooking my hydroflask and nalgene to the pack, but this was a bit of a hassle at times. The size of the backpack also made it a little uncomfortable to wear when my laptop was in it, which made me disinclined to take the bag to school.
All in all the Daylite Plus was perfect for my ten day road trip through Utah. It’s a sturdy little daypack with plenty of pockets to keep you organized, but for anything longer than a quick hike from the car to the trail and back it might be too small.
I wasn’t planning on getting another daypack after I got the Daylite Plus, but Osprey very kindly sent me a Hikelite 18 for free after I posted the picture of me in Monument Valley on my instagram and tagged them in it (check out their post here).
I’m not the kind of person to turn down a free product, especially when it’s from a brand that I love, so I decided to give the Hikelite 18 a try. I took the backpack with me during my family vacation to Ireland (read about it here and here) in order to test it out.
Here’s a general rundown of the Hikelite 18:
- The pros: Even though the Hikelite 18 is 2 liters smaller than the Daylite Plus it feels way roomier on the inside! I felt a lot more comfortable using it to carry my laptop and planner to school, and used it everyday last semester. When I take the Hikelite 18 on climbing trips it’s just big enough for my harness, chalk bag, and two pairs of shoes, and if I clip my chalk bag or shoes to the outside of the pack I can fit some snacks and an extra layer in there too. This bag isn’t a death trap for water bottles like the other one is, so I can confidently put my hydroflask in the mesh pocket without worrying about it falling out. I biked to class everyday last semester, and I was able to put my phone and keys in one of the mesh water bottle pockets and they never fell out!
- The cons: The Hikelite 18 doesn’t have an external pocket like the Daylite Plus, but it felt spacious enough on the inside to not necessarily warrant it. Since this backpack only has two zippered pockets it can get a little unorganized, but I wouldn’t say that’s a deal breaker.
The Hikelite 18 is definitely my current favorite backpack. I especially love how the color matches my 65 liter backpacking Osprey pack, and the fact that I got it for free – Osprey has definitely turned me into a permanent customer!
I recently bought a larger daypack that fits all of my climbing gear as well as a hefty first aid kit and – surprise surprise – it’s an Osprey pack. No this post is not sponsored, (although Osprey if you’re reading this, I wouldn’t mind) I just keep returning to the brand because they consistently blow me away. The quality and fit is always well above my expectations. More often than not when I buy an Osprey backpack I don’t even realize if it has anything missing until I get a new backpack that has an updated feature. Also Osprey’s “all mighty guarantee” means they’ll replace or repair your backpack for free if anything goes wrong.
If you’re on the hunt for a great pack but don’t know where to start, consider visiting your local outdoor outfitters first. I wouldn’t recommend making your final purchase there because most small businesses are more expensive (although shopping local is a wonderful thing and if you can afford it, do it) but the staff at most outfitters are extremely knowledgable and should be able to point you in the right direction. If you find a pack online that you absolutely love and are convinced that it’s perfect for you don’t buy it! Always try it on first at a physical location if you can, it really does make a difference. I’ve made the mistake of buying a backpack online only for it to be completely wrong for me multiple times. If you don’t live near a store that has it in stock then consider buying it from a site that has an easy return policy like REI or Backcountry.
At the end of the day a daypack doesn’t need to be top-of-the-line and cost hundreds of dollars; as long as it helps you get outside without slowing you down any old backpack should do that trick. That being said, having a trusty backpack that can fit all of the essentials might make life a little bit easier and your time outside more memorable.
Was this helpful? Have feedback for me? Let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All photos in this post were taken by me unless otherwise specified in the caption. Header photos by John Miller.