Whether you’re going out hiking, biking, picnicking or just a casual day trip, a small backpack is very useful. We characterise a small backpack as something that has a maximum 15 litre capacity, and is designed to hold some essentials (water bottles, a couple of t-shirts, phone charger, tablet, other bits and bobs etc.) for a simple day trip. Here are 5 of the best small backpacks for your simple travels.
Looking for a bigger backpack for travelling? You may be interested in our Top 10 Best Hiking Backpacks instead.
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Things to Consider When Buying a Small Backpack
There are several important factors you need to think about before buying that small backpack: capacity (size), durability, straps, value for money, style, pockets and compartments and special features.
Firstly, you’re going to need to think about the size of the small backpack for travel. Make a list of all the essentials that you plan to take on your day trip including your phone and charger, tablet, camera, spare change of clothes, sun cream, water bottle, portable speaker etc.
A 15-liter bag is considered to be a ‘large’ small backpack, and it is suitable if you plan on bringing bulky items with you, such as a DSLR camera. Alternatively, you may want to go for a compact hiking backpack instead, which has a slightly bigger capacity. If you are keeping essentials to a bare minimum then you may find a 15-liter capacity bag too big and you could probably go with a smaller size.
It can be a bit tricky to try and visualize the capacity of bags based on liters. You can make a note of the measurements of the backpack and then compare it to an existing bag you own or simply mark out the dimensions so you have a visual representation of the size of the bag. Also, physically lining up the belongings you think you’ll need to carry will help to give you a better idea of the size backpack you will need.
Durability is essential for any type of bag. After all, the last thing you want is to be hiking half way up a mountain and then your bag falls apart!
When choosing a small hiking backpack, always take a look at the material that it is made out of. Many durable small backpacks are constructed from nylon or polyester, and the strength measured in denier. Basically, the higher the denier, the more density of the fibers. You can read more about this here.
However, what’s more important is how well the seams are stitched together. Does it have single or double stitching? How thick is the thread? Those things will make all the difference between your contents remaining in your bag, or on the floor.
Shoulder Straps and Backing
Since the load will be less, shoulder straps and a padded back for small bags aren’t as important for small backpacks as they are for large backpacks, but they should still be taken into consideration.
In order to have a comfortable small hiking backpack you will want to choose easily adjustable straps and ideally, you’d want a bit of padding on those shoulder straps and back for those longer hikes. Some small backpacks such as the Berghaus Twenty Four Seven also have a special back padding designed for more comfort and breathability.
Colours and Style
If you’re a style-conscious adventurer then you may want to have a think about how the backpack looks. Luckily, there are a huge range of shapes, styles and colours of backpack, so you’ll be sure to find something which complements your personal tastes. If practicality is your thing then this wouldn’t be of much importance to you.
Some small backpacks will be made from material that doesn’t allow rain water to easily get inside and soak all your valuables. Bear in mind that there practically no small backpacks that are completely waterproof, so avoid dropping your bag in the ocean!
You may find that some models come with rain covers which can be pulled out over the bag should the heavens decide to open. If your chosen small backpack does not have a waterproof cover then fear not, you can buy these covers separately and attach them on your backpack when required.
Another important feature is the amount of compartments on the backpack, which is especially helpful if you like to organise your belongings. Of course, you won’t find as many compartments on a small backpack as opposed to a large one, but most should have at least two sections to seperate your stuff. Side bottle pockets are also useful particuarly on long treks.
Other Notable Features
- It’s a bonus if the backpack can fold into itself, making it completely portable when not in use. Beware however, as some of these backpacks can be quite weak.
- Reflective piping is a good idea if you are travelling at night.
- A bungee cord system is useful to quickly and easily secure large items on the outside such as a jacket or spare trousers.
An Overview of Our Top 5 Best Small Backpacks
With all that said, it can be a tiring task sifting through the thousands of different small backpacks out there to find your ideal one. So we’ve done the hard work for you; listed below are five top small backpacks which are perfect for day trips.
Mountain Warehouse Esprit 10
If you’re seeking a lightweight, durable and stylish small backpack then the Mountain Warehouse Espirit could be for you. Designed with the modern traveler in mind, this nifty 10-litre backpack features mesh compartments which are made to snugly fit in your tablets, phones, mp3 players and other gadgets.
There are two mesh pockets either side of the bag that are excellent for holding water bottles or torches, plus the straps are padded for added comfort.
Mountain Warehouse Trek 6
If you’re you’re travelling light, this mini 6-liter mountain Warehouse backpack could do the trick. Two pockets either side provide the perfect spots for water bottles, while the reflective piping will help you to be seen at night.
There is even a MP3 player pocket along with an earphone outlet so you can listen to your favorite tunes on the go. A bonus is that this small rucksack is pretty stylish and it’s available in 9 different colours!
Vango Pac 15
Vango are a trusted brand known for their innovative backpack designs, and the packable rucksack certainly falls into that category. This extremely lightweight rucksack actually tucks itself into a very handy carry pouch, which is excellent if you are backpacking for longer periods of time and need to save space on the go. Additional features include a zippered front pocket and a durable nylon ripstop construction – oh and it’s excellent value for money too.
Berghaus Twenty Four Seven Plus 10
Scoring pretty high on the style stakes is the maroon and grey-coloured Berghaus 10-litre backpack. This bag has been carefully designed with comfort in mind, as it features heavily padded straps as well as mesh aired fabric which helps to let air circulate (which means less back sweat for you). An additional internal zipped pocket is ideal for storing your belongings within rather than on the outside.
GO Travel Light
Last but certainly not least is this simple yet functional small backpack by Go Travel. With its foam padded straps and compact and lightweight material, this bag can be packed down and to save storage space when it is not needed. It’s certainly portable but there are three compartments which make it easy to seperate and organise your belongings.
No matter if you’re looking for a simple foldaway backpack for a bike trip or a super stylish backpack for your travels, one of these five small backpacks are sure to be for you. A small backpack for travelling with is a great investment, and ideal for temporary and light travel.