12 Best Ultralight Backpacks in 2018
“Check out that sexy backpack…” said no one, ever.
At least, that’s how it was back in the day. Remember when you had to choose practicality over style when it came to choosing a daypack? Thank goodness we no longer have to choose function over style—we can have both.
Long gone are the days of lugging bulky, overly-strappy, ugly backpacks around just to carry around a few basics for the day. These days you can find a huge selection of small backpacks that are super practical, colorful, durable and…yeah, maybe even a little sexy!
There’s no doubt that backpacks are one of the most practical things on the planet, so you may as well make your next backpack purchase count for the long run. That’s why we’ve created a handy guide to help you find the best ultralight backpack for daily use. We’ve done the research so that can find your favorite pack quickly and easily, and have more time to get outside and play!
Top 12 Ultralight Backpacks Comparison Table
Tips for Choosing a Backpack That Will Take You Around the World and Back
All of these bags come in a range of colors and sizes, are super compact and weigh in at about a half a pound. A few are even completely waterproof. Though they’re generally not meant for super heavy loads (they max out at about 40 pounds), most will fit a small laptop.
Unlike bulky purses and rucksacks, a backpack is a great buy because it keeps your hands and body free to ensure you have room for the more important things: coffee, the bike, the baby, your bike, the dog, or your other luggage. If you’re considering buying a lightweight, daily-use backpack, you’ll need it to keep your belongings safe and dry through all kinds of (metaphorical and actual) weather. Here are some things to consider before you buy.
Storage Design and Capacity
- What Kind of Things Will You Be Carrying Regularly? – If you are dog walking or doing a lot of running, find a bag with a mesh side pocket to carry small, non-valuable items like doggie bags and water bottles.
A great backpack will have at least one secure outer pocket for easy access while you’re carrying it around. If you often carry extra sweaters and the like, be sure to get a bag with a small zip pocket to keep your keys, wallet, and phone secure.
- What’s the Ideal Capacity? – Though these packs go up to 35 L, 20L- 25 L is likely enough room for carrying the basics on a day hike (e.g., a thin jacket, bathing suit, keys, wallet, sunglasses, and water).
Capacity should complement your size as well—stick with smaller capacity if you’re smaller-framed, and vice versa since you don’t want to over-pack and risk damaging your back. If you do buy something bigger, stick to carrying lightweight items only.
Who Will Be Wearing the Backpack?
Many of these bags come in larger and smaller options, so be sure to find one that fits well. Kids especially can develop back problems if they are regularly carrying around heavy, ill-fitting packs.
Young kids should not be using adult packs, but for pre-teens and teens, smaller sizes of adult packs can work well, depending on height. People under 5”5 will want to take a look at backpacks that are 17“ or less, and taller people should choose packs at the 19“ and higher range. Contoured backs and padded straps can make a huge difference in comfort.
Top 5 Best Ultralight Backpack Reviews
There’s nothing that quite compares to the freedom that comes with being hands-free, especially when your hands are full with dogs or kids. The Mcirco water resistant daypack is perfect for casual, shorter outings like walking the dog or hiking.
With one inside pocket and two small front zippered pockets, plus side slide pockets for water bottles, this bag is great for storage. It also converts to a smaller shoulder bag. Keep this versatile bag in the glove compartment to keep handy for those wonderful summer days at the beach or the park, or keep it at home as a go bag for any quick trip out.
At 35 L, this bag is on the larger side, so it’s more suited for older teens and adults. We love the roomy interior and the fact that it comes with a money back guarantee!
Here’s a super sturdy lightweight pack that comes in a range of bright colors—those with more feminine tastes might be particularly intrigued by the cheerful, vibrant purple and pink options. It also comes in black for those who prefer to stay on the neutral side.
This durable nylon backpack is completely waterproof to keep all of your things safe and dry during outdoor adventures. Multiple pockets are perfect for storing a range of daily necessities, and side pockets are awesome for Kleenex, snacks and water bottles.
The Bago folds up keeping in your glove compartment (yes, they’re that small) to take on summer hikes or for taking along when you hit the slopes. Sturdy adjustable shoulder straps make this little wonder fit almost any frame, plus it folds up into the perfect size for slipping into your luggage. one could work well with pre-teens on school or day camp trips.
We love the minimalist design of this sleek little pack…it looks good on anybody. It comes in a nice range of darker, muted colors, so it’s great for those who don’t want to stand out as “that person with the backpack.”
Three separate compartments plus two side pockets make for ultra easy storage and organization, and at 20L, it’s just roomy enough for some key essentials without overwhelming smaller frames or the risk of overloading. It’s also waterproof, so it works well for longer hikes, camping, and skiing.
This company has a lasting reputation for designing bags for comfort and durability. The two-way zipper keeps your things safe, and the comfortable shoulder straps also make it a solid choice for longer treks. Plus it’s easy to fold into its compact pouch and slip it in your luggage as an extra travel back.
Here’s a solid, ultra-small, stylish backpack for minimalist travel and day trips. At only .5 pounds, this one is even lighter than most of the others on this list. We love the modern design with the geometric pattern, angled zipper and dual outer zip compartments.
This bag comes in two size options: the 20 L unfolds to about 17” high, and the 33 L unfolds to about 19“ high and is considerably wider. Adults of all sizes can rejoice in the fact that they should be able to find the right size for their height.
On opening the package, you can see right away that the construction and stitching are sturdy, and that the zippers will hold everything in place. Adjustable straps add to the versatility of this sweet and super comfy pack. Outlander offers a lifetime warranty which makes this a wonderful gift option for the outdoorsy people on your list.
Finding the best lightweight backpack has always been a little tricky, but thank goodness there are a huge range of affordable options to choose from these days. Gonex has a range of styles available, and we chose this for its sleek, minimalist design and a rainbow of bold color options.
We love the modern, sporty look of these compact sacks with contrasting zipper colors. These bright colors make this pack a good choice for those who prefer nighttime adventures.
The outer zip pocket and mesh side pockets help you to carry anything you might need for the day, and durable construction and solid zippers make it perfect for camping or other types of travel. It’s also a good one for cycling and school.
This one is a little on the smaller side (20 L), but it’s worth taking a peek at other are Gonex backpacks if you are looking for something a little on the larger size.
Thanks to technological and design innovations in the past 5-10 years, lightweight, packable backpacks are easy to find and affordable. Most of them weigh in at well under a pound, and many fold up into themselves down to easily packable and carryable pouches. Backpack bulk and weight has dropped big time, but without losing any capacity or practical function. Moreover, for those who to be active outdoors and travel frequently, this is a serious godsend!
Ultralight daypacks are super popular right now, and for a good reason: with more and more people traveling the world, they are excellent carry-on bags that double as daypacks while you are touring around.
Whether you’re an avid walker, cyclist, traveler, or you just like to move around a lot, finding a compact pack these days is not only easy, but it’s likely to be one of the most practical purchases you can make. With such a variety of shapes, styles, and colors, there’s really a backpack for everyone on this list.