These packs pull double duty. Each can be a book bag by weekday and hiking pack by weekend. Check out seven of our favorite daypacks as you prepare to head back to school.
If you want to use your daypack for hiking, you’ll want a traditional backpack-style pack. There are several other types of school bags, such as messenger bags, sling bags and roller bags, but these don’t work very well on the trail.
Sure, a cool looking pack is, well, cool — but comfort must be your No. 1 concern. Bottom line: books are heavy. You want a backpack with padded shoulder straps, a padded back panel and maybe even a hip belt and sternum strap, which help you carry heavy loads easier. Look for adjustable straps that accommodate bigger or smaller body frames and fit well on your back and shoulders.
Try it on. Make sure the bag doesn’t ride up toward your shoulders or sag down in the back. It should sit comfortably in the small of your back.
Take a quick inventory of the things you’ll be carrying on most days. Will everything fit inside the pack? And do you have extra room for gym clothes and things you might carry occasionally, like snow boots or your bicycle helmet?
Check the tag, too. The amount of stuff a pack can carry is measured in liters or cubic inches. Be sure to measure the width of your school locker to make sure the bag will fit inside.
For hiking, look for a daypack that has a large capacity (at least 1,500 cubic inches) and perhaps room for a hydration bladder.
Some guys prefer bags with one big bin-style compartment, while others like plenty of pockets, dividers and holders to keep their stuff organized. Look for handy extras like a cellphone holster, key holder, fleece-lined sunglasses pockets and ports for your headphones.
A laptop sleeve at the back of the bag can be a nice feature for some people. That way you don’t have to search through your bag and figure out what your laptop is stuck on when you’re trying to pull it out.
A quality pack should last long past your high school graduation. Look for bags with sturdy reinforced bottoms and load-bearing seams lined with binding tape. If you live where it rains a lot, get a water-resistant pack.
And never underestimate the need for heavy-duty zippers. Thick zippers help keep your bag closed when it’s packed really tight. The straps and buckles need to be strong, too, for those days when the bag is full.
If you plan to use your backpack for more than just hauling your homework back and forth from school, look for a pack designed with other activities in mind. For instance, if you love skateboarding consider a pack with a skate keeper.