Chances are, your family vacation will include at least one day of adventure—think hiking, cycling, kayaking or horseback riding. That means your carry-on just won’t cut it. Parents need lightweight, hardworking daypacks with tons of pockets and compartments that can stow enough gear for the whole gang, including sunscreen, insect repellent, bottled water and snacks. We’ve rounded up the nine best daypacks for active traveling families so you can just throw one on and go…wherever your next adventure takes you!
1. Outlander Ultra Lightweight Packable Water Resistant Travel Hiking Backpack/Daypack
Water-resistant and durable, the Outlander Ultra Lightweight Packable Travel Daypack weighs less than half a pound and is crafted from strong nylon and reinforced with bar tacking, so it won’t fall apart the first time you sling it on your back for a bike ride with the kids. This roomy bag offers a large main section, mesh side pockets and multiple storage compartments that will keep everything from your umbrella to your valuables secure, and also includes a carabiner clip. Plus, it folds up super small into an interior zippered pocket, so you can avoid another checked bag; just toss it into your suitcase and unzip it when needed.
2. Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Travel Hiking Backpack/Daypack
Lugging everyone’s snacks and gear can be tough on the shoulders and back, but the Venture Pal Backpack takes care of that with breathable, adjustable mesh shoulder straps with sponge padding and a chest strap to further stabilize your load. With a large main zipped compartment, two zipped front pockets and two side pockets, everything you need for your day trip stays put. A double-layer bottom piece and heavy-duty two-way metal zippers let you carry more weight without worrying about tears. The pack comes in seven bright colors, and folds into its own sandwich-sized pocket. Bonus: the pack comes with a lifetime warranty.
3. TETON Sports Oasis1100 Hydration Pack
Families with a thirst for adventure will love TETON’s Sport Oasis Hydration Pack for day-long or overnight trips. Designed for travelers who enjoy cycling, climbing or hiking, this 18-liter pack adjusts to fit youth, women or men. Stash a change of clothing, lunch, binoculars and more—everything will fit in this lightweight pack. A bungee cord system is perfect for bike helmets. The pack features a low-profile cut and notched foam stabilizers covered with mesh, along with a shock-absorbing chest strap that reduces bouncing, making it comfy enough to wear all day without whining (well, one can only hope!) Bonus: it includes a two-liter, BPA-free hydration bladder so you can sip while you cycle (or kayak or hike!), plus an integrated rain cover that keeps your pack dry.
4. MALEDEN Sling Bag
If you prefer a crossbody bag that allows you to access things quickly, MALEDEN’s Sling Bag provides a lightweight, water- resistant option ideal for a day of sightseeing. Available in six colors, this sturdy and stylish nylon bag has a big zippered compartment that can store a tablet plus space for two bottles of water, and a third compartment opens with a drawstring so you can stash other daytime items. A smaller zippered compartment can stash your wallet, smartphone and charger. The breathable, padded shoulder strap is adjustable and allows for airflow on super-hot days.
5. Gold Coast 28L Roll Top Dry Bag
If your brood plans on river-rafting, traipsing through a rainforest in Costa Rica, climbing Dunns River Falls in Jamaica or some other likely-to-get-wet adventure, you’ll need reinforcements. The Gold Coast Roll Top Dry Bag is made of thick rubber and is 100-percent waterproof, making it the perfect choice for a day of canoeing, fishing or SUP. Available in five colors, the dry bag features breathable, adjustable shoulder straps and an emergency rescue whistle on the sternum strap. The side pocket will hold a large thermos and a waterproof outsize zippered pocket will protect your ID and valuables. Just roll up the top of the bag, clip it closed and everything stays dry and free from dirt and sand. Bonus: it includes a matching two-liter dry bag for the kids to carry.
6. ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack
Need the perfect theme park day pack? The foldable ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack will do the trick, with 20 liters of storage space to hold souvenirs, snacks, cameras and yes, mouse ears. Crafted from water-, scratch- and tear-resistant nylon, this sleek bag comes in 13 vibrant colors so everyone can easily be spotted in a crowd. It features several zippered compartments inside and out, along with open-mesh side pockets that hold theme park guidebooks and rain ponchos. Best of all, it packs up into an ultra-compact pouch that can later be slipped into your suitcase.
7. Quechua 10L Hiking Backpack
Although the Quechua 10L Hiking Backpack was designed for kids (and we are firm believers in kids carrying their fair share!), the extra-long straps make this a great casual bag for parents, too. Available in 11 colors, this water- and tear-resistant nylon bag is lightweight with thick padded shoulder straps for all-day comfort. Perfect for hiking, mountaineering or cycling, this backpack easily holds a wallet, a First-Aid kit, water bottles, sunglasses, a camera and a light jacket.
8. G4Free 11L Small Packable Shoulder Backpack
Looking for a small bag with big capacity? Pick up the G4Free 11L Small Packable Shoulder Backpack, which is durable, scratch-resistant and folds up into a super-compact pouch that will fit in your pocket. Available in seven colors, it features two zippered compartments, a spacious main compartment and two large side mesh pockets, allowing you to carry everything you need for a biking day trip, cave exploration or wildlife tracking. Shoulder straps fit snugly while allowing airflow, and the bag is so lightweight, you’ll forget you’re wearing it!
9. Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack
Whether your gang is exploring a national park or eating your way through a farmer’s market, the Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack is up to the task. Smooth zippers with large, durable pulls are covered by nylon fabric when closed, and the shoulder straps are nicely padded and breathable. Featuring a large zippered compartment with a sleeve for a small laptop and a front pocket with mesh organizer and key clip, this bag also has a built-in external hydration reservoir pocket. Bonus: it attaches to a variety of compatible Osprey packs for when you’re lugging more gear for a camping trip.
Montreal-based Wendy Helfenbaum is a journalist, content strategist and TV producer who writes for dozens of digital and print magazines, as well as many brands. Wendy loves cruising, adventure travel and venturing off the beaten path with her husband and teenage son, and she can pack a carry-on bag like nobody’s business. Follow her @WendyHelfenbaum.