Living in the Rocky Mountains, a great day pack is an essential part of our gear. When it comes to summer hikes or winter snowshoe adventures, a backpack (and what you have inside) can make or break your trip, so it’s important that you have a pack that fits your needs. Luckily, we’ve both been able to find a simple, functional day pack, and it just so happens to be the same one, albeit different colors. Derek’s pack is the Osprey Daylight Plus Pack in Real Red and Ashley’s (mine) is the Osprey Daylight Plus Pack Special Edition in Snow Mountain, which was a special edition print.
Derek was the first one to purchase the pack. He was in the market for a new hiking backpack for all of our Colorado adventures and his research led him to purchase this Osprey day pack. My pack was old and too small (I needed additional room to carry my new drone on hikes) so I followed his lead and purchased my pack while visiting an REI store. These packs are extremely versatile and offer well-thought-out options for storage and ease of access. They’re small and lightweight, making them great options for day packs, but they also boast enough room for everything you could need. Plus, they come in some cool colors and eye catching prints, so there’s bound to be a design or color that fits your tastes.
- Water-resistant: The exterior of the pack is made of 210 denier nylon double diamond ripstop and 400 denier nylon pack cloth, which in layman’s terms means it’s water resistant. If you’re going to get caught in anything more than a light rain, Osprey recommends carrying a small rain cover or treating the pack with a spray-on water repellent.
- Breathable: The back panel and shoulder straps are mesh-covered, slotted, die cut foam, which promotes ventilation and breathability in the areas you need it the most.
- One Size Fits Most: The waist straps extends to 48 inches so you’ll find that it fits most users, whether you’re tall, short, skinny, or wide.
- Versatile: The multiple, spacious, zippered pockets, two side mesh pockets, padded laptop sleeve, and external hydration reservation pouch mean this pack is great not just for hiking, but for daily use and travel as well.
- Engineered for Comfort: The back is a foam framed sheet with center stiffener, which allows for dynamic body movement and spreads out the weight. This weight distribution is also assisted with the waist strap and chest strap. All this foam makes for a lighter pack too, coming in at just 1 pounds 3.8 oz when empty.
The Main Points
The largest zippered compartment has a dedicated padded interior sleeve to hold a tablet or a laptop up to 15″. This can also be used for additional water storage if needed. This is just one of the points that makes this pack extremely versatile. If you’re hiking and need a ton of water, you can have two water reservoirs, plus two large water bottles in the side mesh pockets. If you are travelling, you can store your device in the padded laptop sleeve and a water bottle in the side mesh pocket. If you are just going to the market, use the additional room to store produce or anything else you may need or purchase. Plus, this compartment is spacious and I have no trouble storing my drone (carrying case with extra batteries and everything), water, snacks, rain jacket, and more.
The intended space for the water reservoir is accessed externally from the back of the pack, under the mesh shoulder straps. I find this makes it easier to access and you don’t have to worry about repacking in order to get the reservoir to slide in easily. This also means there’s less insulation between the reservoir and your back, which you can take advantage of easily: packing cold water with ice will help keep you cool on hotter days.
The second zipper pocket is smaller but still plenty spacious. This is where I store things that need to be easily accessed, such as my first aid kit, rope, tissues/toilet paper, phone, etc. There are mesh pockets within this compartment for organization and there’s also a key fob hook so you can attach your keys to the interior of the pocket.
There’s an open space on the front of the pack (Osprey calls it an open-topped stash pocket) that can store stuff using side straps that can tighten. This can be good a rain jacket, pack cover, umbrella, or anything else that can be exposed and needs to be extremely accessible. I personally leave this pocket empty most of the time, but it’s great to have the option for extra storage for those days where you are carrying more than usual.
There’s a third, smaller zipper pocket on the very front of the pack. This is where I store my phone, and any documents for my trip, such as my fishing license or back country permits. And on top of all that storage, there’s still two side mesh pockets (one on each side). These are great for water bottles and any other kind of storage you could need.
Something that we personally don’t use but is a cool feature is that it can attach to a variety of compatible Osprey backpacking packs. Some models allow the Osprey Daylight Plus to attach via straps to the front of the larger pack, meaning you can take your day pack on longer backpacking trips for more storage and easy accessibility when you don’t need your whole pack.
Optional Add Ons
- Spray on Water Repellent – as mentioned above, this pack is water resistant. So if you need more water durability, use a product such as this Nikwax TX Direct Spray-On Water-Repellent Treatment.
- Bite Valve Cover – unfortunately, Osprey doesn’t include this as of right now. Personally, I like to have my valve covered since it gets dirty easily.
- Rain Cover – this pack is 20 liters, so you need an XS pack rain cover such as this REI brand Duck’s Back Rain Cover, which is good for packs 18-30 liters.
- Hydration Reservoir – like this Osprey 2 Liter Hydraulics Reservoir. The largest size reservoir recommended for the reservoir storage in this pack is 2.5 liters. We personally use the 2 liter reservoir since you can always add more water by putting a Nalgene in the side mesh pocket.
- Insulation Kit – consider purchasing an insulation kit, like this Osprey Four Season Insulation Kit, which uses a heat reflective coating to keep your water cool in the summer and unfrozen in the winter.
- Tube Magnet Kit – this will make your life so much easier if you’ve never used one before! It’s compatible with most brands of hydration reservoirs, but this Osprey Hydraulics Sternum Strap and Tube Magnet Kit allows you to attach the tube of your hydration reservoir to any point on your shoulder strap, meaning your tube and bite valve don’t flop around while you are hiking.
- Organization Ditty Sacks – keep your stuff organized and even more easily accessible with this set of 5 Ditty Sacks. They make packing and unpacking super easy and finding smaller things in your pack is a breeze.
What We Don’t Like
The only downside we’ve run into is that the side mesh pockets aren’t great for keeping in their contents. I think you’ll find that many other reviewers have mentioned this issue and have urged Osprey to fix it in future designs. Because you cannot tighten the elastic on the side pockets, the contents tend to fall out if you bend over. The pockets are a great size for storing your 32oz Nalgene or other brand water bottle, but if you bend at the waist (versus squatting down), that water bottle will end up on the ground. This normally doesn’t bother us too much, but it can be a bit annoying when snowshoeing since you have to bend over to adjust straps and put on / take off the snow shoes. I could also see it being an issue if you were hiking anything Class 2 or higher, since you might find yourself bending and moving oddly over rock scrambles. Luckily this is the only issue we’ve encountered and it doesn’t typically affect us. Hopefully Osprey will take the advice to heart and add adjustable elastic in the future.
This Osprey Daylight Plus is definitely the best day pack we’ve used and owned so far. You can’t beat the spacious and easily accessible storage options, overall versatility, and simple design that keeps the pack lightweight and great for any trip, whether you’re hiking, travelling, or just going into town.