Osprey has a reputation for making epic outdoor gear (mostly backpacks) that I can totally vouch for.
I’ve owned my Osprey Daylite for a little over four years at this point and I still use it pretty much daily.
In this review, I want to go over my long-term opinions of the backpack, both good and bad. Do note that while Osprey recently updated the look of the bag, they claim it is functionally identical to the older edition that I own.
Anyways, let’s dive in.
Prefer a video review?
So, before we get to deep into it, I want to go over some quick history of my backpack. If you’ve read anything about me, you’ll know that I worked in Glacier National Park in 2018 (and subsequent years thereafter, but that’s not important here).
During my first season, I hiked with my old backpack from high school. It was definitely NOT efficient or comfortable, so I was overjoyed when we were gifted these special “Glacier Staff 2018” Daylite packs at the end of the year.
Not only is this pack kick-ass to this day, it’s also very nostalgic for me. Seeing the “Glacier Staff” inscription brings a smile to my face every time. Plus, it’s still my go-to pack on a day-to-day basis, whether I’m out hiking or just trekking around the city.
Size & Weight
Anywho, now that we’ve gotten the sappy, nostalgic history out of the way, let’s talk about the bag!
First off, I should note that this is definitely not a “packable daypack”. You can’t stuff it up into a tiny ball and throw it in with your main luggage on a flight. However, the Daylite is still pretty small.
Weighing around 20oz (566g), this bag straddles a good middle-ground between ultra-light and heavyweight. It retains a lot of durability and features that more a more light-weight bag may omit.
Speaking of other bags, the Daylite does come in a few different “versions”.
Smaller than the standard version is the Daylite Cinch, a much more lightweight and stripped down version of this bag.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Daylite Plus adds a little bit more room with the addition of another front pocket.
While both alternatives are good bags in their own right, I honestly don’t think either of them hit as many positives as the good ol’ normal Daylite.
As for aesthetics, beauty tends to be a subjective topic but I think this bag looks just alright. I’m generally not a big fan of the generic “outdoorsy” look to most hiking bags, and this one falls into that stereotype.
Still though, it’s sports a pretty minimalist design which I appreciate. The newer version certainly looks a lot better than my older one.
If you don’t like “boring black” or “generic blue”, the new Daylite actually comes in around a dozen colors, ranging from purple all the way to a nice muted green/beige mix.
On the Trail
Now, let’s talk about the bag’s performance on the trail.
Just to give myself some cred, I day hiked with this bag over the course of three summer seasons. Glacier in 2019, Yellowstone in 2020, and Grand Teton in 2021. It’s seen a LOT of miles, both flat and vertical.
The Osprey Daylite features really nice padded shoulder straps that actually do a pretty good job of cushioning your shoulders.
I found that as long as I didn’t load it down with heavy items (more on that in a bit), the bag stayed comfortable up to about 12 miles on average.
After that point, it started to really dig into my shoulders.
The bag offers two sets of straps for your hip and chest. I never really bothered with these until I started to really push myself and hit harder and longer trails.
They do the job well at redistributing weight, but I frequently had to detach the chest strap as it isn’t really padded whatsoever.
Good for Day Hikes
Like I said prior, the bag is quite comfortable unless you start to weigh it down.
One of my longest trails was Lake Solitude in Grand Teton, topping out around 17 miles (we did a LOT of detours for pictures).
Due to packing extra water, snacks, and a hoodie (we had rain forecasted), the bag was much heavier than I’d normally prefer. By the end of the day, I was exhausted.
So if you’re doing moderate day hikes, it does the job quite well. If you’re greatly pushing your limits (20 miles in a day, perhaps) or going overnight backpacking, you may want to consider sizing up to something larger.
Moving on to what I’d consider the only true weak point of this bag: the side pockets.
I’m not sure why, but the side pockets are literally just a couple inches deep. No matter what kind of bottle I put in those pockets, it’ll slip right out within seconds.
I generally tend to put my water bottle inside the bag, as I at least know it’ll be safe in there. You can also use the hydration pack slot if you so desire (more on that later).
Side Pocket Straps
There are side pocket straps, but I’ve had very little luck using them with water bottles. Bottles will still slip by and fall out on the trail.
What I have used these side straps for, however, are various odds and ends. For example, my small travel tripod fits perfectly in the side pocket and I can clamp it in using the straps.
Sandals and flip flops also fit perfectly in these side pockets and the straps are just long enough to loop through to keep them attached.
For those with sweaty backs, the Osprey Daylite has a mesh webbing on the back that is pretty effective at what it’s supposed to do.
I try not to go out during excessive heat (I despise hot weather), but I’ve gotten caught out in the blazing sun many times.
Some time back, I went to New Mexico. Though normally I’d never go to a blazing hot desert on my own accord, my girlfriend and I were visiting her family there.
Naturally, we decided to hike up into the Sandia Mountains. They were beautiful, but so hot. The ventilation did its job and my back stayed relatively dry.
Inside the Bag
Now that we’ve talked about the outside of the bag, let’s open it up and take a look inside.
Front (Small) Pocket
On the front of the bag, we have a rather small pocket. It has about 10 inches (25cm) of vertical space inside.
When hiking, I tend to place my wallet, keys and phone in this pocket. This leaves a bit of excess space for a granola bar or some other small snacks.
Within this small front pocket are two… even smaller pockets. They’re really tiny, but great for organization.
In one of the small pockets, I’ll keep a small bit of toilet paper/tissue (long-distance hikers understand). In the other, I generally keep bandaids and some other basic first aid goodies.
Rear (Large) Pocket
The rear pocket is substantially larger. When on the trail, I generally tend to keep my water bottle, camera, and some layers (light hoodie, shorts, etc.) in there.
The fit is a bit snug, but this pocket is pretty much the perfect size for a mid-length day hike.
When I’m back home in the city, I tend to use the laptop sleeve a lot.
Osprey claims the bag can hold a 15in laptop, but I always feel like I’m REALLY pushing it when I slide mine inside.
Laptops smaller than 13in fit perfectly, but anything more than that feels like you’re going to stretch the bag.
Hydration Pack Pocket
Finally, there’s a small pocket for a hydration pack. It’s located just behind the mesh ventilation section right behind your back.
I’ve always been a bottle guy, but I’ve borrowed a friend’s hydration pack just to see if it fit and, sure enough, it does. Seems like this pocket does the job it’s meant to do.
So, I’ve been ranting and raving about this bag, but how has it been holding up over all these years?
Quite well, actually.
High Quality Materials
I’m not outdoor gear expert, but from what I understand the Osprey Daylite is generally built a little “better” than its low budget competition.
The pack is all made out of nylon, but with extra padding and material on the bottom. I can certainly attest to its quality, as I’ve chucked my bag all over the trail, scratched it on rocks, accidentally dropped it in a (thankfully shallow) creek, etc.
If I’m not mistaken, the updated version of this bag actually has even thicker nylon versus my older version, so that’s great!
Barring any unfortunate circumstances (dropping it off a cliff, perhaps?), I’d imagine I’ll still own this bag in half a decade.
Holding Up Well
Starting from the outside, the Daylite is still looking similar to how it was when I first got it.
There’s a few large scuffs/marks near the front Osprey logo that I haven’t been able to get out, along with some sizeable scratches on the bottom (again, throwing it onto rocks).
The YKK zippers are still going quite strong. I’ve packed this backpack tight many times, yanking on the zippers to try to close it up. Nothing has broken and they all works just as well as they did four years ago.
Straps are still in great shape. All the clips still clamp together tightly, and loosing/tightening the belts work as intended.
Same situation with the inside of the bag.
While there are some minor stains from food scraps and the like, every component inside the bag is still in tip-top shape.
As for sustainability, Osprey isn’t perfect but they are definitely doing better than some companies.
With this pack in particular, the newer versions use perfluorocarbon-free water resistant coatings.
The fabric they use (some recycled!) is “Bluesign-approved”, meaning they’re “safe for workers, consumers, and the environment”.
I understand that the most eco-conscious move is to buy used instead of new, but it’s good to see Osprey doing they’re best to minimize impact.
So, if it’s not obvious, I really love my bag. This review was quite long with a lot to go over, so I’m going to attempt to summarize my thoughts in a more condensed manner below.
Pros & Cons
- Lightweight and comfortable
- High quality and long lasting
- Great for moderate day hikers (~12 miles)
- Awful side pockets
- Could be a BIT bigger
- Not the best for ultra-long hikes
I find the Osprey Daylite to be such a great, versatile backpack. I can take it out on a 12 mile hike and it’ll do the job, or I can stuff my laptop in it and walk over to my neighborhood coffee shop.
It’s not the prettiest bag, and I wouldn’t use it for multi-day hikes, but it is absolutely one of the best picks for day hikers.
Lightweight, incredibly durable, with just enough storage space for all my hiking needs, I love my Daylite.
Where to buy?
So, if I’ve influenced you to buy this awesome bag, where should you go to pick it up?
Amazon is always an obvious choice as they generally have “free” shipping and a lot of options, but I like to send people to REI since it’s… well, it’s REI.
Either way, I’ll leave links to both Amazon and REI below. Thanks for reading, and I hope you end up liking your new bag!