Top 10 Best Small Backpacks in 2018

There are lots of different small backpacks to choose from, but you need to be aware of something before you choose your favorite.

Not all backpacks are of the same high quality, so it really pays to spend some time comparing the different brands and models.

Having checked many thousands of small backpack reviews, we can say that the Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 35 is the best choice for most people.


Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 35

Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 35

The best reviewed small backpack
Rated 5.00 out of 5

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PS: We have checked 96,984 reviews to make this top 10 list!
RankModelRating
1Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 35Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 355.00Check Price
2Marmot Urban Hauler MediumMarmot Urban Hauler Medium5.00Check Price
3Mystery Ranch Scapegoat 25Mystery Ranch Scapegoat 255.00Check Price
4Lowe Alpine AirZone Z 25Lowe Alpine AirZone Z 255.00Check Price
5Mystery Ranch Scree 28Mystery Ranch Scree 284.93Check Price
6Mystery Ranch Coulee 25Mystery Ranch Coulee 254.92Check Price
7Mammut Lithium Speed 20Mammut Lithium Speed 204.90Check Price
8Patagonia IronwoodPatagonia Ironwood4.88Check Price
9Osprey Kresta 20Osprey Kresta 204.86Check Price
10Brooks PickwickBrooks Pickwick4.82Check Price

How we rate the bags

We have checked 96,984 small backpack reviews, so we can show you the weighted average rating of all the bags.

Using the average ratings, you can check what all the reviewers think instead of just viewing the subjective opinion of one specific reviewer.

It’s much simplier to find the best bags that way.


Not sure what small backpacks to choose? Read on as we are going to take a closer look at each bag!


1 – Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 35

5 review stars Rating 5.00 based on 7 reviews

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Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 35


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 35:

Reviewers like these things about the Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 35

  • Most of the reviewers have said that it is a great, durable backpack with good volume for both day trips and overnights.
  • Reviewers have also mentioned the easy attaching and removing of skis and ice axe on the sides of the pack.
  • A few travellers appreciated the great suspension system and supportive back and straps. It helped them to adjust the pack and carry it comfortably for long hours.
  • Some reviewers also complimented the waterproofing of the pack.
  • A few travellers also stated that the adjustable hip belt made them walk comfortable for miles.
  • Climbers said that the highly padded hip belt can be easily removed and replaced with an additional 1.5 inch nylon strap hip belt. It can be great for people with large belly.
  • Some travellers said that the pack can be compressed down using the compression straps and they have used it for a day pack also.
  • A few reviewers said that the back padding is stiff enough to give the pack support and make it stand rigid with less stuffing of the pack.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some of the reviewers complained for not providing a proper hydration system for the pack.
  • A few of the travellers also complained about no mesh pockets in the hip belt to carry emergency things.
  • Some of the reviewers are also dissatisfied with the less number of side compartments and no external water bottle pockets.


2 – Marmot Urban Hauler Medium

5 review stars Rating 5.00 based on 41 reviews

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Marmot Urban Hauler Medium


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Marmot Urban Hauler Medium:

Reviewers like these things about the Marmot Urban Hauler Medium

  • According to users, the Marmot Urban Hauler backpack is comfortable to use.
  • Other users pointed out that the padded shoulder strap can be converted into a carry handle.
  • Testers found out that it is likewise equipped with pockets which can be accessed easily.
  • Other testers discovered that the pack has a designated external pocket for water bottles.
  • Reviewers noted that it is versatile and functional.
  • Reviewers recommend the backpack secures gear well due to its storm collar features.
  • Other reviewers also found that the bag has good organization capacities.
  • They noticed that its fabric material is durable.
  • Users discovered that its main compartment is durable due to its polyester material.
  • They also noted of its attachment point designed explicitly for keys.
  • Testers found that the pack is handy and packable.
  • Reviewers pointed out that the bag could be used for hiking.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the pack does not support the weight of water bottles well.
  • A tester said that the fabric of the bag might be fragile.


3 – Mystery Ranch Scapegoat 25

5 review stars Rating 5.00 based on 10 reviews

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Mystery Ranch Scapegoat 25


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Mystery Ranch Scapegoat 25:

Reviewers like these things about the Mystery Ranch Scapegoat 25

  • According to users, the Mystery Ranch Scapegoat backpack is comfortable to use.
  • They noticed that its 500 Cordura fabric provide durability to the pack.
  • Other users recommend the pack for hiking or mountain climbing.
  • Reviewers noted that its zippers make it easy to access the compartments.
  • Other reviewers also found that its zippered pockets allow them to organize their things well.
  • Users found it easy to access the storage of the bag.
  • Testers said that the bag is equipped with compression straps, making it easy to attach gears and accessories.
  • Reviewers mentioned that it had designated stretch-woven pockets for water bottles.
  • They also noted that the bag contains small pockets for placing small items which can be accessed on the move.
  • Other reviewers mentioned that it is equipped with a telescoping yoke for a custom torso fit.
  • Several users felt that the bag has an excellent structural support.
  • Reviewers shoulder straps and hip belt suspensions provide excellent support for carrying heavier loads.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the backpack is cumbersome to use.
  • A tester said that it might not be waterproof.


4 – Lowe Alpine AirZone Z 25

5 review stars Rating 5.00 based on 42 reviews

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Lowe Alpine AirZone Z 25


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Lowe Alpine AirZone Z 25:

Reviewers like these things about the Lowe Alpine AirZone Z 25

  • A lot of users agreed that Lowe Alpine Airzone is the best pack they’ve encountered.
  • Users find the AirZone versions fantastic, as it lets them hike cooler and faster.
  • Some reviewers specially liked how the pack allows air between their back and the pack, preventing them from sweating a lot.
  • One reviewer highly recommends this pack because of its airflow system.
  • One user noted that even on strenuous hike,his back was not sweaty at all.
  • A lot of users agreed that Lowe Alpine AirZone met exactly what they need and even better.
  • One user praised it for its solid and robust features.
  • A number of users enjoyed its perfect size and capacity including the stretchy back panel.
  • One hiker was so amazed about how the pack was large enough for a three-day weekend trip.
  • A lot of reviewers agreed that it’s comfy, perfect for trips and hikes.
  • Overall, its comfy feel, good quality components and construction, perfect size and capacity were the main reasons for buying it.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One reviewer said that the waist straps at their smallest setting was still too big for his wife.
  • A user noted that heavy rain gets around the rain cover eventually.


5 – Mystery Ranch Scree 28

5 review stars Rating 4.93 based on 33 reviews

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Mystery Ranch Scree 28


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Mystery Ranch Scree 28:

Reviewers like these things about the Mystery Ranch Scree 28

  • When it comes to storage, Mystery Ranch Scree has 3-zip panel load so you can easily find the gear stored deep in your backpack. Simply unzip the diagonal zippers or pull down the central zipper and a classic panel loaded suitable to haul heavy photography equipment or to haul climbing gear.
  • The added benefit to this backpack is its two tiers of side compression straps. These are anchored to a frame and top strap literally wraps over the back and sides of the pack so you can lash the skinny gear like tripod, fishing rod, and tent poles etc. to the pack sides when it is used along with side pocket.
  • Scree frame comes with three parts, a flexible plastic frame sheet which is sewn on the back, a shoulder strap yoke which is fully adjustable as well as a modest lumbar pad positioned on the back of hip-belt.
  • It literally gives very impressive result. You can easily carry heavy loads with any backpack bag combination which uses the same suspension and frame system. You could easily use it as another casual day pack and it is actually best for use as technical or climbing backpack.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • It is not that simple to use for a beginner backpacker. It comes with lots of attachments that may confuse you.
  • The side pockets should have tighter elastic band and it needed a deeper base.


6 – Mystery Ranch Coulee 25

5 review stars Rating 4.92 based on 12 reviews

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Mystery Ranch Coulee 25


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Mystery Ranch Coulee 25:

Reviewers like these things about the Mystery Ranch Coulee 25

  • Many users thought that the Mystery Ranch Coulee backpack provides optimal comfort.
  • Many of the reviewers noted that its side compression straps could help stabilize the load.
  • Considered to be versatile and ergonomic by reviewers, the backpack’s telescoping yoke can be customized to fit the torso of the users.
  • Those who used the bag though that it is easy to organize things due to its top-zippered lid compartments.
  • Other users commend the pack for its 3-zip design, making it easy to access stuff from outside the bag.
  • Some reviewers noted that the backpack could save weight due to its simple frame sheet.
  • Many reviewers thought that it could carry a heavy load without injuring them.
  • A lot of users felt that the waist belt offered them additional comfort.
  • Many of the testers commend the presence of sufficient pockets on the backpack.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user thought that the bottles placed on the bag’s pockets might not feel very secure.
  • Another user thought that the bag lacks internal storage options.


7 – Mammut Lithium Speed 20

5 review stars Rating 4.90 based on 10 reviews

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Mammut Lithium Speed 20


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Mammut Lithium Speed 20:

Reviewers like these things about the Mammut Lithium Speed 20

  • One favorite feature among users is its multiple storage options that comes in handy on multi-day or multi-week journeys.
  • A lot of users enjoy the stuff sack in the bottom which is perfect for sleeping bag.
  • Others find the bottom compartment ideal to keep damp or stinky clothes separate from the rest of their stuff.
  • Some users that another handy thing the pack offers is the ability to easily change the back length.
  • Others thought the back pads make hauling gear just a little bit easier.
  • Many reviewers love how the rainfly rolls up nice and tight in a zipper on the top of the pack and is super easy to throw over when unexpected weather rolls through.
  • MAny hikers like how the hip pocket allows them to easily access necessary items without having to stop.
  • Others are thankful that the pack has an integrated place for a bladder and they can snake the mouth spout through the back to attach to the shoulder straps for easy access on the trail.
  • A lot of users thought it’s an extremely well built and sturdy bag.
  • Others said it has a nice structure but still lightweight and comes with all the handy features of a bag.
  • Many owners find it perfect to bring on hikes, overnight trips and camping.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Others find the material low quality.
  • Some reviewers find it too big for their liking.


8 – Patagonia Ironwood

5 review stars Rating 4.88 based on 60 reviews

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Patagonia Ironwood


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Patagonia Ironwood:

Reviewers like these things about the Patagonia Ironwood

  • Several reviewers thought that the Mountainsmith Approach backpack is ideal for everyday use, light camping, and travel, among others.
  • Testers praised its Recycled-polyester fabric body with a DWR finish, making it durable and well-balanced.
  • Users noted that the backpack has sufficient compartments to store essential items and personal belongings.
  • Laptop users lauded the presence of a padded sleeve dedicated to keeping their gadgets safe and secure.
  • Several users thought that the pack is resistant to water and snow due to its durable water repellent fabric.
  • Other users praised the different versions of colors which the backpack is available on.
  • Those who have used the bag found it comfortable due to its human curve shoulder straps.
  • Users are ensured of the safety of their belongings due to its zippered exterior stash pocket.
  • Many reviewers noted that the backpack offers a sufficient amount of storage albeit its size.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user thought that the backpack lacks organizing pockets which could help in arranging personal belongings.
  • A reviewer found out that the front pocket was a little tight to put things in.


9 – Osprey Kresta 20

5 review stars Rating 4.86 based on 7 reviews

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Osprey Kresta 20


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Kresta 20:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Kresta 20

  • Comes with very stylish and modern design. Many women found it stylish and trendy in looks.
  • Plenty of useful features to carry your skiing equipment, such as skis, helmets, snowboard, and snowshoes.
  • Zippered hydration pocket is kept separated from dry compartment which is the best thing Osprey did to its backpack.
  • According to many reviewers, it is a back pack comes with women-friendly design. The harness is shaped well to fit a female body very well.
  • It has got very useful dual zippered pockets that are placed on hip belt.
  • It has got very durable and reliable built with great features.
  • Both snowboarders and skiers found it useful.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • According to many women skiers, the backpack is overly priced. Other backpacks with almost same features come in lower price range.
  • It is sized a bit smaller which may cause trouble for tall women.


10 – Brooks Pickwick

5 review stars Rating 4.82 based on 24 reviews

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Brooks Pickwick


Here’s what the reviewers think about the Brooks Pickwick:

Reviewers like these things about the Brooks Pickwick

  • One user described it as smart looking and utilitarian.
  • Some users liked how the inside sleeves fits a full sized macbook pro.
  • Other reviewers thought it’s a nice vintage bag with a nice color.
  • Well built, solid zippers, perfect size, heavy duty stitching and materials, lightweight and long lasting materials are cited as the main reasons for choosing this bag.
  • Many users thought the wide straps are properly placed, no tangling, solidly made and high quality.
  • Some reviewers thought it has a clean look and simple design that goes well with some outfits.
  • Many owners liked how it’s very spacious yet very compact and sturdy.
  • Many agree that it’s got top notch quality and style and works great for commuting.
  • One user said that every detail of this bag was made with love.
  • An owner described it as an epic, aesthetically pleasing and functional bag.
  • Some users find the straps useful in keeping the bag’s weight well balanced.
  • Other reviewers find its straight forward simple design timeless.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users thought it’s a bit expensive for a backpack.
  • Other reviewers said it would’ve been perfect if the straps are padded.

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Buyer’s guide to small backpacks


Regardless of whether you’re a master-hiker, adventurer, or backpacker, or simply need something that would be great for both classes and trips away, small backpacks are undoubtedly useful in more ways than one. And as with most things today, this too comes with a host of choices, in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and capabilities.

The right backpack can make all the difference between a lousy camping trip and a good one. It should be comfortable, sturdy, and rigorous, whilst also being effective and convenient. Choosing such a backpack can also be a confusing task, which is why this guide has been so helpfully drawn up so you can have a comprehensive look at the subject for yourself.

Your Guide to Buying a Small Backpack

No matter what your needs may be, what matters at the end of the day is that you have a small travel backpack that’s right for you. Naturally, this means that as with most other products and services today, we need to survey details, pros, and cons efficiently. Whilst there isn’t anything particularly devastating about not acquiring such a backpack, it’s a whole lot easier when it’s around. So with that, let’s take a look at the points below:

It is also useful to take a look at where this backpack would come in most handy when taking your daily life into account. What sort of things do you do? Are you very outdoorsy or sporty? Maybe you like to travel a lot and so just need an easy way to lug your belongings about. Or perhaps you’re looking for something that suffices for sleepovers.

These are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling. Identifying your needs will make things so much more convenient, as will breaking the backpacks down for a better understanding of what you can expect.

Backpacks are in general very popular because they tend to stay in good shape, and are always with you. If you take suitcases, for instance, think about how much abuse they endure whenever you have to travel. Plus, people tend to be generally careless with suitcases and so toss them about without much thought, often damaging them or your precious belongings inside. Of course, they’re alright for when you need to spend a long time away, but if you’re going to be hopping about, you’d rather opt for a backpack. Besides, can you imagine what a nightmare it’d be to hike with a suitcase bumping alongside you?

A Few Crucial Things to Look For

When choosing a backpack, as mentioned above, there are many things to look for. However, some of these things are more important than others, and as such have to be considered a priority. Think of it this way: once you’ve eliminated the points listed here, you can factor in the rest of your backpack criteria. Not until then though. Be it a mini backpack or larger backpack for that matter, these still count.

  • Water Resistance: Backpacks big or small, come in a multitude of different materials, which no doubt make them quite interesting and diverse, but you’re also looking for usability, so don’t forget that. Which means that you need to be on the hunt for water-resistant backpacks made of water-resistant material. Mind you, it doesn’t have to be 100% waterproof; even semi-waterproof material is fine. You just want it to withstand unexpected showers or moisture.
  • Double-Zippers: No matter how much of an honest, responsible traveller you might be, unfortunately not everyone else is, and that’s a fact. Theft and other complications are all too rife, so you need to protect yourself every step of the way. If you travel between countries a lot, for instance, you want to ensure you opt for one that comes with two zippers, so they can be locked together. You can then invest in special travel locks that will allow you to easily open up when your bags need to be checked, without destroying the lock itself.
  • Several Compartments: What good is a backpack that doesn’t have any compartments in it? The whole point is to be able to carry many different things at the same time, without jumbling them all up. This makes it a whole lot easier to access what you need when you need it, especially during an emergency. You don’t want to be rummaging through your bag during a crisis now, do you?
  • Padding For The Straps: Sure this is a mini backpack, so you may not think you need to bother with this whatsoever, but you’ll soon find that padding really does make it all better. This is particularly useful when going hiking or camping, so you can enjoy your adventuring without dealing with raw, painful shoulders. It can be difficult to be on your feet with a backpack weighing you down, especially if the said backpack is not very comfortable either.
  • Contoured Backs: Chronic back problems are a widespread complication globally, which is why you should take this point seriously. Modern-day backpacks come with superior structuring, including contoured backs. This provides incredible support, ensuring you don’t experience any pains or complicate existing issues. Lumbar support is essential, and a primary guiding point of your purchasing decision.

At A Glance

Now that we’ve covered some of the intricacies of backpacks, we can look at a few other tips that’ll help you in your search. You’ll find that they’re simple, yet definitive points that will help you make a sound decision.

For starters, you should measure your torso. This helps you determine just the right size backpack for your body. If you neglect this, you’re putting your shoulders, neck, back, hips, and legs under a whole lot of strain. And if you’re always out and about, you’re going to speed it up even more. Why put yourself through this when you can remedy the situation with a simple solution? Grab a friend or family member to help you, and either use a tape measure or string to get the numbers. Take the measurements with you when shopping, so you can refer to them at any time.

Secondly, you want to look at capacity. With a mini backpack, there’s only so much capacity you can expect realistically, but you should still compare them with each other. If you get a backpack that’s bigger than your needs, you’re sure to fill it with junk, which means unnecessary weight to carry about. The unit of measurement used to measure capacity with backpacks is liters, though you also find them listed in cubic inches.

Types of Backpacks

The next thing to tackle would be the types of backpacks in the market. As you’d imagine, there are many different variations, even if you’re considering a mini backpack. Before you head out, it’s best to familiarize yourself with them so you know exactly what you’re looking for. Here you’ll find a list of some of the most common categories backpacks typically fall into, so you’ve some idea of what’s in store. That said, all backpacks are generally classified into frameless, external frame, internal frame, and bodypack. Something to bear in mind.

  • Hiking backpacks
  • Snow/ski backpacks
  • Biking backpacks
  • Business/work backpacks
  • School backpacks
  • Fashion backpacks
  • Traditional backpacks

These don’t really need extensive explanations, because well… they’re rather self-explanatory since their names imply their purpose quite clearly. What’s less obvious though is what sort of capacities and volumes you have to choose from. Here’s a basic guide to get you started.

  • Mini And Small Backpacks: Range anywhere between 6-10 liters.
  • Daypacks: The bigger ones usually clock in anywhere between 20-35 liters. A small travel backpack or daypack in this instance, is better suited for ½ day hikes and no more, mainly because you’d be limited in the amount of supplies you can carry. Which isn’t advisable, especially if you head off on remote camping trips and treks. Also as the name suggests, these are just for the day.
  • Weekend Backpacks: If you’re looking for longer trips away, you need to check out weekend backpacks. For a 1-3 day trip, a 40-50 liter backpack should suffice. Although of course this does mean that you cannot really opt for a mini backpack when it comes to this sort of thing. After all, you’re going to be carrying sleeping bags, stoves tents and so on, which isn’t very practical with something smaller.
  • Multi-Day Backpacks: The good thing about these names is that since they’re quite straightforward, you won’t be racking your brains to figure out which is which. This one is to allow you to carry more food and any additional gear necessary, with around 50- 70 liters of capacity.
  • Expedition Backpacks: These are pretty much the mammoth species of backpacks, and come in at a whopping 80 liters. Of course this also means you should have the stamina and strength to take on this sort of trip, because that much of weight is definitely not easy for someone who isn’t properly accustomed to it.

Measurement Of Backpack Volume

Whilst there are just two different ways in which backpack capacities are measured, there’s usually no knowing which of these methods has been used unless you ask the manufacturer yourself. One is, they use the total added volume of all closed storage, including every little compartment. Others use all of this, plus any open side pockets and so on, though these are the smaller-scale manufacturers. Though it’s unlikely you’d measure them yourself, it’s good to know how it’s done overall.


Selected reviews


Black Sheep Adventure Sports reviewed the Osprey Kamber 32

Well thought out and comfortable with all the features that I really look for in ski touring pack. Ideal for day trips into the backcountry.

Posted 13 February 2018 by Monte Johnston – Read full review


The Big Outside reviewed the Gregory Miwok 24

These daypacks are not for ultralighting speed hikers and trail runners. But they’re a great choice for hikers who want extra comfort and may often carry a little extra weight (water, clothing, food), and who heat up on the trail.

Posted 13 April 2016 by Michael Lanza – Read full review


Backpack Gear Test reviewed the Gregory Z

Aside from the size and placement of the top stash pocket (noted in the previous reports) I can find nothing wrong with the pack, and just about nothing more I could want in a day pack.

Posted 9 June 2009 by David Wilkes – Read full review


Backpack Gear Test reviewed the Gregory Z

I don’t use this in winter as I feel it is too small for extra winter clothing, ice axe, crampons, and possibly snowshoes. It has many nice features including the two side pockets, hiking pole loops that can be connected to attach a jacket to the outside, and hip belt pockets.

Posted 7 May 2009 by Cheryl McMurray – Read full review



Notes about this top 10 list


The list was last updated 19/09/2018.

The list shows the best reviewed small backpacks from a much bigger list of selected products. The list should not be considered a complete list of all available, excellent small backpacks

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


About MightyGoods

Here at our site MightyGoods, we have checked thousands of reviews in order to build the biggest directory of backpacks, luggage, handbags and lots of other bags.

So far we have checked more than 2,1 million reviews!

Using our bag review summaries, we aim to help you find the perfect bag without having to spend a lot of time reading an endless list of reviews.


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