5 Excellent Day Bags to Lighten Your Load

A woman with a day bag and camera slung over her shoulder waiting as a train pulls into the station.
KONGSTOCK/Shutterstock

If you’re leaving the house for the day and just want to bring a few small items with you, a giant backpack is cumbersome. Day bags, however, keep things compact and are easy to carry.

How to Choose the Right Day Bag

The day bag you should choose depends on what you plan to use it for—for example, a bag for going to the beach will be different from something you want to carry daily to work.

Regardless, here are a few key factors any day bag should have:

  • Weight: This is the most noticeable difference between day bags and normal backpacks. You want something that’s as light as possible without sacrificing the quality. We’ve limited our picks to bags that weigh under 1.5 pounds.
  • Size: You want something compact that still offers enough space to carry everything you need it to. So, consider what you’ll be packing in your day bag—you don’t want to overfill it to the point of failure.
  • Pockets: A bag with multiple pockets is helpful, not only for organization, but also for keeping items separate. For example, you probably don’t want your water bottle sitting on top of your tablet.
  • Durability: While you might not plan to carry a lot in your day bag, you still want it to be able to take a beating. Tearing is not just a cosmetic problem, but it could also result in the loss of, or damage to, your belongings.

Now that you know what to look for, let’s look at our five favorite day bags.

Best Overall: Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Convertible Backpack

The Travelon Anti-Theft Convertible Backpack
Travelon

Travelon managed to sneak quite the feature-set into this little backpack. The slash-resistant, stainless-steel mesh under the fabric, RFID blocking on the multiple interior pockets, and simple locks for the straps and compartments will keep your stuff safe. You can also convert it from a backpack to a shoulder bag with the adjustable strap. It also has a mesh pocket on the outside for quick-access storage.

The bag is only 8.5-inches wide and 12-inches tall, making it easy to store when not in use. Its 1.1-pound weight also won’t put any additional strain on your back.

Best Overall

Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Convertible Backpack, Black

A versatile, secure day bag that will carry your stuff with ease.

Best Budget: Everest Junior Backpack

The Everest Junior Backpack.
Everest

Despite being marketed as a children’s backpack, you can easily adjust the straps on the Everest Junior to fit an adult, and the design won’t draw any stares. The bag is small (10 x 3.5 x 13 inches) and only weighs 0.55 pounds, so no worries about it weighing you down.

Everest keeps things simple with a two-compartment approach. It lacks the flair of some of the other bags on our list, but it’s hard to find a better value.

Best Budget

Everest Junior Backpack, Navy

No bells or whistles; just a good, cheap day bag.

Best Sling: POSO Sling Shoulder Bag

The POSO Sling Bag.
POSO

Many people have transitioned to sling bags due to their versatile nature—if you’re looking to do the same, the POSO is your best bet. This small (11.8 x 7.5 x 3.9 inches), light (0.8 pounds) sling bag, also has some additional features that make it a contender.

The POSO is made out of waterproof nylon and has a breathable design to help keep your back cool. If you place a power bank or device inside one of the interior pockets, you can route your charging cables or earbuds through them for easy access.

In addition to the large segmented main pocket, the bag also has discrete pockets around the outside, so keeping your belongings organized won’t be an issue.

Best Sling Day Bag

Sling Shoulder Bag for Men/Boy, Waterproof Messenger Bag with USB Charging Port, Day Packs for Travel/Sports/Hiking (Black)

If you prefer sling bags, POSO's certainly fits the bill! It's stylish, compact, and feature-rich.

Best Messenger-Style: ZZINNA Man Bag Messenger Bag

The ZZINNA Man Bag Messenger Bag.
ZZINNA

If you prefer a classier style for your everyday carry, ZZINNA’s messenger bag is for you! Its subdued, all-black exterior is appropriate for professional settings. Made of waterproof polyester, this bag will protect your belongings even in an unexpected rainstorm.

It’s compact (10 x 3.5 x 7.5 inches), only weighs 0.88 pounds, and is ideal for carrying items like notebooks, documents, or tablets.

Best Messenger-Style

ZZINNA Man Bag Messenger Bag Crossbody Bags Waterproof Shoulder Bag Man Purse Purses and Bags for Men and Women

A classic style in a small package, ZZINNA's messenger bag will keep your stuff safe and dry.

Best Cooler: SEEHONOR Insulated Cooler Backpack

The SEEHONOR Insulated Cooler Backpack.
SEEHONOR

If you take your lunch or drinks with you to work and want them to stay cool, a normal bag just won’t do. You need an insulated cooler bag, like this one from SEEHONOR.

It has a tall, 14.9-inch insulated central pocket and additional uninsulated pockets on the sides and front, but it’s small enough not to be a bother. It can easily hold all the items necessary for a picnic, whether that be food, utensils, or drinks.

The SEEHONOR Backpack is the heaviest bag on our list, but at 1.3 pounds, it’s still lighter than most insulated bags.

Best Cooler

SEEHONOR Insulated Cooler Backpack Leakproof Soft Cooler Bag Lightweight Backpack Cooler for Lunch Picnic Fishing Hiking Camping Park Beach, 25 Cans

The SEEHONOR Cooler Backpack has a large, central cooler compartment to keep your drinks or food cold until lunchtime.

Eric Schoon Eric Schoon
Eric Schoon is a writer for Reviewgeek and has spent most of his life thinking about and analyzing products of all shapes and sizes. Whether it's physical or digital he'll enjoy finding its greatest strengths and weaknesses. Read Full Bio »

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