One of the pieces of gear I take with me almost everywhere, whether it’s on a long distance bike tour, multi-pitch climbing adventure, or simply traveling to another city, is what I call a stow and go backpack. These ultralight daypacks have absolutely no bells and whistles and no fancy suspension systems — they are basically just a bag with backpack straps — but are infinitely useful.
The stow and go backpacks are usually made of nylon and weigh less than a candy bar. Most offer around 20 liters of storage space in a single main compartment and pack down into their own internal pocket for quick and easy storage in your luggage, carry-on, pocket, or larger backpack.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack ($35): Weighing just four ounces, this 18-liter pack is great for spontaneous hiking adventures when traveling, heading to the market or grocery store, and just playing tourist for the day. It has an elastic side mesh pocket for holding a water bottle or wet umbrella. I brought this daypack with me to Bolivia and used it almost every day on the bike. I have also used it as a multi-pitch climbing pack, hiking pack, and head to the grocery store pack.
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack ($33): Made from a silconized Cordura fabric, this 20-liter daypack is water-resistant and durable while weighing under three ounces. It packs into its own internal stuff sack with carabiner for hanging off your bigger pack or even belt loop. I brought this pack on my ride across Central Asia where it served as a stuff sack for camp clothes, riding backpack for the days I had to carry extra cold weather gear, and shopping bag for heading to the markets.
The North Face Flyweight Rolltop ($49): Weighing less than six ounces and offering 22-liters of storage space, this pack is perfect for grocery or flea market shopping on your next trip. The rolltop closure makes it weather resistant, while the black color helps you blend into a more urban environment so you don’t look like you just got off the trail. This pack does have a small webbing hipbelt for a little extra security in case you want to use it as a multi-pitch climbing pack.