Compact Carry: 15 Best Packable Bags

Mar 19, 2018

Category: Gear

No matter where we wander around the world, we try to do our best to get out of our comfort zone – whether that means wandering into unfamiliar parts of a foreign city or hiking some trails in another hemisphere. But that kind of adventuring also begs being well-equipped with water, maps, snacks, etc.

Unfortunately, bringing a secondary bag for day trips in our normal luggage can be a cumbersome hassle. Which is why we prefer packs of the packable variety. There’s a whole new wave of backpacks, duffel bags, and more than not only feature spacious volumes and hardy materials, but can also shrink down into a much tinier format for easy storage and transport. But as this style increases in popularity, so too do the instances of unworthy imitators. It’s with that in mind we put together this collection of the 15 best packable bags.

AmazonBasics Ultralight Packable Day Pack

As proof positive of the packable bag popularity boom, Amazon has actually offered their own. And while it might be a bandwagon jump, this pack is still one of the best for its budget-friendly price, dual volume options, and the fact that it is built from tear- and water-resistant nylon. If you’re looking for the best budget packable bag, this is it.

Size: 25L/35L
Material: Nylon
Packs Down To: Softball Size

Purchase: $16

Eddie Bauer Stowaway Packable Pack

Eddie Bauer has been in the outdoor gear game for a long time. So it should come as no surprise that they’ve tried their hand and succeeded at creating a packable backpack. The Stowaway offers a whopping 30 liters of storage within its ripstop polyester construction. It also features a stormproof finish, is compatible with hydration packs, and even has a little bit of padding on the shoulder straps.

Size: 30L
Material: 200D Ripstop Polyester
Packs Down To: Softball Size

Purchase: $20

Under Armour Packable Duffle Bag

One of our biggest issues with most duffel bags is that, while they make great gym bags and weekenders, they don’t generally store very well. This one from Under Armour, however, can pack down to about the size of a softball. That way, when you’re not using it to haul your workout gear, you can stash it somewhere out of the way without any fuss.

Size: 22″ x 12″ x 11″
Material: Nylon
Packs Down To: Softball Size

Purchase: $24

Herschel Supply Co. Packable Duffle

Herschel has made a name for themselves in the everyday carry space for their simple and stylish suite of offerings. Their packable duffel bag is certainly no exception to that rule. It’s little more than a 22-liter main compartment with straps, but the simplicity certainly works in their favor. That’s especially true when you take into account their range of color and pattern options, the tear- and water-resistant polyester fabric, and the fact that it packs down to a size that can fit in the palm of your hand.

Size: 22L
Material: Ripstop Polyester
Packs Down To: Softball Size

Purchase: $30

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

Though it doesn’t have quite as much internal volume as, say, your average duffel bag, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack makes up for it in two big ways. For starters, this fully-functional backpack can shrink down to about the size of a beer can – making it one of the most packable options on our list. But it also features comfortable shoulder straps for easy carrying for extended periods of time and is reinforced with bar tacks on all its stress points.

Volume: 20L
Material: Siliconized Cordura
Packs Down To: Baseball Size

Purchase: $33

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

We’re not entirely sure why Osprey doesn’t garner more attention and respect in the world of outdoor gear when so many of their offerings are well-made, budget-friendly, and frankly pretty impressive. Take their Ultralight Stuff Pack, for instance. It features a slick minimalist appearance, has a built-in water bottle pocket for if you get thirsty on the trails, and is built to survive quite a bit of punishment.

Volume: 18L
Material: 40D Ripstop Nylon
Packs Down To: Baseball Size

Purchase: $35

L.L. Bean Stowaway Day Pack

L.L. Bean is a powerhouse in the world of outdoor gear – and they’ve been around long enough to know how to do things right. That’s abundantly true with their Stowaway Day Pack. This packable backpack shrinks down to about the size of a baseball (8″ x 7″) so you can easily stash it between uses. But, when opened, it boasts 22 liters of internal storage, an air-mesh back panel for all-day comfort, and has dual elastic water bottle pockets.

Volume: 22L
Material: Ripstop Nylon
Packs Down To: Baseball Size

Purchase: $40

Travelab Freedom Pack

The Travelab Freedom Pack has a good deal of the same features as a lot of the bags on this list: a tear- and water-resistant construction, the ability to pack dowFtrn to palm-sized, and a spacious main compartment. But it also offers something that nothing else on this list does: an anti-theft design perfect for travelers. If you’re wondering what that means, it takes shape in the form of several hideaway pockets for all your sensitive documents and gear.

Volume: N/A
Material: 210T Nylon
Packs Down To: Baseball Size

Purchase: $45

Matador Transit30 Pocket Duffel

When it comes to packable bags, Matador reigns king above all others. Need some proof? Pick up their Transit30 Pocket Duffel. Packable down to about the size of a beer can (maybe even smaller), it opens up to offer 30-liters of storage in its generous main compartment. It also features a water-resistant nylon construction, water-resistant zippers, a single quick-access external pocket, and reinforced stress points.

Volume: 30L
Material: 30D Ripstop Cordura
Packs Down To: Baseball Size

Purchase: $50

Matador Freerain24 Backpack

In case duffel bags aren’t really your speed, Matador also offers a full suite of backpacks. One of their best creations is the Freerain24. The brand’s flagship bag offering, this pack is waterproof, puncture-resistant, has a large main compartment with a secure roll-top closure, and features a secondary vertical zippered externally accessible pocket for smaller items you need to get to quickly. You can’t go wrong with a Matador bag, least of all this one.

Volume: 24L
Material: 30D Cordura
Packs Down To: Baseball Size

Purchase: $60

Arc’teryx Index 15 Backpack

Known for their technical outdoor apparel, it should come as no surprise that the folks at Canadian outfitter, Arc’teryx, were able to pare their expertise into a packable backpack. Available in a wide variety of colorways, the Index features 15-liters of storage across two compartments (a large main top-accessible one and an external zippered quick-access pouch). It also offers a slick minimalist appearance; has an internal sleeve that can fit a tablet, small laptop computer, or hydration bladder; and features the ability to rig a bungee system on its exterior for strapping larger pieces of gear to it.

Volume: 15L
Material: 200D Polyester
Packs Down To: Football Size

Purchase: $70

Matador Beast28 Packable Technical Backpack

Easily Matador’s beefiest and most capable bag, the Beast28 is a force to be reckoned with. It boasts a hefty polyurethane-coated ripstop nylon exterior (making it super durable and water-resistant), is compatible with hydration bladders, comes with its own compression travel case, has built-in breathable lumbar padding, and features gear anchors to attach your stuff whenever you need it. If you’re looking for sheer capability and toughness, look no further.

Volume: 28L
Material: PU-Coated Ripstop Nylon
Packs Down To: Football Size

Purchase: $90

Wanaka Adventure Pack

Not only is this back super packable, but it also feature’s Wanaka’s Adapt Adventure System – a grouping of gear designed to help you explore the outdoors as best you can. The modular system includes an integrated camera case, an adventure sling, a storage sack that doubles as a compression case, and an inflatable frame to give the overall bag a bit of structure – helping keep your gear safe and sound in the process.

Volume: 24L
Material: 210D & 420D Double Ripstop Nylon
Packs Down To: Softball Size

Purchase: $116

Triple Aught Design Azimuth Pack

Triple Aught Design is always ranked at the top with every piece of gear they create. Their Azimuth packable backpack is certainly no exception. Made from super-tough space-age fabric, this bag is lightweight, versatile, water-resistant, and even has a measure of modularity – thanks to it having dual Helix attachment points inside for additional panels, sleeves, etc. Whether wandering city streets or ascending mountains, this packable bag can’t be beat.

Volume: 19L
Material: VX-21 Ripstop & VX-07 Shell
Packs Down To: Softball Size

Purchase: $120

Matador HydroLite Packable Filtration Backpack

As we mentioned before, Matador is the best at what they do. And that’s abundantly evident in their HydroLite Packable Filtration Backpack. The reason: this is the world’s first and only packable bag that has its own built-in hydration bladder and water filter. The bladder is 2-liters and it’s attached to a Sawyer MINI survival filter capable of filtering out 99.99999% bacteria and protozoa from up to 100,000 gallons of water. So you can simply fill it up with river or lake water and drink directly from the straw without worry.

Volume: 8L + 2L Hydration Pack
Material: 30D Cordura
Packs Down To: Football Size

Purchase: $190

Best Packable Travel Jackets

Saving space is the name of the game when it comes to packing for travel. That’s why you should pair your new packable backpack with one of the best packable travel jackets from our list.

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