Practical, Svelte, Women’s Daypacks Suitable for Ultraportables

After having my main backpack which I had used for years stolen I was in the market for something new. The nice thing about my favorite old one was that it was small but just large enough to hold a Thinkpad Carbon X1 which is similar to a Macbook Air in size.

I went to a few stores to survey the available inventory and was surprised to find that there actually are not a lot of options when it comes to svelte-sized daypacks. One of the criteria for my search was to find a pack under about 18 liters. Anything over that is just way too huge.

But most backpacks seem to be rather large, well over 18 liters in size. Here are a few smaller ones I found while looking around:

lowe alpine airzone z

Lowe Alpine Women’s AirZone Z ND18 Pack An obviously well-made, sturdy pack from Lowe Alpine. I did see one of these in a store and the only thing that I didn’t like was the lack of suitable compartments for pens and the little knickknacks that one usually wants to have. Unfortunately it really is not intended as a pack that a student or office-worker would want to use regularly.

mountainsmith clear creek 12
Mountainsmith Women’s Clear Creek 12 WSD Backpack Again, a nice size and minimal, but unfortunately too minimal with really no compartments suitable for what a student or office worker would need to hold pens and other things.

Arcteryx Pyxis 12
Arcteryx Pyxis 12 Pack Again, cool size and design, but too minimal and not suitable for a student or office worker. No compartments for pens or other items.

CamelBak Day Star 18 Hydration Pack This pack is definitely the best of the lot. While the fact that it is actually a hydration pack may seem like a negative thing, actually its a positive thing. Because you can remove the bladder if you want and just use it like a regular pack or, when you so desire, you have the option of using the bladder when you need hydration. The bladder compartment size is perfect for a Thinkpad X1 Carbon and probably any other similar-sized laptop. In addition, it has one other large main compartment with sufficient room to pack a bunch of books or to stuff a jacket into, plus the critical front compartment which includes pockets and netting suitable for pens and other items.

Not only that, but the design is excellent. As a bicyclist I’m especially fond of the waist strap. If you happen to be in a situation where you are doing more intensive, fast-paced walking or hiking, this is where this pack excels because you can adjust and tighten all the straps so that the pack fits snugly with your body.
Kudos to Camelbak for such an intense design for a daypack including waist and sternum straps.

One last thing that puts the Day Star 18 over the top are the extremely convenient side nets (not clearly visible in the pic above) for holding water bottles or hot beverage containers.

This is the pack I eventually got and am really loving it. Its the perfect size and design for a daypack. The only improvement would perhaps be more compartments for pens and other small items. The Day Star 18 is a seriously intense, svelte, well-designed backpack ideal for the lightweight tech commuter/student who is active.