I will be going to a series of 6 to 10 hours day hikes in Hokkaido, Japan. Some of these hikes are strenuous in effort, and involves different terrains. The weather should include some rain, but for the most part it will be hot, and humid. I will be there from the end of July till the end of August. I will have my own car as a transportation going through Hokkaido.

I have a 70L Outdoor backpack that I usually travel with, but I am NOT planning on doing the hikes with my 70L backpack (tried doing so through Indonesia and Taiwan for multi-day hikes, and it was tough, silly me).

I am thinking of buying two of a lightweight packable (or foldable) backpacks (like this). Then before the hike I was thinking to leave the 70L backpack and use the foldable backpack for the day hike. I will also buy a waterproof cover for the foldable backpack.

I expect that I will be carrying a maximum of 4kg to 5kg. I will have my snacks (and/or meal), 1.5L to 2L of water depending on the hike, a shirt, headlights, and a waterproof jacket.

Does this sound like a good idea? Also, any possible alternatives for a reliable packable/foldable backpack? (even if it is expensive)

  • What is the difference between a packable/foldable backpack and any kind of backpack without a rigid frame? My day pack is a regular (rather lightweight) 35l mountaineering backpack, and I can pack it away and it is still perfectly suited for strenuous tasks. What I mean: Isn't packable/foldable just a marketing gimmick to sell a (cheap) backpack for a higher price?
    – imsodin
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 14:25
  • I think what matters is the size (folded) + the weight of the packable/foldable bag over the normal kind of backpack. I tried with a backpack that I have at home, it is 30L, and after some attempts to fold it, it took some good space inside of my 70L. Commented May 18, 2017 at 14:29
  • The linked backpack just looked very cheap to me, however I never looked at the price: It is cheap. So I guess the question is: Are cheap packable bags like this reliable. Because there is bags like backcountrygear.com/ultralight-packs/ghost-65650.html (I don't know that particular model) that do work well (obviously light packs have less padding, but for a day pack without special gear that really doesn't matter). And you might want to make your question more concrete, because the first question is trivial (yes) and the second way too open.
    – imsodin
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 14:36
  • That's very useful feedback, thank you. Yes, I think I didn't consider (or research enough) to find the more expensive foldable backpacks (possibly more reliable than the cheap ones). I will update the question. Commented May 18, 2017 at 14:52
  • What/how much will you be carrying? how much water do you need / can you resupply on route? There is a limit to how much you can carry confortably in that kind of pack
    – njzk2
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 19:09

3 Answers 3


I hike a bit in the western ghats (southern India) where we do a lot of 6-8 hour hikes over weekends. I've tried the following three options each with a good degree of success.

A small foldable backpack:


  • This is fine as long as you do not plan to carry anything beyond 5kg. And since these backpacks fold into a small space, you could carry it in your normal travel pack without compromising on space and use it only for small day travels or hikes.


  • May turn out to be uncomfortable. These do not usually come with cushion or adjustable straps. Over a 6-8hr hike, these might end up hurting your shoulders due to the lack of weight distribution options.

Use a standard 30L backpack:


  • These are pretty sturdy and can easily be used to carry 7-8kg (or even more! I once strapped a tent to one of these using ropes). These are way more comfortable than your foldable ones as usually these come with a bit of cushion and a few more straps to adjust the weight on your back (some even have a hip strap which I've personally not found any useful).


  • These do not fold up to the extent the foldable ones do. You may or may not be able to fit in these types of bags into your 70L backpack (I've done this before and they consume a good amount of space which otherwise could have been used for something else. An alternative would be to carry this outside).

Use your 70L backpack:

Carry only the essentials for the hike while you dump the rest in your hotel room.


  • Way more comfortable on your shoulders and back.
  • Allows for any additional things to be carried. Eg: Medical kit, downs, ponchos et al.


  • The backpacks themselves weigh in around 1.5kg (with the support rods and all). Hence you'll be carrying a bit more than you originally planned.

Note: In all the three options, I personally do not see the terrain playing any part. The other thing which I feel could affect your decision would be the weather. A rainy weather means you'll have to have either a poncho to cover both the bag and yourself or at least a bag cover to protect your bag. A sunny one could prompt you to carry more water. In any of the cases, I would suggest you to carry a basic medical kit.


Buy it now and do a few hikes before you leave. If it doesn't do what you need, return it and try something more robust.


Maybe spend a bit more and look for something for other uses also. Shopping or airplane carry on bag. Make sure it will hold what you need but day hiking does not need to be its only use.

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