I've been borrowing this High Sierra small backpack from my friend for a few days and I'm looking to buy my own. So far I haven't found any barcode or product name on it, and I haven't found anything similar online or in REI's flagship store. In other words, I'm having a remarkable amount of difficulty searching for a "small backpack."

I assume this has some more specialized name or description, possibly a function or type of hike you would use it for. Here's a picture, any help identifying it or describing it? U.S. size 11M hiking shoe for scale (banana unavailable).

enter image description here

  • 2
    Do you or your friend know the litres for this bag? Some bags go by 5L, 10L etc, or you can try looking for a 'daysack' as well, or sizings S-XXL - it will depend on brand really.
    – Aravona
    Oct 3, 2014 at 7:08
  • Hydration packs is the phrase you're looking for (see link for quick description). Summit packs or daypacks are also terms that could apply. Generally searching by volume (liters 10-20) is a good bet. Just to give you some more info! Oct 7, 2014 at 6:52
  • You might also want to look into "Ultra Lightweight" gear and backpacking. It is a whole movement for small lightweight equipment.
    – user6972
    Oct 8, 2014 at 22:00

4 Answers 4


This is the bag:


If you didn't know it was a hydration pack, the water bladder must have been removed.

While the posts about "daypacks" are somewhat correct, most of the time when I see super-small backpacks, they are like yours - hydration packs that have room for storage, and sometimes people just remove the water bottle.

  • good point about water bladder. should the backpack usually come with one? "Daypack" was too general and those seemed bigger, so you're right about that.
    – djechlin
    Oct 4, 2014 at 4:42
  • The backpack in your picture does come with one, and anything else sold as a "hydration pack" would have one. Some larger bags are sold as being "hydration ready" which basically means they have a place for a reservoir and a hole for a tube and you can add a water bag if you want. This is the reservoir: amazon.com/High-Sierra-Packaged-Reservoir-Himalaya/dp/…
    – JPhi
    Oct 6, 2014 at 12:31

You can find smaller backpacks called daypacks but regarding the actual activity they are mostly around 25-35 litre. Smaller packs are often used for biking, trailrunning and as climbing backpack. The last mentioned might not be the right ones for you because you simply don't need to attach a rope or other features of those backpacks.

For cycling and trailrunning the backpacks are sometimes ultra tiny just to carry a bladder plus a minimum of extra gear (jacket, energybar). Those are often called hydration-backpacks. Still in this range you could find appropriate backpacks which allow to carry not only the bladder, e.g. for REI:

Some of the brands even offer a search for the size, e.g. for Deuter (Do they sell Deuter in the US? It is the biggest brand for quality outdoor backpacks in Germany/Mid Europe):

By the way REI also lets you search for gear and liquid capacity.

  • 1
    ...but without the banana???....
    – user2766
    Oct 3, 2014 at 12:30

Such small bags are often known as daysacks.

However, in my experience the best way to search for bags is by their size. Bag size is generally measured in L (even in the US I think). Most larger bags will have their size in the name. Some smaller bags don't, but is you can find the bag online it will generally have size information.

Looking at this bag I would say it is probably a 20L (or even possibly smaller, 15L)

A quick google search gives the bag you picture as probably a High Sierra XBT TSA Backpack. Which according to the High Sierra website is 2500 cu in or 40L. So it looks like my guess of size was a bit off.


I'd say search for biking backpacks. In my REI store specifically they were in the bicycle section as opposed to the hiking area with all of the other larger backpacks. The one I got was a Novara, and what is nicer with the biking backpacks is that they supposedly try to lay flatter on your back to keep the weight more centered (which is nice for biking, but feels good otherwise).


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