Daypacks - whats your preference

Panel loaders or top loaders

6 messages
14/03/2012 at 10:39

I recently bought a new daypack (Osprey Stratos 26), which has got me thinking - bigger packs (i.e. c.50 litres plus) tend to be top loaders. Smaller packs are more mixed, and their style depends on the specific activity they have been designed for

The Stratos series come in top loading and panel loading options. I got the top loading one as the price was good and my other main daypack is a panel loader so figured having options would be good.

I have to say I'm rather taken with the pack but wonder if people prefer panel or top loaders. Panel loaders are easier to get bits in and out of in a rush, and easier for work and commuting, but I can see there being more to fail, not that I've ever had one fail. The top loader feels like it would be a better hillwalking pack

So, along with loading option, what do you look for in a hillwalking daypack?

My main criteria were 20-30 litres, option to stow walking poles, hipbelt, long enough to fit me (6'3), side pockets, main compartment and at least one other pocket. I was hoping to find something with a fairly well ventilated backpanel but didn't know which type
14/03/2012 at 12:04

I have, and use, both top and panel loaders, selecting on preference for the job in hand.  The access ease of a panel-load is a bit of a moot point if the contents you want in or out are in a waterproof liner bag inside. 

what do you look for in a hillwalking daypack? 

Same as any other pack: carrying comfort.


14/03/2012 at 12:36
My experience is that panel loaders are good as long as you don't try to stuff too much stuff inside -- so not ideal for those with kids whose gear you end up carrying.
14/03/2012 at 19:53
I have the Deuter ACT Trail 32. I was looking for something lighter (it is 1.32 kg) but finally I decided to stick with it as it is very stable, comfortable and well made.

It is a top loader but it has a double zip which allows you to open up the whole back to get to stuff right at the bottom of the pack. A useful feature I haven't seen on many other packs.

The other thing i found when looking for a smaller, lighter pack was that they obviously were not as long so there might have been a problem with fit. I ended up thinking I wouldn't be able to wear a pack much smaller than 30 litres and I'm not as tall as you (6'0).
15/03/2012 at 11:00

Either.  I use a Salomon Raid Revo which is a panel and an OMM 32 which is a top loader depending on how much extra gear I want to take.

For larger sacs I'd always want a top loader.  Whilst I've never had a zip fail on a panel loader it is a weak point and wouldn't want to risk it failing on a trip.

Edited: 15/03/2012 at 11:00
17/03/2012 at 16:19
I used the pack again on a daywalk

A proper panel loader would help me access something at the bottom, like my stove and other bits, but then I do quite like being able to just stuff things into the top of it, like my down vest or fleece

So for the toploader (in small capacity) is working for me for walks

I do reckon if it was for work and commuting use as well then panel loader would eventually win. I used the panel loader for lugging a couple of bits earlier today and its more practical for day to day stuff

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