You never know when you’re going to need a backpack. Maybe you’re on a trip and a local gives you beta on a sweet summit hike. Or you’re at the office and your partner texts you 12 things to pick up from the grocery store on your bike commute home. Luckily, there are collapsible backpacks for just such occasions. These little carryalls come in all shapes and sizes, and they all pack down into tiny pouches so you can stash them in a duffel, a desk drawer, or the bottom of your multi-day pack.
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack ($35)
Osprey knows a thing or two about building backpacks, and that knowledge trickles down into its simple but effective Ultralight Stuff pack. It comes with Osprey’s comfortable AirMesh shoulder straps, a stash pocket on the top of the bag, an 18-liter main compartment, and an external stretch mesh pocket for a water bottle. It’s built from a tough 40-denier ripstop nylon and it weighs just 3.2 ounces.
Mystery Ranch In & Out ($79)
Technical summit in your future? The In & Out is relatively light (one pound) and packable, shrinking down into its own front mesh pocket. It comes stacked with features, like compression straps to tighten the load, a hydration sleeve with hose ports, and trekking-pole (or ice-ax) loops. And it’s made from a tough 100-denier Cordura to withstand a beating.
Matador Beast ($90)
Bigger and burlier than most collapsible backpacks, the aptly named Beast offers 28 liters of space in a tough, water-resistant 500-denier ripstop nylon. You get all kinds of technical pack features, like waist and sternum straps, loops for attaching gear, a bladder slot and hose routing, and compression straps to keep your load tight. Fold it and roll it up into a stuffsack that’s about the size of a water bottle. It’s on the heavy side at 20 ounces but comes with features most packable packs don’t have.
Sea to Summit UltraSil ($33)
At 2.5 ounces, this is the lightest daypack on this list, thanks to the thin but crazy-strong silicone and nylon material. There’s not much in the way of frills—you get 20 liters of packable space in a top loader with simple shoulder straps. It packs into a pouch so small, you can put it on your key ring.
Arc’teryx Index ($60)
Less summit pack, more city bag, the Index takes a simple and stylish approach to holding your everyday carry. The 15-liter pack has an internal sleeve that fits a tablet or small laptop, an exterior stash pocket for keys and wallet, and enough room to handle your gym clothes and lunch. The whole thing weighs 7.7 ounces and stuffs into its own front pocket.