The primary purpose of a travel bag is to get your stuff from point A to point B. Generally, this stuff is clothing, toiletries, and tech you need either in transit or at your destination. That right there is Osprey’s wheelhouse – that’s their bread and butter. A side benefit of a good travel bag is using it as an EDC bag without looking ridiculous while at the destination. It’s a tightrope balancing act that requires some thoughtful design decisions.
The first feature I want to mention is in the pack’s name; it’s expandable, helping to serve as both travel pack and EDC/minimalist travel. A U-shaped zipper expands the Daylite from 26L to 32L. It’s an elegant implementation because 26L is ample for minimalist travelers and EDC use, while 32L is definitely a travel size. There is no need to fiddle around with straps and buckles, no need to cinch it down or out; just one smooth pull can expand or contract this bag. I absolutely loved this because the two sizes worked wonderfully for the two use cases: in transit, 32L; once I wanted to walk around town or hike, 26L.
I tend to use pouches and packing cubes, and the Daylite suits this sort of packing style. The main compartment opens up luggage-style, supplying ample room and a cinch strap. Honestly, though, I’d prefer if it had a clamshell opening instead, as this is more conducive for EDC use without detracting from travel functionality. The luggage-style opening causes one of the zippers to only go about a quarter way down, making EDC use slightly cumbersome. If you don’t plan to use this for EDC, it’s a non-issue because luggage-style is excellent.
On the opposite side of the main compartment is a vertical mesh pocket that virtually spans the entire length and width of the space. Behind that is an additional luggage compartment where the extra 6L comes into play. So, when expanded and opened up, you get a generous amount of packing space on either side, and one is zippable. It’s a very familiar way of packing and also quite reminiscent of the Cotopaxi Allpa.
The Daylite is accepted internationally as a personal item in its compressed form. Expanded, you may need to avoid making eye contact with gate agents and leave a little breathing room to squish it in. A side effect of using single layers of fabric and how the pack is designed is that there is a lot of space here for your items. One can presumably travel on a budget airline with just this one pack as a personal item and not even a carry-on.
In transit, the Daylite offers neat features like grab handles on the pack’s top, bottom, and side. The top handle especially has great hand-feel; my wife said it felt like a premium hiking bag’s handle. Another convenient feature is the front shove-it pocket; I personally don’t tend to use these for security reasons. Still, while in colder conditions, it’s nice to stuff a scarf, light sweater, or rain shell inside. This particular implementation, though, is lacking. Osprey uses their 300D poly here, where they should have used the bottle pocket mesh. Not being able to stretch this pocket a bit makes it less useful. Also, as mentioned before, the back panel’s construction has created a very secure trolley or luggage pass-through. Lastly, other features that are great in transit are the two mesh bottle pockets.
Internally, the laptop compartment sits two inches above the ground and is accessible from a separate zipper from the main compartment. It’s a nice touch that doesn’t require you to disturb your pack to get to your laptop. Additionally, a front quick-access pocket goes about a quarter way down the front of the bag, enough to store needed tech or accouterments. This pocket also comes with two small mesh pockets and three pen pockets. There are options for organization between this pocket, the laptop compartment, and the vertical zippered pocket inside.
Lastly, the back panel and straps are a key feature, because after all, the point of this pack is to travel, and often that means lots of walking or standing around. Given the budget-friendly nature of this pack, the back panel, with its frame sheet, ventilation, and foam, does an adequate job. If you’re just hauling travel basics, you’ll be fine. Personally, I’d avoid lugging around heavy equipment. As a final point, the straps also do an adequate job with their mix of mesh, foam, and width.
Osprey is showing its experience here, picking which features to execute while making sure not to overburden the pack and raise the cost.