Danner Daypack 26L Review
The Danner 26L Daypack’s quick access openings enhance accessibility, but the back panel often pops, which serves as a quirky distraction.
- Bright red liner fabric increases visibility
- Dual access for the main and laptop compartments
- Spacious front and top pockets
- Liner fabric doesn’t feel durable
- Back panel makes a popping sound
- Top pocket can be unwieldy
12.25 in x 17 in x 6.25 in (31.1 x 43.2 x 15.9 cm)
Nylon, Leather, YKK Zippers, Metal, Duraflex Hardware
Laptop Compartment Size
We have a certain soft spot for things that hark back to classic designs. They stir a certain nostalgia, like in old Christmas movies when moms and dads carry a leather suitcase against the background of a snowy day. But feelings of nostalgia are just that—feelings. It’ll take more than just leather to make a good bag, so what does Danner’s 26-liter Daypack bring to the table?
For those unfamiliar with Danner, they’re well known for their footwear. The Daypack seems to be mostly inspired by their leather-based boots, right down to the eye-catching red paracord in place of shoelaces. It’s a well-equipped daypack underneath the leather and styling, complete with twin water bottle pockets, spacious compartments, and considerate accessibility. Again, styling only goes leather-deep, so let’s take a closer look at Danner’s 26L Daypack.
Materials & Aesthetic
Heritage, vintage, retro, or classic—whichever way you want to spin it, Danner’s Daypack is striking to look at. It’s a black backpack at its base, but the brown leather accents give it an extra layer of personality. The design’s certainly grown on us; it’s reminiscent of the type of bag you’d see in your parent’s old travel photos—which is why “heritage” is the first of those four words that popped into our minds.
There are one or two things that may put some off. For example, the leather will inevitably break in and develop a patina over time. We’ve had ours for a few weeks, and the Danner logo at the top is already noticeably marked up. The daisy-chained red paracord at the front stands out against the black and brown color scheme that dominates the overall styling, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea. That’s not out of character for Danner, however. Many of their shoes come with colored shoelaces, and we think it works for the Daypack.
Apart from the leather, the shell is mostly nylon. We’re not entirely sure what specific type or brand of nylon this is, but it’s held up well throughout testing, so we’re not too worried about it. We do have a few familiar names here: YKK zippers and Duraflex hardware, which are pretty much bywords for quality zips and buckles. Then there’s the G-hook at the front, and although it isn’t the meatiest G-hook we’ve come across, it is made out of strong but lightweight aluminum.
At the time of writing, Danner’s Daypack is only available in this particular colorway. Whether or not heritage styling is your thing is up to you. However, there is more to this bag than just the looks, so let’s get into the finer details of what this backpack has to offer.
There’s a nylon grab handle at the top of the Daypack—a feature typically found on most backpacks. Not only is this useful for quickly picking the bag up, but it’s also quite handy for hanging it behind bathroom stall doors or hooks beneath a desk. We like the touch of wrap-around leather Danner applies here; it adds to the experience of picking up the bag.
The Daypack has a standard but capable-looking set of shoulder straps. They’re densely padded with plastic strap keepers at the end of the adjusters. They even get some of the same leather treatment as the top grab handle for a bit of flare. Along the straps are daisy chains with four loops on each side. Those are a fair amount of loops for accessories you might want to hang on them, but one loop on each side is needed for the sternum strap.
The sternum strap itself has a simple side-release buckle and a strap keeper to keep things neat. There isn’t a crazy amount of length adjustment, though a layer of elastic underneath allows it to stretch and keep tension. Again, each strap is anchored on the loops, and you can remove them by slipping the loop through slits in the plastic hardware. It takes a bit of fiddling to get the strap through, but it works.
On the whole, our experience with the harness system isn’t very good. For starters, the Daypack looks and feels like it hangs low. We think this is due to the top pocket making the bag top-heavy, giving it a bit of a backward lean. Of course, that could be only one factor among many others. Another source of annoyance is the back panel.
At first glance, the back panel gets solid points for thick padding and large crisscrossing air channels that ensure breathability on hot days. First impressions were good, but a recurring issue, unfortunately, overshadows that. The back panel consistently makes a popping noise when it’s bent or warped in a certain way. Some of us on the Pack Hacker team hunch and stretch our backs from time to time when we’re out and about (we like to move a lot), and each time we do this, the Daypack’s back panel makes a popping sound. It’s not so much the noise that bothers us, but the sensation of it; it makes us wonder whether something has bent inside the bag.
The base of the Daypack is leather, which means it will bear a lot of the markups if you like placing your bag on rough surfaces. More than that, there’s also a pair of hold-down straps here so you can bring along a yoga mat hands-free. They have a ton of slack, which makes it easy to fit even brand new, unbroken-in yoga mats and shoes. For smaller accessories, there’s the daisy chain mentioned above, courtesy of the red paracord at the front. There are eight loops total—plenty for accessories like bike lights and reflectors.
Danner has also equipped the Daypack with twin water bottle pockets, one on each side. These are pretty low-profile when unoccupied. They have a bit of elastic so they can grip bottles in place. Unfortunately, they don’t grip well enough for our taste. The elastic isn’t as tight as we’d like, and our bottle’s smooth finish easily slides out of its grasp. Not that bottles will magically fly out of the pocket, but we’d avoid going upside down or jumping high on trampolines.
Inside The Backpack
As busy and stylish as Danner’s made the Daypack, they’ve made the pockets blend in well from the outside. If it were not for the brown leather zipper pulls, the front pocket would remain stealthy. There’s a left and right side opening, very symmetrical to one another, but one of them is the front pocket. We’re not pointing this tiny detail out for the sake of further styling critique, either. It’s worth keeping in mind so you can swing the bag around to the correct side when you need something from the front pocket.
Inside the pocket, we get a first glimpse of the interior liner. Did someone call for bright red? Because this sure is. In terms of visibility, this is great for finding things even in gloomy outdoor weather. This bright red fabric is found in the top pocket and the main compartment, so rummaging through our gear was far from troublesome. If there’s something wrong to point out about the fabric, it’s that it doesn’t feel too durable to the touch. There are no signs of it fraying, nor has there any of it peeled off, but we wish it was thicker or substituted for ripstop altogether.
The front pocket is pretty roomy, with enough space to fit a modestly-sized pouch and power bank with room to spare. It’s a similar story for the top pocket, which is located on the flap of the Daypack. We dub this pocket the “brains” of the bag, and it can get heavy. There’s plenty of space here too, and when it’s packed, it can get unwieldy. Two things to note about the top pocket: First, its zipper gets a garage for better protection against moisture. Second, it only gets the red liner fabric on one side, and black fabric with coating on the other.
There are two ways to open the main compartment. The first way is via the right-side opening at the front, opposite the front pocket’s opening. This is for quick access to clothes and pouches inside so you don’t have to go through the main compartment’s bigger top opening. This is fine for fast grabs, though placing things back in might get tricky if you’re taking something from the middle of stacked items.
Primary access to the main compartment is handled via a top flap secured by an adjustable G-hook. The G-hook is attached to the Daypack’s body, and it hooks into the flap. It was already tightened down right out of the box, but we loosened it up for additional space. A bungee drawstring cinches down the main opening underneath the flap. The ends of the bungee are tapered off by heat shrink; it looks basic, but it works and feels great for what it is.
Access to the Daypack’s main compartment is easy. The cinched opening loosens up wide, allowing for a good top-down view of what’s inside. Since this is a top-loader backpack, packing starts from the bottom and moves toward the top. Space isn’t much of an issue thanks to the 26-liter capacity being maximized as much as possible. That said, there are no dividers, zippered pockets, or liner pockets inside. So while you can play around with the available space, pouches and packing cubes are a good way to go for organization.
The good news is that there’s a laptop sleeve located towards the back of the main compartment. Our 16-inch MacBook Pro fits through the cinched opening without a problem. The velcro tab’s loop side seems small at first, but the larger hook side secures it into place relatively easily. However, we do have trouble getting it in and out of the side opening.
That’s right; this laptop sleeve also gets an opening on the left side of the bag. It takes some pivoting to smoothly take out our 16-inch laptop, but it’s still more convenient than undoing the G-hook and drawstring cinch, especially when you’re on a train or somewhere cramped.
For a company that’s more geared towards footwear, Danner’s 26L Daypack is well-equipped. We like that the main compartment and laptop compartment get secondary openings for quick access. Spaciousness inside the compartments is also great, with plenty of pouch-friendly room. If Danner can make a few tweaks to the harness system—and the popping back panel—it would round up the Daypack really well.
- Digging the leather panels; adds a retro vibe
- There’s beefy foam padding on the back panel
- The front’s arrayed with a lot of loops for the G-hook so you can really lock it down
- We like the heritage look and premium materials
- The bag wears far off the back on the top
- The framesheet has an odd popping & clicking problem when wearing the pack
- We’re excited to see the next iteration of this bag if Danner decides to do one