In the next six months I see myself doing only day hikes, maybe up to five hours. Of course some of these will be in the winter. I don't know where I'll go with hiking, whether I'll catch the bug and get into it big time, so I'm not sure if I should get one small daypack for now, and then later add a larger pack if needed.
I went to a reputable shop yesterday and was mentioning my needs, and the recommendation was for an Osprey Stratos (36L). With the the thinking that I could use it for both shorter hikes, and have the capacity for carrying more gear if in the future I add some lightweight sleeping gear, or stay in a B&B and need extra clothes, toiletries, etc.
Thoughts one 1 vs 2 and what your experience was?
FYI - I live in Ontario, Canada and hikes are well below the tree line, and not too technical.
Have to admit I have more packs than needed, or even healthy, so am not an unbiased opinion here. But two packs makes a lot of sense if you take trips of differing duration and in different seasons.
I use a fairly small and light pack for trips up to three nights and a stouter, larger pack for longer trips and when I need to carry a food canister, or a lot of gear for some reason. (For just day-hikes I take a rucksack.)
This approach implies spending more than a single do-all pack, but careful shopping can reduce the financial hit. And do-all packs tend to be heavy, complex and overkill for weekend trips. I've had modular packs with detachable pockets, places to lash excess gear, and the like, and they can be a pretty good middleground, but always seem compromised in some way.
My do-all pack is a Golite Pinnacle (now the Jam 70L). Done everything from daypack (admittedly too much for that but it's light so big deal) to 7 days. It has a good compression system. Also easy to strap on snowshoes if you need them.
For you I would go with the 35L version. They are often out of them (such as now) as they just order batches it seems.
In the next year, maybe two, I don't see myself needing a large pack (i.e., 70L) because I'm not planning on multi-day hikes where I'll be camping and cooking. So I would hold off buying such a pack until I plan a more serious, multi-day hike and then I would buy what is necessary. For now, I'm planning on hikes from 1 hour (out my back door) to 3, 5, maybe 7 hour day hikes. I'm looking for a pack that is large enough to handle those 5-7 hour day hikes, including in the winter when I may have more clothes in the pack.
The other consideration is some neck/shoulder issues I've been having from cycling (part of the reason I'm going to spend time hiking, but I'll still be cycling). I want a pack with a good sternum strap that takes the weight off my shoulders (not much weight to begin with on these day hikes...). Some of those 10-15L packs I've seen have a small belt that I'm "assuming" would not be comfortable or effective at distributing 75% of the weight of the pack to my hips. I've been doing a bit of searching but haven't seen a 10-15L pack that has the ventilation, padded sternum strap, etc., of something like the Osprey Stratos. I don't see myself needing to use all of the 36L carrying capacity of the Stratos, but then if I did a 1-2 night trip with minimal gear and it all fit, then it could be the one pack for me (for now).
Better to have a little extra on winter hikes. You might even learn to like cooking a hot meal on a snowy trail. I HATE having too small a pack, and winter hiking points that out. I've also chose to pop out on roads occasionally,or ran into wind cleared lakes. Having a pack you can lash snowshoes to is a huge plus. My wife has an Osprey she loves. Nicely made packs.
Ended up getting an Osprey Stratus 24. I took it out the other day for a 4-hour hike and, most importantly, it was very comfortable. Also, I packed the essentials I would need on every hike, and there was plenty of room for any items I would ever want for a day hike, I think regardless of how long that is.
Loc: California, United States
a 5 hour hike? a large fanny pack would work. I use any backpack you have around the house, a waste strap is nice but not necessary. I would not get a specialty backpack for it. you don't need a stove, water treatment, tent, sleeping bag, rain protection, changes of socks, pack towel, etc etc, flashlight.