When I was growing up in small-town South Carolina, the neighborhood pool was the center of my summer universe. My friends and I spent all day, every day in and around its sparkling chlorine coolness, parentless, kept from drowning by red-suited teens but otherwise free to explore the frontiers of independence. We ran in packs, threadbare ovals worn into our Birdwell Beach Britches from the concrete deck. It was Lord of the Flies with a Coke machine and a lifeguard’s whistle for a conch.
After researching dozens of packable daypacks across a spectrum of portability, features, and prices, and then packing, unpacking, loading, wearing, and drenching the 10 top-rated finalists during two rounds of testing, we’re confident that the L.L.Bean Stowaway Day Pack is the best for most travelers.