I’m a big fan of a good “lumbar pack” for day hikes or scouting an area. It gives you reasonable carrying capacity but allows you to add extra gear if you need by leaving room for a quick homemade carrying system like a horseshoe style blanket roll. After all we’ve all come across things we wanted to pick up on the trail, but that we really didn’t want in our backpacks. ‘Nuff said.
I’m also a fan of Duluth packs, though they’re admittedly far more expensive than you should be paying for something to beat the bush with. They are top quality however and give you years if not decades of service.
Here’s a review from the Pathfinder School on their All Day Lumbar Pack that was taken on a hike. The pack is being sold on Amazon now for a little under $200 which is a pretty good price. On the other hand their are decent packs that are similar for much less so unless you’re looking for a real nice Christmas present for the backwoodsman in your life there’s no need to break the bank: