The Gregory 24 H2O daypacks—the women’s Juno and the men’s Citro—were the best value daypacks in our broader tested roundup of the best daypacks. Ahead, learn more about the more-bang-for-your-buck backpack series and why we love it so much.
If you love to go for long day hikes of 10 miles or more, you want a daypack that’s big enough to hold extra layers, water and snacks, with a well-designed suspension system to minimize fatigue. But more materials and a more intricate design mean a higher price tag.
During testing for our broader review of the best daypacks on the market, I tested nine backpacks that were 22 liters or more, all of which could carry more equipment and support a longer day hike. The Gregory Juno 24 H2O (as well as the accompanying men’s Citro 24 H2O) was one of the most comfortable and easy to use among this group. But what really put this design over the edge as the best value is that, while other comparable daypacks are around the same price, Gregory’s H2O series comes with a hydration reservoir (a $45 value), a rain cover, and other features that make it more desirable.
I tested the Gregory Juno 24 H2O daypack alongside 16 other daypacks and found it to be comfortable, supportive and ready for big adventures. And the fact that Gregory includes additional must-have accessories is icing on the cake. Read on to find out what makes the Juno daypack (and the Citro) such a great value when I tested the design against the competition.
Gregory 24 H2O Daypack Series
Capacity: 24 liters | Weight: 2 pounds | Sizes: One size | Number of external pockets: 5 | Hydration reservoir compatible: Yes, Included | Warranty: Lifetime
- Hikers looking for a daypack that’s trail-ready right out of the box
- Hikers who will do longer day hikes (8+ miles) and need capacity, support and hydration
- You already have a hydration reservoir
- You need a customized torso length
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Gregory Juno 24 H2O Features
The Gregory Juno 24 H20 (and the accompanying men’s Citro 24 H20) is the perfect mid-capacity daypack: It can hold 24 liters’ worth of supplies, mostly in its large, single internal compartment. That compartment is also thoughtfully designed, with a durable zipper that goes all the way down one side so you can get to the gear at the bottom without having to root around or pull top layers out. (And with 24 liters’ worth of stuff, this is more helpful than you might think.)
Then, this daypack has a ton of external storage. The top of the pack has a padded, zippered pocket that’s ideal for fragile accessories like sunglasses or camera lenses and a medium-sized mesh pocket that clips shut, which is great for sunscreen, trail maps, dog bowls or anything else you need to secure but keep handy. It also has two mesh pockets, one on either side, that can hold a skinny water bottle if you don’t feel like filling up the hydration reservoir on shorter hikes.
This pack even has two zippered pockets on its hip belt that are big enough to hold an iPhone. On the many, many hikes I’ve taken over the years, hip belt pockets are one of the best features of a well-made daypack, as they allow you to store a phone, chapstick and doggie waste bags for quick access without having to take your pack off.
The design also features cinching straps to hold your hiking poles when you don’t need them.
Fit And Comfort
Gregory has been making hiking backpacks for decades, so it’s no surprise the frames of the Citro 24 H2O and the Juno 24 H2O are very wisely constructed: The shoulders of the June 24 H2O were very comfortable, with great padding and a female-specific curvature that you don’t see on unisex packs. The chest strap uses a magnetic buckle that takes a minute to get used to, but this design is being used more and more on outdoor gear, so I feel like it’ll become commonplace and intuitive after a few hikes.
The hip belt is contoured, with decent padding, and when I hiked with the bag fully loaded, the belt sat very comfortably on my wide hips. Overall, the shoulder straps, chest strap and hip belt kept the heavy load comfortable hiking uphill and downhill, and I didn’t feel any pressure points.
Our male tester reported that he found Gregory’s proprietary ventilated suspension provided great airflow across his back and held less sweat during hot hikes.
That being said, this daypack is one size: The women’s model is structured to fit a torso of 14 to 19 inches, and the men’s Citro is sized for a torso length of 16 to 21 inches. I am 5 feet, 4 inches with a 17-inch torso, and my male tester is 5 feet, 11 inches with a 19-inch torso. So we are both within the range this bag was made for. If you have a shorter or longer torso than that, you should look for a daypack that comes in a different size or is adjustable (I recommend the men’s Osprey Talon 22 and women’s Osprey Tempest 20).
“Staying hydrated is crucial while hiking and a good hiking pack will provide features to make water easily accessible,” says Wesley Trimble.
A lot of novice hikers bring along a water bottle for shorter hikes, but the longer the trail, the more water you need. For hikes of 2 hours or more, it’s far easier to use a hydration reservoir, which allows you to carry several liters of water and sip frequently out of the connected hose.
The Gregory Citro and Juno are a pretty standard price for other daypacks with similar capacity and features, but what sets these two above the rest is that, for the same price, each comes with a 3-liter hydration reservoir. Not only is that a $45 value, but it’s one of the best water reservoirs I’ve used.
Gregory’s 3D Hydro Reservoir is designed to minimize the frustrations that come with a lot of other water bladders. It has a handle on the front, making it easier than most to fill up in the sink, and it uses a SpeedClip attachment system so you can clip it into the pack and it’ll actually stay upright as the water gets low. The bite valve has an on/off lever so you’re never leaking, and its magnetic lock attaches to the chest strap when you’re not sipping from it. And after your hike, the reservoir’s structured design helps it dry out faster, which can be one of the most annoying aspects of other models.
If you’re looking for the full setup for serious day hikes right out of the box, the Gregory 24 H20 Daypack series is big enough to hold 24 liters of gear and supplies, wears incredibly comfortably after multiple hours, and comes with a rain cover and 3-liter hydration reservoir (roughly a combined $65 value).
How The Gregory Juno 24 H2O Compared To Other Daypacks
Our best daypack overall, the Osprey Daylite, is a great daypack for most people hiking anywhere from 1 to 8 miles. But if you’re heading out on a longer or harder hike, you’ll need more supplies—and a bigger, more supportive pack to carry them in.
The Gregory Juno 24 H2O is better suited for day hikes longer than 8 miles, or day hikes where you want to carry more than the bare minimum. This bag has 24 liters of storage space and multiple pockets to stuff, with a proprietary suspension system, more padded shoulder straps and a beefier hip belt to support the load.
As an outdoor gear writer residing in the Rocky Mountains near Aspen, Colorado, I possess a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to testing adventure gear. My passion for hiking has been a constant throughout my life, whether I was living in an urban area and seeking refuge in the mountains on the weekends, or touring the country in a van and exploring every corner of the United States on foot. This has allowed me to become intimately familiar with the varied terrains, climates and difficulty levels of hiking trails across the country, and I understand that hikers typically desire a single, versatile bag that can accompany them on any adventure they choose to embark upon.
Over the last five years as a gear tester, I’ve tried more than a dozen different hiking daypacks. For this article, I focused on 17 leading options that work well for 1- to 15-mile day hikes from a variety of different brands. I also interviewed several experts, including sports chiropractor Matt Tanneberg, DC, CSCS, owner of Body Check Chiropractic & Sports Rehabilitation in Scottsdale, Arizona, and communications and creative director for the American Hiking Society Wesley Trimble, who has hiked more than 10,000 miles of trail.
How I Tested The Gregory Juno 24 H2O
To better understand the differences between each of the 17 contenders I tested, I put each pack through a series of tests and evaluated them based on the following criteria:
During the evaluation process, I took into account the comfort level of each daypack when fully loaded and how that sense of comfort changed while traversing uphill, downhill and flat terrain. Furthermore, I assessed how the bags felt not only initially but also after prolonged use over the course of an hour or more. To ensure my assessment was comprehensive and applicable to individuals of varying body types, I enlisted the help of four testers with different genders, heights and physiques to gauge the level of comfort each daypack provided across different frames. In conducting these tests, I adhered to the guidelines recommended by experts regarding the proper fit of daypacks, which aim to distribute weight evenly and minimize the risk of overuse injuries.
Ease Of Use
I assessed how easy it was to pack each daypack, paying close attention to those with drawstring tops. I also gauged whether each bag had sufficient capacity to hold the necessary supplies and gear required for a typical day hike. Then, I tested the accessibility of items inside the bag during a typical hike. This involved evaluating how easy it was to retrieve something from the bag while it was worn on just one shoulder (as it's not always convenient to remove it completely) and when the item was located at the bottom of the bag.
Ease Of Hydration
According to Trimble, hikers are more inclined to stay properly hydrated when water is readily available. Although it may seem like a minor detail, having to remove and open your backpack every time you need a drink can be a hassle, leading to decreased water consumption. Therefore, the top-performing daypacks should include an external pocket designed to hold a water bottle for effortless access, as well as an internal sleeve and hole designated for a hydration reservoir and hose.
Convenience Of Features
It's surprising just how crucial pocket placement can be when it comes to minimizing frustrations on a day hike. I evaluated the usefulness and size of both the mesh and zippered pockets on each daypack, taking note of whether they were adequate or left me looking for more storage options.
You don't want a daypack that only lasts one season—you want one that will go the distance for many seasons to come. To ensure durability, I subjected each bag to some tough love, putting the outer materials and hardware (like zippers, drawstrings, and buckles) through the wringer. I tossed the bags around in the dirt, scraped them against rocks and exposed them to the elements, all in the name of testing their ability to withstand repeated abuse.
When you're on a long hike, a daypack's ability to allow for proper airflow to your back can make all the difference. That's why I paid close attention to how well-ventilated each design was, as well as how effectively it kept my back cool on tough hikes under the blazing sun.
Your daypack should be, at the very least, water-resistant, but ideally it will be waterproof. With each bag, I stuffed it with a cotton sheet, zipped it up tight, and ran each under the shower head to see how much water came through.
When selecting the winners, I also considered the pack’s weight—the heavier it is empty, the heavier it’s going to be once fully loaded. Additionally, I considered the aesthetics of the backpack because, in this day and age, that’s going to be a deciding factor in any purchase, even for the outdoors.
What Is The Best Size For A Daypack?
The best size for a daypack depends on how far you’re hiking and what you want to bring along. Trimble advises that 20 to 30 liters is a good size for most people who want one bag for a variety of hike lengths.
If you usually hike less than 10 miles or don’t need to pack a lot of layers, you can get away with a smaller daypack, like the Osprey Daylite, which is just 13 liters. On the flip side, if you have kids or want to carry photography equipment, you may want something larger.
Just keep in mind that many people who buy a bigger pack often overpack, which means you’re hauling unnecessary weight on your hike, says Trimble.
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