L.L. Bean Stowaway Day Pack

Disclosure: L.L. Bean donated this item for review purposes, but this review presents an honest representation of my experience using this gear.


This summer, as I began to tackle the forty-six 4,000 ft. peaks in the Adirondacks, I sported a day pack that I’d bought back in college. Sure, it was over ten years old and heavy, but it still worked. I’m a big proponent of the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But here’s the truth about that old pack: it was bulky, the insides were peeling, my back was a sweaty mess, and the left strap needed constant readjusting.

On our very first hike together this season, my Dad wore the L.L. Bean Stowaway Day Pack. It looked tiny, light, and somehow packed away gobs of gear, snacks, and three liters of water. I quickly realized I was ready for an upgrade of my own and acquired the Day Pack as soon as possible.

Circumstance of the Review

For the duration of the summer, I put my Stowaway Day Pack through the ringer. Rain. Wind. Sweat. Day hikes. Backpacking. It was thrown from slab to slab. I dragged this sucker over plenty of rock during my most embarrassing butt sliding maneuvers.  I even managed to jerry-rig poles in the side pockets for hands-free scrambling. This bag went through it all, and lived to tell the tale.

MSRP: $39.95


Capacity: 22 Liters
Packed Size: 8″ x 7″ (It packs down into its own internal stow pocket!)
Weight: 14 oz.

Superlight and extra-tough ripstop nylon fabric.
Panel-load design.
Padded foam shoulder straps and back panel for increased comfort.
Back panel with wicking Air Mesh for all day comfort.
Lots of pockets for organizing gear featuring an easily accessible front “shove it” pocket.

Standing atop Iroquois and admiring the Flowed Lands far below. This pack made made maps, my bear whistle, water, and snacks accessible at all times. What else does a hiker need?

Standing atop Iroquois and admiring the Flowed Lands far below. This pack kept my map, bear whistle, water, and snacks accessible at all times. What else does a hiker need?


The specs and construction speak for themselves, but let me underscore how much I loved this little pack. It is comparable in size and weight to similar day packs on the market (such as the Marmot Kompressor Pack or Mountain Hardwear’s Lightweight Backpack), but less expensive, which is always a plus in my book.

My hikes this summer consisted primarily of day hikes from the car or backpacking five to ten miles into an area and setting up a base camp to day hike out of for 2-3 days at a time. Yes, using the brain of my backpack was always an option, but it wasn’t one that leant itself to carrying the amount of snacks, water, and gear that allowed me to feel safe and comfortable hiking long distances. Enter the Stowaway Day Pack. When packing it into my base camps, I tucked it into itself (or contorted it into any shape I needed) and tossed it into my backpack with the rest of my gear. At a mere 14 oz., it weighed less than my NeoLite Air Mattress and took up just as little space.

This pack didn’t have bells and whistles, nor did it need any. It had just enough pockets to allow for easy organization, including the front “shove it” pocket which was perfect for keeping my map accessible or piling soggy clothes into so the rest of my gear stayed dry and stink-free. The foam padding of the shoulder straps looked and felt alarmingly thin upon initial inspection, but still managed to provide plenty of comfort, even when hiking in a tank top.

Was it waterproof? No. Nor did it claim to be. But water certainly rolled off for awhile, and anything worth keeping dry was, as always, sealed into a ziploc bag anyway.


My one gripe with this pack was that I had trouble storing my trekking poles anywhere with ease. Ultimately, I collapsed my poles and shoved them down into one of the side water bottle pockets and cinched them to the pack using the compression strap from the adjustable front pocket. This worked, but it wasn’t ideal. My dream? L.L. Bean throws some bungee cords on the front of the pack that could be used to lash poles in for hands-free movement.

My Stowaway Day Pack pack held up like a champ no matter what I dragged it on, over, or through. Nearly three straight months and hundreds of miles later, my pack didn’t have so much as a pin prick through its surface. My Dad, however, managed to puncture his pack in several places over the course of the summer. It was nothing that couldn’t be doctored with duct tape in the moment, and L.L. Bean’s incredible customer service held up their end of the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, replacing his pack at the end of the season despite the natural wear and tear he’d put it through on the trail. Incredible.

For its weight, comfort, size, and durability, this bag was already a winner in my book. With the addition of an incredible price tag, it was a no brainer. Talk about bang for your buck.

Bonus feature: it looks like it glows when the sun hits just right :)

Bonus feature: it looks like it glows when the sun hits just right 🙂

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Comments 2

  • John : Mar 19th

    I just wanted to say how much I learned from your review about the LL Bean Stowaway. In fact, I’ve read it multiple times through the years and I think your review helped convince me to buy the pack. I even come back to your review every so often when I get tempted to buy another backpack that I could travel with, say the REI Flash 18, but I keep coming back to this one, namely for that wonderful stuff sack in the front, and the more robust shoulder straps. Thank you so much for your review, and you really do have a gift for writing.

    • Kate Waite (now Kate Mootz!) : Mar 24th

      Hi John,

      I can’t tell you how much your review meant to receive! All these years later, and the L.L. Bean Stowaway is also still my chosen daypack. I finally had to retire my purple pack; the bag itself held up remarkably well over the years, but eventually the hiker stink just couldn’t be washed out 🙂 I got a blue/green combo a couple years ago that I simply adore. Though my outdoor adventures have continued over the years, I have written less and less. Thank you for your kind words regarding my writing — it just may be the kick in the pants I need to get back in the habit. Hope you and your Stowaway enjoy a summit soon!


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