Daypacks are not hard to find in Australia. Their uses – everything from school bags to alpine summit packs – are as varied as is their quality.

The more serious end of the spectrum is what interests me as a bushwalker. And here factors such as weight, strength, comfort, waterproofness, and durability are as important to me as price. Any new entry will need to stand out in as many of these areas as possible.

US company Montem, with its Diadema 18L Hiking Daypack, has chosen to enter this crowded field. Its offering is a lightweight, practical, and moderately priced model that addresses most of the crucial issues. But for me, there’s an elephant in the room.

Design, Comfort & Durability (Rating: 70%)

Montem’s Diadema 18 litre daypack is simple and clean; essentially an elongated tube with a drawstring closure. As well as shoulder straps, it has sternum and waist straps. There’s also an internal hydration sleeve, a small, zippered external pocket, and a top carry loop.

While the name might imply the pack is made of Dyneema (a very lightweight, expensive fibre, also called Cuben fibre), the pack is actually made of a simple, strong rip-stop nylon. Any confusion aside, the fabric appears both strong and waterproof. The stitching on potential strain points looks strong and tight, and the whole package feels robust for its weight. I inadvertently tested the pack’s strength when two of my grandchildren used it as an impromptu toboggan on a patch of snow in Tasmania. It proved both durable and waterproof.

The mesh shoulder straps are quite comfortable in use and distribute load weight adequately. The height-adjustable sternum strap is a nice touch. Not so the asymmetrical clip on the waist strap, which only clicks together when it’s facing exactly the right way.

Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 70%)

At 268g the pack is reasonably light. It’s also simple to use, having one sizeable compartment which will easily hold the essentials for a day in the bush, a walk to the summit, or a trip to town. The hydration sleeve sits against your back, inside the main compartment, and will easily hold the average 2-litre water bladder. A small hole is provided near the top of the pack for the drinking hose, and there’s a simple nylon and velcro strap to keep the hose in place. The small, zippered external pocket is sufficient to hold items like a wallet/purse, snacks, phone, GPS and map.

The pack is secured via a drawstring top closure. To me, this is the most puzzling and problematic feature of the pack. While it is simple to use, it can’t be folded over so it won’t allow you to properly keep water from seeping in when it rains. In a pack that’s advertised as waterproof, this is an obvious issue, and surely the daypack’s weak spot. Given that Montem also makes technical drybags, with fold-over clip closures, this drawstring approach is doubly puzzling. I can only suppose that they’ve gone for the lightest weight closure possible. However, if I used this pack during a downpour, I would first put sensitive items inside a drybag. This would add weight and negate the advantage of the lighter weight closure.

Review: Montem Diadema 18L Hiking Daypack

What I Like

  • Simple, light daypack that’s well made and durable.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Compacts down easily and won’t take up much room in your multi-day pack or travel bags.
  • The hydration sleeve is simple and practical.

What I Don’t Like

  • The drawstring top closure won’t keep water out of the pack during persistent rain, making the “waterproof” claim for the pack dubious.
  • The clip on the waist strap is annoying and unnecessarily tricky to close.

Get One

The Diadema 18 Litre Hiking Daypack is available directly from Montem online (they ship worldwide).

Disclaimer: Montem provided a backpack for testing. This has no influence on the opinions presented in the review.

Have you tried the Montem Diadema 18 litre hiking daypack? Got any questions or comments? Let us know by commenting below.