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Backpacks have progressed to become far more than just a fashion statement. Today, there are speciality backpacks for every purpose and in every size.
Choosing a backpack can be overwhelming yet your choice can make or break a trip so it’s worthwhile investing some time to get it right. Don’t have time? Well, lucky you came here as I’m going to break down the best 30 litre backpacks for every occasion.
What is a 30 Litre Backpack Used for?
Backpack capacity is measured in litres with most ranging from 15L up to 80L.
A 30L backpack is ideal for:
- Day hikes
Most hikers will look to about 30-35L as the best size for a day hike. It’s roomy enough to bring all the food, water and additional layers you’ll need.
When choosing a hiking backpack, key features to look out for include good ventilation, weather resistance and comfort.
- Travel to Warm Climates
A 30L backpack is small enough to keep by your side, will fit as hand luggage with most airlines across the world and is still adequate room to pack enough items for travelling to warmer destinations where extra layers are not required.
Having a front opening and good weight distribution will be essential features to look out for. Personally, I travel with a 40L backpack which allows room for my laptop and camera as well.
A 30L backpack is at the upper end size requirement for a commuter bag. It would suit commuters who carry a lot of equipment, such as a photographer, or those who carry personal items such as gym gear for after work. Having laptop protection and compartments for organisation is key inn a commuter backpack.
In this guide, I’ll break down the best 30L backpacks for each of these needs and some additional speciality packs at the end.
Best 30 Litre Backpacks for Travel
A 30L backpack is great for light travellers and suitable for warmer climates where less layers are needed. This size backpack should fit about 5-7 days’ worth of clothing along with your other essentials. Key features to look out for:
- Front Loading: Backpacks are much better for travel when they are front loading as this allows them to open like a suitcase.
- Weight Distribution: If you’re backpacking then you could end up carrying your pack for long periods of time. Having a sternum strap (chest strap), hip belt and good weight balance is key.
✓ Panel opening makes it suitable for outdoor adventure and travel
✓ Strong and durable with the industry-leading Osprey All Mighty Guarantee
✓ Main compartment has plenty of room for a 30L pack
✘ Needs more air circulation as it makes your back sweat
✘ Unisex design might not fit all body sizes
Osprey has always been a favourite backpack brand of mine and it’s no different when it comes to the 30L category.
The 30L Osprey Porter is well designed for multi-use with a panel opening that allows it to be accessed from the top and front.
The back straps can be zipped away in favour of a shoulder strap and It features a rigid laptop sleeve which can be locked separately from the main pack.
The main compartment itself is big for a 30L backpack and with rigid walls it can be packed quite full. The only thing missing is a water bottle holder.
As you’d expect from Osprey, the build quality is quite something. It’s made of strong, ripstop materials with tough zips. As the pack sits directly against your bag, this can cause you to sweat a lot in humid climates.
It’s also backed by their All Mighty Guarantee which not only guarantees replacement if there’s a problem, but also guarantees repairs to the backpack at a reasonable price over the course of its life.
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- Strong, sustainable backpack makes it great for travel.
- Available in black or blue
- Price: ££
✓ Excellent weather resistance
✓ Large lid compartment and main compartment fits everything you need for travel
✓ Uses sustainable materials
✗ No spine air channel so can get moist
The Patagonia Black hole is a sleek looking backpack that comes in wither 25L or 32L.
It’s made from recycled ripstop polyester so it’s strong and durable whilst also being sustainably sourced, in fact this bag made it in to my run down of the best recycled backpacks. The fabric is protected with a DWR finish so it’s weather resistant and protected against the rain.
The bag is lightweight, and I think it looks pretty good, it has an excellent capacity but doesn’t stick out too much.
The straps are padded, and it fits comfortably but the downside has to be the circulation which is limited as there isn’t a real air channel up the back.
On the outside there are mesh water bottle holders and a gigantic lid compartment that would hold a toiletries bag, large headphones or other bulky items.
The main compartment is also huge, you could fit enough items in here to travel for a week. It is a top loading pack which might be a downside if you’re using it for travel, however the zip comes down quite far allowing plenty for access.
There’s an organisation compartment that could hold a notepad, phone and wallet. Against your back is a laptop compartment which opens right up in a panel style for easy access. The laptop compartment will hold up to 15”and is elevated to protect against drops.
- Comfortable backpack that’s ideal for travel but will double up as a hiking backpack too.
- Price: £££
✓ Excellent mesh system for weight distribution and air circulation
✓ Comes with built in rain cover
✗ Main compartment is quite thin
✗ Torso length not adjustable
Deuter is one of the leading makes of backpacks which are known for their excellent ergonomics.
The Deuter Futura 30L is no different.
This pack has excellent distribution management, so the weight sits comfortably on your hips.
The AirComfort fit sees the mesh suspension sit separately from the pack itself, in layman’s terms this means you won’t get super sweaty as it allows enough air circulation.
The main body is tall and thin, some might argue it’s a bit too thin, but this helps it feel lightweight on your back.
The main body is top loading, which is great for hiking, however this makes it less convenient to find your belongings. Packing cubes would be advised.
There is a separate bottom compartment with its own zip, and it comes with a built in rain cover.
This backpack would be great for a short city trip but also works really well as a hiking backpack if you have lots to carry.
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Best 30 Litre Backpacks for Hiking
For serious hikers, a 30L backpack is about what you’re looking for to go on a single day hike. Key things to look out for in a hiking backpack are:
- Well Ventilated: backpacks are usually ventilated with mesh on the parts that touch your body, allowing air circulation and air channels on the back panel. The best backpacks will have a suspended pack that doesn’t sit fully against your back.
- Comfort: As well as being padded, you’ll also want to ensure that the weight is comfortable to carry. Most of the weight should be supported via hip belts.
- Adjustable: You’ll want to find a backpack that has enough adjustments so that you can get the right fit to your body. Torso adjustments, shoulder straps and sternum should all be adjustable.
✓ Unique FreeFlow design with suspended pack for maximum air circulation
✓ Has all the hiking essentials including waterproof cover
Berghaus might sound like a German brand, but it’s actually a British company that’s been running from Newcastle Upon Tyne for over 50 years and has a reputation for good outdoor gear.
The Berghaus FreeFlow 30L is a lightweight and strong backpack that’s made from ripstop material so it’s very durable.
The bag has been designed for hiking in mind although it could easily dual up as a travel backpack.
The biggest benefit of this backpack is its structure. The FreeFlow system separates the pack from your back with a mesh structure so you’re getting maximum air circulation. It has an adjustable torso too for maximum comfort.
It has everything needed for hiking including easily accessible pole holders, lots of mesh pockets on the exterior, compatibility with most hydration packs and a built in waterproof cover that comes as standard.
It’s a top loading backpack with one large main compartment that will fit all of your hiking essentials in with a drawstring to keep everything secure.
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- Latest backpack from Osprey using recycled material
- Very high quality, durable and weatherproof, useful for extreme hiking trips.
- Price: ££££
✓ Made from 100% recycled materials
✓ It’s both top opening and front opening
✓ Airscape back panel for comfort and performance
✗ Heavy for a 30L backpack
Brand new for 2020 is the Osprey Archeon range and the 30L version is already deserving as a place on the list of best 30L backpacks.
The key selling point of the range is its sustainability. Osprey has always proven itself to be a leader in sustainability and now they’ve created a range made from recycled materials.
This backpack is made from recycled nylon which uses less resources to create than virgin nylon and makes use of materials that would otherwise go to landfill.
The way this backpack opens is unique; it has both a top opening like a traditional backpack and a front opening zip. This makes it a very versatile backpack that could also be great for travel.
It’s very well designed with an Osprey Airscape back panel that has foam ridges for comfort and performance. It also has an inbuilt rain cover.
For a large backpack it has quite a small profile with compression straps and an adjustable torso height however at 1.8Kg it’s pretty heavy for a 30L backpack.
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Best 30 Litre Backpacks for Work
If you are carrying a lot of items during your commute, then a 30L backpack will be just about right. It should be big enough to fit work and personal items in whilst not being to obtrusive. Here are the key things to look for:
Protection: If you’re using a backpack for work then chances are, you’ll be carrying valuables. You’ll want to ensure it has adequate security as well as padding to protect electronics. A suspended laptop compartment is best to protect it during falls.
Style: Of course, you’re going to want something that looks stylish and blends into a professional workplace.
✓ Excellent all round backpack
✓ Padded and suspended laptop sleeve against back panel
✓ FlexVent suspension system provides good breathability
The North Face Jester has been around for a while and is one of the best all round backpacks on the market.
The latest version is made with recycled polyester which is thick and durable. It’s also a good looking backpack that looks compact in comparison to other 30L’s.
It has both a large main compartment and an organisation compartment with a well-padded laptop sleeve that’s suspended for extra protection. The laptop sleeve sits against your back which makes the bag easier to pack.
It carries extremely well. Not only is it comfortable with a fit for both men and women, but it has an air channel for breathability and a sternum for weight distribution.
It uses North Face’s FlexVent suspension system with a spine air channel and mesh shoulder supports so you should be able to carry it for longer periods of time without getting to sweaty.
It has lots of little details such as reflective elements for use at night, a whistle on the sternum and bungee cords on the front.
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✓ Made from sustainable materials
✓ Looks professional
✓ Lots of compartments including a panel opening organisation compartment
✓ Padded laptop compartment
✗ No sternum strap or back ventilation
The Fjällräven Raven 28L is a solid bag that is perfect for commuting.
This backpack is strong and durable, also making use of recycled polyester which is a sustainable material made from recycled water bottles.
You’ll find it looks great and would blend in very well in a professional environment, it has lots of compartments including two external water bottle compartments, quick access pockets and an organisational compartment.
All of these sections do eat into the overall space in the main pack.
It has an excellent organisational apartment that fully opens for access to your work items. This includes a well-padded laptop compartment that can hold up to 15” laptop.
The downside to this as a commuter backpack is that it’s not waterproof and doesn’t have a waterproof cover.
The backpack has padded straps however it lacks any sternum strap or ventilation against your back so it wouldn’t be great for extended use such as hiking or travelling.
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✓ Large main compartment to fit all your needs
✓ Excellent price for the build quality
✓ Comfortable to carry for commuting or school
✗ Could do with extra pockets around the bag
Here’s another Berghaus for your backpack bucket list. The robust and durable TwnetyFourSeven 30L is a great commuter or school backpack.
It has one large compartment that is top loading although the zips come down quite far for good access.
The outside has mesh water pockets and attachments for poles should you wish to use it for hiking however it isn’t waterproof, so you’d need a cover for this.
It’s very comfortable with padded straps and a sternum that helps with stability.
It’s a great price for the quality of the laptop.
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Speciality 30L Backpacks
If you have a particular need or requirement, sometimes it’s best to find a pack that has been specifically built towards that. Here are the best budget, camera and waterproof backpacks.
✓ Great price at less than £20
✓ Fine for light usage
✓ Compact and looks good with 12 colour options
✗ Not durable or weather resistant
✗ No sternum strap
✗ No lining or padding inside
Simple no frills backpack that would suit any basic needs such as a day out with the kids but it’s not particularly durable or weatherproof so it’s best for light usage.
One front compartment and a large back compartment which is surprisingly roomy and would hold a laptop although there is no protection for it.
It has strings for holding your jacket on the outside and mesh pockets on both sides for water bottles. It has compression straps to keep the bag compact which can also be used to secure larger items into the water bottle pockets.
I like that there are plenty of colour options for design and overall, it’s not a bad looking bag, it uses 600D polyester which is a reasonable thickness for a budget backpack however there is no internal lining or padding at all.
The shoulder straps are adjustable with some mesh madding however there is no sternum strap which is a real downside. It does however have limited air channels on the back which will help circulation.
Personally, I think you’re better off spending that extra bit to get a more durable backpack, but if you’re on a strict budget then it does the job.
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Best for Camera – Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L
- Go-to backpack brand for camera equipment
- Price: £££
✓ Recycled materials (except black)
✓ Designed with photographers in mind
✓ Internal origami accessory divider
✓ Lots of smaller internal pockets
✗ Won’t hold a full 30L and still close
Photographers need look no further than the Peak Design Everyday Backpack which has recently released a V2 that’s one-upped its first iteration.
The V2 has a lot of weather resistance and uses ripstop material for great durability.
The bag has clearly been designed with photographers in mind because of these features:
- Every pocket is lockable
- Includes an origami accessory divider for separating lenses and cameras
- Tons of small pockets for batteries, memory cards, etc
The bag comes in three colourways, two of which use 100% recycled materials (the black does not).
It has a laptop slot that’s suspended from the base in case of dropping and a separate slot for a tablet too. The outside has plenty of areas for attaching accessories.
The bag has great access to all parts as it can open from the top and side. However, it doesn’t appear to hold a full 30L and still fully close.
Overall, this is a great niche bag for keeping your equipment safe although comes with a big price tag.
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Best Waterproof Backpack – Overboard Pro Sports Day Sack 30L
- Excellent for hiking in wet weather, a short camping trip or water sports.
- Price: ££
✓ Heavy duty and durable backpack
✓ IP66 Level 3 Waterproof – floats and can be submerged in water
✓ Comfy shoulder straps with madding and air circulation vents
✗ Limited padding on the inside
✗ Lack of compartments so it’s hard to organise
The Overboard Sports Pro 30L Day Sack is made from a heavy duty waterproof material with high frequency welded seams that are very durable.
On the outside are water bottle holders, a bungee cable which could store wet clothes and a small zip pouch. It also has reflective strips for cycling or hiking at night.
The inside there is one single compartment with a small zip pocket, there is limited padding inside and no laptop compartment. Because there aren’t loads of compartments, the main area is huge for a 30L backpack.
It has an airflow back panel for circulation. The straps are well padded and have excellent air vents, as well as looking cool.
Roll top with a fold and seal top that keeps the water out. They are rated IP66 level 3 so they’ll keep out dirt, dust and weather and can be quickly submerged in water. I like that they also float on top too so you shouldn’t need to worry about it during water sports.
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I hope this has been a useful guide to choosing the best 30L backpack.
Price key: £ = Under £50, ££ = £50-100, £££ = £101-£200, ££££ = £201+