Whether you want a bag for travel, hiking or daypack for your commute, 30-litre backpacks are ubiquitous. They cover almost every niche and are widely available. But with so many on the market, knowing exactly which to buy can be challenging.
We can’t tell you exactly which will be best for you but we can give you a list of the best 30-litre backpacks on the market, so you can pick from the crème de la crème!
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- Huge main compartment makes it easy to pack
- Compression wings to streamline your gear
- Plenty of smaller organisational pockets
- The men's model is the Osprey Talon
- Great suspension system
- Crammed with features for hiking
- Super comfortable
- Expandable from 27-33 litres
- Works within the Peak Design ecosystem
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The Best 30-Litre Backpacks
Osprey Porter 30
- Price Range: $$$
- Best Feature: Plenty of usable space
- Feature To Improve: Can be a hassle to get items out of in a hurry
- Big Main Compartment – The Osprey Porter 30 features a massive internal compartment. It’s a rectangular open space, so you can easily throw your stuff inside. It works perfectly with packing cubes, allowing you to maximise the space. There are no small corners or hidey holes which can make packing a chore.
- Compression – On the exterior of Osprey’s Porter 30, you’ll notice the padded StraightJacket compression system. These padded wings wrap around your pack, protecting your belongings from knocks and compressing the bag if it’s not full. This makes it more streamlined and easier to carry. The downside of this compression system is that when it’s all strapped into place, it’s a chore to get stuff out in a hurry!
- Organisation – Although the main compartment is a big open space, there are still plenty of spots to store smaller gear. There’s a padded laptop sleeve, easy access top pocket and front organiser pocket which has spots for everything from pens to your phone, wallet and snacks!
- Stowaway Straps – All the straps on the Porter 30 can be stowed away. This makes the bag easy to store when not in use, stops it getting tangled when using overhead lockers on planes and, if you need to check it for whatever reason, protects your bag from baggage handlers!
- Great compression system
- Huge main compartment
- Stowing the straps is tough when the bag is full
- You need packing cubes to organise the main compartment
Osprey Tempest 30
- Price Range: $$$
- Best Feature: Lightweight hiking pack with loads of features
- Feature To Improve: Too tall for carry-on
- Tempest vs Talon – The Osprey Tempest is a 30-litre hiking backpack for women. The men’s version is the Osprey Talon 33, which is a little larger and features a different back panel and strap design to fit the male body better.
- Hiking Pack – Built for adventuring, the Tempest 30 features a comfortable Airscape back panel, padded shoulder straps and an excellent hip belt. The bag hugs your body to ensure your centre of gravity is kept close to your core, allowing you to tackle tricky terrain without the bag dragging you down. It only weighs 1.1kg too, so is an excellent choice for those needing a lightweight storage solution when heading into the wilderness.
- Other Features – The Tempest 30 offers plenty of features to make your adventures go a little smoother. The stretchy front pocket is perfect for warm or waterproof clothing that you may need in a hurry or for snacks you can’t fit into the main compartment. The shoulder straps have a stretchy pocket for your phone or GPS, as well as trekking pole attachment points. There are also ice axe loops on the bag for when you need some serious kit and a water bladder sleeve for those who like hiking with a hydration system.
- Storage – The Tempest 30 follows in the footsteps of other hiking bags. It’s top loading, featuring a large main compartment with plenty of space for your gear – however, unless you’re an experienced ultra lighter, you’ll struggle to get all your gear for an overnight camping trip in the bag.
- Male and female models available
- Excellent suspension system
- Packed full of features
- Not much room for cold-weather gear
- Top loading only
- Water bottle pockets aren't the most accessible
Peak Design Travel Backpack 30
- Price Range: $$$$
- Best Feature: Excellent shoulder straps
- Feature To Improve: Hip belt not included as standard
- Expandable – As standard, the Peak Design 30-Litre Travel Backpack is actually 27 litres. It can easily be expanded up to 33 litres and is carry-on compatible in both sizes. This offers more usability as you can cinch the bag down when you don’t need all the space, making it more streamlined and less obtrusive.
- Comfort – The Travel Backpack 30 features axial-mounted shoulder straps. This means the shoulder straps aren’t sewn in place at the top like most backpacks. Instead, they can pivot and rotate, offering a more customised fit for a huge range of body types! The straps themselves are padded and are easy to stow when not in use. Sadly, the bag doesn’t include a hip belt as standard. It must be purchased separately if required.
- Pockets – Peak Design’s Travel Backpack 30 has a massive internal compartment that works seamlessly with Peak Design packing cubes and pouches. It opens from the back panel which also contains the padded laptop and tablet sleeve. On the exterior, the bag features a quick-access top pocket with a range of smaller compartments for all your gear.
- Stylish – The Peak Design Travel Backpack is sleek and understated. It’s made from 100% recycled weatherproof nylon, so your gear is safe from the odd shower. You’ll want to add the rainfly to your order if you’re venturing out into poor weather conditions though.
- Loads of organisational options
- Super comfy
- Hip belt must be purchased separately
Cotopaxi Allpa 28L
- Price Range: $$$
- Best Feature: Plenty of organisational options
- Feature To Improve: No external water bottle pocket
- 28 Litres – Okay, so the Cotopaxi Allpa isn’t bang on 30 litres but it’s close enough. This 28-litre pack is the same as Cotopaxi’s popular Allpa 42 and Allpa 35 but in miniature. It’s an ideal weekend travel bag for most backpackers but super minimalist travellers may be able to get longer trips out of it.
- Opens Like A Suitcase – The Allpa 28 opens flat and features three compartments separated by mesh dividers. There’s also a side entry padded laptop sleeve which can house a 13-inch machine with ease, plus a separate sleeve for your tablet.
- Slim – The 28-litre Allpa is the same height as the other models but is much slimmer. This makes it comfortable to wear, easy to manoeuvre and makes it easier to blend in with the crowd when wearing the bag.
- Materials – The standard version of Cotopaxi’s Allpa 28 is made from TPU-coated polyester with Ballistic Nylon panelling. This offers a good level of water resistance so keeps your gear safe from the odd shower. The Del Dia model, made from repurposed fabrics, doesn’t feature the TPU coating, so is less water resistant. However, both versions come with a rain cover as standard.
- No external bottle pocket
- Hip belt isn't removable
- Can be challenging to get bulky items in
Tortuga Travel Backpack
- Price Range: $$$$$
- Best Feature: Super comfortable
- Feature To Improve: It's a heavy bag
- Built For Travel – Tortuga are a well-known and respected backpack brand. Their bags are built by travellers, for travellers and the 30-litre Travel Backpack is no exception. It fits well within international carry-on limits and can store everything you need for a short escape. Light-packing travellers will be able to travel with this bag for extended periods.
- Suitcase Style Opening – The 30-litre Travel Backpack fully opens like a suitcase. The two internal compartments are big enough for your essentials and the external access pockets offer plenty of space for items you may need in a hurry – think passports, money, sunglasses etc. There’s even room for your eReader and other large items in the deep front pocket.
- Laptop Sleeve – At the back of the bag, the padded, fleece-lined laptop sleeve offers enough space for a 16-inch machine as well as a tablet up to 12.9 inches.
- Comfortable – Tortuga bags have always been comfortable. The Travel Backpack features thick, padded shoulder straps, an adjustable sternum strap, a well-padded and breathable back panel as well as a removable hip belt. The hip belt has two large pockets which are ideal for storing everything from snacks to headphones and money!
- Excellent organisation
- Easy to pack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Pack
- Price Range: $$$
- Best Feature: Ultralight
- Feature To Improve: Very limited padding
- Ultralight – Clocking in between 370-450g, depending on the colour you opt for, the Summit Pack from Hyperlite Mountain Gear is one of the lightest 30-litre backpacks you’ll find. It’s built for ultralight hikers, climbers and anyone wanting to experience the outdoors with a minimalist setup.
- Simplicity – There’s very little in the way of pockets or compartments in the Summit Pack. The roll top opens into a large space where you can stuff your gear. If the bag isn’t full, the roll top and vertical compression straps can be used to compress it down. On the exterior, the bag features a few attachment points and some shock cord lacing, so you can quickly access things like a jumper or waterproofs.
- DCH – The Summit Pack is made from a Dyneema Composite Hybrid material. This makes for a super lightweight, abrasion-resistant, strong and waterproof backpack. However, the bag isn’t fully waterproof due to the stitching process but the seams have been taped to help protect your gear. We recommend using a pack liner inside the bag if you’re going to be in bad conditions. The downside of this technical fabric is its price – as with all exotic materials, the cost of producing DCH is high!
- Packable – Although not a real packable backpack, the Summit Pack can be folded down super small when not in use. This combined with its lightweight construction means it’s easy to store inside another backpack on longer adventures.
- Packs down really small when not in use
- Very limited organisation
- Little to no support
Gregory Miko/Maya 30
- Price Range: $$$
- Best Feature: Fully adjustable for maximum comfort
- Feature To Improve: A stretchy front pocket would be better than the bungee cord
- Male and Female Models – Gregory’s 30-litre hiking backpack comes in different models for men and women. The Miko 30 is built for men while the Maya 30 is for women. Each differs in the shape and cut of the straps and suspension system.
- Hiking – The Miko and Maya packs are built for hikers. The shoulder straps are well-padded and breathable. The back panel features channels to promote airflow and the chunky hip belt has big pockets, so you can store everything you need to grab while on the move.
- Pockets – As well as the main top-loading compartment, which can hold the bulk of your gear, the Miko and Maya 30-litre packs have a free-floating lid with a nice size pocket for items you use frequently. There’s also a large front pocket which is accessed via a zip.
- Suspension System – Gregory’s BioSync suspension system moves with your body to ensure the bag doesn’t weigh you down on the trail. It allows you to move freely and prevents the bag feeling unwieldy even when full. It’s also fully adjustable, so you can get a customised fit, no matter your torso length!
- Male and female-specific models
- Excellent suspension system
- Top loading only
- Hard to find in real stores
Boundary Supply Prima System
- Price Range: $$$$$$
- Best Feature: Durability
- Feature To Improve: The shoulder straps are very stiff
- Materials – Boundary Supply’s Prima System is available in two different materials. The standard version is a ballistic nylon type material which is super tough and weather resistant. For around 15% more money, you can get the X-pac model. It’s lighter and waterproof, although the extra cost is off-putting for what is already a very expensive backpack.
- An Entire System – The Prima System is more than just a backpack. The bag comes with a removable laptop sleeve, which attaches inside the bag’s laptop storage space using a magnetic fidlock buckle. This prevents it from touching the bottom of the bag, protecting your computer from drops and falls. The Prima System also includes the Verge camera case. This is expandable and can hold most cameras. It can be attached to the inside of the bag, so you can access your camera through the side opening, rather than via the main entry point. This Verge case can also be attached to the outside of the bag for more storage space.
- Opening – The Prima System Backpack is a top-loading bag with a difference. Running down the front of the bag is a large zip. This allows you to open the bag butterfly-style, making it easier to pack and unpack your gear.
- Weight – The biggest downside of the Prima System is the weight. Clocking in at 1.8kg, this is a heavy bag. The advantage of this is the super durable construction which means the bag can last decades if looked after!
- Plenty of organisational possibilities
- Easy to pack
- Can be bulky with accessories strapped to the outside
How to Choose the Best 30-Litre Bag
The most important thing to consider when choosing the best 30-litre backpack for you is the use case.
A 30-litre hiking backpack has different features to a 30-litre travel bag. While most 30-litre packs are adequate for different use cases, the best options are specifically designed for your needs.
Size and Adjustability
Not all backpacks are created equal when it comes to fit and size. Some are available in multiple size options, so you’ll need to measure your torso and ensure you pick the right size when buying your pack.
Other bags are fully adjustable, so the torso length can be customised to fit you exactly!
Finally, some bags claim to be one size fits all, with very little adjustability. While these are rare, they do exist, especially if you’re on a tighter budget.
Honestly, unless you get a chance to try these packs on in person, they should be avoided. Chances are they won’t fit you very well and won’t be comfortable to wear for long periods.
What to Look for in a 30-Litre Pack
Frames aren’t always necessary in a 30-litre backpack. 30 litres is small enough that if a bag is made well, you don’t need a frame to distribute the weight as you would in a bigger bag.
However, this also depends on the use case.
If you’re looking for a 30-litre backpack for hiking, a frame is a welcome addition as it helps keep the centre of gravity close to your body and allows you to move more freely. But, if you’re an ultra lighter and not carrying much gear, you’ll get away without a frame even for a hiking bag!
Backpacks built for carrying camera equipment or other heavy gear should be framed though. As a general rule, the bulkier your gear, the more likely you are to want a frame.
No matter the size of your backpack, having a good suspension system adds to the overall comfort level. A nice back panel, decent straps and a comfortable hip belt all make for a better carry experience.
This comes down to personal preference. Do you want your backpack to be full of pockets, compartments and organisational options for all your gear, or do you prefer a bag with a huge main compartment and very few smaller pockets?
No matter your preferred packing and organisational options, you’ll find a 30-litre backpack to fit the bill!
While not essential for some users, external bottle pockets are super useful in a backpack. Not only do they deliver a simple storage solution for your hydration needs but they can also double up to carry other items like camera tripods or trekking poles.
Bottle pockets should be accessible while you’re still wearing the bag. It gets very irritating, very quickly if you need to take off your bag every time you want a drink!
30-Litre Backpacks – A Round-Up
There are hundreds of excellent 30-litre backpacks available but the ones on our list are the best of the best.
For hiking, we recommend the Osprey Tempest and Talon packs but the Gregory Miko and Maya bags offer an excellent alternative. Both brands, Osprey and Gregory, make excellent hiking daypacks, and Osprey have a great range of travel backpacks too! However, if you want a lighter hiking pack with fewer features, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Backpack is a good choice.
For carrying camera gear, or other valuable equipment, we recommend the Peak Design Travel Bag and the Boundary Supply Prima System. Both are built to keep your stuff safe!
As for travel, you can’t go wrong with the Osprey Porter 30, Tortuga 30-Litre Travel Backpack or Cotopaxi Allpa 28. All three fit easily into airline carry-on limits and offer a huge amount of usable space for their size!
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