HomeTactical & SurvivalPatagonia Refugio Daypack 30L Review: The Perfect Pack for Outdoorsy Professionals

Patagonia Refugio Daypack 30L Review: The Perfect Pack for Outdoorsy Professionals

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Picture this: Your coworker invites you out for a scenic hike, but all you bring to the office is your briefcase, which can hardly fit a rain shell, let alone a Nalgene or hiking shoes. This is where the Patagonia Refugio 30L Daypack comes into play.

Both a laptop backpack and hiking daypack, this bag combines the functionality of a typical work bag with the aesthetics and textiles of an outdoor one. Folks who operate in more casual office settings will love this ultra-versatile backpack. 

Unlike most outdoor daypacks, the Patagonia Refugio comes with an included laptop sleeve/desk caddy for on-the-go professionals or students. It also looks like a hiking bag but can adapt well to educational environments or more laid-back office settings, even with its multiple colorways of bright earth tones. 

When you want to transition from the office to the trail, simply swap the laptop sleeve for a hydration bladder, and you’re ready for whatever multi-mile trek you’re adventuring out on. The exterior bungees are great for clipping on extra gear or cinching down your rain jacket for easy access on the go. When the weather gets gnarly, the Refugio has a durable water-repellent finish that keeps the water from encroaching on your gear inside. 

From trips to the gym and laps up and down the skin track, I tested the Refugio in a variety of settings, and it adapted well to each one. This backpack has all the bells and whistles without sacrificing style or space. 

In short: The Patagonia Refugio 30L Daypack is the jack-of-all-trades for combining a laptop backpack’s functionality with a hiking pack’s usefulness. At 30L, users can fit all their daily necessities, such as notebooks, a computer, climbing shoes, snacks, and more. This streamlined design has a removable padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, perfect for easy transitions from the office to the trail. At $129, this casual, outdoorsy backpack is ideal for users who want to combine work and play.

  • Dimensions
    19 x 12 x 6.5 in.
  • Weight
    1 lb., 12 oz.
  • Capacity
  • Laptop compartment size
    15 in.
  • Best use

  • Generous storage space

  • Removable laptop sleeve/desk caddy compartment

  • Hydration hanger and pass-through access

  • Lacks structure

  • May not be a professional enough aesthetic for the office

Patagonia Refugio 30L Daypack: Review

A Versatile Companion

If you reside in a dorm room or a small studio apartment in a mountain town, making space for multiple backpacks in your living situation can be hard. This is also true when you don’t want to break the bank by spending hundreds of dollars on those packs when you could just get two for the price of one. This is where the Patagonia Refugio 30L comes in handy.

A true multitasker, the Refugio lends itself to any environment thanks to its durability, storage space, and customizable elements. When you’re packing up for work or school in the morning, simply use the desk caddy to store your 15-inch laptop or tablet, pens, notes, chargers, and other small accessories.

This sleeve easily slides in and out of the pack’s back panel, keeping all your little items well-organized and protected in its multiple mesh pockets. Gone are the days of digging around your pack trying to find that pesky USB-C cable when it can easily sit in a see-through pocket next to your other gizmos and gadgets.

Once work is over, it’s time to play. Whether you’re heading to the resort or hitting single track, the Refugio can transform into the perfect outdoor pack. Simply remove the desk caddy, swap it for a hydration bladder thanks to the pass-through access, and then get movin’ and groovin’. Because of how breathable and comfortable the straps on this pack were, I used it to skin the resort and take my pup out for day hikes.

Even if you don’t use the Refugio for more recreational activities, this laptop backpack would be ideal for longer commutes via foot or bicycle to class or work since it is so moisture-wicking and breathable when on. There’s even a bike light clip at the base of the cap so you can cycle safely home after the sun goes down. 

The versatility of this pack is probably my favorite feature — I love being able to transition easily from my workplace to the trailhead without needing to swap backpacks or repack all of my stuff. I’m more excited because I know my laptop is safely stored instead of just sitting around loose.

Exterior Elements

In terms of appearance, the Patagonia Refugio certainly looks more like a hiking pack than a professional laptop backpack. It is best suited for a more laid-back work environment, such as a casual office, retail setting, or college classroom.

If your office has a strict dress code, you may want to pass on this laptop backpack since it has an outdoor aesthetic thanks to the polyester outer, bungee cords, and less structural design. 

In terms of materials, the Refugio is designed with 100% polyester fabrics that have durable water repellent (DWR). This backpack is water-repellant during light rain but cannot withstand a downpour, so folks in wetter climates should err on the side of caution.

However, I did find that it held up quite durably during its months of use, even after scraping against tree branches and boulders during my multiple excursions. The exterior bungees tend to get snagged on sticks and such, so exercise some caution when walking through more dense areas.

For folks wanting plenty of color options, the Refugio is a good fit as it is available in five options ranging from black and brown to some different blue and green tones. If you aren’t amped on the 30L look, check out the 26L version, which loses the bungees and has over six festive color options. Either way, you get the included desk caddy sleeve to store your computer safely. 

Capacity and Organization

Speaking of computer storage, let’s chat about the internal space on this puppy. The backpack can hold 30 L and fit a laptop, chargers, layers, a few books, headphones, and much more. This capacity makes it great for quick domestic trips as it is carry-on compliant or when you must pack all your notebooks for class.

There are two main compartments — one for where the desk caddy sleeve can easily slide in, and a larger open compartment directly in front of that. The open spaces are conducive to luggage cubes and other modular packing systems. 

However, this backpack lacks pockets, with only one exterior zippered pocket and side pockets for water bottles or an umbrella. While the desk caddy has one zippered pocket and two non-zippered pockets, I wish there was a bit more inner organization on the Refugio itself, like an inner microfiber pocket for small items like cards, keys, and sunglasses. 

The removable desk caddy sleeve is great for storing your laptop — as long as it is 15 inches or smaller — and I appreciated how simple it made getting all of my tech packed up, especially as a graphic designer. I tend to be on the go often, since I work for a newspaper, so the padded case definitely made unpacking and packing effortless. Plus, the sleeve made for the perfect lap desk and kept the heat of my computer off my legs. 

You can optimize the Refugio’s storage space using the bungee cords attached to the front of the pack. These were great for clipping extra gear like dog leashes and storing layers like down jackets, making even more room in the inner compartments to store items. Folks who don’t quite need the extra storage space of the Refugio 30L can opt for the 26L version, as it is a bit slimmer but has a larger exterior pocket instead of the shock cords.

Comfort and Support

Known for ultra-soft fleeces, reliable jackets, and breathable shorts, Patagonia has also designed a plethora of backpacks that are equally iconic and comfortable to wear. Specifically with the Refugio 30L, Patagonia used soft, nonabrasive polyester fabric that doesn’t irritate the wearer’s skin.

The straps and back panel are highly breathable with ventilated mesh that quickly wicks away moisture. Even after skinning for multiple miles on a warmer winter day, my torso stayed cool despite the sweat I was working up.

The harness system on the Refugio is pretty classic for a daypack. The straps are easily adjustable when the pack is on and have simple mechanisms for tightening and loosening. If you feel like you need a little extra support, simply buckle the sternum strap across your chest.

When using this pack while recreating, I did wish there was a hip buckle for more stability. However, the sternum strap supported my upper body well for daily commutes to the office and coffee shop. 

I appreciated the comfort of this daypack, which is less structured than most laptop backpacks. You can also easily store it away when not in use. Due to its flexibility, this pack can be rolled up and put in a trunk, cubby, or shelf. Even though the material is super soft, I found that it held up just fine during my multiple months of testing with no signs of wear or tear. 

Laptop Protection

The Refugio impressed me ultimately with its ability to protect a tablet or laptop. The pack has thick padding at its bottom, absorbing any shock if dropped. The back panel also has padded lining, which, in conjunction with the cushioned laptop sleeve, really adds to this backpack’s overall ability to keep your computer safe in the event of a tumble. 

As I mentioned before, the Refugio is made with moisture-repellent polyester with a DWR finish. This is great for wicking away sweat and protecting your valuables during a light rain; however, I wouldn’t wear this backpack in heavy showers or storms.

I tested this pack’s water resistance by placing it under a running sink. The water beaded off seamlessly without any staining or evident seeping. However, the bottom of the pack did not boast the same water-repellant abilities, and the water stained the area. Upon reaching my hand in, I also felt some moisture in the bottom of the pack. 

Overall, the Refugio’s laptop protection factor is palpable, as it has thick padding, a cushioned computer sleeve, and some water resistance. In the event of an undesirable drop or coffee spill, your gear should be just fine as long as you quickly respond. Just keep in mind that it is not waterproof or completely invincible to bigger impacts.  

Patagonia Refugio Daypack 30L: Conclusion

Overall, I found the Refugio 30L from good ole Patagucci, as the kids call it, to be pretty impressive for a hiking/office hybrid backpack. I think this backpack would be ideal for a student at an outdoorsy school, as it has a strong support system and plenty of storage space for tech, books, and binders.

Once you’re out of class, it performs even better on the trail thanks to its breathable textiles and ability to store maximum hydration. Seriously, the bottle pockets are huge — I could even fit my cumbersome tripod in one of them. 

Folks who are looking for a laptop backpack for a large office or need a surplus of organization elements may want to pass on the Refugio, as it has a casual style and only one exterior zippered pocket. The efficiently organized desk caddy is highly useful and can be combined with a minimalistic briefcase or backpack.

My only real issues with this backpack were its lack of a waist strap and questionable water repellency, especially at the base of the pack. Even a small, detachable hip buckle would be the cherry on top for this hiking backpack. If it were raining or snowing heavily, I would opt to swap this backpack out for something more waterproof, especially if my invaluable laptop is in there. 

At $129, I think the Refugio is a steal of a deal, since you basically get two backpacks for the price of one. From long travel days through airports to biking commutes to the office, this backpack was a top performer for me.

It’s comfortable, supportive, and highly versatile thanks to the customizable elements and storage options. Whether you’re a student, photographer, outdoorsy professional, or even just a passionate hiker, I highly recommend the Patagonia Refugio 30L. 

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