There’s just something about a 30 liter backpack. It’s small enough that you can carry it on a plane. It’s big enough that you can cram in plenty of clothes, a laptop, and a couple paperbacks for a jaunt. It doesn’t look ridiculous or over the top if you want to take it to class or to the office. It’s just right for a day hike or even a super-light overnighter.

A 30 liter backpack gets a lot done.

Why You Need a 30 Liter Backpack

Raise your hand if you’ve ever stood in front of a wall of backpacks before and been like…. I need all the sizes!

It’s wonderful to imagine just how many places you can take them and everything you can carry along the way. But unless you want to spend all your paychecks on packs, you’re going to want to go with just a couple versatile options. For the average hiker, world traveler, and some-time office worker, a 30 liter backpack does the trick.

It’s generous for an occasion like a day hike, when you have plenty of room for lunch, water, first aid, a few extra layers, and some treats. It also forces you to economize for longer treks, which is great if you’re trying to find your comfort zone for longer backpacking trips or travel excursions before you drop some serious dough on a heftier pack.

If you’re looking for a 30 liter backpack that is utilitarian AND smart enough to take to the office, a concert, gallery opening, or post-work event, we really like Ethnotek’s 30 Liter Backpack. It stands out for being rugged enough for the great outdoors, practical for toting around all the digital necessities city dwellers need, and visually striking so you’ll never have to worry about spotting it on a baggage carousel. It features a slide-adjusting sternum strap to keep your heftier loads in place, even while tearing down a mountain trail. And compression snap buckles give you added storage options for attaching a yoga mat or a sleeping bag to the outside of your pack.

Even though you might not have the enormous gear closet or backpack budget of your dreams, it can feel like it with such a versatile 30 liter backpack. Sure, go ahead and buy a bigger pack for longer trips. You might be surprised by how often you still reach for your trusty 30 liter — from your daily commute to weekend hikes to bucket list trips to faraway places. Goldilocks is going places.

Meghan O'Dea

Meghan O'Dea

Meghan O'Dea is a writer and world traveler who grew up in the foothills of Appalachia. She has written for the Washington Post, Fortune Magazine, Chowhound, and Eater Magazine, amongst others. One day, she hopes to have a team of adventure cats to help her achieve world domination.