After the 45L Peak Design travel backpack came our way, it left its mark as one of the most versatile travel bags we tested. It really stood out for its design features. Not just many, but unique and useful ones.

With its smaller version, the 30L Travel Backpack, you can go even lighter than you thought before. No compromise with the high-quality materials and construction. Only a few trade-ins over some features and details.

It’ll appeal to serial business travelers, photographers and even presents a compelling urban-weekender hybrid candidacy. It also does pretty well as an everyday pack.

After testing, comparing, and contrasting expectations versus reality, we landed on a few points you need to know. Read on as we deep dive into every detail of the Peak Design 30L Travel Backpack.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.8

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Prime example of good organization features
  • check-mark
    Lots of lash points for lots of attachments
  • check-mark
    Interoperable with camera cubes
  • check-mark
    Shoulder straps rotate to fit your frame
  • check-mark
    The clamshell opening
  • check-mark
    Handles and trolley loops everywhere
  • check-mark
    You can hide the shoulder straps for check on
  • check-mark
    A great padded laptop and tablet sleeve
  • check-mark
    Super organized top pocket
  • check-mark
    Expandable and retractable
  • check-mark
    Clean and solid construction that holds its shape even when empty
  • check-mark
    The minimalist look is so cool
  • check-mark
    You can lock the pull tabs on the main compartment together for additional security
  • check-mark
    You've got a lifetime warranty

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe shoulder straps don't stow as securely as they could
  • check-markThe magnetic-locked bottom pocket could be more secure
  • check-markThere's a hip belt panel at the back, but none is included

Where to buy:

Peak Design 30L

Peak Design 30L

Specs & Features

  • Materials: 400D Nylon with DWR Coating (Shell), 900D Nylon (Bottom), Glass- Reinforced and Anodized Aluminum Hardware, UltraZips with UHMWPE Thread, Hypalon Pulls
  • Standard Dimension and Capacity: 20.9” x 13” x 7”, 27 Liters
  • Expanded Dimension and Capacity: 20.9” x 13” x 7.9”, 33 Liters
  • Weight: 3.127 lbs.
  • Colors: Black, Sage, Midnight
See the complete list of the best Travel Backpacks here!

A Feature-filled Option for the Modern Minimalist

Peak Design continuously innovates product lines that prove sturdy, serviceable, and go head-on with modern trends. With their 45L Travel Backpack’s little bro, the 30L Travel Backpack, you can stay low-profile and lightweight without leaving anything behind.

Even at 30 liters, this pack has a lot of useful features that we haven’t seen in one bag before.

With a retracted capacity of 27 liters, you can quickly add another six in by opening the expansion zip outside. You have almost everything that you’d get from its bigger counterpart, almost.

So, what separates this 30-liter Peak Design backpack from its predecessor and competitors?

Construction and Design

It is out to complement other members of Peak Design’s travel line, such as its small wash pouch and packing cubes, this sized-down version of PD’s 45L travel backpack comes with the same colorways. Available in Black, Sage, plus- Midnight, enjoy the classic minimalist look without giving up functionality.

Black vs. Sage vs. Midnight

Peak Design 30l Color Design

Whatever color ticks your preference, this Peak Design backpack provides durability that’s sure to last for a very (and we mean VERY) long time.

Crafted with a 400D nylon shell and 900D waterproof nylon base (where it’s needed), there’s enough rigidity in its build to hold its shape even when empty. That’s an edge over competitors like The Stubble and Co. Adventure Bag where all your items lump out.

PD’s 30L Travel Backpack vs The Adventure Bag

After stress testing, Peak Design 30L Travel Backpack proved its durability against abrasion and being tear-resistance. Thanks to its fabric’s equal weight distribution, that doesn’t stress any particular bag section. The material at the base also feels smoother to touch. Durable Water Repellent (DWR) adds weather protection, so there is no need to worry if you’ll end up soaking even in the lightest showers. That provides stain resistance too.

When it comes to its hardware, this Peak Design backpack comes with anodized tri-glides and UltraZips. A few steps ahead of standard aluminum, these work better on preventing corrosion and are way easier to clean (not to mention how sleek they look). The zippers open and close smoothly, just the way we like them. (We know how stressful faulty zips are!). The Hypalon pulls are also handy, with some security added since you can loop them together.

peak-design-30l-tri-glides-and-zipper-heads

Held together by the UHMWPE thread, there’s no doubt that this 30-liter Peak Design backpack can handle the load without giving up. This thread is roughly forty times stronger than typical aramid yarn. It also has fifteen times better abrasion resistance than carbon steel. We also love how every possible stress point has reinforced stitching acting like a brace.

Peak Design 30l Stitch

Peak Design 30L Travel Backpack is an excellent example of a well-made bag with a modern low-profile look and well thought out features. There’s a lot of thought put into the design, mainly how you can give it a cleaner look through its stow-away magnetic panels (more on that in a bit).

Harness System

The harness system of 30L is identical to that of PD’s 45L Travel Backpack. Shoulder straps are densely padded. The top rotates 360-degree, giving a comfortable fit to any body type. You can hide them in the magnetic panel at the back to give it a cleaner look when you want to carry it by the side handle. Lash points are available as well- great for your sunglasses.

Or at least, that’s what it’s supposed to do.

It’s worth noting that the back panel of this Peak Design backpack doesn’t come with strong magnets–almost peculiar for Peak Design. It doesn’t seal up tightly, so the straps still fall out. The back panel also has a dedicated Velcro slot where you can attach hip belts (hip belt not included).

On the other hand, we like how the tri-glide hardware hides under an overhang. There’s also a loop that makes on-the-fly adjustments a piece of cake.

At the ends of the nylon webbing, there’s a reinforced section. If you accidentally pull the webbing out of the tri-glide buckle, slipping it back in won’t be as hard.

External lash points are everywhere. And since this Peak Design backpack comes with a couple of thick adjustable cord straps, you can create your bungee system outside- at the bottom for a sleeping bag, at the front for your waterproof gear, or at the sides to secure your selfie stick.

Now, there’s also a removable and adjustable sternum strap. Like in the 45L Peak Design backpack, the aluminum hook will be a pain to use for some. If you’re married to  quick release buckles this might irk you some. In the beginning it’s not as easy as the HEIMPLANET 34L Transit Line for example. But at least you get the convenience of simply removing it if you don’t like sternum straps in the first place.

PD 30L Travel Backpack vs. HEIMPLANET 34L Transit Line

But overall, the harness system of this travel backpack provides an excellent comfy fit. And if you don’t need it, you can instantly just stow it away.

360o Haul Loop Coverage

Still, similar to its 45L counterpart, this 30-liter Peak Design backpack has grab hauls in every direction- top, bottom, back, and sides. The side handles look way up, but it doesn’t cause much imbalance when you’re carrying it.

The back handle works well as a pass-through sleeve for your rolling luggage as well. It is now becoming a staple feature for travel backpacks. You’ll also see this in the Thule 34L Subterra and NOMATIC Travel Backpack (although, weird enough, NOMATIC had theirs in the face of the bag).

PD’s 30L Backpack vs. NOMATIC vs. Thule 34L Subterra

Storage

Main Compartment

There’s only one way to access the main compartment of this Peak Design backpack, the 2-way zip that runs around the clamshell opening. It also means that getting/putting items is almost impossible unless you have already reached your destination. It was a bit disappointing since we enjoyed the side access that the 45L has.

But here’s the kicker. You have the entire main compartment to all your clothes, with no dividers getting in the way. But of course, if you like packing cubes, it’ll work well too. We managed to fit in a large packing cube and a small one for the actual storage. Using PD’s Small Wash Pouch would also be a convenient add-on for more organization. Now, Peak Design is primarily a brand for cameras. The 30L travel backpack will only fit in camera cubes when expanded. Opt for its big brother if you’re a photographer for a more camera-friendly space.

30L vs. 45L

When we said the main compartment wouldn’t be accessible unless you settled, this is especially true for the zipped inner mesh pockets. To open this Peak Design travel backpack, you need to have it face down. And since the internal pockets are at the front section, your clothes or packing cubes will bury them underneath. That means, everything you need within reach, you need to settle at the top pocket.

Laptop Sleeve

Just like in the 45L Travel Backpack, the roomy floating padded laptop sleeve has a Velcro snap to keep it in place. It can accommodate up to 16″ computers. If you have a smaller laptop, you’ll have lots of spare room left. There’s also an integrated tablet sleeve inside (with a small Velcro tab as well). They proved their worth protecting our tech.

Peak Design 30l Laptop Sleeve

Top Pocket

Another check for the 30L Peak Design backpack for its spacious and well-organized top pocket. Compared to its big brother, it’s roomier. Under the flap, there’s a zippered lining compartment with an elastic daisy chain for small items like your memory cards, USB flash drive, and such. On the other side, there are three sleeves for your mini journal, Bluetooth headphones, USB charger, and other essentials you need a quick snatch to.

Magnet-Locked Bottom Pocket

Mainly made for the attachment cords included in the package, the magnetic bottom pocket occupies a lot of room at the face of the bag. Like in the back panel, the magnets are not powerful enough. It’s still best to keep the straps hooked on one end if they fall off.

Peak Design 30l Bottom Pocket

The space it covers could’ve been better if they made it smaller and added a zipped front pocket for more convenience. If you’re searching for a full front pocket, you might want to see AmazonBasics Slim and TARION XH Travel Backpack. Both have a big front pocket but are jammed with organizers as well.

ID Tag

The luggage/ID tag pocket is hiding at the back. The standard practice is somewhere where people can easily spot and read it. In the worst-case scenario, if you lose your Peak Design backpack, it’ll take lots of time to find your information and return it (if ever go-knows-who find the pocket in the first place).

Side Pockets

Peak Design 30L Travel Backpack has side pockets with a piece of elastic, so it adapts to your water bottle’s shape and size. That’s a plus if you value staying hydrated. Some bags don’t have side pockets, but you can use a carabiner to attach your bottle like in Able Carry. Others come with zipped side pockets for smaller items like Level8 Atlas Backpack has. It depends on which you value more- hydration, accessibility, or simplicity.

PD’s 30L Travel Backpack vs. Able Carry vs. Level8 Atlas

With a standard capacity of 27 liters, you can pack up clothes, gadgets, and everything you need for multi-day trips. This Peak Design backpack also expands another six liters via the straightforward no BS expansion zippers outside.

Standard vs. Expanded

With instant six liters in one zip, your souvenirs can go home without needing to be in a checked bag.
With instant six liters in one zip, your souvenirs can go home without needing to be in a checked bag.

Summary

For around $230, Peak Design 30L Travel Backpack is a solid bag with an excellent build, from high-quality materials down to strong threads by the seams.

It might not be as camera cube-friendly and as easy to access as its 45-liter brother. Still, this Peak Design backpack has bigger and better top pocket organization, with the same robust overall construction. Other than that, the two are identical- side pockets, a laptop sleeve, rotating shoulder straps, and stow away magnet panels.

And with the optional six more liters, there’s no need to bring another bag to accommodate more load when needed. The lifetime warranty alone is already a deal you can’t pass on!

Although it’s pricier compared to most of its competitors, this travel bag is worth every penny it costs.

Buy this travel backpack if:

  •  You want a travel backpack that is sure to last a lifetime
  • A light packer and digital nomad
  • Out for multi-day trips no longer than a week

Related Reviews

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.8

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Prime example of good organization features
  • check-mark
    Lots of lash points for lots of attachments
  • check-mark
    Interoperable with camera cubes
  • check-mark
    Shoulder straps rotate to fit your frame
  • check-mark
    The clamshell opening
  • check-mark
    Handles and trolley loops everywhere
  • check-mark
    You can hide the shoulder straps for check on
  • check-mark
    A great padded laptop and tablet sleeve
  • check-mark
    Super organized top pocket
  • check-mark
    Expandable and retractable
  • check-mark
    Clean and solid construction that holds its shape even when empty
  • check-mark
    The minimalist look is so cool
  • check-mark
    You can lock the pull tabs on the main compartment together for additional security
  • check-mark
    You've got a lifetime warranty

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe shoulder straps don't stow as securely as they could
  • check-markThe magnetic-locked bottom pocket could be more secure
  • check-markThere's a hip belt panel at the back, but none is included

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FAQ

Frequently asked questions

How do I clean my Peak Design Backpack?

No machine wash! No rough brushes! No submerging! Spot cleaning only!

Using a soft, damp cloth, rub the dirty spot in a circular motion. If it doesn’t work, add mild detergent and do it again and again (if needed). Let it air dry where there’s proper ventilation, or grab your electric fan and have it directly hit your peak design backpack.

Can Peak Design 30L Travel Backpack fit under an airplane seat?

It depends on which plane you’re boarding.

In the US, American Airlines only allows 18″ x 14″ x 8″, which means you can’t fit in the 30L PD Travel Backpack. But for Delta Airlines, 22″ x 14″ x 9″ is the standard. Meaning you have the green light.

Double-check with the airline you plan to fly with for updated underseater dimensions as a best practice.

What are the key differences between the 45L and 30L Peak Design Travel Backpack?

Compared to its 45-liter counterpart, the 30-liter Peak Design Backpack has a roomier top pocket with great internal organization. You can only access the main compartment via the main zip, while the 45-liter one has front and side loading.

There’s no hip belt included in the package, but the bag itself has a panel if you want to add them. Expansion is there, but not compression (the 45L backpack has snaps at the top to size it down). The 45L bag is ideal for bulky camera gear. And since there’s only one compartment, no mesh divider is present. But for the rest of the pack, it’s identical- rotating shoulder straps, magnetic back and bottom panel, side pockets, grab hauls.

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