How Big Is a 30 Liter Backpack: A Complete Guide

How Big Is a 30 Liter Backpack: A Complete Guide

When buying a backpack, one important specification to look out for is the capacity. No matter if you are looking for the best backpacks for men or the best laptop backpack for women. Normally, you would see it in terms of liters or ounces, so it can be a bit difficult to make sense of it unless you plan on filling the backpack with a liquid. Thus if you are wondering how big is a 30 liter backpack, Backpack Joe has the answer.

To start with, capacity is a bit different from size. Yes, you will also see the size in product descriptions, but these dimensions barely tell you the parameter, such as its length, height, width, of the backpack. While capacity depends on the size, it can still be hard to gauge how much exactly you can fit into a backpack.

For instance, two backpacks measuring 20 inches in height and 11 inches of width can have different capacities. It also depends on the design of the backpack as to how much stuff you can fit in. The various compartments make it easy to pack in more stuff in less space. Also, it makes access to the contents easy.

How Is Backpack Capacity Measured?

This is a million-dollar question in the backpacking universe. Most backpack manufacturers use a standard formula for calculating the capacity of a backpack. This formula is the product of length, width, and depth (in centimeters) divided by 1000. The truth is, this formula does not always tell the exact capacity of a backpack.

If you want to find out the real capacity, you have to go back to the patterns of the backpack. Measuring the dimensions of individual compartments using the patterns and then summing all of them up would probably give the most accurate capacity. As you can imagine, that is a tedious job, and not every manufacturer would do so.

The compartmentalization, as well as hidden pockets and side mesh pockets, can significantly change the capacity of a backpack. These factors are hard to take into account when using the standard formula.

Also, it may be hard for you to find the accurate capacity of a backpack at home. You may be able to get it right if you measure each compartment separately using the formula.

What Is a 30 Liter Backpack For?

Before getting into how big is a 30 liter backpack, let’s discuss who really it is for. A 30-liter backpack is essentially designed for traveling. While you will mostly see these backpacks advertised for hikers or backpackers, and it is interesting to note that you can even find the 30-liter capacity in some regular backpacks or laptop backpacks.

These backpacks are best suited for short trips or hikes. For instance, a short trip to the lake or a hike on a mountain during Labor Day weekend makes a perfect fit.

Some backpackers, though, go on year-long trips with 30-liter backpacks. These are usually the people who like to pack less and can survive with a few pieces of clothing.

Tactical backpacks or laptop backpacks with 30-liter capacity are big enough to travel with for a few days. Those who invest in a laptop backpack this size usually use it as a carry-on or as their only piece of luggage for short business trips.

By now, you probably have some idea about who this capacity is best for. Your use will ultimately help you decide which capacity and size to pick. In short, if you are looking for a backpack to take on trips for a weekend or even a few weeks, a 30-liter backpack should be ample for you.

How Big Is a 30 Liter Backpack?

Let’s look into the size both in terms of size and weight.

30-Liter Backpack Size

Like we said before, sizes in backpacks are not standard. Depending on the design and capacity, the measurements can vary from one backpack to another by a few inches. That said, the difference is not that big, so it is easy to define a range of dimensions to help you understand the size of a 30-liter backpack.

Generally, a 30-liter backpack can have a length or height of 18.5 inches to 21 inches, and a width of 9.5 inches to 12 inches. Another measurement in backpacks is the depth, which is the length of the backpack from back to front. This is usually the shortest of the three, and for a 30-liter bag, it could be between four inches and seven inches.

However, it is usually not uniform all the way through. Nevertheless, a backpack falling within these measurements should ideally offer you a 30-liter capacity.

One of the top reasons 30-liter backpacks are so popular with weekend travelers as well as backpackers is that you can fit them in the overhead compartment on airplanes. This makes traveling with them so much easier.

30-Liter Backpack Weight

As if size and capacity were not enough to deal with, you also have the weight to take into account. Most of us often overlook the weight, but the weight of a backpack is also essential. There are a few things at play when it comes to the weight of the backpack, including:

Most 30-liter backpacks have padding on the back and shoulder straps. Some may even have padded hip belt straps.

Generally, the weight of a 30-liter backpack should be around four to six pounds. That said, some that do not have any form of padding and made of very light polyester or nylon fabric may even weigh just one to three pounds like a rucksack.

backpack essentials

What Can You Pack Into a 30-Liter Backpack?

Now, this will finally help you understand how much exactly you can pack into the backpack and how big is a 30 liter backpack. You should keep in mind that everyone packs differently. Some people pack extra things just to be safe, while others have a lot of gear like drone cameras, DSLRs, tents, and sleeping bags.

A lot of times, packing a backpack depends on where you are going. For instance, someone traveling to Norway in the middle of winter would need a lot of space to pack in all those bulky winter clothes.

On the other hand, when you are traveling to a beach holiday in the dead of summer, you may not need as much space carrying t-shirts and swimwear.

To give you an idea, here is what you can typically fit into a 30-liter backpack:

That is just a typical rundown of things a 30-liter backpack can hold, but the actual list depends on you. You can always make adjustments to pack in other stuff you may want to carry for your trips. We did not include a mobile phone, headphones, wallet, ID or passport, and charger, assuming you would have it on your person.

If you are going hiking and have a tent or sleeping bag, those can be attached with the straps on the backpack since most hiking backpacks come with such at the bottom or top of the bag. Additionally, you can use the straps and clips to hang more stuff to your backpack.

What to Look for in a 30-Liter Backpack?

If you are sure that a 30-liter backpack is what you need, you want to make sure you get the best one. There are certain things you want to make sure of so that your backpack delivers on performance.

You should consider the usual things you should look out for buying any type of backpack; for example, quality. This is a no brainer because you would probably use this back on your travels. If it is not good quality, it will not last very long. The last thing you need on your trip is for your backpack to break.

Here are some other things you should specifically look for in a 30-liter backpack:

1. Waterproofness

A 30-liter backpack is most often used for hiking so it should be at least water-resistant, if not waterproof. Even if you are just simply backpacking, you want to make sure your belongings and your backpack, in general, are safe from rain.

Many backpacks that are not highly water-resistant come with a cover. Make sure such a cover comes with your backpack and fits it snugly.

2. Straps

If you plan on hiking with the backpack, consider the straps the most important thing in the backpack. You want these to be adequately padded and distribute weight equally on your shoulders.

It does not hurt to have an adjustable waist or hip belt as it transfers the weight to your core. A weight of over 20 pounds may be too much to carry just on your shoulders. This strap is crucial if you plan to hike or walk a lot with the backpack on your back.

3. Padding

You do not just need padding in the straps, but you also need a padded back. The backpack will stay on your shoulders for a good number of hours, and a padding-less back may not be the most comfortable or safe, for that matter.

Padding provides support for your back and protection for the contents. It also ensures that the bag gets ventilated adequately.

4. Front Loading

A 30-liter backpack is not that big, so it should not be hard to find one with front-loading. Front-loading means that the backpack opens in the front and not just at the top. You would usually find top-loading in backpacks over 40 liters.

The purpose of this particular feature is that it gets easier for you to access your backpack. All the stuff, whether it is at the top or the bottom, can be accessed quickly.

5. The Frame (Optional)

Travel backpacks feature internal frames in the back that help give the backpack shape and rigidity. These frames are made of carbon fiber, so they do not add much weight. It is not a mandatory feature for a 30-liter backpack, given that these backpacks are not that big.

Nevertheless, you could go for one that has an internal frame. This would give the backpack more support and make it narrow. Keep in mind that a backpack with a frame would be more costly.

Can You Use a 30-Liter Backpack as a Regular Backpack?

Not everyone can afford to buy five different backpacks for five different purposes. You must be wondering if you could use your 30-liter backpack as a regular backpack for school or work. Even though it is not the ideal bag for everyday use, there may be some features that can come handy.

If it features compression or cinching straps on the sides, you can probably reduce its size and capacity. That way, you can just put your essentials like a laptop and books, and use the backpack for work. Since these are sturdy and water-resistant, they can take a good beating that comes from commuting to work every week.

In case you did not know, there are laptop backpacks that can offer capacity up to 30 liters. They do not look so big, but they can provide that much space. Usually, laptop backpacks only have 20 to 25 liters of space. It is interesting because a laptop backpack is for everyday use.


A 30-liter backpack is appropriate mostly for short trips that would not last more than two weeks. Nonetheless, you could use it for long term traveling as well if you pack light and have other small bags on you. It is all about using the capacity most efficiently.

The great thing about this size is that it is not too big and not too small. That is why you could even use it as a regular backpack, sparing you from buying another backpack. Now, you probably have a better idea of how big a 30-liter backpack really is.