Photo: Alisha Wenger

The New Patagonia Daypack Is the Best Backpack Ever for Remote Workers

Technology + Gear
by Tim Wenger May 21, 2024

There’s one critical aspect of the remote work lifestyle that is wholly undervalued and, often, overlooked entirely: the daypack. You can quit your office job, buy a one-way ticket to Bali (or walk up the street to your local cafe), and spend the next six months building your side hustle into your main gig. You’ll probably even be successful doing so. But you’d be entirely self-centered if you didn’t give some of the credit for that awesome new lifestyle of freedom and self-direction to your daypack. For the record, the Patagonia Refugio 26L is the best remote work daypack there has ever been. The pack was released for fall 2023 and will change your remote work game going forward.

We hope you love the Patagonia Refugito! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

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Why the Patagonia Refugio is the best remote work backpack

Photo: Tim Wenger
Photo: Tim Wenger

I’m not overstating the daypack’s importance even by an ounce. Think about it – as a remote worker, especially if you’re one who travels on the regular, you need enough space to bring your laptop and accouterments around with you, literally everywhere.

I almost always have a backpack on when I leave the house during the work day. Whether I’m headed to a coworking space, a coffee shop, or just up the street for a snack, I need my entire career to fit into that backpack. That includes a MacBook Pro, its charger, a pair of headphones, and a notebook. There must be enough room left over for gym clothes, lunch, and my e-bike charger (because I’m that guy who commutes via e-bike and then unabashedly tells you about it). On top of this, I need space for a few groceries or light items I may stop to grab at the store on the way home.

The Patagonia Refugio comes in two sizes – 26 liters and 30 liters (there’s also a kid’s Refugito version that can come in 12-liter or 18-liter sizing). I opted for the 30L option because I’ve consistently been frustrated by the lack of space available in every daypack I’ve used before this one. I don’t always fill up all 30 liters, but I’d rather have extra space than not enough. Both sides of the pack have cupholders, making it possible to bring both a water bottle and a coffee thermos with me at all times. Heck, depending on the day, you may even spot me with a bottle of wine in one of the holders (I do live in Palisade, after all).

Bringing this daypack along as a carry-on is no problem on all major airlines globally. It will fit underneath the seat in front of you and fits in the overhead bin space even if you’re in a later boarding group that pits you in a tight race for the last remaining corners of bin space. You can choose from a variety of color schemes for the Patagonia Refugito, but I went with good ole’ black. It blends in nicely wherever I am.

The Patagonia Refugio is perfect for the non-traditional lifestyle of remote workers

Photo: Tim Wenger
Photo: Tim Wenger

Even despite its large carrying capacity, the 30L Refugio looks no bigger than a typical backpack. It offers a 19-inch torso length with straps designed to comfortably fit a variety of body sizes. Tighten the back straps to carry the weight on the shoulders, or loosen them and clip the buckle around the waist for more even weight distribution. The pack even comes with a bike light clip at its base, allowing me to feel more comfortable commuting by e-bike even if I may not return home until dusk or later.

The pack is divided into three compartments. What I call the “tech compartment” is at the back and is headlined by a padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, big enough to fit most modern laptops. A velcro-strap top folds over the laptop sleeve to prevent the computer from sliding out. Also in this compartment are two open holsters that can fit stuff like a small notebook or passport, and a larger zippered pouch where I keep my laptop charger. There’s also plenty of open space where I keep my headphones and anything else work-related.

man riding bike with patagonia refugito backpack

Photo: Alisha Wenger

In the second, and largest, compartment, which comprises the bulk of the 30 liters, I am able to fit a reusable lunch container, my bulky e-bike charger, a jacket, gym clothes, and any other items I have with me that day. Even on the few occasions I’ve filled it to the brim (like when I stuff a bike helmet in there), I’ve never had trouble zipping this pouch shut, which I greatly appreciate as this was a near-daily problem with my last daypack. The recycled polyester lining of the pouches is surprisingly easy to wipe down should any food spill, and on one occasion, I held the pack upside down and actually was able to dump food crumbs out of the bottom of the main compartment – a true blessing for a snack addict such as myself.

The small front compartment is ideal for a couple of liters worth of miscellanea. I keep napkins, a reusable grocery bag, reusable cutlery, and a phone charger in there at all times. All of this combines to provide enough space for everything one could need throughout even the most roller-coaster of days. Effectively, The Patagonia Refugio allows me to keep with me most of the stuff I’d have in a car were I to be a car commuter, which I view as a huge step forward not only for my quirky carrying habits but also for the growing percentage of society that prefers alternative methods of transportation.

The Patagonia Refugio upholds the brand’s sustainability ethos

“. . . all fabrics are 100% recycled polyester except the stretchy mesh for the side pockets, which is an 84% recycled nylon/16% spandex blend.” This statistic put me over the top in my decision to acquire this daypack. I’d held on to my prior pack for several years even despite it’s increasingly ragged appearance, because, well, continuing to use something old is almost always more eco-friendly than buying something new. But when the time finally came to make a change, I felt good about opting for the Patagonia Refugito because I trust the brand to deliver a product that’s as sustainable as possible. There are many reasons why Patagonia topped a recent poll of brands with a stellar reputation. In addition to the fact that its products last nearly forever, come with a strong warranty, and can partake in the company’s robust refurbishing program, the fact that Patagonia is leading the charge in sustainably sourced clothing and outdoor goods is a big mark in its favor.

Patagonia Refugio specs

To simplify the sizing and carrying details for the Patagonia Regugio, here are the pack’s basic specs:

  • Capacity: 30 liters
  • Weight: 1 pound 12 ounces
  • Materials:
    • Body: 7.3-oz 400-denier 100% postconsumer recycled polyester with a PU coating and a PFC-free DWR finish
    • Lining: 3-oz 200-denier 100% recycled polyester with a PU coating
    • Back panel and shoulder straps: 8-oz 100% recycled polyester spacer mesh
    • Side panels: 7.1-oz 84% recycled nylon/16% elastane power mesh
    • Webbing: 100% recycled nylon
  • Features:
    • Padded 15″ laptop sleeve
    • Breathable back panel and hydration hanger
    • Tech-friendly features and organization
    • Bike light clip
    • 19″ torso length

If you’re not sold, I encourage you to check out Matador’s reviews of Patagonia backpacks. Otherwise, grab a Refugio now before the rush.

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