Patagonia Refugio Backpack 28L Review

  • October 7, 2020
  • / By Keith Terrell
Patagonia Refugio Backpack 28L

Casual backpacks should emphasize style and functionality, with no frills or features that have no use in your daily experience. With Patagonia Refugio, you get practical design and superior versatility. The Refugio is the most popular daypack in the Patagonia line, and after spending some time with it, we can see why.

Patagonia Refugio Backpack 28L


This mid-size 28-liter keeps you organized on your day-to-day excursions, with plenty of pockets for your devices and accessories, while providing a comfortable, lightweight fit. The Refugio isn’t a hardcore hiking daypack; it’s more of a travel-pack that suits anyone that’s traveling on short trips or managing their daily grind around the city.


The Refugio features a 28-liter capacity, with four exterior pockets and two main compartments, and a zipper front compartment. Inside the main compartment, you'll find a laptop subdivision that fits most standard 15-inch devices. If you're carrying a tablet or iPad, there's a separate carriage sleeve for your device as well.

It has a dry weight of 1-lb, 7.5-oz, making it one of the lightest packs in its class. As with most Patagonia products, the Refugio features construction with nylon and recycled materials for a sustainable product that benefits the environment. The pack's dimensions measure out at 19" x 12" x 8".

Patagonia Refugio Backpack 28L Back View



Patagonia Refugio has a clean and elegant design that’s both practical and stylish. The stitching and materials are all top-quality, and what we’ve come to expect from all Patagonia products.

Overall, we’re happy with the quality and finish on this pack, and we’re quite pleased to see that it doesn’t have belt-straps, making it easy to stow away in overhead compartments on planes and trains.

  • Fit – It’s clear that Patagonia intends the Refugio to be a lifestyle pack suited for taking to school or hauling around town. While it has a height-adjustable sternum strap to dial in your fit, it doesn’t provide enough stability for hikers and bikers when fully-loaded.
  • Size – It comes in a standard and smaller women’s sizes. The standard size looks taller and wider than most other 28L packs, but with a slim-line profile that’s ideal for standing in crowded subway trains on your daily commute.
  • Comfort - It is a comfortable carry, and suits people of all sizes, from S to XL. The padded, mesh back-panel on the Refugio allows it to breathe, and you don’t have to worry about a wet back when securing both shoulder straps on a warm summer day. Patagonia designed this pack for everyday use, so don’t expect it to feel great when fully loaded.
  • Versatility – We feel that Patagonia Refugio is ideal for taking the essentials to work or school. However, it doesn’t have the features we like to see in a sports-related pack, and we wouldn’t recommend it for hiking or other sports activities like biking.
  • Durability – Featuring 840-denier, 100 percent ballistics nylon, excellent stitching, and a padded base, the Refugio is durable enough to withstand anything you come across on your daily grind. The pack also features Patagonia’s iron-clad guarantee.


Patagonia is both stylish and functional. Its features are those that you will find truly useful in a daypack. 

  • Tech-Friendly – This pack is ideal for transporting your gear to and from school or the office. With the main pocket featuring padded compartments for your laptop, iPad, and smartphone. In the front organization compartment, you’ll find organizational pockets for managing accessories and power cords. The larger frame of the Refugio makes it ideal for fitting laptops, and you won’t have to worry about stretching out the compartment when packing or removing your computer.
  • Lifestyle – If you head out for your commute on a hot summer day, the Refugio features a hydration bladder, with the hose port position in the center of the pack for convenience. Stash your sunglasses in the micro-fiber pouch, and prevent them from getting scratched. The front compartment on the Refugio features a pocket for your iPhone, and stash pockets for items you’re your wallet and train tickets. The sides of the pack feature stretchy-fabric pouches for water bottles.
  • Water Resistant – The Patagonia Refugio features a DWR finish that enhances its water resistance.
  • Zippers and chains -   The new Refugio includes a daisy chain on the front, allowing you to clip on accessories like keys. All the zippers feature solid tabs that are easy to locate. The zippers don’t hang up, and secure tightly, with the upper pocket sporting a larger zipper. The pack features side straps to secure your luggage and reduce the profile of the pack when not full.

Best Use

We feel the Refugio is the ideal pack for taking around town or traveling. We don’t think that the Refugio would suit active sports use, such as hiking or riding.

  • Commute – Urban use is where the Refugio excels. It’s great for carrying groceries back from the store or hauling your laptop and devices to the office on your commute. The sleek design doesn’t have any frills, loops, or straps that get in the way of closing doors or catch on other fixtures around stations or furniture.
  • Travel – There’s a surprising amount of room for your clothing and accessories in the Refugio. If you’re headed out on a trip across the country, it’s the ideal pack to carry a few days worth of clothes alongside your laptop, devices, and accessories. The Refugio also fits under standard airline seats, without the need to pack it in the overhead compartment. The side straps on the Refugio feature easy stow-away Velcro straps that keep them from flapping around when stowing in overhead compartments.
  • Hike – We feel that the Refugio is ideal for city use. Taking it out on the hiking trail isn’t the best idea; other specialized packs are better for activities. The lack of a waist strap makes the Refugio uncomfortable during hikes, especially when loaded.

Pros and Cons

The Refugio is a great update on the previous model, and we like the robust side pockets, which are an improvement over the earlier model's mesh pockets that catch and tear easily. The addition of the second storage compartment for accessories is an excellent improvement, and we love that it comes in a range of attractive colors.

Patagonia Refugio Backpack 28L Top View


While the pack is excellent for commuting and every-day use, avid hikers and sportspeople may not find that they get enough out of the new Refugio. It lacks the waist straps needed to stabilize the weight on your back, resulting in sore hips and a stiff lower back when packed full.

We found that the sternum strap doesn't really add much support when the pack is full, and after trying it once, we never used it again. We feel like this strap gets in the way, more than it provides practical use.

Still, if you're looking for a new school bag or a bag to carry your devices and accessories to work, the Refugio provides everything you need – and much more. We enjoy the sleek and professional look of the Refugio in black, but there's a range of colors to suit anyone's taste and style.

Where to Buy

Patagonia Refugio is available at most sporting goods retailers and specialist hiking supply stores. However, why go to the hassle of visiting the mall when you can order it online. Pick up your Refugio from Amazon. The pack is available through Amazon Prime, with same-day shipping, and hassle-free returns.

Final Verdict

Patagonia Refugio is the ideal day pack for taking on your commute, running errands, as well as accompanying you on your travels across the country on planes or trains. While it's suitable for light sports activities, if you're looking for a technical pack, then it's not the best choice.

The stylish design and comfortable fit make it ideal for carrying your devices and accessories to and from the office or school. With quality stitching and robust materials, the Refugio is one of the best casual daypacks available.

Our Rating