The Patagonia Refugio backpack is my teenagers’ favorite travel bag


As any parent knows, traveling with children is quite an adventure. And when you add teenagers to the mix, your travels take on a whole new perspective. As a mother of as different teenagers as possible, I’m always on the lookout for luggage that’s functional yet stylish, affordable yet unique, and matches the personality of each of my kids. After lots of trial and error (and lots of returned packages) we finally settled on Patagonia Refugio backpack as a bag of choice.

Our family is very outdoorsy and adventurous. For us, a typical vacation involves lots of hiking and walking. Everything from urban adventures and backcountry camping to biking and kayaking is fair game, and as such I’m always on the lookout for gear that can withstand whatever we throw at him. I’ve always loved Patagonia for its corporate philosophy of using business to protect nature and making the best products without causing unnecessary harm.

I first found a version similar to this backpack years ago when we took our first family camping trip to Glacier National Park. My son was seven at the time, and although a traditional backpack was too big for him, a backpack seemed like the right kind of luggage to keep all of his hiking essentials close at hand. We have since migrated to a bigger one; he now wears the Refugio Backpack in size 26L. This bag works both as a carry bag that it carries in the car and on flights, and for short day hikes. He likes that it’s compact yet roomy, perfect for a multitude of activities without having to change bags. He uses the bungee cords on the outside of the bag to compress the bag when he doesn’t have a lot to carry. On the other hand, the drawstrings create extra storage space for things like a light jacket or a beanie when needed. The four small loops in the front also provide room to attach your flashlight and pocket knife for easy access on the trail.

Patagonia Refugio 26L Backpack

We love this bag because it’s made with 100% recycled polyester fabric. It also has a durable water-repellent coating that resists moisture and keeps the contents inside dry, an essential feature when we were caught in a sudden downpour. The back panel is also breathable, which makes it much more comfortable on long walks around town. And if your teenagers are as tech-obsessed as mine, the dedicated storage pouch with a zippered pocket and removable padded laptop sleeve (fits laptops up to 15″) are handy for storing wires, the AirPods, phones and other gadgets on According to my teenage years, perhaps one of the coolest parts of this pack is the bike light attachment point at the base of the pack, perfect for taking nighttime excursions that seem to be part of any adventure with kids.a bit safer.

If you need a little more space to carry your stuff, the slightly larger Patagonia Refugio 30L backpack provides that extra space. Both packs are available in beautiful muted tones like coriander brown, rosehip and desert plume. While this backpack is our gold standard, my teenagers are just as vocal and choosy about the other luggage they use on our travels. Here are some pieces that pass their test:

Suitcases and organizers

Regarding luggage, Dakine’s 365 roller bag with wheels is a favorite among the family. The soft-sided suitcase has a large 120L capacity and a two-tier design with interior dividers for easy organization, which is a must-have for any parent packing their kids. The handle is retractable and the wheels make it easy to transport even full luggage. Packages packing cubes help with further organization. The multitude of sizes a set includes means they can fit just as easily in a backpack as they can fit in a suitcase.

Dakine 365 120L Trolley Bag

Night packages

For long weekends and overnight camping trips, kids’ go-to bag is the Kelty Red Wing 36. Its advanced perimeter frame and ventilated back panel make it comfortable for long rides. In addition, the side pockets have passages for hiking poles. the Yeti Carrefour 22L comes second. It has a flap pocket that turns out for easy packing and unpacking. The zippered side entry allows for quick access to contents, which is useful when traveling with teenagers who need their things close at hand every minute of the day.

My 13 year old son also loves Filson’s ripstop nylon backpack. Its padded shoulder straps, adjustable sternum strap and padded back panel make it ultra-comfortable and adjustable. With a multitude of pockets, D-rings and daisy chain straps on the shoulder straps, it can store all of its outdoor gear, from pocket knives to binoculars and headlamps.

Kelty Red Wing 36 Backpack

Yeti Crossroads 22L Backpack

More backpacks and accessories

the Monos Metro Backpack is an excellent versatile travel companion. My 16 year old son particularly likes that it is made of water resistant vegan leather and thinks the stylish design and look makes it perfect for trips around town. She hides the Parker Clay Mulu Tote Pouch inside to organize all the other accessories. Handmade with sustainably sourced leather by at-risk women in Ethiopia who earn a fair wage, it’s one of those feel-good accessories she always carries with her.

Parker Clay Mulu Tote Pouch


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