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Hands-on Gear Review

Patagonia Refugio Review


Day Pack

  • Currently 3.0/5
Overall avg rating 3.0 of 5 based on 2 reviews. Most recent review: May 20, 2015
Price:   $89 List | Varies from $85 - $89 online
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Holds a 17 laptop, has handy organizational pockets, fun color selection, versatile
Cons:  No waist belt, not the best ventilation
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
Review by: McKenzie Long ⋅ Senior Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ May 20, 2015  
Why are you shopping for a daypack? If you are looking for an all-around pack to bring with you to work, on trips, and on short hikes, then the Patagonia Refugio is a perfect, versatile pack. With its padded laptop compartment and smartphone compatible sleeve, it makes the cross-over between sport use and around town use better than any of the other packs we tested. It is very similar in features to The North Face Recon, which leans more towards a travel bag than a hiking daypack, though the Refugio does not have a waist belt while the Recon does. It doesn't have easy to use hiking specific features like a hiking pole stash and ice tool attachment on the the Osprey Stratos 24, but it is still hydration compatible with a cleverly placed hose port. If you are looking for something less expensive that can double as a hiking pack and a travel bag, the REI Trail 25 is comparable. If too many features drive you crazy, try the more streamlined Deuter Speed Lite 20.

New Version Update - May 2015
The Patagonia Refugio has been updated! Keep reading to find out more!

RELATED: Our complete review of day packs

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

The New Version of the Patagonia Refugio vs. The Older Version

The Patagonia Refugio has a new look! In addition to being offered in a new variety of colors, a few changes have been implemented such as new zipper placements and straps, along with a less cluttered feel. The price has increased from $80 to $89; while we haven't tested the new Refugio, we feel as though our review will give you a pretty good feel for the backpack itself. See below for a side-by-side comparison, with the latest version shown on the left and the older model pictured on the right.

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Hands-On Review

An ideal pack for around town and for use as a carry-on backpack, this casual pack can also transition to short dayhikes.

Performance Comparison

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The Patagonia Refugio is versatile enough to be used for hiking, around town, or travel.
Credit: Luke Lydiard


The Patagonia Refugio is tailor-made for handy travel organization. It has a sleeve that will hold a hydration bladder, with a unique hose port in the center of the pack rather than on the side, or this same padded sleeve will perfectly hold a 15-17 inch laptop. It has a microfiber pocket on the top especially to keep sunglasses from getting crunched or scratched, and in the front compartment there is a pocket perfectly sized for an iPhone and other organizational pockets to hold pens, headphone, keys, etc. It has a really easy to access and stash front pocket that is ideal for items like tickets or wallets, and two stretchy water bottle pockets on the sides.

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The Patagonia Refugio has an internal organizational pocket that is ideally suited to fit an iPhone.
Credit: McKenzie Long

Though this pack is perfect for bringing to school or work, it will also work well for hiking, and its size is perfect for bringing along the ten essentials. The main downside is that it does not have a waist belt. It does have a sternum strap with an included whistle, but if you load up the pack, the lack of waist belt makes it less stable and uncomfortable for hiking.


At 1 lb 11 oz., the Refugio weighs almost the same as the Osprey Talon 22 and the REI Trail 25, yet is has a slightly larger volume of 28 liters. For a pack loaded with features, this seems reasonable.


The back panel of the Refugio is padded and slightly meshy, so it breathes decently well, and is cushioned on your spine. It is not nearly as breathable as the packs with innovative panel designs such as the Osprey Talon, Osprey Stratos, or Gregory Z25. The lack of waist belt makes it less comfortable when loaded heavy.


The Patagonia Refugio is a very versatile pack, being useful for sporting activities or as a briefcase or school bag. This pack transitions into around town use better than the other more sport-specific featured packs in this review such as the Deuter Speed Lite and Osprey Stratos, and transitions to hiking use better than the slightly heavier and more expensive North Face Recon.


With a padded base and 840-denier 100 percent ballistics nylon, this pack is ultra durable. Everything on this pack is solidly stitched and put together, so it will hold up to extended hard use, plus it comes with Patagonia's amazing guarantee.

Ease of Use

Our editors love that this pack fits a laptop, and love that in the middle compartment there is another phone-specific pocket for the iPhone. These easy to use features make this pack ideal for traveling when you need to carry all your important items at once.

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The Patagonia Refugio fits a laptop better than any of the other packs in this review. Though this is not a necessary feature for hiking, it is wonderful for traveling with.
Credit: McKenzie Long

In our packing test, this pack fit everything easily with some extra space. The Refugio has the most clever organizational pockets, which made stowing the small, important items easier and more intuitive than in the other packs.

Best Application

Though the Patagonia Refugio would work well for hiking and other sports, it seems tailored to travel and around town use. Laptop compatibility, special pockets for pens, an iPhone, even a microfiber pocket for sunglasses, and the lack of a waist belt all seem to add up to being the perfect pack to bring with you while flying or on a trip.


At around $89, the Refugio is slightly cheaper than the Osprey packs, and a little more expensive than the deal on the REI Trail 25. If you are on a budget but want a little more organization or sturdiness, this pack would be the next step up from the REI pack.

Other Versions

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Patagonia Lightweight Travel Pack 26
  • Lightweight, compressible daypack
  • No internal frame, great for throwing into luggage when traveling
  • Stuffs into it's own zip-up 'brain'
  • $110

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Patagonia Arbor
  • Stylish around town or travel bag
  • Retro look
  • Laptop compartment
  • $100

McKenzie Long

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: May 20, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
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3 star: 100%  (1)
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Feb 2, 2014 - 06:18pm
JuanPi · Backpacker · Boise, ID
Thanks so much for this article, it's been really useful, as is the rest of the content on the website!!!
I'm looking for a daypack to replace my previous one that broke…and was considering some options other than the ones reviewed here, since they would fit better my needs.
I've seen one that I like by Haglofs, it's called 'breeze'.
I was looking online for reviews but couldn't find any, and was wondering if you have tried anything by them, or have any comments regarding this daypack/brand?
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Patagonia Refugio
Credit: Patagonia
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