Backpacks: 28 liters, 30 liters or 40 liters?

Camino de Santiago Backpack

The question was:

Although my first Camino is still at least two years away Im beginning to formulate my gear list and will soon begin the “boy in the toystore” phase (my wife accuses me of using this as an excuse for new gear…but what is a middle aged man supposed to do? Lug his 5.5 lb Expedition pack for six weeks across Spain? I already humped that thing across Europe for 9 weeks looking like a Sherpa in the process — and I was only 25 at the time).

Ive checked quite a few postings and it seems as if most are using larger bags… I want to “go small” if at all possible…

Ive spent some time at the REI store and have narrowed down my pack choice down to the Gregory Z series. My other Gregory pack has served me well and the Z series fits me very well and has a lot of features i like — especially the suspension system that really does maximize airflow on the back, making it comfortable to wear in the heat – an important consideration since I live in Florida and will be , God willing, starting my Camino in Mid/late May and ending up the first week or so in July.

Logic tells me to go with the Z40 (L) series and have a little more room. But I have the nagging feeling that the Z30 (L) would make a better hiking bag for my “day to day” outings w/ the family. I also think it would force me to be a bit more ruthless in limiting my packing choices, which can be a very very good thing. It also weighs in about 10 oz less than the Z40, also a very good thing.

Have any of you found a 28ish – 30 L bag adequate for the Camino? Again, I will be packing as light as I possibly can , and the timeframe of my trip dictates the probability of using a bag liner instead of a sleeping bag, etc. Planning on two sets of clothing, etc. Or is a slightly larger bag necessary.

My wife accuses me of wanting the 30L bag then determining that it is not adequate and sizing up to a 40L bag, thus ending up with both. She knows me well, heheheh, and since I am the designated pack mule I cannot convince her that the smaller bag is for her…

Any advice is appreciated. Especially if you have experience with the Z series bags.

Read the good responses to this question on Backpacks: 28 liters, 30 liters or 40 liters?

  • My wife and I will start from SJPP on 8/23 and she will be using a Gregory Jade 28 she bought at REI. We’ve done a lot of training hikes and 28 liters is more than enough for her gear. The design of the pack is excellent and there is plenty of airspace between the pack and her back. A rain cover is included and is easily accessible. I believe the men’s version is called a Z30. If I was going to buy a new pack I would definitely check out the Z30.

    • Vehelani

      I’m planning on doing the CF in late May and June of 2013 as well. I ordered and have been training with Gregory Jade 28 ( although a small is 26L). I’ve packed my light sleeping bag, liner, clothes, flipflops and still have room for more! It’s not the lightest, but i love the ventilation on the back and how the weight carries on the hips.

  • Sylvie

    I used a Gregory Diva last trip, a 60l and I’m only 5″2, so that proved to be too heavy – it weighed 5.8 lbs to start with… this year, I’m headed out with a Gregory Sage 45 – and all mu stuff goes in it with room to spare – total weight without my raincoat and one fleece – 13 lbs! much much better – I don’t have extras, just the necessary and a sleeping bag so I likely couldn’t go less… if you don’t have a sleeping bag, you can go smaller for sure.
    Buen Camino

  • adgatto

    I did the CF in Sept/Oct ’12 and carried an Asolo 40L Ultralight, hair under 2lbs. Great pack and although it weighed in at 14lbs. (without water) I felt I could get lighter. I just bought a GoLite Jam 35L (1lb 10oz) and have gotten weight down to under 11lbs. Would recommend a light sleeping quilt (bag) even in summer, I have a GoLite 800 fill down quilt (535 gr) and if you are staying at Albergues, invest in a Lifesystems bedbug sheet. One other recommendation, Last year I wore Vasque Breeze mid height GTX boots (2 lbs. 2 oz.) my opinion is they are overkill. This year have purchased La Sportiva Quantum Trail running shoes (1 lb 8 oz). Remember one pound of boot equals 6 pounds added to your pack weight. Hope this helps.

  • zakosdad

    My wife and I are training for Sept 2013. She (5 ft 2″) has a Deuter ACT Trail 28 SL and I (5 ft 10″) have the Deuter ACT Trail 32 – both are plenty big even with a hydration pak. Weight is about 6kg with water total at this point. We still have room for extras and trying to keep the total weight low.

    • hughc

      I will be departing Sept 19th from SJPP. Maybe we will meet up.
      I was seriously thinking of using a Trek Arizone 45/55 L but the more I read the more I’m convinced that a 35/45 L will suffice

  • ronyon

    Why not compromise with a Z35? I have this model, which I’ve taken to the Andes and to the top of Kilimanjaro. This size stows well on a plane and is more than big enough for everything I imagine I will want to take.

  • dd

    your shopping strategy and your wife’s suppositions resemble mine. I settled on the Gregory Z30….I built myself up to it. I got the wife an REI flash pack 21L …i put all the towels, first aid and disposable items and light clothes into her’s and max. out at 12lbs. Mine held the two hammocks , water bladder. We split the valuables between the two.

  • DeeKayBee

    I took a 30L and found it to be plenty. I plan to do it again and want to go lighter the second time around. Happy planning. Buen Camino!!

  • Justin

    I carried a Z55 from StJPdP in June-July 2010, and never once regretted it. It cinched down plenty snug when on the light side, and made carrying food and extra water easier on the long days. I was carrying two Thermarests (I was the designated pack mule) and a 5 deg C down barrel bag, both of which saved our bacon several times (Jubilee year and all). When we bought a tent in Sarria, we had the room. I love that pack. Love. Nutshell: It’s sometimes to have the extra space, as long as you have the discipline not to fill it up. Given your choice, I’d go with the 40. My two cents’ worth. Buen Camino.

    • Justin

      Maybe a useful note: I’m 6’2 with a longish torso. The Z55 fit me superbly, and a lot of packs don’t. Fit is everything. A minor increase in capacity or weight would be, in my opinion, secondary consideration. Fit will make or break your Camino. You’ll get by with 30L, you’ll be golden with 40L. Buy the one that fits the best. Again, my two cents. Buen Camino.

  • matt

    Hello,
    I am a professional high altitude mountain guide. 98% of the 25 to 40 liter bags out there have tons of useless bells and whistles. For an outing such as the Camino where you sleep inside and have most of your food made you do not need all the bells and whistles. If you want to put out the money and want the lightest strongest most comfortable pack on the market try the “Figure Four Packs made out of dyneema fabric”. It weighs 1 pound 5 ounces and can carry up to 35 liters of weight. It is super comfortable.

    For more tips you can go to himalayahigh.blogspot.com

  • Danny

    I used a 32L and my wife a 28L, and they worked well for us space-wise on the Frances last year. Just practice with what you’re using so you’ll know it fits correctly.

  • John Boyd Bell

    I used the Gregory 40Z the entire way. It was wonderful. It isn’t the size of the pack so much as the weight in it. I found a bit more room made for better organizing and access.