At the Broke Backpacker, we are big fans of Osprey products. They have been consistently pumping out quality backpacks for decades and… surprise, surprise, the Osprey Skarab 30 is one of the best lightweight day packs of the year by a long shot.
Recently, I was able to get my hands on the brand new Osprey Skarab 30 day backpack for a test run. If you are looking for a badass daypack… listen up!
The fact is, there are plenty of other awesome daypacks on the market right now, so how do you decide which daypack is best for your own needs? What makes the Osprey Skarab 30 special?
To answer these questions and many more, I have put together this ultimate review of the Osprey Skarab 30.
This review breaks down everything you need to know about the Skarab 30 including important details like key features, weight, fit, durability, pros and cons, price, and rain protection. The Skarab 30 is an excellent adventure companion whether you travel in cities, far-flung mountains, or both.
By the end of this epic review, you will know the Osprey Skarab 30 from top to bottom and be able to make the informed decision whether or not the Skarab is the right daypack for your needs.
Let’s find out why the Osprey Skarab 30 is my favorite daypack of the year…
Quick Answer: The Osprey Skarab 30 is for You if…
- You go on a lot of day hikes.
- You want a daypack that is hydration reservoir compatible.
- Organization, pockets, and features are important to you.
- You value comfort and fit.
- You want a 30-liter backpack with semi-technical performance.
- Style, toughness, and functionality are important to you.
- You want a versatile, multi-application daypack.
- You’re interested in a backpack with a lifetime guarantee.
The Osprey Skarab 30 immediately piqued my interest because it is a jack-of-all-trades daypack. When I look at any given backpack, I always ask myself “where and when can I use this backpack?”
Backpackers do not have unlimited funds for quality gear, so when I buy a new backpack, I need to be certain that the backpack can serve a variety of purposes for me.
The Skarab 30 is just that. This daypack offers plenty of room to carry all of the day’s essentials with you, which is awesome. The Skarab was designed to carry medium sized loads in the mountains. If you have ever had a poorly padded daypack, you will rejoice at the fit and comfort of the Skarab, even if you are packing in more than a few pounds.
If you are a traveler packing electronics, the Skarab can accommodate a laptop, a DSLR camera, a jacket, water bottle, snacks, and more, with room to spare.
The Skarab 30 is obviously not big enough to be your main travel/hiking backpack unless you are traveling as an ultra-minimalist or overnight in a city.
An added bonus is that you can use the Osprey Skarab 30 as a carry-on backpack on every airline.
Read more about the top carry on backpacks here.
Is the Osprey Skarab 30 the right backpack for you?
For a full-sized daypack, it doesn’t get much better than the Skarab. Loaded with all of the features one needs in a solid daypack, it is hard to find a better alternative even in the vast sea of daypacks.
If you are looking for a backpack to strictly transport your laptop, notebooks, and file folders, the Skarab might not be your best choice as there are laptop specific backpacks out there.
Check out our article on the best laptop backpacks of 2020.
Quick Answer: The Osprey Skarab 30 is NOT for you if…
- You are looking for a large backpack or a “main” travel backpack.
- If you only need to transport electronics. They have laptop backpacks for that stuff.
- If you tend to travel with heaps of gear.
- You need a super small/ultralight backpack (like 15 liters).
- You want a modern, sexy travel backpack (go with our favorite – Nomatic).
Lightweight, high-performance backpacks like the Osprey Skarab 30 are very good at what they do, and not so good at what they don’t.
Still here? Awesome!
Let’s now dive into what makes the Osprey Skarab one of the best daypacks Osprey has ever produced…
Osprey Skarab 30 Review: Design and Performance Features
Osprey Skarab 30 Warranty: The All Mighty Guarantee
Something you should know right out of the gate: one of the best parts about Osprey’s products is their lifetime warranty (called the All Mighty Guarantee!).
Ultimately, the All Mighty Guarantee is a lifetime warranty. I love this about Osprey products. On one occasion, the buckle on my Osprey Exos 58 hipbelt broke (it was slammed in a closing trunk door), and Osprey sent me a new buckle free of charge in just a couple of days.
Likewise, the sternum strap on My Aether 70 backpack broke (after nearly a decade of heavy use) and Osprey fixed it and returned the pack to me within one week! Amazing.
Normally, avoidable damage (like closing a trunk on your backpack) is not covered by the All Mighty Guarantee, but Osprey is such a rad company that they sent me a new buckle with no questions asked.
If ever you notice any factory defect or abnormal issues of any kind with your Skarab 30, Osprey will repair it or replace the backpack altogether. It’s as simple as that.
Going with a backpack like the Osprey Skarab 30 will give you peace of mind knowing that your gear is covered by a lifetime guarantee and that’s awesome.
This is a testament to the high quality of Osprey’s products and also Osprey’s company ethics. They truly create quality backpacks, and their number one goal is taking care of their customer base.
However, note that there are some exceptions to the All-Mighty Guarantee. They will not fix accidental damage, hard use, wear & tear or damp related damage. Still, it’s a lot better than most guarantees on the market.
Osprey Skarab 30 Price
Quick Answer: Osprey Skrab 30 = $130
Most quality outdoor gear comes at a price, and the Osprey Skarab is no different. While it may be slightly overpriced for what it is, you certainly get what you pay for. As with any good outdoor product, you should only have to buy a daypack once every 10 years (and sometimes they can go for much longer than that).
Point being, the $130 you will spend now will keep your needs met for years to come, and if something goes wrong with that backpack, Osprey will fix it for you as you now know.
Osprey Skarab 30 Size
For this Osprey backpack, the Skarab 30 only comes in one size, so the choice is easy. That said, Osprey does make the Skarab in 22 and 18 liters as well if you are looking for a slightly more compact daypack.
I personally like having the 30 liter option as it allows me to transport everything I would ever need for a day in the city or in the mountains. I can easily pack my Fujifilm camera, rain jacket, water bottle, snacks, wallet, keys, smokes, and sun cream with plenty of room to spare.
Again, you don’t have to measure yourself for the Skarab 30 as it only comes in one size, but for future reference, you can check out Osprey’s sizing charts found on their website.
The Skarab 30 is intended to be a men’s backpack, which I don’t really agree with. For all intents and purposes, this backpack might as well be unisex unless you are a very small lady. However, Osprey does make the female version of the Skarab, which is the Skimmer 28.
I have never understood why outdoor companies consistently make women’s backpacks a few liters smaller than the men’s version since women often need the same storage capacity as men depending on the application of course. Oh well.
Ladies, if you are determined on getting a 30-liter backpack (over the Skimmer 28) the Skarab won’t suddenly cease to function once you sling it across your back.
That said, you can check out the Osprey Skimmer 28.
Osprey Skarab 30 Weight
Weighing in at just 1.54 lbs, the Skarab 30 offers considerable padding and a comfortable fit in a relatively low base weight package.
In terms of carrying capacity, Osprey rates the Skarab’s comfortable load carrying range from 10 – 25 pounds. I would certainly not overload the pack with more than 25 pounds.
Likewise, unless you are collecting boulders, there is really no need for you to ever pack more than 10-15 pounds anyway. Your average day pack load should be 5 – 7 pounds maximum (including water).
The way the Skarab is designed also ensures a very balanced load, granted that you pack heavier items towards the bottom of the bag.
The Skarab 30 is not the lightest daypack of all time, but what you get in terms of tough fabric, padding, and support really makes the extra material weight worth it. Lighter, flimsier backpacks also have a tendency to be uncomfortable and less durable so in the long run, the qualities of the Skarab will serve you better anyhow.
Why Lightweight Travel Kicks Ass…
From a traveler’s perspective, the Osprey Skarab 30 is a dream backpack. For the daily backpacking “grind” (if I may call it that with a smile on my face), you move around a fair bit. Well, you move around HEAPS!
Changing hostels, hopping on buses, hitchhiking down highways, checking in at airports, weaving through train stations, maneuvering around cities, rubbing shoulders in crowded marketplaces— this is backpacking. Backpacking around the world or in the backcountry does require you to carry some stuff, and you want to be able to keep that stuff as organized and safe as possible.
The Osprey Skarab 30 is versatile, tough, and comfortable… all of the best qualities of any backpack…
When paired with a full-size backpack for any given travel plan, the Skarab will complement your main bag perfectly. Voila.
Osprey Skarab 30 Storage and Packability
The Skarab 30 is a top loading backpack with 5 accompanying zippered pockets. The main storage pocket is where you will keep most of your gear.
The curved shape of the back panel means that you have to be a bit strategic about how you pack, but once you pack the bag a few times, the odd shape is easy to work with.
I am a huge fan of the Skarab’s pocket situation. Very few daypacks offer so many well-placed zippered pockets. In essence, the Skarab really feels like a full-sized backpack that has been shrunk to a daypack size.
The hipbelt features two zippered pockets for quick access to stuff like your smartphone, chewing gum, or lip balm. The two side pockets are deep and can accommodate a Nalgene bottle if you are not using the hydration reservoir.
The underside of the top lid features a zippered mesh pocket for storing other bits and pieces. Likewise, if you do not use the hydration reservoir pocket, you will have another waterproof access pocket on the exterior of the top lid. In there you can keep things like your passport, phone, and wallet unless you want to use it for the hydration reservoir of course.
All said though, I really don’t have enough positive things to say about the Skarab’s storage and organizational features. They simply kick ass and tick all the boxes for someone who is an avid hiker as well as a frequent international traveler.
For storing odd bits and pieces like sandals or a pack towel, the front “shove-it” pocket is a great addition.
Does the Osprey Skarab 30 come with a Rain Cover?
My prayers have been answered! This is the section of the review where I usually bitch and moan about the lack of rain cover but, alas those days are thankfully behind us.
Up until very recently, many of Osprey’s backpacks did not come with rain covers. I found this to be very annoying and quite cheap on the part of Osprey.
I have four Osprey backpacks and until now, I have had to buy rain covers for all of them. All except the Skarab!
The Skarab 30 does indeed include its own shiny green rain cover! Good on you, Osprey!
Osprey has integrated a rain cover pocket located on the bottom of the pack. When bad weather sits in, you can have your rain cover out of the pocket and onto the backpack in a matter of seconds.
The rain cover is adjustable and it can be tightened to the pack so it won’t blow away in strong winds.
Even though the Osprey Skarab 30 has a badass rain cover, I still pack dry bags. Dry bags pretty much guarantee that your stuff will stay dry.
With two layers of protection, you will have some peace of mind knowing that there is no way in hell your stuff is getting wet. Between the Osprey rain cover and the dry bags, you will be an unstoppable waterproof force up for any adventure.
If you are going on some crazy adventure into the jungle’s of Thailand and want a serious 100% waterproof backpack, check out my in-depth review of the best waterproof backpacks.
Osprey Skarab 30 Comfort and Breathability
One of the Skarab’s biggest selling points for me is just how comfortable this backpack is. All of the pockets and zippers in the world mean nothing if the backpack fits like shit.
I am a recent convert from my old Marmot Kompressor 18 backpack, and let me tell you: the difference is night and day. Even if you push the Skarab to its upper carry limits, your back and shoulders will be happy come by day’s end.
Depending on your body size and what you are packing, the Skarab can be adjusted and dialed in just right using the hipbelt and sternum strap adjustments.
Another new aspect of this pack is the magnetic sternum strap clip. You can quickly secure or release the strap with ease thanks to the new magnetic system.
For sweaty hikes (there is bound to be some), the back panel was thoughtfully designed to combat the dreaded back-swamp blues. I have gone on an eight-hour hike under the intense southern France sun and the Skarab breathed incredibly well. I did not have massive sweat stains on my back, even when the going was steep and a little difficult.
Due to the slightly curved shape of the pack, the back panel does not rest directly on your back, unless you sinch the straps super tight. This allows for body heat to escape and for fresh air to flow freely.
Osprey Skarab 30 Straps and Attachments
Exterior straps are crucial for any small travel backpack. They allow you to carry even more important gear outside the backpack when the interior compartment gets full.
The Osprey Skarab 30 has dual side compression straps which come in handy in a variety of scenarios.
When not in use, or to shave off a few ounces, you can remove the sleeping pad straps (which can also be used for securing a tent or camping hammock.
I’m really a big fan of side compression straps because they give you options. You might not always need the space to pack something bulky, but when you do, the side straps make it easy to bring the item along.
If you do indeed buy a lightweight travel backpack, it is crucial that it has exterior compression straps. If the backpack doesn’t have them, then you are limited to the internal compartment alone.
Thankfully though, the Osprey Skarab 30 has you covered in that regard.
Additionally, the Skarab 30 has a Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment, which gives you a place to quickly stash your poles when you need your hands free. The ice-tool loop with the bungee tie-off is also very handy if you happen to be into ice climbing… because who isn’t into ice climbing, right?
Is the Osprey Skarab 30 Compatible with a Hydration Reservoir?
Short answer: Yes it is! However, the Osprey hydration reservoir is not included and is sold separately.
Having the option of hydration reservoir storage is great if you prefer hiking or traveling with one. I personally prefer the old fashioned water bottle, but for some hikers, not having a hydration reservoir is a deal breaker.
The internal hydration reservoir sleeve securely holds the reservoir in place so you don’t have to worry about it moving around. That said, a few users have reported having issues securing the reservoir, but from what I can tell, that situation is more of an exception than the rule.
If you need hydration reservoir compatibility, look no further.
Osprey Skarab 30: Hiking vs. Traveling
It may be the case that you want a lightweight daypack that can also handle a fair bit of backcountry hiking.
The versatility of the Osprey Skarab 30 is why it is the ideal candidate for a hiking/lightweight travel bag.
If you are like me, you like to head out into the mountains to go trekking on any given adventure. Without going all the way to the full-sized hiking backpacking category, the Osprey Skarab provides the versatility to function both as a day-to-day travel bag as well as a solid day-hiking backpack. Really, it is the best of both worlds.
That said, many of the closest competitors of the Osprey Skarab 30 are either on one side or the other ( day hiking or travel). You see where I’m going with this…
Basically, if you want an awesome lightweight travel daypack that also is a fully functional day hiking backpack (and was designed for hiking), the Skarab is a great choice because you don’t have to make any compromises in that regard. Sorted.
Osprey Skarab 30 Cons: No Backpack is Perfect…
This would not be an honest review if I told you that the Skarab 30 is 100% perfect. It isn’t, but it sure is pretty damn close. Let’s now take a look at a few of the Skarab’s flaws.
Flaw #1: Side Pocket Zippers
For some reason, Osprey designed the side pocket zippers to zip from top to bottom, which I found to be a little difficult when I was wearing the pack and the pocket is loaded with stuff. This is a small detail, but an important one to note.
Flaw #2: The Hyrdation Reservoir Design
As I said before, some users have reported that the hydration pouch is difficult to secure properly. Others have reported that this is not the case. I do not like hydration reservoirs so I have no opinion on the matter, though I do like putting stuff in the hydration reservoir compartment.
Final Thoughts on the Osprey Skarab 30
Well guys, you have made it to the final act of my Osprey Skarab 30 review.
The fact is, There are a ton of hiking/travel backpacks available, but Osprey is one of the best companies in the outdoor-gear land.
If you are the kind of traveler who enjoys a tough/practical daypack that is ready to hit the trail (or city) at a moment’s notice, then look no further than the Osprey Skarab 30.
After reading this Osprey Skarab 30 review, you should be in full possession of all of the important information relating to this truly special backpack.
You’ve seen the pros and the cons, and by now you should confidently know whether the Osprey Skarab 30 backpack is perfect for your next epic journey. The choice is up to you…
I hope you have enjoyed learning everything there is to know about the Skarab 30!
Happy backpacking amigos!
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a set of trekking poles, or sort your insurance, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going.”
Need More Osprey Inspiration?
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Chris Lininger is a writer, photographer, and guide from California. He is an advocate for off-beat responsible travel and the preservation of the world’s wild places and spaces. Chris is also a founding member of Epic Backpacker Tours and leads expeditions to Pakistan throughout the year. He is currently riding out the pandemic in Bali. Follow his adventures on Instagram.