Aqua Quest Sport 30 Pro Backpack Review
The Osprey Talon 33 backpack has been my favourite pack for the last 9 years.
It’s been to Australia and New Zealand, Europe, into the US and countless other trips. It’s still going strong and in amazing condition aside from 1 broken toggle. I’ll be putting together a 9 year review of the Talon soon. But there’s one problem.
It’s not waterproof.
Like most backpacks, you have to dig out the rain cover as soon as the sky gets wet. I have to carry a rain cover every where I go in case of rain to cover the up the electronics I’m almost always carrying.
Can I just get a bombproof, feature-rich backpack like the Talon that’s waterproof? Tough challenge.
Aqua Quest is one of the few waterproof backpack makers that might be up to the challenge though.
The Aqua Quest Sport 30 Pro backpack is a super-durable, 100% waterproof backpack perfect for using every day riding to work, hiking the trails, or on the road.
Aqua Quest Sport 30 Pro Backpack Specs
First the specs.
- Price (MSRP): $159.95 (CAD)
- Manufacturers weight: 1.9 lbs / 850 g
- Capacity: 1800 cu in. / 30 L
- Size laid flat: 27.5 x 12 in / 70 x 30 cm
- Size closed: 21.5 x 12 x 9 in / 55 x 30 x 23 cm
- Color options: Charcoal, Red
The Sport 30 Pro is a good price for the quality and durability of it. It’s a bit heavier than some waterproof bags but you get more durability, comfort and stability for that weight.
Here’s a quick list of the good stuff.
- Stellar waterproofing
- Internal liner protects waterproof layer
- Mesh pockets on hip belt
- Moulded foam backplate for more support and cooling
- Extra reflective material on back
Not everything is perfect. Aqua Quest, here are my suggestions for making this bag even better.
- Fix the hip belts from pointing up
- Add more pockets inside
- Make the hip belt pockets bigger
- Streamline the look of the main compartment
Comfort: the most comfortable back panel
Let’s get into the details a little more.
Most waterproof backpacks have little to no structure making heavy loads uncomfortable. The molded foam back panel on the Sport 30 Pro gives it some structure and padding without drastically increasing the weight. It also protects you from poorly packed items inside or oddly shaped things like a camera tripod.
While the pack felt comfortable with almost anything in it, heavier loads produced a slight concave curve to the back panel. This lifted the top of the panel away from my back and pointed the hip belt sides up a bit. The hip belt was still comfortable, just a bit higher than usual.
Storage: more than just a big sack
Most dry bag backpacks are just one big sack with straps glued on. Storage on the Sport 30 Pro is like that too, one big sack. There are some upgrades to the storage on this one though.
An internal nylon liner protects the waterproof outer layer and makes the inside easier to clean. Just flip the liner inside out to clean up after carrying dirty items or a spilled lunch. The liner is all black though so it can be difficult to see what’s at the bottom without direct light. During daylight hours it wasn’t a problem.
An pocket about the size of a medium sized book is sewn to the internal liner near the top for more space to store small items. Nice for key’s phone, gps or inReach.
The Sport 30 Pro has more storage on the outside than the typical dry bag backpack as well. Small mesh hip belt pockets, seven reinforced webbing loops on the front and one small water bottle pocket on each side holds more gear. 1 L bottles fit but barely. Smaller or narrower bottles like a cycling bottle fit great as did my GPS or snacks for the trail.
On one hike, I found myself late for an appointment and had to run back to the car. With water, lunch, extra layers and camera gear in the bag, I rolled the top down tighter and pulled in the shoulder straps and hip belt. The stability was as good as any 30 L pack I’ve tried running with when cinched down.
Without it being relatively full it would be tough to tighten it down enough to not bounce around. Some sort of external compression system would help with the stabilizing larger loads or adjusting smaller ones.
A common issue with waterproof backpacks is the durability. Aqua Quest is known for the durability of their packs and the Sport 30 Pro is no exception. I’ve used the pack almost every day for the last seven months hauling lunch and gym clothes to work, camera gear and layers on the motorcycle and trail clearing tools into the woods. Weather has been everything between driving rain to hot sun. The pack is still in hardly showing any signs of wear and is still 100% waterproof.
This pack was 100% waterproof to begin with and still is. 420D RipStop fabric, TPU lamination, a DWR coating, and heat taped seams should keep this pack waterproof for longer than other packs made with thinner materials. The roll top on the Sport 30 Pro isn’t meant to be submerged for long periods of time but short dunks are no issue.
Keep in mind electronics in the mesh side and hip belt pockets will not be kept dry. During testing I had batteries in the mesh pockets while I had the bag sitting in a stream. It wasn’t long enough to kill the batteries thankfully.
Basic waterproof bags aren’t much more than a dry bag with waterproof straps. Sometimes that’s all you need. When you want to carry one every day, you might need a bit more. The internal liner makes cleaning and drying easy. The molded foam back panel increases the comfort when carrying and with heavier loads. An integrated pocket inside, hip belt pockets and webbing loops allow you to carry a few more things outside.
One downside to the roll top is the lack of water bladder hose port or pocket inside. Rolling the top loosely left room for the hose though. Inside, the bag is certainly big enough to hold a bladder. There’s nothing to hang it from so it’s left to sag in the bottom.
For those that go out at night, extra reflective striping on the shoulder straps and webbing help you stay more visible.
One small complaint with the look of the bag is that it does still look like a big sack. The styling on the non-Pro version of the bag looks more sleek. In the bush I will take features and durability over looks every time but it would be nice to have both.
Conclusion on the Aqua Quest Sport 30 Pro
Because of it’s comfort, durability and waterproofness, the Sport 30 Pro earns a highly recommended.
Small improvements of bigger hip-belt pockets, lower hip-belts and a bit sleeker, more trim design would make this a perfect bag to wear for everything, every day.
After daily use for most of this year, the bag looks great and is still in great shape. It’s comfortable and holds everything I need on a day-hike easily.
Not ever having to worry about water getting in my bag soaking clothes or electronics was exactly what I was looking for in a pack. Aqua Quest does that and more.