4/5 | Overall Rating
The REI Co-op Trail 25 is a well-rounded, compact and affordable daypack that features a lot of nice features. It’s a mid-sized pack, which makes it highly versatile, and it has a durable design that should hold up to anyone’s needs.
It will comfortably carry all of your necessities and, because of that price point and good feature-set, it should suit any beginner or well-seasoned veteran perfectly. It does have its downsides, most of which seem to have arisen due to the attempt to keep both the weight and the price down.
So if this sounds like something you’re searching for, look no further than the REI Co-op Trail 25.
One of the areas where REI manages to stand out from the crowd is their continued effort to produce great packs with minimal disadvantages and low prices. The Trail 25 is no exception to this, as, at just $70, it comes with a build more durable than many competitors and plenty of features. We’re not sure exactly what kind of nylon it is made from, but it’s tough and will hold up to so pretty heavy abuse; and it even comes with a rain cover that is housed in its own small pocket. It’s definitely useful for all climates!
It has 5 exterior pockets, including side stretch-mesh pockets that allow easy access to water bottles or snacks. On top of that, there are a number of mesh pockets inside the main compartment which, when paired with the panel design, make for a very easily organisable daypack. It has a number of hoops, hooks and daisy chains for exterior attachments, a hoop at the bottom for a sleeping bag or hammock, and it even has trekking pole hoops that can also be used for ice-tools.
Where the Trail 25 does fall short, however, is its comfortability. It was easily less comfortable than most of its competitors, mostly because of its lack of a decent hipbelt. The padded shoulder straps are decent enough, but if you load the pack with anything more than 6kg or 7kg, it simply becomes too uncomfortable because all of that weight sits on your shoulders. Once again, some of the shortcomings here seem to be from the effort to keep the price and weight down: the thin back panel, the unpadded hipbelt, and we even thought the zips felt a bit cheap and loose.
The REI Co-op Trail 25 has a very reasonable 25L capacity in its small and compact design. 25L is plenty for most day activities, whether that be hiking, skiing, mountain biking, or just general use around urban areas. You’ll easily fit all of your essentials, such as food, drink, extra layers, a first-aid kit, a camera, and even a laptop and other work equipment if that’s what your needs are.
Because of the lack of padding and any kind of ventilation design on the back panel, the Trail 25 does benefit from being one of the lightest 25L packs that we’ve seen with as many features as it has. It weighs in at only 708g, leaving you plenty of room to load that pack up as much as you need without it getting too heavy to carry.
Like we already said, this is where the Trail 25 really struggles. It lacks a padded hipbelt, the back panel is barely padded, and there are no compression straps to help the pack keep its shape should you load it up. That irregular shape will make your centre of gravity shift all over the place when you’re carrying it, making for a pretty horrible experience. On top of that, it’s not very adjustable at all, so if it doesn’t fit you well at first, it’s unlikely that it ever will.
As for the ventilation, well, there isn’t much. The back panel is thin and has no real shape to create airflow behind your back; but the foamy shoulder straps are decent enough. If sweating is a big issue for you, as it is for a lot of people, then this pack probably won’t be right for you. These are the sacrifices made for that great price.
Unlike comfort, the Trail 25 definitely holds its own against its more expensive competitors in this category. The 5 exterior pockets and internal mesh pockets make for good organisation options, and the hoops and attachments that we mentioned earlier are everything the average person will need. On top of that, it also has a slightly adjustable sternum strap that doubles as an emergency whistle; which is nice.
Another addition to this pack that’s always appreciated at a price like this is that it is hydration compatible, with a hook in the main compartment to keep the reservoir upright. It’s a nice feature to have in a 25L pack, as a 3L reservoir doesn’t take up a huge amount of the space. All of these features combine nicely to make the pack fairly versatile, perfect for a huge range of activities.
Like we said previously, we’re not entirely sure what kind of nylon this pack is made of, but it is pretty tough. It held up well against everything we could throw at it during our testing period, and the storable rain cover meant it could become water resistant at a moment’s notice. The only issue we had here, again, was the cheap feeling zips that unzipped themselves when the pack was fully loaded.
Other than that, the pack felt well-made and we’re confident that it will hold up well against time for the average person. The design seemed to be well thought out, and it looked pretty nice and compact too. The biggest thing we might question is the lack of compression straps, but that wasn’t too much of an issue for the majority of our usage period. Especially at $70, it’s definitely great value for your money.