REI Co-op Traverse 60 Backpack Review

With a decidedly tough build and easy adjustability, REI’s popular backpacking pack is a solid but unremarkable mid-range option

Table of Contents

4 lbs. 4 oz. (size M)

Nylon (300D)

32, 60L

Durable construction, functional top lid/daypack, and large hipbelt pockets.

Not a leader in weight, comfort, or ventilation.

New for 2020, REI made a number of improvements to their Traverse backpack range. It now comes in two sizes (32 as well as 60L) The company has made the backpack more user-friendly to appeal to the common backpacker on the weekend. However, after evaluating the most recent Traverse 60 during a backpacking trip through the Washington’s Hoh Rainforest, we came out with mixed feelings It’s undeniably robust and comes with some useful elements like huge hipbelt pockets, however its padding, vents and overall layout seem like a step back from the previous generation. We’ll break down our experience using Traverse 60. Traverse 60. To find out how it stacks up against the other options, check out our review of the most effective backpacking bags.

Performance

Carrying Comfort

The current trend in backpacking backpack design has been to strategically placed padding and the extensive mesh. This creates REI Co-op’s new Traverse 60 design and feel little old-fashioned. This moderately thick but comfortable cushioning in the hip belt extends all the way to in the center of the bag as well as around the lumbar area and the shoulder straps as well as back have a similarly hefty design. The result is an adequate initial level of comfort, however the cushioning felt cheap and was beginning to show wear as we travelled with the weight of the burden (we carried between 30-40 lbs. during our backpacking trip).

 

 

To be precise The Traverse’s moderately dense cushioning and strong frame made of metal makes it more comfortable and secure than many ultralight models, however it didn’t quite meet the standards in comparison to the Osprey Aether 65 which we tested with it. Particularly the Traverse, the Traverse isn’t as close the back of your body as we’d likeit to, and also lacks a comfortable and customized fit and doesn’t move as smoothly like the Osprey. This was especially apparent when we were on more difficult and technical sections of the trail, as we traversed numerous blowdowns as well as creek crossings. It is possible to save more than $50 by choosing the REI however, both of our test participants were of the opinion that we’d prefer to spend more (and take on the moderate weight penalty) to get the more sophisticated Aether If we were planning to cover longer distances with the full weight (35 pounds. and above). However, the Traverse remains a good choice as a mid-range model that can be serviced for lighter and shorter weekends and the degree of adjustment (more about this later) makes it simple to adjust the the perfect fit.

Weight

At 4 pounds and 4 ounces for the medium size it’s the REI Co-op Traverse 60 is definitely average in terms of weight. It’s not even close to ultralight models like that of Granite Gear Blaze 60 (3 3 pounds. ), Osprey Exos 58 (2 lbs. 10.4 oz. ) (or the REI’s Flash 55 (2 pounds. 10 oz.) which will save you more than one pound However, the price is that it’s much more durable and features-rich than the other options. The better comparison is Gregory’s comparable Paragon that weighs at just 3 tons 9.3 ounces for the large and medium size, yet again it uses less tougher materials. Also, the Traverse isn’t as heavy-duty such as the Aether 65 (4 4 lbs. 14.7 oz.) and Osprey’s extremely well-rounded Atmos AG (4 lbs. 9 oz.). Similar to carrying ease it’s the Traverse isn’t an outstanding model due to its weight, but it is perfect for people who appreciate the sturdy construction.

Organization

The organization isn’t the best in the Traverse. On the one hand, you have plenty of external storage, with two hugely zippered pockets at the front of the lid. There are also huge zipper pockets that are located on the hipbelt these pockets can easily take a smartphone as well as other smaller items that you need easily and quickly access to. As you move towards on the inside of the bag, you’ll find specific accessories for trekking poles as well as ice axes that’s pretty standard, but can add to the overall ease of use. We also love the huge “shove-it” pockets along the front. It’s made of the toughest nylon fabric, with a slight stretch on the sides to balance the tear resistance (many pack designs use less sturdy mesh) with sufficient “give” to hold larger things like jackets and shoes. Another plus is the Pack mod modular system that we tried earlier with the REI Flash 55 pack and allows you to modify the design of the strap to fit the dimensions and shape of the load you’re carrying.

We have a couple of storage-related complaints to share. A major issue is that REI has removed the J-shaped zipper that runs along the front of the model, which allowed for easy accessibility to the compartment’s main. The pack does have a designated sleeping bag opening on the bottom, but the main access to the compartment is something we appreciate in terms of getting gear out quickly. We were also dissatisfied with the dual pockets that are located on both ends of the bag that includes an area for water bottles and an additional space for more bulky objects. We particularly found the bottle area to be difficult to access without taking off the bag (even when it’s pointed toward the user) as well as the bigger drop-in pockets aren’t as elastic that makes the openings open and difficult to use with smaller and less prominent items. In the end it’s a good arrangement if you intend to store larger items such as an inflatable sleep pad as well as tent poles but we’d prefer a more secure and safer layout.

Convertible Top Lid
We’ve tested a range of top lid/daypack styles over time, but believe it’s worthwhile to highlight the Traverse’s straightforward but effective setup. It’s also easy to take off and assemble just take off the four buckles holding it to the backpack and then pull the shoulder straps hidden beneath the lid, and secure them using two buckles mentioned earlier. Once you’ve secured them, you’ll will have plenty of storage space–enough to carry the necessities for a couple hours of hiking, and reconnecting the lid is also easy. For more adventurous trips, you’ll likely require a more comprehensive backpack with a hipbelt ( REI’s own Flash 18 is a dependable option in this regard) The Top lid of the Traverse is a minimalist and well-thought out design for shorter excursions away from camp.

 

 

Ventilation

As we discussed in the previous paragraph it’s true that the padding used on the Traverse is old-fashioned in appearance and feel to it which means it is not ventilated properly. The temperatures during our late March hiking trip through Hoh Rainforest Hoh Rainforest were extremely moderate, with the highest temperatures of the 50s to low 50s Fahrenheit, however even at that we could feel our backs becoming hot. When temperatures are hot and the inability to breathe is likely to cause sweating a lot particularly in the back region of the lumbar. REI did add a few tiny channels that run between the padding in into the center and also widthwise in the middle, but they provide very little airflow particularly when compared to the numerous mesh-laden backpacking bags that are available. Also, the more simple design is likely to last longer in usage, however the ventilation system is clearly a compromise.

Weather Protection

It is worth noting that the REI Co-op Traverse 60 is equipped with a rain cover. It’s great for keeping against rain. However, the dedicated storage pocket on the right side of the hip (between the bottle of water and the bigger side pocket) makes it take up the main compartment slightly. Another issue is the absence of a durable water repellent (DWR) coating that lets moisture absorb relatively quickly through the outer fabric. For sure, the burly nylon fabric can be used to ward off moderate moisture, laying the pack on wet ground or in damp brush however, you’ll have to cover the rain with a rain cover (or place a garbage bag on the inside part of your pack using the garbage bag) for more sloppy and severe weather conditions.

Qualitative Build, and Long-Term Durability

It’s apparent when using this Traverse that REI took a deliberate decision to put emphasis on the durability. The bulk of this pack constructed using a strong 300-denier (D) Ripstop nylon, which is ideal for everything from sitting on sharp rocks (we’ve punched holes into packs to prevent this) to bushwhacking off trail. Additionally, the areas that typically include abrasion-prone open mesh — like the shove-it pockets along the front, and the larger side pockets — also use the ripstop nylon. However, despite the strength it’s like the nylon that you find on low-end models such as the Rook, which retails for $165 from Osprey and all of the construction has the same basic appearance in feel and look (including the soft padding). We had no issues that resulted in zipper malfunctions or early signs of wear during our trip, however it’s not the most luxurious-feeling style.

Sizing and Fit

With three sizes of torsos as well as a big torso/small hipbelt combo, it’s simple to get an all-around fit using this model. REI Traverse 60. Two of our testers wore the same medium-sized pack (for comparison, they’ve got the 18- and 20-inch. torsos) The pair did not have any size issues. It’s simple and fast to move the shoulder straps upwards and down. The labeling is clearly marked with distinct areas for 18, 19 and 20 inches. There’s plenty of flexibility in the hip belt too. Like we said the Traverse isn’t a comforting or squishy feel, however the variety of adjustments is well-constructed to dial into a perfect fit.

Sustainability

REI has made significant steps towards creating more sustainable products over the past few years, and their most recent Traverse is a prime example. Particularly, the pack is made of recycled nylon, and is bluesign-approved, which means it’s been verified as safe for employees and consumers as well as the environment. The certification entails removing dangerous chemicals used in the production process and also meeting the strictest standards for air and water emissions, in addition to other requirements (you can find out more information about bluesign in this article). Overall we’re very happy to see these initiatives getting more frequent within REI’s product line.

Other versions of REI Co-op Traverse

The men’s Traverse 60 backpack on our backpacking adventure in Washington State, and REI offers a women’s version at the same cost. This female version of the Traverse has a similar design and construction (including options in the two same colorways) however, it’s available with slightly different sizes to suit smaller frames, such as an XS option that can be used for 15-17-inch to 17-inch torsos. The final piece of the Traverse collection The pack is available in a smaller 32-liter version for those who prefer backpacking in the mornings, or for simple overnight trips ($139 2 pounds. 9 oz. for a medium-sized male).

 

 

What We Like About

  • Superior durability thanks to the strong 300-denier ripstop nylon used on the body of the pack. Furthermore, pockets like the front shove-it pockets as well as the more spacious side pockets (which usually are constructed from mesh) are also made of the burly material.
  • The pockets of hipbelts are large and can easily accommodate the smartphone as well as other objects you may need easy access to while when hiking.
  • The design of the convertible top lid/daypack is easy to use, but provides functional storage for hikes that are short from the camp.
  • Four sizes of options and plenty of adjustment at the torso as well as the waist lets you quickly dial in your the perfect fit.

The Things We Do Not

  • The all-day comfort is noticeably less of the rest, sporting the padding being a bit cheap and does not perform well under the weight of a large weight.
  • The thick padding and the absence of mesh suspended along the backpanel make the Traverse an inefficient breather even at moderate temperatures.
  • Despite its use of durable components, the Traverse has a distinct budget design and style that’s similar to entry-level models.
  • The organization could be improved There’s no second entry point to the primary compartment, and the more spacious side pockets aren’t able to hold up well when storing smaller objects.

Comparative Table

PACKPRICEWEIGHTFABRICCAPACITIESAccessPOCKETS
REI Co-op Traverse 60$2294 lbs. 4 oz.Nylon (300D)32, 60LTop10 exterior
Gregory Paragon 58$2303 lbs. 9.3 oz.Nylon (100D and Nylon (100D &)48, 58, 68LTop Side6 exterior
Osprey Aether 65$2804 lbs. 14.7 oz.Nylon (210D and the 420D)55, 65LFront and top7 exterior
Deuter Aircontact Lite$2003 lbs. 14 oz.Nylon (210D)60, 75LTop4 exterior
Granite Gear Blaze 60$2703 lbs. 0 oz.Nylon (100D and Nylon (100D &)60LFront, top6 exterior
REI Co-op Flash 55$1992 lbs. 10 oz.Nylon (100D and 100D and)45, 55LTop9 exterior

The Contest

REI’s new Traverse 60 backpack is an sturdy as well-designed backpacking bag for those who love to go on weekend adventures However, there are alternatives that are superior in terms of weight, comfort, and airflow. One of these is the Gregory Paragon 58 which is with the exact price like the REI and comfortably carries about the same weight (we found it the most comfortable at less than 40 pounds.). The Paragon weighs less, at just 3 pounds 9.3 pounds, has an improved layout for organization (including access from the side into the central compartment) It also has an open-cell foam back panel which allows for more airflow. The REI has the edge in terms of durability by having thicker fabrics, however, we’d give the edge overall to the Gregory because of its more rounded style.

Osprey is renowned for its spacious and well-constructed bags which is why the newly updated Aether 65 is no different. The Aether is sturdy thanks to the combination of 210- and 420-denier nylon. It’s more air-conditioned than the Traverse thanks to mesh cutouts on the back panel as well as a little more organization thanks to a J-shaped zipper on the front that allows access to your main storage compartment. The Osprey weighs about 10 ounces heavier compared to the Traverse with a weight of 4 pounds 14.7 pounds, however, as we’ve mentioned previously that all-day comfort was significantly improved thanks to the Osprey’s comfortable feeling, close-fitting and adaptable design. The Aether is priced $50 more than REI however, the gains in the quality of materials and performance on the trail are evident.

 

 

Deuter is another market leader in the field of pack design and Deuter is another pack maker that’s Aircontact Lite 50+10 is a great balance of the weight and cost. At just 3 pounds 14 ounces and 200 dollars this pack is less expensive than the Traverse by about 6 ounces or $30 We like the expandable top which can be stowed to a smaller size or expand to hold several days of equipment. However, we did not consider the backpanel of the Deuter to be very comfortable due to the visible pressure points at the back. Additionally, its thin and tall design makes it difficult to transport and comes across as best suited for people who have smaller or shorter frames. Also it is also the case that the Aircontact is available in one size, compared to those offered by REI’s. Also, we appreciate the Deuter’s lighter price and weight, but we prefer the REI is the more durable design and is able to accommodate a larger selection of sizes and body shapes.

The Blaze is a step towards the ultralight end of the spectrum Granite Gear’s Blaze 60 weighs only 3 pounds yet can pack in an impressive amount of confort and comfort. When we tested the Blaze we discovered that it could handle an extremely heavy load well (it’s tested to carry 50 pounds. ) The zippered access to inside the compartment makes it simple and easy to get gear while on the trail. We also love the larger side pockets to store bulky items with drawstring closures that provide better safety than the Traverse’s less elastic pockets that drop in. Granite Gear Granite Gear does cost $40 more than REI but isn’t as sturdy and lacks breathability when compared with mesh-heavy models such as the Osprey Aether as well as Atmos AG, but the extra comfort of carrying and the functional organization for a lower weight is hard to beat.

 

 

The final option is REI’s own collection which is the FLASH 55. Although it was updated a few years before the updated Traverse however, the Flash is a lot more up-to-date and features the identical Packmod system to adjust the layout of compression to suit your needs (you can also take out pockets on the shoulder straps and hip belts) and clever organization, seam tape to the top of the bag, as well as a useful roll-top closure that allows you to secure things. The only drawbacks to it are its adjustability and durability. the shoulder straps on the Flash are fixed to the straps as is the body of the pack, which is made of a thinner and less durable 100-denier nylon ripstop (the top has 420D). However, at only 2 pounds and 10 ounces, and $199 The Flash 55 is impressively light and offers a good value which makes it our pick for the best REI design of the year.

Editor’s note: Typically, we include a live price comparability table in our reviews of outdoor gear but the Traverse is only sold through REI Co-op. You can check out this Traverse 60’s page on this site and help us out in the process. Thanks!