Gear Review: Women’s REI Traverse 65 Pack

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As the name suggests, the REI Traverse pack boasts a roomy 65 liters of capacity, enough to easily support that challenging weeklong trek in Yosemite that my husband and I keep talking about.

As it happened, work schedules and a late-to-thaw El Niño winter meant that I tested this pack on a three-day trip near Mount Shasta in Northern California for a mini spring break getaway.

Photo by Riza.

This was my first time using a pack with a J-shape zipper on the front panel, and believe me when I tell you that I will never go back to a top-load-only option. The increased accessibility to the entire interior compartment not only meant that I didn’t have to unpack and repack several times as we prepared for the trip like I usually do (“Am I sure I packed an extra canister of fuel?”), it also made end-of-day camp setup and costume changes a breeze. I may have even uttered, “Kids today will never know how hard we had it” at one point.

Photo by Riza.

The pack was also a testament to how far women-specific designs have come. The contoured hipbelt was generously padded and stayed put, a feature I often struggle with as my waist-to-hip ratio is certainly…woman-specific, as it were. The surprising physical comfort of the hipbelt was made even more impressive by zippered pockets on either side, allowing easy access to my phone (for photos only, I promise), lip balm, and snacks without having to constantly ask my husband to grab things from outer pockets. He might have liked those pockets even more than I did.

An adjustable torso and compression straps aplenty added to the women-specific comfort of this pack. I was impressed at how well it moved with me, feeling snug enough to eliminate any jostling or rubbing without constricting my range of motion. The mesh trampoline-style back panel allowed good airflow, adding to my comfort level.

Photo by Riza.

Due to the short length of our trip I didn’t get to utilize every available pocket, which seemed like a shame since there were so many handy ways to keep gear organized and accessible. The removable top lid, which can be used as a shoulder bag for shorter hikes from base camp, has entry points on the top and bottom, as well as a separate zippered mesh pocket that is perfect for keeping more delicate items snug. The front of the pack has two long pockets and a built-in stuff pouch, as well as plenty of loops and lash points to secure bulky items outside of the pack.

None of the external pockets easily accommodated my water bottle, so when it’s finally time to take that Yosemite trip I'll buy a reservoir to slip into the hydration compartment and can make use of the nifty tube clip on the shoulder strap. In the meantime, the comfort and convenience of this pack are worth drinking to, and I’m sure my husband will gladly help me retrieve my water bottle (or did I bring that, ahem, flask?) for a proper toast.

Shop the women's REI Travers 65 pack only at REI.com.

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