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Hands-on Gear Review
The Crestrail is one of the better packs we tested, especially for the price. It was the fourth highest rated pack and nearly got our Best Buy Award; it was barely edged out by the Osprey Aether. The Aether is $10 more expensive, but it is also carried at just about every outdoor retailer and therefor it can often be found on sale for $20 less than the Crestrail. Backpackers and trekkers who like the Aether but wish it had more pockets should look at the Crestrail. It is listed as $10 less than the Aether. The Crestrail is a considerable improvement over one of REI's mid-sized packs, the Mars 80, in feature usability. And the Crestrail is considerably lighter.
RELATED: Our complete review of backpacking backpacks
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
We were surprised how comfortable this pack was, especially considering its low weight and low price. The design and the foam used in the shoulder straps and waist belt was good, nicer than the Aircontact 65 but not quite as nice as the Osprey Aether. The Aether used a nicer face fabric, something that we noticed even more if shirtless, with a tank top, or even with just a lighter layer on. The shoulder straps and waist belt did absorb a little more water than other packs we tested, making the pack heavier during rain storms and a lot less pleasant to put on when wet.
At 4 lbs. 13 oz. it was the lightest pack we tested that featured a sleeping bag compartment. It was a little heavier than the Gregory Z-pack and the Cilo Gear 60L Worksac but a little lighter than the Osprey Aether. This is a very light pack considering how comfortable and feature-rich it is. It is the same weight as our Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Altra 65.
The suspension was as good as the Osprey Aether, which is slightly heavier and more expensive. It handled loads well to 40-45 lbs. before starting to get less comfortable.
Ease of Use
We tested a lot of packs with a lot of pockets, but the Crestrail seems to have the best designed and easiest to use pockets of any of the more fully featured packs. The zippered pocket on the back of the pack was easy to get into even when the pack was full. The lid of the pack was big enough and wasn't too hard to get into. We liked the stretch fabric pocket on the back of the pack for strangely shaped items like flip flops or that layer that we just shed and didn't want to get into the main part of the pack to stow it.
The super long straps on the bottom of the pack are great. The water bottle pockets weren't quite as nice as those on other packs we tested but they worked nearly as well. We like the double pocket (one pocket inside the lid) as a great place to put car keys, cell phones, or other items that we don't want falling out accidentally.
Some people might like the two small access pockets higher on the pack, but we thought that they should have just put both zippers on one side to make a slightly bigger easier to use access point versus two hard to use ones. We also liked the reverse pull waist belt.
This is a very adjustable pack, making it a great choice for kids who are growing or for folks who have a hard time with fit and need a pack they can fully dial in to their frame. For smaller users the sternum strap (AKA the chest strap) was too low)
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— Ian Nicholson
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 22, 2014
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