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REI Co-op Traverse 70 Review

This everything-but-the-kitchen-sink pack is ready to fit whatever you can cram in
REI Co-op Traverse 70
Credit: REI Co-op
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Price:  $250 List
Pros:  Excellent pockets, good access, included rain cover
Cons:  Heavy, lumbar padding sometimes hard to situate, unsatisfying ventilation
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 8, 2019
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Suspension and Comfort - 45% 7.0
  • Weight - 20% 5.0
  • Features and Ease of Use - 20% 9.0
  • Adjustability - 15% 7.0

Our Verdict

The REI Co-Op Traverse 70 is a substantial pack at a decent price point. It is loaded with features and has enough capacity for long hauls. A unique set of compression straps support the suspension system to keep pack weight closer to your body. We love the supplemental gear storage pouch and dual zippered pockets on the front. Though you will pay for these features with additional weight and some of the comfort features like the lumbar support foam leave something to be desired, we like the thoughtful approach to this pack.

Our Analysis and Test Results

Our testers love the features that this pack has to offer. It is a product for the outdoor enthusiast who loves to stay organized, even in the backcountry. We think that its suspension and comfort are satisfactory, but still have room for improvement.

Performance Comparison


This pack pays a weight penalty for all of its additional features but otherwise scores solidly, keeping it nestled amongst the pack.

REI Co-op Traverse 70 backpacks backpacking - this full-featured pack is a good choice for those who prioritize...
This full-featured pack is a good choice for those who prioritize organization and access.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Suspension and Comfort


The design elements of this pack that increase its comfort are good ideas; they just need a little refinement. The waist belt has two types of padding on the inside face: softer and form-fitting on the top and bottom and firmer in the middle. This middle section is also recessed, we think so that the whole belt can "cradle" the iliac crest (the protruding part of your pelvis). It's a nice design, but our testers found that the firmer foam and rougher mesh of the middle strip were both somewhat abrasive after a few miles.

REI Co-op Traverse 70 backpacks backpacking - the waist belt is nice and wide, covering a lot of surface area...
The waist belt is nice and wide, covering a lot of surface area around the hips.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Similarly, the lumbar foam support is helpful, but it also reduces the margin for error in terms of pack adjustment. Too high or too low and it's just uncomfortable in the long run. The shoulder straps sit well and have a thicker-than-average amount of padding.

The suspension of this pack is reliable but could be a little bit more robust. The trampoline back panel is capable of conforming to your back, but it doesn't sit nearly as far off of the pack body as some others which means that extra-heavy loads may dig in and ventilation decreases.

REI Co-op Traverse 70 backpacks backpacking - the mesh panel only permits minimal air circulation. also visible is...
The mesh panel only permits minimal air circulation. Also visible is the lumbar foam, which needs to be positioned just right to make it comfortable.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The waist belt also slightly rotates as you step, shifting pack weight accordingly. It's not nearly as effective as a true active suspension, but our testers did notice that this pack provided more balance than one with a static waist belt. It may make for a sweatier experience, but we do like the width of the belt as well.

The Traverse 70 also comes with a couple of extra side compression straps toward the bottom that tighten to draw weight closer to the body, thus reducing the amount of torque that the pack is exerting and increasing balance.

Features and Ease of Use


The additional features and pockets are where this pack shines. Its top lid is accessible from both a traditional exterior zip as well as from underneath. It is also detachable from the main pack and comes with straps that convert it into a nifty (if not totally stylish) day pack. There is a second mesh compartment on the underside that stores the included rain cover but if you know it's going to be a dry trip, you can leave the cover behind, save some weight and increase storage space.

The lid detaches and can be used as a day pack.
The lid detaches and can be used as a day pack.
Day pack straps deployed.
Day pack straps deployed.

There is good access to the main compartment as well. The pack is a standard top loader but has a large U-shaped zipper that opens up the entire front of the unit. Two zippered waistbelt pockets, one mesh, one fully enclosed, make for excellent snack storage. The water bottle compartments have side access so you can grab a bottle on the move.

Items in the lid can also be pulled out from the underside.
Items in the lid can also be pulled out from the underside.
This pack has solid lid access from the top.
This pack has solid lid access from the top.

The additional storage pocket on the front can comfortably accommodate a rain jacket or an article of clothing that needs to dry out. Also attached to this panel are two side zip pockets that can hold additional fuel or water bottles. There are also a variety of straps, ice ax loops, and cinch cords to easily attach trekking poles, axes, or any other item that doesn't fit in the main compartment.

REI Co-op Traverse 70 backpacks backpacking - water bottles and jars of peanut butter are easy to reach from the...
Water bottles and jars of peanut butter are easy to reach from the side access pockets.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weight


At just about 4.7 pounds, the Traverse 70 is no lightweight. It's one of the heaviest packs in the review. It's understandable that this would be the case with all of its extra features but if you are considering this pack because of the number of its eighth pocket, now is a good time to ask yourself whether or not you truly need all of them.

REI Co-op Traverse 70 backpacks backpacking - this cinch cord is handy but it is also one of a large handful of...
This cinch cord is handy but it is also one of a large handful of features that bump up the weight of this pack.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Adjustability and Fit


The REI Traverse 70 comes in three sizes. Each one accommodates three inches of torso length (overlapping a bit with adjacent sizes) as well as 8-10 inches in waist size. The smallest waist size you can get to on a small is 32 inches, so keep that in mind if you are starting with a slim waist and think you could drop some more circumference throughout your trip. To adjust, you have to unclip the mesh back and fiddle with some flaps and velcro to change the torso length.

REI Co-op Traverse 70 backpacks backpacking - this pack has a beefy waist belt and moderately ergonomic shoulder...
This pack has a beefy waist belt and moderately ergonomic shoulder straps that together make for decent load carrying on longer adventures.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Value


We think that the REI Traverse 70 offers fair value. You get what you pay for, and what you pay for is a solid pack with a ton of organizational features. It is a sturdy design that we think carries regular and above-average loads well enough that it could be the do-it-all pack for most folks.

Conclusion


This pack is a durable companion. It offers tons of features, perhaps more than it needs to. In any case, if you are in the market for a model that will keep you organized while you cover miles, the REI Traverse 70 is worth a strong look.

REI Co-op Traverse 70 backpacks backpacking - this pack keeps you organized in the backcountry.
This pack keeps you organized in the backcountry.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch
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