REI Co-op Traverse 65 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Overall, we felt that the new REI Co-Op Traverse 65 is an improvement over the last version. The suspension system is more streamlined and comfortable; the pockets and access points on the outside are in better locations make for more ease of use. We also liked the new, easy-to-access water bottle holders on the sides. The Uplift 2.0 feature was one aspect of the new design that we were not crazy about, though. These added straps seemed unnecessary and made for additional straps that got in the way.
This pack's strong suit is the fact that there are no surprises; what you see is what you get. The Traverse has a basic design that provides support and carrying comfort, with features that keep your gear organized without going overboard. The rain fly and hydration compatibility are positive additions, but also have become standard among backpacking packs and are nothing too special. If you are looking for a reasonably priced, well-designed pack with few bells and whistles, the Traverse is a great option.
Comfort and Suspension
The new model of the Traverse 65 weighs 4.6 pounds and thus works best carrying large loads. Unlike the previous model, the shoulder straps and waist belt on the new Traverse were comfortable and supple right away. With 65 liters of carrying capacity, this pack works well for long trips. The new suspension carries weight effectively. Though the improved hip belt is a step up, it still has a plastic plate in it that we didn't like because of its bulk and stiffness.
Much of the bulk that makes up the Traverse 65 is the suspension system. The combination of the suspended and ventilated back panel, the REI UpLift 2.0 compression system, and the bulky hip belt provides lots of support for carrying heavy loads. The newly updated model has a new back panel, with a hybrid trampoline-style design, improved ventilation, and made the pack feel lighter overall. The Uplift 2.0 system includes straps that lift the bottom of the pack up from the backside. We were not crazy about this feature since we couldn't feel a huge difference when these straps were synched down. The new hip belt, while still feeling stiff, is much more pliable than that of the previous model.
In general, it was easy to get the hang of the REI Co-Op Traverse. Without many extra frills, the pack doesn't take long to become familiarized. The small pockets on the back of the Traverse were another small complaint we had when using the pack in the field. The pockets are long and narrow, with zippers running the length of the pocket. It was hard to store items here because of their size and shape. We found that gear would constantly fall out when opening and closing the pockets. Besides these few finicky issues, the Traverse is overall a great pack that is easy to use.
The U or J-shaped zipper is a new trend that seems to be sweeping the backpacking market these days. The Traverse is no exception. It totes a J-shaped zipper, making for duffel-style entry into the body of the pack; this was one of our favorite features of the Traverse.
The Traverse falls toward the heavier end regarding weight among all the packs in this review. We tested a small pack, with a claimed weight of 4 pounds 11 ounces. The measured weight we came up with at home was 4 pounds 10 ounces (two ounces heavier than the previous model), which we found surprising. The hard plastic hip belt and large back panel add to the overall weight of this pack.
Regarding features, the pack is overall reasonably simple, and much of this weight comes from the suspension system. For a simple, yet supportive pack, the Traverse fits the bill.
The Traverse offers enough adjustments in the pack to warrant a decent score. Unlike some models with a fixed torso length, it allows you to adjust the torso to fit. As we've mentioned, we could do without the Uplift 2.0 system, and found it to be more in the way than anything. It's best to adjust the pack once to fit your body and then leave it. Fiddling with the waist belt adjustments is not the most fun aspect of backpacking, that's for sure!
The Traverse is as close as you can get to a budget pack while still getting all the benefits of a full-suspension pack. It falls in with the more affordable packs in this review. Though we didn't experience any damage to the Traverse in testing, the pack seemed less durable regarding materials used than some of the other budget-priced models we tested.
Overall, the REI Co-Op Traverse 65 is a decent pack that provides comfort, support, and simple design, which are perfect for carrying large loads. The suspension system keeps the weight centered and distributed well between hips and shoulders. The J-shaped pocket is a great feature for accessing the inside of the pack without having to unpack everything. On the downside, the Uplift 2.0 suspension system was a bit underwhelming, and the pack still feels a little bulky overall.
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