The REI Co-Op Traverse 65 is comfortable, with a frame that provides decent ventilation, and plenty of pockets to keep gear organized. REI has come out with simple, well-designed packs for all occasions for years, though they seem to get less recognition that some of the more famous pack brands. Since they have been making packs for decades, REI didn't feel like they needed to reinvent the wheel with this one. The Traverse is a simple pack that works well, with no extra frills.
REI Co-op Traverse 65 Review
Cons: Bulky, lacks durability, extra straps
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Our Analysis and Test Results
For spring 2018, we have completed testing the newly updated REI Co-op Traverse 65. Overall, we felt that this new model is an improvement over the last. 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 new 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.
The Traverse performed well regarding comfort. The new model of the Traverse weighs 4.63 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. The suspension system and metal frame are similar to the Gregory Deva 60, but feel more lightweight and more in line with the Gregory Octal 55. 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.
The Traverse falls in the middle 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. This is 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 fairly simple, and much of this weight comes from the suspension system. For a simple, yet supportive pack, the Traverse fits the bill. Other packs that fall into this weight range are the slightly lighter Gregory Deva 60 or the Lowe Alpine Manaslu. The Manaslu is a little more built up than the Traverse, making it a touch more durable. For a pack of comparable capacity, but much lighter, check out the Gregory Octal 55.
Total Volume = 61 L
Main Bag = 48 L
Pockets = 8 L
Lid = 5 L
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 hip belt is similar to the design of the Arc'teryx Bora 61, without the added cost. The new hip belt, while still feeling stiff, is much more pliable than that of the previous model.
Ease of Use
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 get acquainted with. Like the Thule Versant 60, 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 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. Similar in design to the Thule Versant 60, the Traverse 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. Regarding pockets and accessories, the Traverse is reminiscent of the Gregory Deva 60, though the hydration compatibility of the Traverse is much easier to use than that of the Deva 60. The J-zip is similar to that of the Thule Versant 60, though the Thule pack is a bit lighter overall.
REI's Traverse is a pack designed to carry heavy loads, and it comes at a reasonable price. With a removable lid, rain fly, and hydration bladder system, the Traverse is ready for a long trip into the backcountry. The pack has a strong suspension system with lots of support in the back, in addition to ventilation. If you are looking for a reasonably priced, well-designed pack with few bells and whistles, the Traverse is a great option.
The Traverse is as close as you can get to a budget pack while still getting all the benefits of a full-suspension pack. The updated model is $10 more than the previous version, which is a small price for the improvements this new model has. Now sold for $250, the Traverse falls in with The North Face Banchee 65 and the Lowe Alpine Manaslu as the more affordable packs in this review. Though the Traverse is reasonably priced, the Manaslu is a much more durable option and is the same cost. Though we didn't experience any damage to the Traverse in testing, the pack seemed less durable regarding materials used. For this reason, one of the other lower-priced packs may be a better choice.
Overall, the REI Co-Op Traverse is a decent pack that provides comfort, support, and a 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.
— Jane Jackson