Daypacks used to be simple pieces of gear that didn't cost a lot of money. These days, most are made with fancy high-tech materials and intricate designs, and their price reflects that. Thankfully, the folks at REI are still producing high-quality packs at a reasonable price, and we're happy to give their Co-op Trail 25 pack our Best Buy award. It's a roomy and versatile daypack with some nice extra features, and it's only half the price of some of the other packs in this review. It doesn't have a hip belt (unless you count the piece of one-inch webbing, which doesn't do much), so if you tend to day hike with a lot of gear, you may want a different option. The shoulder straps are well-padded though, and it can carry a light load comfortably. If you plan on going on epic long day hikes, our Editors' Choice winner, the CamelBak Sequoia 22, is a better option. We also preferred the Osprey Tempest 20 for around town wear. And if you like the price point of this pack but want something a little bigger (and with a hip belt), REI makes a Trail 40 that retails for $109.
REI Co-op Trail 25 - Women's ReviewPrice: $70 List Pros: Inexpensive, lightweight, included rain cover
Cons: Hipbelt is only a strap, poor ventilation, lots of dangling straps
Bottom line: An inexpensive daypack for those on a budget or who don't use hip belts.
Volume/Capacity (liters): 25
Back Construction: Padded, mesh covered
RELATED REVIEW: Best Daypacks For Women
Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Co-op Trail 25 is a lightweight daypack with lots of room and lots of features. It's made with lightweight nylon and weighs 25 ounces. It comes in one size only (17-19 inch torso length).
We rated this pack fairly low for comfort, mostly due to the lack of a proper hip belt. The shoulder straps are well-padded and comfortable, but all of the weight in your pack ends up on them. As such, it wasn't as comfortable as other models.
There is a one-inch webbing hip belt, but it does little to transfer the weight off of your shoulders and on to your hips. There's a reason why every other manufacturer that we tested uses a 3-4 inch padded hip belt on their daypacks, and it's time REI did too! Webbing hip belts like this one do help prevent the pack from shifting around too much, but that is about it. REI even states that this pack is rated to hold up to 30 pounds, but there's no way you'd want to carry that much weight without a hip belt. The 40L version of this pack does have a proper hip belt, and we'd love to see that on this model as well.
Also, while there is a bit of framing in the back, it's easily pushed inward, particularly if you have a full hydration bladder in the sleeve. That means that you'll feel like the pack is pushing into you once it's full, which is both uncomfortable and reduces airflow. The back is made of mesh to help with ventilation and keep you less sweaty back there, but compared to the completely open mesh backs of the Osprey Sirrus 24 and the Deuter Futura 22 SL, this pack was not as good as ventilating.
The Trail 25 had some great features that we loved and only a few that we weren't so excited about, hence our 8/10 rating for this category.
We liked the stowable rain cover, which is low profile and doesn't take up too much room in the bottom of the pack or stick out like the Osprey Sirrus 24's does. The trekking pole fasteners work well and double as ice axe holders, and there are several mesh pockets both inside and outside the bag for organizing your gear. There's also a small pocket on the side of the pack for stowing a pair of sunglasses, which is a nice feature.
What we weren't so excited about was all of the straps. There are straps on the bottom, for securing a sleeping bag or pad, and more at the top for the same. There are also dual daisy chains sewn onto the outside for 10 more attachment points. With the large internal volume and ability to attach tons of gear on the outside, you could easily take this pack on an overnight trip, but without a proper hip belt, your shoulders would not be too happy! Frankly, we'd rather see some side compression straps that would help tighten things down rather than let us carry more gear in this bag.
This pack weighs 25 ounces, making it one of the lighter models in this review, which is great because it's also one of the largest packs that we tested, though some of that weight savings undoubtedly comes at the expense of a load-bearing hip belt.
Even lighter than this pack was the Mammut Lithia Speed 15 (19 ounces), which does come with a hip belt but can't carry quite as much as the Trail. The heaviest packs in this review, the Deuter Futura 22 SL and Osprey Sirrus 24, weigh about a pound more than this one due to their frames' design, but they are also more comfortable and breathable, so we feel like that extra pound is worth it.
This daypack lacks a little in adjustability, and as the chart below shows, there were other models that were more adjustable than this one.
It comes in one size only and has a 17-inch torso length. REI says that it fits 17-19 inch torsos, and it did indeed fit our main tester and her 19-inch torso. In fact, this pack might feel a little large on shorter ladies. (The one bonus to no hip belt is that the exact sizing of the back is not quite as important.) The shoulder straps have no load-lifting tensioners, which means that if you carry a lot of weight in it, the weight will sit on your lumbar area. If you are a petite hiker, you might find a better fit in the Osprey Tempest 20.
We didn't experience any durability issues during our testing period but did notice some complaints about the Trail series in other online user reviews, including seams blowing out and zipper quality issues, and our score reflects that a little.
The body of the pack is made of lightweight nylon, but the bottom is made with a slightly thicker nylon, which we appreciated as it is a high-wear spot in most packs. We also had to take into account that REI only warranties its product now for the first year against defects — after that, you are out of luck. Other companies, like Osprey, offer a lifetime guarantee, which is something worth paying a little extra for if you are notoriously hard on your gear.
This is a great daypack for those who either pack super light or don't like to use hip belts on their day hikes. While there are enough extra attachments on the outside of the REI Co-op Trail 25 to carry gear for an overnight trip, it's hard for us to recommend it for that purpose, as your shoulders probably won't be very happy if you load this pack down and then hike for miles in it. Light day hikes are the way to go with this model, and we found it particularly useful when heading out with some young kids. We were able to stuff three rain jackets and extra layers in it along with snacks without it being too heavy.
This pack retails for $70, which is a real steal in a category full of $130-$140 packs. If you're getting into hiking and laying out a lot of money for all of the gear you need (shoes/boots/clothes/camping equipment, etc.), you can save a lot of money on this purchase and still get a decent bag.
The REI Co-op Trail 25 has a lot going for it, including comfortable shoulder straps, great features, and a lightweight construction. If it had a proper hip belt, it would even be in contention for our Editors' Choice award, but unfortunately, that compromised its comfort a bit. Hip belts aren't for everyone though, and if you're the type of hiker who rarely does theirs up on a day hike, then this might be the best choice for you.
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: August 28, 2017
Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...