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Patagonia Nine Trails 14L Review

A comfortable pack with solid all-around performance but no standout features
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Price:  $140 List | $139.00 at REI
Pros:  Comfortable, fairly lightweight
Cons:  Expensive, small water capacity, limited ventilation
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Nick Bruckbauer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 7, 2020
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 15
  • Ease of Drinking - 20% 5
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Storage - 20% 5
  • Weight - 10% 7
  • Ease of Cleaning - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Patagonia Nine Trails 14L is a comfortable, well-built hydration pack with solid overall performance but a few key places where it falls short of the competition. Although this is one of the most expensive packs in our lineup, it is missing some high-end features to match its high price tag - like a larger water capacity, a better drinking hose attachment, and a more supportive and better-ventilated back panel. This is certainly a handsome, well-made pack and would be a great choice for diehard Patagonia supporters, but ultimately there are other options available that perform better and cost less.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Nine Trails 14L is a solid overall performer with its classic design, lightweight construction, and comfortable well-padded shoulder straps. It doesn't have any major design weaknesses, but suffers a bit because of its small 2-liter water capacity, poorly ventilated back panel, and high price tag.

Performance Comparison


The Nine Trails 14 provides a comfortable  streamlined design.
The Nine Trails 14 provides a comfortable, streamlined design.

Ease of Drinking


The Nine Trails 14 is equipped with a 2-liter Patagonia branded reservoir manufactured by HydraPak, connected to HydraPak's classic Blaster bite valve. Many other competitors in our lineup have the same or similar hydration hardware, and the drinking performance is on par with those models. Where this pack falls a little short in this rating metric is with its small 2-liter water capacity and its outdated drinking hose attachment system. The 2-liter water capacity is one of the lowest in our entire lineup, with most competitors coming standard with a 2.5-liter or 3-liter capacity. A smaller capacity means running out of water sooner or needing to find a water source to stop and refill sooner. Especially for a 14L pack, we think a greater water capacity would be fitting.

The 2-liter water capacity (far right) is one of the smallest in our entire lineup.
The 2-liter water capacity (far right) is one of the smallest in our entire lineup.

Each shoulder strap has one keeper loop for the drinking hose, and the sternum strap has an attachment clip, but there are no other attachment points for the drinking hose or the bite valve. While this may not be a huge concern to some users, this leaves a full 12" of the end of the hose dangling around. Most modern hydration packs have additional keeper loops or a magnetic attachment point on the bite valve to keep things more secure.

Ease of Filling


The Nine Trails 14L earns slightly lower scores in this metric because the hydration bladder is a little difficult to access and remove from its sleeve within the main body of the pack, especially when the pack is fully loaded. The plastic hanging clip that the bladder attaches to is strong and sturdy but can be a little tedious to work with to remove and replace the bladder.

The hydration sleeve is housed in the main compartment  and the reservoir hanging clip can be a little bit tedious  making removing the bladder for refilling or cleaning a little challenging. The location of the bladder in the main compartment can also block access to the storage space.
The hydration sleeve is housed in the main compartment, and the reservoir hanging clip can be a little bit tedious, making removing the bladder for refilling or cleaning a little challenging. The location of the bladder in the main compartment can also block access to the storage space.

Once the reservoir is removed from its sleeve within the pack, it is easy to remove the drinking hose with the built-in quick-release button, and from there refilling the bladder is easy with its folding wide-mouth opening.

Comfort


This is one area where the Nine Trails has some bright spots. The shoulder straps and hip belt are encased in a luxuriously soft foam that is just the right balance of plush comfort and firm support. The pack hugs your shoulders and hips with a snug, balanced feel. The only drawback is that the foam back panel - although slotted for ventilation - is not very breathable.

The Patagonia Nine Trails has some very comfortable foam padding on the shoulder straps and hip belt.
The Patagonia Nine Trails has some very comfortable foam padding on the shoulder straps and hip belt.

This pack has a unique buckle design on the hip belt. Instead of the buckle coming together near your belly with two equal-length portions of the belt on your right and left sides, the right side of the belt comes around to a fixed buckle near your left hip. In the end, our testers think this is an interesting design that really doesn't impact comfort or performance one way or another.

The hip belt buckle is all the way at the left hip  rather than in the center near your belly. While unique  this doesn't seem to impact performance in any positive or negative way.
The hip belt buckle is all the way at the left hip, rather than in the center near your belly. While unique, this doesn't seem to impact performance in any positive or negative way.

Storage


Although this is tagged as a 14-liter pack, we've found that the useful storage capacity is actually quite a bit less. Access to the main storage compartment is somewhat limited due to a zipper that only goes halfway down the pack, and is blocked by the hydration sleeve that is located near the opening of the compartment.

The secondary storage compartment has a pocket for your wallet or phone and is a great spot for some snacks.
The secondary storage compartment has a pocket for your wallet or phone and is a great spot for some snacks.

The secondary storage compartment includes a small storage pocket and a keychain clip and a small bit of additional packing space. The outside of the pack has a medium-sized stuff pocket on the front and a smaller stuff pocket on each side, while the hip belt includes a zippered storage pocket on each side. Overall, the storage space and features seem noticeably smaller than other packs with similar or even smaller advertised volumes

The zippered hip belt pockets are a great spot for your keys  a flashlight  or some snacks  but are not quite big enough for a modern smartphone.
The front stuff pocket isn't huge but is perfect for throwing in an extra layer or hat and gloves.

Weight


At a measured 1 pound, 9.8 ounces (Size S/M), the Nine Trails 14 is one of the lighter packs in our lineup. Combined with a slim and streamlined shape and a comfortable design, this could be a good choice for fast and light adventures, but the limited breathability in the back panel might hold it back from these adventures.

The Nine Trails is slim and light and hugs your body tightly.
The Nine Trails is slim and light and hugs your body tightly.

Ease of Cleaning


The Nine Trails receives solid scores in this category based on the wide-mouthed HydraPak reservoir. While it's a little trickier than with others to remove the reservoir from its sleeve, it comes with a quick-release drinking hose, and can be turned completely inside out for easy cleaning, and is dishwasher safe like most HydraPak products.

Although it's a little tedious to remove the bladder from the pack  once it's out  the wide-mouth folding opening and the quick-release drinking hose attachment make refilling a breeze.
Although it's a little tedious to remove the bladder from the pack, once it's out, the wide-mouth folding opening and the quick-release drinking hose attachment make refilling a breeze.

Value


While this is certainly a comfortable and well-built pack, it has one of the smallest hydration bladder capacities in our lineup, does not provide as much real-world storage space as its listed volume indicates, and is missing some key features found on most other models in its price range. Because of its high price tag, we think most users will find a better value with other products.

The Nine Trails 14 is a comfortable and well-made pack but is missing out on a few key features found on other models in its price range.
The Nine Trails 14 is a comfortable and well-made pack but is missing out on a few key features found on other models in its price range.

Conclusion


The Patagonia Nine Trails 14L has a high-quality, comfortable, lightweight design with solid overall performance but no standout features. Ultimately, it falls short of other models in our lineup with its limited storage volume, water carrying capacity, and features list, but is still a capable option for fast and light adventures.


Nick Bruckbauer