The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

REI Co-Op Stuff Travel 20 Review

A great day pack for use at your travel destination.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $30 List | $29.95 at REI
Pros:  Small, lightweight, packable
Cons:  Low capacity, less versatile
Manufacturer:   REI
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 10, 2019
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55
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 4
  • Features - 25% 5
  • Packing & Accessibility - 20% 5
  • Durability - 15% 5
  • Weight Per Volume - 15% 10

Our Verdict

The REI Stuff Travel 20 backpack is a small day pack that can be stuffed into its own pocket and tossed in your luggage for those days around town or short hikes at your travel destination. It is only 20 liters in capacity, so it doesn't carry a ton of stuff, but it is just right for a layer, snacks, water, and personal items for a fun day out. The whole thing stuffs into a pouch small enough to fit in your hand, so it's easy to justify bringing it on your next trip, and gives you a quick solution to impromptu museum visits or day hikes. The backpack doesn't have a ton of features—we consider it more of a "feature" itself that is easy to add to your travel system if you don't have a good day pack solution, and you are reluctant to carry more stuff in order to carry your stuff.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $29.95 at REI$139.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$138.93 at REI
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$179.95 at Amazon$81.93 at REI
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Pros Small, lightweight, packableGood suspension, lightweight, affordable, gobbles gearVersatile, duffel-like ease of use, Goldilocks award for just the right balance of travel featuresEasy to pack, comfortable, high capacity, detachable day packVersatile, durable, comfortable, great value
Cons Low capacity, less versatileSquare design protrudes from back, too big for some airlines checked baggageBackpack straps not comfortable for long distances, gear sags in soft structure when not fullFrame makes main pack too big for a carry-onNo electronics pockets, not specifically designed for airport travel
Bottom Line A great day pack for use at your travel destination.The Porter 46 is a durable, easy to pack travel backpack, but may be bulky for some airlines or uses.The Headway is another stellar product from Patagonia: thoughtfully designed, rugged, easy to use, and fortified by the Ironclad guarantee and cutting edge company ethics.This is a great travel backpack with a lean toward outdoor-centered international trips.The Transporter is a highly versatile, very durable duffel that moonlights as a travel backpack.
Rating Categories REI Co-Op Stuff Travel 20 Osprey Porter 46 Patagonia Headway MLC Osprey Farpoint 55 Osprey Transporter 40
Comfort (25%)
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4
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6
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7
Features (25%)
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Packing & Accessibility (20%)
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Durability (15%)
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Weight Per Volume (15%)
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7
Specs REI Co-Op Stuff... Osprey Porter 46 Patagonia Headway... Osprey Farpoint 55 Osprey Transporter...
Volume of Main Pack (liters) 20L 46L 45L 40L 40L
Measured Weight (pounds) 0.37 lbs 3.23 lbs 3.11 lbs 4.02 lbs 2.34 lbs
Dimensions (Inches) 18.5 x 10 x 6 21 x 14 x 12 22 x 16 x 9 25 x 13 x 12 (M/L) 20.9 x 12.2 x 10.6
Carry-on Size? 22 x 14 x 9 in Yes Must be cinched down No No Yes, if squished a little
Volume of Daypack n/a n/a n/a 15L n/a
Measured when stuffed (inches) 17x8x8 22x14x12 21x14x10 24x15x12 10x14x22
Weight in ounces / Liter held 0.296 oz/L 1.12 oz/L 1.12 oz/L 1.13 oz/L 0.936 oz/L
Fabrics Ripstop nylon 420D Nylon Hex Diamond Ripstop, 420HD Nylon Packcloth Body: 9.2-oz 940-denier CORDURA Ballistic 100% nylon with polyurethane coating; Lining: 3.3-oz 200-denier 100% polyester 210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop, 600D Packcloth 840D Nylon TPU Double Coated
Frame Type None Stiff foam Padded paneling Peripheral LightWire alloy frame Framless
Access Type Top zipper Panel loading, zips all the way open Panel loading Panel loading, zips all the way open Large U-zip
# of Pockets 3 zippered 7 4 external
Laptop sleeve No Yes Yes Yes No
Waist Belt Type N/a Padded N/a Padded N/a
Sternum Strap No Yes, whistle Yes Yes, whistle Yes
Different sizes? No No No S/M, M/L No
Volume Options N/a 30L, 46L, 65L N/a 40L, 55L, 70L, 80L 40L, 65L, 95L, 130L

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Stuff Travel 20 backpack is great for quick trips around town.
The Stuff Travel 20 backpack is great for quick trips around town.

Comfort


The Stuff Travel backpack from REI is a tiny lightweight backpack that is so small it is easy to throw in your luggage for those quick jaunts out and about at your travel destination of choice. The focus on light weight and packability, however, means there are compromises, especially in the comfort metric.

The lightweight nature of the Stuff Travel backpack means the shoulder straps are thin and packable  and less comfortable for heavy loads. But the pack is small enough this is rarely a big issue.
The lightweight nature of the Stuff Travel backpack means the shoulder straps are thin and packable, and less comfortable for heavy loads. But the pack is small enough this is rarely a big issue.

With heavier loads, the shoulder straps dig in a bit, and there is no structure to the bag, so if your contents are oddly shaped, they will protrude into your back. The pack is also long, which often made it difficult to pack so that it rested flush against our backs. The bag often bowed out from our back and tugged down on our shoulders.

All this said, the pack is not big, so it won't carry heavy loads at all—and this helped keep the bag from becoming cumbersome or too uncomfortable.

If comfort is your main concern, but you really like having a small satellite daypack, check out the Osprey Farpoint. This is a large travel backpack with a small day pack attached to it. Another take on this theme is the Osprey Ozone Duplex, which doesn't score as well overall but might suit your needs and is still a very well made product from Osprey.

Features


This travel backpack is quite different from the other backpacks in this review. It does not have many features—in fact, it might better be considered a "feature" itself, as it is designed to be an easy addition to whatever travel luggage you already use. It is super light and compact, making it easy to take on nearly any adventure.

The Stuff Travel is easy to stuff into its own pocket and take with you on your next travel adventure.
The Stuff Travel is easy to stuff into its own pocket and take with you on your next travel adventure.

The few features the backpack does have are quite useful. The pouch that it stuffs into doubles as a zippered pocket inside the bag. This was a little high in the bag which made it sag awkwardly if we put too many things in it, but it is well placed for easy access.

There is a key clip inside, which also allows you to clip the stuffed bag to something else. When you clip your keys to it, however, they hang in the larger compartment of the backpack, and this often got in the way when we went to access the contents of the bag.

The bag has a stretchy external pocket that is quite useful for stuffing away a light layer of clothing or even carrying a smaller water bottle.

The Stuff Travel backpack is simple and functional with one zippered internal pocket and one stretchy external pocket.
The Stuff Travel backpack is simple and functional with one zippered internal pocket and one stretchy external pocket.

Even though this bag doesn't have lots of features, it serves as an excellent addition to other bags. For a more complete feature set, check out the Patagonia Headway MLC, a suitcase-style travel backpack, or The North Face Overhaul, a more traditional backpack.

Packing & Accessibility


The simplicity of the Stuff Travel backpack makes the contents very accessible; however, this pack is limited by its size and the focus on lightweight and compressibility. It is itself easy to pack—that's the point—but it is small and slender with an awkwardly placed internal zipper pocket that altogether makes it more challenging to pack well or carry a lot (and the shoulder straps aren't comfortable enough to support heavier loads anyway).

We also liked the top grab handle of the Stuff Travel. Sturdy and well placed.
We also liked the top grab handle of the Stuff Travel. Sturdy and well placed.

For our favorite travel backpacks to pack, check out the Osprey Porter and the Patagonia Headway MLC.

Durability


To be so lightweight and compact, the REI Stuff Travel backpack has to be made of lightweight materials—which are inherently less durable. For the uses of this pack, however, it is plenty durable.

If you're looking for the burliest travel backpack, check out the travel-backpack-meets-duffel, the Osprey Transporter. If you're looking for something more formal, the Minaal Carry-On is both elegant and highly durable. And we also liked the Patagonia Headway MLC as a durable soft suitcase.

Weight & Capacity


The OGL Test Load (left) and how much of it fit into the bag.
The OGL Test Load (left) and how much of it fit into the bag.
The Stuff Travel backpack is only 20 liters, but it is so lightweight that it gets top marks in this category. This backpack is thoughtfully designed as an addition to your current luggage, giving you an easy to pack daypack for quick trips out from your travel destination.

This is not a high capacity bag, however, and wouldn't serve as your only backpack for most travel purposes. If you're looking for a fully featured travel backpack that is still relatively lightweight, check out the Kelty Redwing

Best Applications


The Stuff Travel is great for a day out on the town and will even shed a little light rain.
The Stuff Travel is great for a day out on the town and will even shed a little light rain.
The REI Stuff Travel 20 backpack is a great addition to your luggage if you don't have a day pack or smaller bag to use around town once you arrive at your destination. This small, lightweight backpack is great for a layer, a few snacks, some water, and personal items. In milder climates, this is also a great bag for light hiking.

Value


For just under $30, this backpack is a great deal. This is an excellent solution for those who don't yet want to invest in new luggage or a full travel backpack, but need some lightweight bag to carry a few things around town once they arrive at their destination.

Conclusion


The subtle and sleek REI Stuff Travel slides easily into your luggage and your daily routine.
The subtle and sleek REI Stuff Travel slides easily into your luggage and your daily routine.
The REI Stuff Travel backpack is a small, lightweight backpack designed to be easily carried in your luggage and deployed at your destination for quick trips around town, or even the occasional light hike. This is an excellent backpack for that type of use. However, it is not the most comfortable, durable, or fully featured travel backpack—it is a niche bag. If this is a useful niche for you, we think you'll find it to be an excellent solution for an excellent price.

Lyra Pierotti