REI Co-Op Stuff Travel 20 Review
Cons: Low capacity, less versatile
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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. If you just want pure travel pack comfort, we recommend the Cotopaxi Allpa.
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 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.
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 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).
For our favorite travel backpacks to pack, check out the Osprey Porter and the Patagonia MLC or the Cotopaxi Allpa.
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 Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler. If you're looking for something more formal, the Minaal Carry-On is both elegant and highly durable. And we also liked the Patagonia MLC as a durable soft suitcase.
Weight & Capacity
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.
This backpack is a great deal. It's an excellent solution for those who don't yet want to invest in new luggage or a full travel backpack but need a lightweight bag to carry a few things around town once they arrive at their destination.
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