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Hands-on Gear Review
REI Stuff Travel Daypack 22 Review
Cons: Uncomfortable shoulder straps, no hip/sternum straps
Bottom line: Our favorite option for a backpack once we arrive at our travel destination.
For $30, there are few reasons not to pick up the REI Stuff Travel Daypack 22 for your next adventure. It is the perfect companion piece for your luggage or larger travel pack and the winner of our Top Pick Award. A great size for a short hike or day at the beach, this bag does a great job of carrying your things just about anywhere. Plus, it collapses down into its own lid, making it the perfect piece to toss into your main travel pack or suitcase before heading out on your next trip. Overall, it makes adventuring fun and easy, whether you're halfway across the country, exploring the far reaches of the globe, or just using as a handy little stuff sack.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Travel Backpacks and Carry-On Alternatives
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This little pack makes a great addition to any of the other packs in this review, especially those that don't come with a daypack. If you buy this pack and the Osprey Porter 46, you'll have a sweet combo with 50% more volume at a cheaper price than the Editors' Choice The North Face Overhaul 40.
While this pack is fairly comfortable with lighter loads (less than 8 pounds), it lost some comfort points as we loaded it down with more gear. Since the REI Stuff Travel Daypack doesn't come with chest or sternum straps, all the weight falls directly onto the shoulders and because of the way the shoulder straps are designed (they create a "horseshoe" at the top) the strap system can dig into the back of the neck if you opt to wear the pack more snugly. However, when just carrying "day necessities" like a guidebook, liter of water, wallet, camera, and spare jacket (which comes to about 6 pounds), this pack performed really well. If you carry much more, however, this pack would be quite a bit more comfortable if it had padding on the shoulder straps and a sternum straps.
The Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon is the other pack in this review best suited to a daypack, and it is more comfortable, more durable, and has better features. On the flip side, it's much heavier, bulkier, and nine times the price. While it's significantly less comfortable than a full blown backpack, the unstructured REI Stuff Travel packs down the size of a baseball. You can always find room for this pack in your bag where other daypacks would take up too much space - the pack you have is infinitely more comfortable than the pack you don't have.
This pack is quite similar to the REI Flash 18 pack. The biggest differences are that the Flash has a hip belt and sternum strap but lacks an external water bottle pockets and a brain. The Flash 18 also won a Best Buy award in our Best Daypack review because it is priced similarly to the Stuff Travel and similarly makes a great addition to your kit. If this is the style of pack you're looking for, make sure you check it out.
Ultimately, if you're going to be carrying around less than 15 pounds, this pack is comfortable enough. Its small size makes it the perfect addition to your existing luggage.
A super packable little daypack, the REI Stuff Travel Pack folds up into its own zippered pouch, compressing down to about 8 x 7 x 2 inches. When it's compressed into its own lid, the REI pack also has a gear loop for easy clipping. It collapses down to about the same size of that one extra t-shirt you thought about bringing, but this pack is way more useful. Ultimately, adding this quick-drying pack to your existing luggage is an easy way to make sure you don't miss out on any cool outdoor adventures on your travels. It's also a simple way to lug around your daily travel essentials instead of carrying a purse or messenger bag; however, it doesn't have any internal pockets to keep your valuables safe from handsy pick-pocketers. Although it's a minimalist piece, we found that this pack met most of our daypack needs and was very functional as an extra toss-in-the-luggage addition.
Ease of Packing
Constructed as a simple top-loading rucksack with a drawstring closure, the REI Stuff Travel Daypack isn't as easy to pack and unpack as the Tumi Alpha Bravo or the removable daypacks of the Osprey Farpoint 55. Simply put, the REI pack is a tube with a pocketed lid and two water bottle pockets on the sides. It fit everything we needed for a day around-town or a day doing light outdoor activities. This pack has two outer mesh pockets perfect for Nalgene- and Klean Kanteen-style water bottles and other essentials, but only one zippered pocket, which can be accessed from outside the pack. When considering how this pack would perform in a busy, urban environment, we wished that the REI daypack had an internal zipped pocket to protect valuables from pickpockets and backpack slashers; however, it can always be worn on front for increased security and decreased style. Other than its mesh pockets, the REI pack doesn't have any external utility loops for extra gear, but we didn't miss them too much. Additionally, it is not designed specifically as a hydration compatible pack.
With its roots as a "stuff sack with straps," this bag hasn't ventured far from that mark. In addition to serving as a convenient daypack, you can also use this pack as a stuff sack for your sleeping bag or extra clothes.
Comprised of 210D ripstop nylon, this pack isn't designed to be thrown around by airport luggage handlers. But why would they ever touch it? The greatest asset this pack provides is that you can stuff it in your checked bag or carry-on for use once you get to your destination. Or you can use it as your personal item on the plane. Unless your itinerary includes scraping your way through ancient crypts or swinging two and fro in a spooky Mayan temple, this pack should meet the requirements of a lightweight urban daypack. We took this pack bouldering, biking, hiking, and to the gym and didn't notice any wear or tear.
If this pack was a human, you can bet that it would eat only salad and spend all it's time doing cardio at the gym. This convenient little pack weighs 10 ounces. Let's frame that a different way - this pack weighs less than the 12 oz latte you'll spend half an hour waiting for before dashing to your plane. This pack is the diet king and weighs a mere .45 ounces per liter. That's less than half the ratio of any other pack in this review giving this pack a solid score of 10/10 in the weight category. The REI Stuff Travel Daypack saves on weight by cutting out any sort of back structure (no foam, frame, etc.). Finally, it minimizes weight by leaving out features like an extra internal pocket, outer gear loops, and sternum/hip straps.
Because of the small size and excellent storability, this pack could find it's way into every trip from here on out. Even if you forgo using it as a daypack, it makes a great stuff sack for your clothes or sleeping bag. We loved taking this pack as an accompanying piece to luggage or a larger backpack.
This pack is durable enough for light use as a daypack, but if you're Indiana Jones, checkout the Tumi Alpha Bravo Cannon that is super durable with a bold enough style to match your trusty fedora.
In our 2013 iteration of this review, this pack one a Top Pick award because it is such a useful piece of gear. This time around, it wins our Best Buy Award because it provides steep utility for a shallow price. If you're into math, you'll appreciate that his bag was more than double the value to price ratio of any other pack in this review. Priced at $30, it will hardly put a dent in your wallet. Many stuff sacks cost nearly this much but don't come close to matching the functional of this bag. Finally, don't forget that if you're an REI member, you'll get 10% of your $30 purchase back on your dividend at the end of the year!
While it may be among the lowest scoring packs in this review, the REI Stuff Travel shouldn't be discredited; it was a little pack in a fight against giants. It's greatest asset is its small packed size, low weight, and low price. Unfortunately for this pack, it scored poorly in comfort, packing, and durability. It may have scored comparatively lower in most of our metrics, but this bag has a special place on our shoulders and in our hearts/packs/bags/luggage. Pick one up and see for yourself just how usable this pack is when accompanying a larger pack or piece of luggage.
— Jeremy Bauman
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