Gear Review: REI Venturi 45 Backpack

Check out the Venturi 45 for its significant space and plentiful pockets.


Want maximum load-carrying capabilities for minimum price? Get the Venturi, which is $30 cheaper than the nearest competitor, but can still handle hefty loads. Credit the carrying ability to an aluminum perimeter frame that attaches to each side of the lumbar area, providing total load transfer.

One tester loaded up her 51-pound 8-year-old (really) and carried her for three miles up Oregon’s Tumalo Mountain—in surprising comfort. A trampoline-style mesh panel holds the weight away from your back for enhanced airflow, and side cutouts allow unfettered arm movement.

The catch? Two testers complained that with 45-plus pounds, the load-lifter straps—running from the frame to the shoulder crest—needed constant adjustment to maintain tension and prevent sway. And the shoulder straps slipped outward without the sternum strap fastened. The tall, narrow packbag has the most pockets in the lot. The polyurethane-backed nylon sheds water well, but the waterproof zips are sticky.

Capacity 45 liters

Sizes 1 men’s (17-19 in.); 1 women’s (16-18 in.)

Weight 2 lbs. 13 oz.

Price $129

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