Brand: Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)
Model: Passage 65
“Size it, strap it on, tighten it, and forget about it. With this hauler, it’s as simple as that,” said one tester after carrying 40 pounds on a partially off-trail, 65-mile circuit in New York’s West Canada Lakes Wilderness. All testers found the 65-liter capacity conservative. “I could carry a week’s load easily,” says one who carried 47 pounds into Washington’s Goat Rock Wilderness. And he says the suspension—nothing fancy, just good load transfer and a well-padded hipbelt—was up to the task.
The foam backpanel slides vertically along two aluminum stays to fit torsos from 15 to 19 inches; it secures with large Velcro swatches that hold without a hint of slipping, eliminating the need to microadjust throughout the trip. The large torso range makes it ideal for growing teens, the pack’s target audience, but one 50+ tester called it his favorite pack ever, proving that great designs have no age limit. Organization is big-load friendly: A large exterior pocket swallows extra layers, two pockets in the lid keep small items from sloshing around, and a full-length waterproof side-zip enables easy access. The burly nylon packbag fabric never frayed despite getting dragged through dense stands of pines and up a class 4 drainage.
Ding: The mesh side pockets are too loose to hold water bottles securely. $149; 4 lbs. 9 oz.; 65 litersThis pack is ideal for youths ages 12-17 who need a high-quality pack that adjusts with them as they grow.