REI UL 60 - Backpacks: Reviews

If you're vaguely disturbed by the idea of paying more for a pack that weighs less, REI understands. The latest and largest in its UL line, this pack weighs little more than a pair of trail runners yet has space to stretch a long weekend into a week. Even when I overpacked it with group supplies, the basketlike wraparound pocket absorbed excess gear, like a sleeping pad and fuel canisters, and the dual aluminum stays kept it all in check. (Just don't push the weight, as the thin hipbelt will max out at about 35 pounds.) As with the Mountainsmith, stash pockets on the hipbelt put small items at your fingertips—these should be standard on all packs. 3.1 lbs, 3,660 cu in; www.rei.com

Bonus: An internal compression system tidies the load on short, gear-light hikes.

Bummer: The silicone-treated nylon pack bag and mesh water-bottle pockets are less abrasion-resistant than heavier fabrics.

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