REI Crestrail 70 Backpack ReviewJuly 5, 2013
- Multiple access points
- Side bottle locking pockets work well
- Seam taped zippers
- ActivMotion pivoting hip belt has negligible effect
- No Integrated rain cover
- Sleeping bag compartment is a bit small
The REI Crestrail 70 backpack is comfortable and provides some good organizational features for weekend and extended-weekend trips. It performs especially well in this category in terms of organization, weather protection and price.
The REI Crestrail 70 backpack looks to incorporate the latest concepts of backpack design to balance comfort with performance and durability for weekend or multiday trips.
The REI Crestrail 70 features a top, two side and one bottom access points to the main pack body. They provided organizational options and made packing easy. The Crestrail comes with two large, zippered hip-belt pockets that were large enough to store multiple items and provided good on the fly storage. The zippers on the pockets are seam taped, which provided added waterproof storage for a variety of items.
The pack comes with two side bottle locking pockets that provide good storage and security for a 1-liter sized bottle and since these pockets stretch, I was able to store larger items without having anything fall out when bushwhacking or scrambling. I was even able to secure a Jetboil Personal Cooking System in one of the pockets. A large zippered front pocket and a front stretch stash pocket provided great access for often-used gear or clothing without having to access the main compartment. A sleeping bag compartment in the bottom of the pack provided good access, but the compartment itself is a little narrow, which caused me to pay extra attention when packing to make sure I could properly use this space.
The Crestrail incorporates thick padding, a wrap around feel and hip belt webbing that tightens with a forward pull for easy adjustment. It also comes with the ActivMotion pivoting hip belt, which in theory pivots to follow the natural motion of your hips, helping balance and stabilize the pack. While I found the hip belt and pack to be comfortable, I could not tell if the pivoting hip belt contributed to this or not.
The Crestrail uses a sculpted “Free Flow” back panel that has multiple peaks and valleys to reduce contact areas and allow sweat vapor to escape. While there was sufficient airflow, I have found airflow in other packs to be better, as other packs provide for more separation between your back and the panel. I did find the padding on the shoulder straps to be good and the straps themselves to be easy to adjust; however, if you really pull the top load lifters tight, they have a tendency to bunch.
I used the Crestrail on a number of backpacking trips carrying loads in the 40 to 50 pound range and found it to be very stable. It did not shift or float regardless of the difficulty of the terrain. During testing, I loaded the pack up to 60 pounds. While it felt stable at this weight, it was definitely less so, suggesting it was close to the maximum comfort level.
The Crestrail provides good overall comfort while carrying loads up to about 50 pounds in a variety of conditions. Its good padding, stability and easy adjustments contribute to it competing well in this class of packs.
The Crestrail proved durable, even after weeks of intense use. The seam-taped zippers work well and the pack fabric proved tough and durable. Other than a few scratches, the pack showed few signs of wear.