REI Trail 25 Backpack Review

REI Trail Backpack Review

The REI Trail 25 is a multi-purpose panel-loading backpack good for day hiking, urban use, and travel. While it’s easy to discount it as a hiking pack, it’s surprisingly functional for just that purpose with lots of strategically located pockets, trekking pole holders, and a slim torso hugging profile that makes it easy to carry when it’s loaded up. Add in the included rain cover and you have a great do-it-all backpack to get out and about with.

Specs at a Glance

  • Pack Access: U-Shaped Zipper (Panel Loader)
  • Gender: Men’s and Women’s models
  • Volume: 25 liters
  • Weight: 32 ounces
  • Hydration compatible: Yes
  • Rain cover included: Yes
  • External Pockets: 5
  • Hip belt: Removable
  • Fits torso: 17-19″
  • Fits waist: 28-44″
  • Framesheet: HDPE
  • Dimensions: 19.5 x 13.25 x 7.5 inches
  • Max recommended load: 20 pounds
The Trail 25 has special hardware for carrying trekking poles
The Trail 25 has special hardware for carrying trekking poles

The REI Trail 25 is a panel-loading style backpack with a U-shaped top zipper that lets you look straight into the main compartment so you can see everything inside and easily locate what you need. It has a large hydration pocket inside with a hook to hang a reservoir and a single port over the right-hand shoulder. There are two additional mesh pockets in the interior, one large pocket on the inside of the lid and a pocket along the side that can hold a water bottle or skinny coffee thermos inside the pack.

The right hand side of the pack has two mesh side pockets, one inside the other, so you can carry long objects and a water at the same time
The right-hand side of the pack has two mesh side pockets, one inside the other, so you can carry long objects and a water bottle at the same time

The Trail 25 has and additional five external pockets: two side water bottle pockets made with a stretch mesh, a zippered pocket on the outside of the lid that’s sized for sunglasses, a rain cover pocket near the bottom of the pack and a second stretch pocket inside the righthand side water bottle pocket. There’s also a compression strap above each of the side mesh pockets, so you can secure long skinny objects in them like fishing rods or a hiking umbrella.

Straps at the bottom of the pack let you carry a foam pad
Straps at the bottom of the pack let you carry a foam pad

The pack has a pair of trekking pole holders on the front of the pack attached to daisy chains that you can attach gear to with carabiners or straps (not included), plus a pair of sleeping bag straps underneath (included) that you could also use to carry a sit pad. There’s a second pair of external straps at the top of the pack that are also good for carrying a jacket when you need to layer off.

The Trail 25 is a has a U-shaped zipper that lets you quickly access the contents of your pack
The Trail 25 is a has a U-shaped zipper that lets you quickly access the contents of your pack

The Trail 25 has an internal HDPE framesheet which is soft but helps give the pack a shape so it doesn’t collapse on itself. The back panel is padded with foam and mesh to wick away moisture with a wide air channel to provide ventilation. The hip belt is a simple webbing strap that is used to hold the pack bag close to your torso but can also be removed if you’d rather use the pack as a beltless rucksack. The shoulder straps are also well padded and come with an adjustable sternum strap that can be easily repositioned on a rail. There are two pairs of elastic hydration hose keeper straps on each of the shoulder straps, that can also be used to hang an accessory pocket.

The hipbelt is an optional webbing strap that can be removed if you don’t want to use it.
The hip belt is a webbing strap that can be removed if you don’t want to use it.

If you’d like a little more waist storage, you can also connect an REI Waist 2 fanny pack to the hip belt buckles and wear it in front of your belt buckle. That’s a nice application to keep track of your tickets and personal documents when traveling and can even come in handy for hiking.

You can carry a surprising amount of gear with the Trail 25 backpack
You can carry a surprising amount of gear with the Trail 25 backpack

Comparable daypacks

Make / ModelSizingRaincoverPriceWomen's Model
Osprey Talon 22Adjustable$110Osprey Tempest 20
Deuter Speed Lite 24Fixed Length$105Deuter Speed Lite 22 SL
Patagonia Nine Trails 28Fixed Length$159Patagonia Nine Trails 26
Deuter Trail 30Fixed LengthIncluded$135Deuter Trail 28 SL
Osprey Stratos 36AdjustableIncluded$170Osprey Sirrus 36
REI Trail 25Fixed LengthIncluded$80REI Trail 25
Mystery Ranch Scree 32Adjustable$189Wms Mystery Ranch Scree 32
Kelty Redwing 32Fixed Length$100Unisex only
REI Traverse 35Fixed LengthIncluded$139Wms REI Traverse 35
Gregory Zulu 30AdjustableIncluded$150Gregory Jade 28

Recommendation

The REI Trail 25 Backpack is a panel-loading daypack with a back hugging fit that makes it great for day hiking, cycling, urban use, or travel. It has lots of internal and external pockets to keep you organized, two pairs of external webbing straps to lash gear like a jacket or sit pad to the outside, and a great carry system for trekking poles. Backpanel ventilation and a removable hip belt will keep you comfortable in warm weather while providing lots of flexibility for different recreational activities.

Disclosure: The author purchased this backpack.

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