REI Trailbreak 60 Backpack Review

The REI Trailbreak 60 is an adjustable-length backpack capable that has enough capacity for multi-day backpacking trips. It’s hydration compatible and comes with basic features like a top lid, sleeping bag compartment, sleeping pad straps, an open front stretch pocket, and hip belt pockets. While the Trailbreak 60 Backpack is a decent value for $149, it’s pretty lackluster in our opinion, and you’d be better off spending a little more to get a better backpack or buy an older model pack on sale for an equivalent price. We make several alternative pack suggestions below.

Specs at a Glance

  • Gender: Men’s (a Women’s model is also available)
  • Volume: 60 Liters
  • Weight: 3 lbs 13 oz
  • Max recommended load: 35-40 lbs
  • Number of pockets: 6+ main compartment
  • Adjustable torso Length: Yes
  • Hydration compatible: Yes
  • Type: Internal frame, U-shaped steel stay
  • Torso length: 17-21″
  • Waist belt length: 30-46″
  • Sleeping bag compartment: Yes
  • Hip belt pockets: 2 x huge
  • Rain Cover: 60 liter recommended
  • Material: Heavy-duty ripstop nylon

Backpack Storage and Organization

The Trailbreak 60 is a top-loading backpack with a top lid pocket that is sewn onto the pack above the shoulder pads. The top pocket is enormous and is large enough to fit all of your personal items and then some. While it has a key fob inside, there is no other organization and we recommend using stuff sacks to organize any gear or clothing that you store inside it.

The REI Trailbreak 60 is a conventional top loader with an open front pocket
The REI Trailbreak 60 is a conventional top loader with an open front pocket

The main compartment closes with a drawstring and has a top webbing loop that runs over it, so you can secure gear under the lid such as jackets or a rope. There’s a hydration pocket with a single velcro hang loop and a central hose port inside, along with elastic keeper straps on the shoulder straps to secure a hydration hose.

The main compartment has an optional sleeping bag shelf, basically, a fabric flap that can be secured with toggles inside to create a lower compartment, or folded down to create a large continuous packing space. The base of the pack (and the sleeping bag compartment) can be accessed through a zippered hatch at the base of the pack.

The Trailbreak 60 has special water bottle sleeves that are easy to reach
The Trailbreak 60 has special water bottle sleeves that are easy to reach but lacks side pockets for holding other gear that you might want to lash to the side of the pack

The Trailbreak 60 does not have the conventional side pockets found on most backpacks, but two water bottle sleeves located behind the hip belt that make it easy for just about anyone to reach back, grab a bottle, and replace it without removing the backpack. The lack of conventional side pockets can be an issue however if you need to secure long skinny objects to the side of the backpack such as paddles, tent poles, or a fishing rod to the side of the pack because they can slide under the side compression straps and fall off the pack. I view this as a loss of functionality in the pack design, but it’s not a showstopper if you’re willing to work around it.

The Trailbreak also has a deep shovel pocket on the front for stuffing loose items or layers you want fast access to without having to open the pack. This pocket is made with solid fabric instead of mesh, which is good for durability, but not so great for airing out wet or damp items you want to dry during the day. The pocket has two drain holes in the corners however, so moisture can escape and not soak into the main compartment.

The open front pocket is perfect for stuffing layers or damp gear into
The open front pocket is perfect for stuffing layers or damp gear into

External Attachment Points

The Trailbreak 60 has several places where you can attach bulky gear to the outside of the backpack. There are non-removable sleeping pad webbing straps above the sleeping bag hatch that are good for carrying a foam sleeping pad or a tent body. There are also two tiers of side compression straps that you can use to lash bulky items to the sides of the pack. While many people advocate putting all of your gear inside a backpack, that’s often not feasible or desirable.

The Trailbreak 60 has non-removable sleeping pad straps that are good for lashing bulky gear to the outside of the pack
The Trailbreak 60 has non-removable sleeping pad straps that are good for lashing bulky gear to the outside of the pack

While the top lid pocket doesn’t float, the webbing straps that connect it to the pack are long enough that you can wedge gear under the lid horizontally, and carry bulky gear like a tent body that way.

The pack has an ice ax loop, but you’re out of luck if you want a pack that makes it easy to carry trekking poles as there’s no good place to put them except under the side compression straps. The front shoulder straps also have no attachment points for hanging accessory pockets off the front of the pack.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The REI Trailbreak 60 is an adjustable-length backpack, which means that it can be adjusted to fit a wide range of torso lengths ranging from 17″ up to 21″.  Adjustable-length backpacks are great for growing teens, people who want to be able to share a pack across family members, or backpacking beginners who want to fine-tune the way a backpack fits.

The torso length can be increased or shortened by moving the shoulder strap yoke up or down.
The torso length can be increased or shortened by moving the shoulder strap yoke up or down.

The Trailbreak’s torso length is adjusted by moving the shoulder pads up or down to lengthen or reduce the distance between the hip belt and the yoke which connects the shoulder pads to the backpack. The yoke is attached to the back of the pack by threading a velcro tab through an array of webbing straps that correspond to different torso lengths. It’s a very intuitive adjustment system to use and commonly found on less-expensive adjustable-length backpacks.

The shoulder yoke positions are clearly labeled in terms of inches, so you can easily match your measured torso length with its length on the pack. There are no 1/2″ sizes intervals, however, so you’re best rounding your torso length up to the next size when fitting the pack because it’s easier to carry a pack that slightly longer than your torso length than one that is shorter because the weight will still ride on your hips and not your shoulders. If the pack still feels a bit too long in the torso, you can compensate by tightening the sternum strap and shoulder straps to prevent it from swaying when you walk. This usually works pretty well. For example, I have an 18.5″ long torso but found that the 19″ shoulder yoke position worked well for me.

The shoulder yoke is labeled with torso lengths for easy adjustment
The shoulder yoke is labeled with torso lengths for easy adjustment

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a pack manufacturer label torso lengths on an adjustable pack like this and it is a very welcome change. Most adjustable-length packs are labeled like this (or at all) so you need to find a friend who knows what they’re doing to help you match your torso length to the pack so it fits right. I wish more pack manufacturers would adopt this labeling format.

The Trailbreak 60 has large solid-faced pockets which are good for durability
The Trailbreak 60 has large solid-faced pockets which are good for durability

The Trailbreak hip belt is wide and well padded so it won’t slip down your pants when worn. The pack has two hip belt pockets which are solid-faces and large enough to store a smartphone or point and shoot camera, several snacks, or a compass with ease.

The Trailbreak 60 has a fairly aggressive lumbar pad that can take a while to get used to
The Trailbreak 60 has a fairly aggressive lumbar pad that can take a while to get used to

While the Trailbreak 60 is not ventilated, it has a deep air channel that runs through the center of the lumbar pad and up into the middle of the backpack. While this does provide some airflow to your back, the curvature at the base of the pack and the lumbar pad are noticeably firm, intrusive, and uncomfortable. While a lumbar pad can help prevent hip belt slippage with a heavily loaded backpack, the size of the lumbar pad is uncomfortably pronounced. It may be that I’m more sensitive to its size than you are, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Alternative low-cost adjustable-length backpacks

If you’re considering the REI Trailbreak 60, I’d encourage you to check out these current-model and last-generation outlet backpacks which I feel have a better fit and features, while still being comparable in price.

Make / ModelGenderGenerationPrice
Osprey Rook 65MensCurrent$165
Osprey Renn 60WomensCurrent$165
Gregory Paragon 58MensOutlet$173
Gregory Maven 55WomensOutlet$173
Gregory Stout 65MensOutlet$135
Gregory Amber 60WomensOutlet$135

Assessment

While the REI Trailbreak 60 is an inexpensive and functional backpack, we feel that there are better comparably-priced adjustable-length backpacks available today that fit better, feel better, and have more useful features for multi-day backpacking. While there are a few features on the Trailbreaker 60 that are unique and desirable, like is self-documenting torso length adjustment and side water bottle sleeves, the Trailbreak 60 lacks the full set of features, comforts, and conveniences found on other low-cost adjustable length backpacks, including the six that we recommend in the table above.

Disclosure: The author purchased this backpack.

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Last updated: 2020-10-18 20:29:35
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About the author

Philip Werner has hiked and backpacked over 7500 miles in the United States and the UK and written over 2500 articles as the founder of SectionHiker.com, noted for its detailed gear reviews and educational content. A devotee of New Hampshire and Maine hiking and backpacking, Philip is the 36th person to hike all 650 of the hiking trails in the White Mountain Guide. He is also the author of Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, a free online guidebook of the best backpacking trips in the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. In addition, Philip volunteers as a 4 season backpacking leader for the Appalachian Mountain Club, a Long Trail Mentor for Vermont's Green Mountain Club, and a Leave No Trace Master Educator. He lives in New Hampshire.

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2 comments

  1. Thank you we just got one for my son. Could you please recommend a sleeping bag that can fit it this backpack’s sleeping bag compartment. Ours smallest one still can’t fit quite right. Thank you!!

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