Backpacks can have an amazing price range, anywhere from $20 all the way to hundreds of dollars, depending on several factors. When it came time for me to buy a new backpack, I had to consider cost, weight, support system, capacity and my intended use of the pack. I was specifically looking for a day hiking pack, so I chose the REI Trail 40. It offered a good blend of all the things I was looking for at a good price.

Recreation Equipment Incorporated is a Kent, Washington-based company that has grown its humble beginnings more than 75 years ago into a multi million dollar empire with over 130 stores nationally. REI also features a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all their equipment sold in their stores. In the past few years, REI branded equipment has risen in quality and knocks on the door of higher priced, but comparable gear.

I originally selected five bags that fit my criteria – made by some of the top names in the recreation and outdoor gear industries. The top five that were: Osprey Talon 22, Gregory Z30, Dueter Speedlight 20, Kelty Redwing 32 and the REI Trail 40. Ultimately, the Trail 40 by REI won out, so lets take a look at the details and why I chose this pack over the others.

REI Trail 40 Backpack: First Impressions
REI Trail 40

Colors Available:

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Black

Sizes Available:

  • Medium Fits: 28″-44″ Waist/Hips & 18″-20″ Torso
  • Large Fits 28″-44″ Waist/Hips & 19-21″ Torso


  • Medium 2 Lbs 13 Ounces
  • Large 2 Lbs 14 Ounces

Comfort Range: 15-40 Lbs

Frame Material: Perimeter spring steel

Capacity: 40 Liters / 2441 Cubic Inches

MSRP: $109.00

Unique Features:

  • U-Shaped opening with four zippered access to main pouch
  • Padded mesh covered straps and back
  • Fasteners to hold down tips of climbing poles
  • Includes rain cover in zippered pocket
  • Storage on hip belt
  • Hydration pouch
  • six exterior pockets total
REI Trail 40 Backpack: First Impressions View of hip belt storage
View of hip belt storage

Application: Day hikes, camping

Pros: Great price point, lots of features , 100% satisfaction warranty

Cons: None yet

Overall Performance: This is an initial review of the Trail 40, but in the next six weeks I will be testing it while hiking in the Chugach National Forest and throughout the state of Oregon on a photography vacation. I did put my Nikon D7000 and two lenses in the pack while at the store to see how much room I would have left over for jackets, water, snacks and a first-aid kit.

The large main cavity of the back has several nice features including a weaved tensioner on the back wall of the pack, so I can store my hardshell jacket there and keep it compact, down, and out-of-the-way. A smaller pocket is sewn into the top inside flap of the main compartment, designed for storage of keys, wallets, and other small easy to lose items. The main compartment features two more pouches, one that does feature a zipper and one that does not. Both pouches run the length of the pack.

REI Trail 40 Backpack: First Impressions Trail40-3
Main Compartment

The Trail 40 also features a hydration bladder pouch, with fasteners to ensure any drinking tube stays in an accessible position for the wearer. One feature included in this pack that could be overlooked are the six external pouches purposefully spread out along all the sides of the pack. REI also included an emergency whistle built into the chest harness strap that runs across your sternum. You never know when you will need to alert people in case of an emergency or use it to scare away a wild animal on your trail.

There maybe a lot of backpacks on the market that have more features than the REI Trail 40, but when it comes to spending my money, I want to make sure I get an item with a good warranty from a company with a great reputation. That’s exactly what I did.

REI Trail 40 Backpack: First Impressions Trail40-4

You can purchase the REI Trail 40 here.

Thanks for stopping by The Load Out Room. Get out, make your own adventures and test your gear. I will be doing updates on several pieces of gear following field trials on my Oregon trip. Thanks Again,

— Rick

Quote of the week: comes from TR Roosevelt , 26th President of the United States, War Hero , Conservationist

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” — TR Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, War Hero, and Conservationist