Overview - This is REI's latest all-around pack which replaces the Lookout 40 Pack. At 40 liters, it is big enough to carry a ton of gear but not so big that it can't be carried on a plane. The pack has tons of features to help with organization and the biggest change is the panel opening which makes accessing things in the pack much easier than a top-loading pack. Personally, I find 40L is the sweet spot for capacity no matter what the activity, hiking/travel/climbing.
- Shape/Design - This pack has a traditional backpanel which means there is no gap between wearer’s back and the backpack. This makes the main compartment easy to pack and keeps the load close to the wearer's back. In comparison, a ventilated backpanel has a mesh backing allowing airflow behind the pack for breathability. The downside, however, is the shape of the main compartment becomes banana shaped making it hard to pack rigid items like a laptop or bear canister. Also, the load ends up farther away from the wearer's body. Personally, this tradeoff for keeping my back a little less sweaty is not worth it but some people do prefer it. If ventilated packs are your thing, these packs are in the same size range and also have panel access: Gregory Z38, Osprey Stratos 34 and Marmot Kompressor Verve 32/38.
- Panel zip main compartment - This pack has a full zip panel so you can open just to top like a top-loader or open the pack fully to access all your gear
- 4 zippers for the main compartment - allows for unzipping of the pack from top or bottom
- Front Pocket - One stretchy mesh zip front pocket which is good for a guide book or map
- Side Pocket - One side has TWO stretch pockets for tall bottles
- Side Pocket - The other side has a side pocket and vertical zip pocket
- Zippered top pocket
- Top straps - good for carrying a jacket or a rope :)
- Interior sleeve - The sleeve is stretchy with bungee and fits 15" laptop.
- Interior pockets - There is a top mesh pocket with a key clip and a side mesh pocket
- The shoulder straps and hip belt are padded and there's an adjustable sternum strap with safety whistle. The padding is just right for a 40L pack and I image this pack can carry up to 40 pounds comfortably. Also, there are hip belt pockets which are always handy for keeping small items
- Hydration compatible - There is a slot for a hydration bladder that's outside of the main compartment. You can see the blue hanger that can be tucked away when not in use
- Included rain cover which stows in its own bottom zip pocket
- 2 straps on the bottom to attach a sleeping pad. These are not removable
- 2 daisy chains
- Tool attachment - metal tool holders for trekking poles and ice axe loops
Dislikes - None so far. The pack has all the features you need and nothing you don't.
Conclusion - This is the ideal multi-use travel pack at 40L with a panel opening, 8 exterior pockets, 3 interior pockets and hydration sleeve. It comes in both Men's and Women's and at a price of $110, it won't break the bank.
Recommended uses - Multi-day travel with the ability to pack a laptop, sport climbing, hiking, 1-2 day backpacking and any outdoor adventure. It's not big enough for a trad pack unless you carry the rope on the outside.