Patrik Orcutt 08.18.23
Recreational Equipment, Inc. – commonly known as REI – originated from the unassuming ambitions of two amateur mountaineers back in 1935. Lloyd and Mary Anderson, Seattle residents with an affinity for the outdoors and a keen eye for quality gear, unintentionally laid the foundation for what would become a significant outdoor retail cooperative. Initially, the Andersons faced a dilemma – the Austrian ice axes they coveted were available at a high cost from their local climbing shop, but more affordable yet inferior alternatives could be found at distant ski shops. Their solution? They began directly importing Austrian ice axes for personal use, realizing that this approach offered both better pricing and superior quality. This clever move soon attracted attention from fellow climbers in their local club, who sought similar gear. As their network grew, the Andersons embarked on a collective venture. With the support of a lawyer friend, they formalized their co-op model in 1938. This involved 22 individuals contributing a mere $1 as a lifetime fee to join. Their inaugural physical store was modest – a single shelf within a grocery store, while additional inventory was stored in the Andersons’ attic. In a similarly modest fashion, we will be reviewing the REI Co-op Ruckpack 28 Recycled Daypack (Men’s) to see how it fares in my daily adventures.
Pack Coverage on AllOutdoor
Fast forward to today, REI boasts an impressive presence with 165 stores spanning 39 states. The co-op structure they established remains intact, with customers having the option to invest further through a one-time $20 fee. This contribution enhances their connection with the brand. Remarkably, due to this distinctive business model, around 70% of REI’s profits are annually directed towards diverse outdoor causes – ranging from local initiatives to global projects – making it a win-win situation for all.
The REI Co-op Ruckpack 28 Recycled Daypack was purchased by myself and REI Co-op has not been allowed to preview this review prior to publication. I picked up the Ruckpack on a trip to Texas this past April. It had been a pack I had my eyes on for a long time and decided to pull the trigger for really no good reason aside from I wanted one. I have since then been using it as my EDC backpack and on several hikes.
Specs – REI Co-op Ruckpack 28 Recycled Daypack (Men’s)
- Capacity: 28 Liters | 1,709 Cubic Inches
- Weight: 1 Lb 12 Oz
- Dimensions: 19.5″ x 11″ x 9″
- Primary Material: Recycled Ripstop Nylon (Bluesign® Approved)
- Colorways: Brown | Black
- MSRP: $99.95
Quality and Comfort – REI Co-op Ruckpack 28 Recycled Daypack (Men’s)
One of the most unique things about the Ruckpack is the material it is made out of, Recycled ripstop nylon that is bluesign® approved to be exact. The Bluesign system aims to inspire chemical suppliers, textile manufacturers, brands, and retailers to work today for a better tomorrow. It strives to find solutions for sustainable textile production.
Bluesign eliminates harmful substances at each step of the supply chain. It certifies that textile products are safe for the environment, workers, and customers. The Bluesign certification applies to chemicals, processes, materials, and products. It helps manufacturers properly manage chemicals and replace harmful substances with safer alternatives. While none of this really affects the quality of the physical pack, it’s nice to know that you’re buying a product that supports these values.
All of the ripstop nylon on the bag is relatively thin, but certainly thick enough for a hiking pack/EDC style pack. The face fabric of the nylon has a durable water-repellent finish to help shed light, rain and prevent stains. For harsher weather, this bag actually comes included with a storable rain cover that can be stashed in one of the side pockets. I thought this was a really nice feature and not something you typically see from a budget-minded pack like this. I never had a chance to test the rain cover, but it looks like it would stop, a moderate downpour from getting any of your items in your bag wet.
The back of the bag has foam padding that incorporates a ventilated mesh back panel. I like the inclusion of this and the way they designed the foam certainly helps promote breathability and keeps you sweating as little as possible. The foam is also very comfortable. The shoulder straps are also lightly padded with the same foam found on the back panel. The straps provide additional comfort when carrying heavier loads. Note that this backpack does come with a sternum strap to help secure it more tightly to you when you’re hiking or running to the next stop on your beer hike.
There is also an included hip belt but I ended up never testing this or using it because honestly, it looks like a joke to me. The front-facing ripstop fabric of the backpack. Also has a little bit of foam in it which gives your gear a tiny bit of extra protection. Unfortunately, though this foam can be easily depressed and lose its protective qualities over time.
This pack also comes with some interesting features. You don’t see on other backpacks at this price point or in this class. Notably, there are hidden daisy chains on the front of the bag that what you asked your gear when you need it but also help conceal it when you don’t. I like the way they went about this as it keeps the pack looking very clean. Also on a side note, I think this is a very handsome backpack. There is a top handle on the bag for making it easier to grab in and out of the back of a vehicle or airplane storage. There are tracking poll attachments that took out of the way when not in use. There are also walkable zippers that keep the contents of the bag secure when traveling, which I thought was a pretty unique feature for a bag of this style. This bag also meets carry-on size restrictions for most airlines, so you don’t have to worry about the airline telling you to check it when you show up at the counter at 4 AM.
Organization – REI Co-op Ruckpack 28 Recycled Daypack (Men’s)
Well, this bag does appear to be quite minimal. Don’t want that for you because it comes with a good amount of organization options and some that I found to be very useful given what I use my bags for. Externally, there are two water bottle pockets that have a little bit of a stretchy mesh material. The pockets are certainly big enough to engulf a 32-ounce Nalgene. Unfortunately, if your water bottle isn’t that big or whatever your stuffing in here doesn’t fit the pocket, there’s a good chance it will fall out. I had a small plastic water bottle fall out of this bag a couple of times in the past.
To help alleviate this problem, there are compression straps on both sides of the pack and have plastic buckles attached to them. This means you can probably fasten whatever you’re putting in the pockets to these buckles or the compression strap in the alleviate that aforementioned issue.
Moving inside the bag now the top compartment is slightly padded and is a good size for smaller items like keys, headphones, and a wallet. There’s also a tiny key lashing point inside of this pocket which I really appreciate. There’s really nothing worse than getting back to the airport from a trip and not knowing where your car keys are. I always wash my keys to pockets like this whenever I have the chance to because it gives me peace of mind on my travels.
On a side note, all of the zippers are YKK and have nice accented blue pole cords on them. Moving into the main compartment, there is a laptop sleeve that can also accommodate a hydration reservoir. Above the hydration reservoir, there is a small Velcro road hook to hang said hydration reservoirs. I like that all of the interior parts of this pack, have a white nylon fabric, as this promotes Vizza Bility when you were looking for items in the bottom of your bag. There is one medium zippered mesh pocket inside the main compartment that is good for holding extra clothing, or even a book.
On one side of the backpack, there is a small admin pocket that has several smaller pockets inside of it for holding miscellaneous items with a row of webbing for holding items, such as markers or knives. And then there is an additional zippered pocket inside of that pocket and that’s where the rain fly is designed to stay. I love seeing little additions and touches like this on a bag and I think having it on the side versus on the top compartment is a cool idea because it makes it easier to access most of the time.
If you have a water bottle in the water bottle pocket on that side of the bag, though, it will be more difficult to access the small admin pocket. Moving to the opposite side of the bag. There is an additional access point to the main compartment. This opening is quite large and will give you a second way to get access to your gear. This helps when there’s something in the bottom of your bag and you don’t want to dig out everything else to get to it. I also used this access point to get my camera gear in the bottom of my bag quite often and found it to be very useful.
- Comes with Unique Features
- Well Priced
- Looks great
- Made with Recycled materials
- Made with Thin Materials
- Water Bottle pockets do not work with smaller bottles
Wrap-Up – REI Co-op Ruckpack 28 Recycled Daypack (Men’s)
Overall, I think for the money the REI rock pack is a pretty good option. You get a lot of things you don’t see on other backpacks at this price point and I think it stands out as a unique piece of kit in the market. Personally, it’s not big enough for me to be a travel backpack, but I found it to be a great day bag for hikes or just daily tasks.