Gear Review: REI XT 85

While this website is geared towards families, it's still an outdoor site and as such, I thought some of you passing through might appreciate a look at a great large-capacity pack.

Backstory: I'm headed out on a 4-day trek on the Appalachian Trail this April and didn't have a large capacity pack for the trip. Most of my packs were about 50 ltr or less and I was looking for something 70 or more. I like to do a lot of research and ultimately found myself cycling through different packs until I found this pack by REI that was on sale for nearly 50% off.

Main features I was looking for:

  • Large capacity (70 ltr +)
  • Lower compartment for sleeping bag
  • External pockets
  • Compression straps
  • No side-to-side sway

After trying Kelty and Teton with weight, and other packs in store, I landed on the XT 85 because it had all of the above features but included the following:

  • Taped seams for additional weatherproofing
  • Side-access zippers to the main compartment
  • Loops with tip-holders for trekking poles
  • Long lashing straps (issue on the other packs)
  • Phenomenal dual back packets that can fit a jetboil flash system plus more.

Honestly, my father brought over his new osprey pack and I compared the features and found the REI to be on par with the Osprey in every respect. 

Lastly, I purchased my pack for $140 (down from $290 only a few months ago). If not on REI's site, I suggest becoming a member to check out their garage sales or hunting on ebay for the pack. Most likely, they'll be releasing a 2016 version of this pack so stay tuned.

This is meant to be a helpful review for people looking for large packs but in complete transparency you should know I've returned the pack in favor of something a bit more compact. I ended up with a Deuter 65+10. The XT 85 is great for the people who aren't super concerned with weight and love all the extra pockets and storage. For people who want a slimmer profile, you'll want to consider some of the other options on the market.

We'll so a post soon on what to look for in a hiking pack but until then, keep adventuring!

Product Link: REI XT 85 on REI Website

 Took the XT 85 for a trek during our polar vortex this year.

Took the XT 85 for a trek during our polar vortex this year.