Let’s face it, climbing isn’t the cheapest sport and being a gear junkie doesn’t help.

So, when I began my search for a new crag pack, I scoured the depths of the internet to find the best pack for the best price. I ended up reading enough pack reviews to fill a bookshelf, and I still couldn’t narrow down my choices. Either the pack was too big, had an excessive amount of features that weren’t really necessary and made things overly complicated, or were just outright too expensive.

Then one day, while at the local REI to buy more gear I probably didn’t need, I decided to meander over to the backpack section with little hope I would find anything. After looking at a few packs, I was about to chalk up another loss, but then I saw a pack that piqued my interest. It was exactly what I was wanted in a crag pack: simple, comfortable, easy gear access, and a good price (~$100). This pack was the REI Co-op Trail 40.

Key features

Here is a quick breakdown of what I think are the best features of the Trail 40:

  • Big U-shaped zipper that opens the pack for full access to everything inside
  • Zippered mesh pocket on front (perfect for a guidebook and snacks)
  • Daisy chain loops on each side of the pack
  • Big elastic water bottle pouches
  • Rain cover
  • Padded hip belt

I have put this pack through hell and back and it has not failed me. The materials REI used are rugged and can take a beating. Inside the pack, I can easily fit a 60m rope, shoes, dozen or more quickdraws, a rope tarp, and other miscellaneous gear.

The big U-shaped zipper makes it easy to pack up quickly and get to all my gear once I am at the crag. The rain cover that is included in the pack is great for more than just keeping the pack dry when the weather turns bad quickly … I use it to keep mud and other gunk off the pack when I lay it down to pull out my gear. The daisy chain loops on the outside make it easy to clip a helmet or other gear you can’t fit inside the pack. Lastly, the pack is super comfortable to have on with the padded hip belt and shoulder straps, making longer approaches less of a burden.


Though there are so many things I love about this pack, the one issue I have with the pack is the zipper material. To me, they seem a little cheap and almost plastic-like. I wish they had a little more substance to them and were made of something beefier that I am confident will be able to hold up to the punishment I put my pack through. That said, I haven’t had a problem with them yet, but maybe it is because I am being cautious when using them.

In addition, the size can be tight at times when I need to pack layers and more food. This typically isn’t that big of an issue since my climbing partner carries another pack with the food, water, and other essentials.

Final thoughts

The Trail 40 might not have all the bells and whistles that other climbing specific packs have, but it sure holds its own. Plus, you can use the pack for day hikes and short overnight backpacking trips. Overall, the Trail 40 is simple and gets the job done for a great price.

The Trail 40 is also available in both a men’s and women’s fit version:

Men’s Trail 40

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Women’s Trail 40

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