REI Passage 65 Backpack Review

Hey everyone! I’ve been pretty busy this semester, but I wanted to share this review with you. Hope you enjoy it!

By now, I’ve had the REI Passage 65 Backpack for 4 years, and have used it on quite a few backpacking trips. It has held up very well, is still in very good condition, and I’ve never had any problems with the pack on any of my trips. In this post I’ll review and discuss the different components of the backpack.

The backpack’s shoulder straps, hipbelt, and back padding are simple, but are well designed and very comfortable even if you are carrying heavy loads. The mesh on the back is somewhat breathable, however it doesn’t really allow air to circulate like the backings of some of the other backpacks on the market, such as the Osprey Aether 60 Pack. The shoulder straps and hipbelt are also extendable to accommodate growth, which extends the life of the pack for younger kids and teenagers. The back padding is adjustable to accommodate torso lengths of 15-19 inches.

The backpack’s top-loading main compartment, sleeping bad compartment, and two zip pockets make it very easy to organize gear. In total the backpack has a gear capacity of 65 liters. I’ve found that the main compartment has enough room to hold and organize the majority of my gear, and the zip access on the side lets me access items buried in the main compartment without unloading the whole pack. Even for my five-day backpacking trip, I was able to easily fit everything inside the bag and didn’t have to clip anything to the external daisy chains. If you don’t want to use the sleeping bag compartment, there’s a divider that can be unzipped to increase the space in the main compartment. For smaller items, I always use what REI aptly calls the “front essential zip pocket”. For the most part, I use it for items I may need to access quickly, like the 10 essentials.

The floating lid on the backpack is very useful and can even be detached and used as a lumbar pack. I often use the zip pocket on the lid to store snacks or a camera, so that when I set my pack down they are easily accessible. In addition to this, the lid’s connecting straps are extendable to accommodate a larger load in the main compartment.

The two mesh water bottle holders on the sides of the pack are large enough to hold 1-liter sized bottles, but they aren’t tall enough to hold the bottles in securely. I had a “fun” experience in which my water bottle fell out as I was crossing a river, but after a mad dash down the bank, I was able to snag it with a branch. If you’re not hoping for a similar exciting experience, I’d recommend passing the side compression strap around the bottle to better secure it.

Some other useful components of the REI Passage 65 Backpack include sleeping pad straps on the underside of the pack, elastic cord crisscrossing the front of the pack (which can be used to hold a jacket in place on the outside of the pack), ice axe loops, side compression straps, and water-repellent zippers. The water-repellent zippers were a lifesaver when they saved my gear from getting wet in Washington when it started raining and my backpack cover seemed to have suddenly disappeared.

As a simple backpack that’s great for scouts, teenagers, and older kids, the Passage 65 Backpack does its job well. It was just as comfortable to wear on an overnight backpacking trip in the desert as it was on a five-day trip in Mt. Rainier National Park. I’d highly recommend this backpack for scouts and older children. It’s relatively cheap, very durable, and the option to extend the shoulder straps and hipbelt allows the backpack to be used by children even as they continue to grow.

Good luck finding an awesome backpack and I hope I was able to help!

SealLine Black Canyon Dry Bag Review

On my Colorado River canoeing trip a couple of years ago, I needed to keep my clothes, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag dry. I didn’t have any dry bags at the time, so I went to REI to get some and ended up with the Sea to Summit UltraSil Dry Sack, Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack, and the SealLine Black Canyon Dry Bag. Out of all three, I used the SealLine Black Canyon Dry Bag the most and it held the majority of my gear.

SealLine Black Canyon Dry Bag OpenI used the 30 liter version of the dry bag, and it easily held all of my clothing and my Therm-a-Rest. The nylon material that the SeaLine dry bag is made of is incredibly durable. This is because it’s coated with thermoplastic urethane, which is an eco-friendlier alternative to PVC coating and is resistant to abrasion. The top of the bag has two parallel rubber strips, called double-sealing strips, that when rolled down create a water-tight seal. This is officially called a “Dry Seal roll-top Closure”. Lastly, the buckle on the bag is very secure and isn’t hard to unclip. The D-ring attached to the buckle allows you to secure the bag to your kayak or canoe.

This dry bag is pretty heavy, a tradeoff for its great durability. This bag would be best used for paddling, say, on a canoeing or kayaking trip. In my opinion, it’s way to heavy to use for backpacking. If you need a dry bag to take on a backpacking trip to protect your gear, I’d recommend checking out a lighter dry bag, such as the Sea to Summit UltraSil Dry Bag.

At REI, the 30 Liter version is $39.95. However, if you need a smaller or larger size, the bag also comes in 5L ($23.95), 10L ($26.95), 20L ($32.95), 40L ($49.95), and 55L ($57.95).

REI Half Dome 2 Plus Tent Review

Tents are arguably the most important items for camping and backpacking. This makes getting the right tent that will perfectly suit your needs very important. My family and I have stuck to tents from REI for a long time, as they are very well made and are both comfortable and durable. Currently, I have the REI Half Dome 2 Plus tent. I’ve had this tent for a couple of years now and it has held up very well both on camping and backpacking trips. I really like the design of the Half Dome 2 Plus and its features make it a very good tent.

Set Up
I really like how easy it is to set up the tent and it usually only takes a few minutes for me to REI Half Dome 2 Plus get it up by myself. The poles and the points of attachment on the tent and ground cloth are color coded, which makes determining the correct direction to lay everything out a breeze. Hooks on the side of the tent allow you to simply hook the tent onto the poles. Here’s a little extra info about the pole structure from REI:

-Advanced frame design combines DAC® Pressfit poles with a unique dual-hub architecture to provide area-wide headroom with nearly vertical side and end walls
-Exclusive Tension Truss architecture leverages bound seams to provide low-weight structural stability and to increase interior volume

Design
The tent design is very nice, as I mentioned earlier. The way that the tent attaches to the poles creates a lot of room inside the tent. The mesh windows that cover much of each side of the tent allow for maximum ventilation and the doors are built very well into the tent. There are two doors, which is great for people tenting with others because it eliminates the need for people to crawl over each other to get to their sleeping bags. The design of the doors’ shape and zippers works well, as the zippers can be used single-handedly, which makes getting in and out of the tent is very easy.

Door of TentREI has some things to say about the bottom of the tent: “Hybrid floor combines sealed seams and bathtub curves to create a waterproof floor that stays taut for easy door zipper operation and to maximize volume at end walls”. I find this to be very true and there is absolutely no leakage of water into the tent. There are also multiple areas inside the tent to store gear. There are two mesh pockets at one end of the tent and a mesh pocket on the roof of the tent. (The mesh also makes it easy to find your gear in the pockets). There are also a few loops that can be used to suspend gear from the top of the tent.

Rainfly
The rainfly is very easy to put on the tent and when staked in to the ground with guy lines, it becomes very taut. This diverts rain very nicely. Additionally, the rainfly is resistant to UV degradation. Finally, there are four ceiling vents on the rainfly. These have Velcro on them and can easily be opened or closed to control ventilation for camping in hotter weather.

Additional Parts
The Half Dome 2 Plus comes with guy lines and stakes, which are used to secure the tent. There is also a pole straightener tube that allows you to fix any bent poles. The poles, ground cloth, and stakes all have their own bags (the guy lines are stored with the stakes) which makes organizing the tent materials and packing/unpacking the tent a lot easier.

Now, you may be wondering what the difference is between the Half Dome 2 and the Half Dome 2 Plus tent. The Half Dome 2 Plus is in fact 10 inches longer and 4 inches wider than the Half Dome 2, which makes it a better choice for people over 6 feet tall. Otherwise, the extra 10 inches is great for extra storage room for gear you don’t want to leave under the rainfly outside. The extra 4 inches on the width (although not a big difference) make the tent more comfortable for 2 or 3 people.

REI Half Dome 2 Plus OutsideI have never had any problems with the Half Dome 2 Plus tent and it has been a great tent for both camping and short backpacking trips. I few friends of mine also have the Half Dome 2 Plus and they have also been very happy with it. If you’re looking for a good tent for multiple uses and all weather camping, definitely take a look at this tent. It may be the one for you, too!