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REI Cruise UL 60 Backpack REVIEW
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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
REI Cruise UL 60 Backpack REVIEW on 09/18/2007 22:39:16 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

REI Cruise UL 60 Backpack REVIEW

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
REI Cruise UL 60 on 09/19/2007 00:16:55 MDT Print View

Will, Thank you for the detailed and careful review.

I used to own the previous version 60L, and it looks like this version still has the flaws which casued me to return it.

Easy torso adjustment with rip-n-stick velcro? why!? If you are an adult, your torso hopefully is not changing length on a daily basis.. a pack only needs to have a semi-permanent way to adjust the torso length once in a great while, like when changing users. The velcro on my 60 tore away(hook from loop) each time I lifted the pack, requiring re-adjustment.

Non-removable stays and non-removable fixed lid. :-( Removable components are a great way to save weight for shorter trips or summit attempts. This pack is aimed at the general consumer market where people use their pack once a year, never fiddle with it, and could not tell you it's weight.

No panel access. :-( After switching to packs with this feature I will never go back to the deep-black-hole type packs. Panel access speeds up camp setup, on-trail stops, and packing up in the morning.

In this size range I would probably go with the Nimbus Meridian or Black Diamond Predator or Quantum, all strippable and with panel access. (and also available at REI)

Paul Snyder
(snyderp1) - F
Didn't care for this pack at all... on 09/19/2007 06:59:13 MDT Print View

I've got an REI just down the street here in Boulder, so I tend to try out everything that looks even halfway interesting due to their return policy. I have thus far been unimpressed with most of the REI-label packs, regardless the glowing reviews. I have the same opinion with this one following testing with 20lb-25lb loads. The suspension adjust is needlessly gimmicky, weighty, and makes noise when walking loaded (the pack, not me...). You can get around the tendency of the velcro to pull away when donning and doffing by working the over-the-head don trick, though not everyone likes to perform that maneuver. The harness and belt didn't fit well on my large-ish male frame, and fit terribly on my medium-thin wife's frame. She loathed the harness shape and bend config. There may be some torso/body-mass mid-size segment of the market that this pack really fits, though in quick tests with six other individuals, we couldn't find the magic combo. The harness has a cheap cookie-cutter feel to it, as compared to the relative luxury of the Granite Gear Nimbus (just to offer the Nimbus as a point of comparison, it's no panacea either). The Kanga pocket is of limited utility. To claim that it's useful for carrying a tent shows a lack of wisdom in overall mass-distribution for a pack of this type. Price??? There are indeed reasons (which I will not discuss here) why REI products can be offered at lower prices than most competitors. Suffice to say these reasons have nothing to do with any sense of fair trade or philanthropy. The worst thing about this pack was the incessant noise while using. Creak, squeak, velcro-tear, etc. Even after trying a few point-lube tricks on the stay pockets, the squeaks come back with a vengence, and increase with continued use over a weekend. Some folks may not care about that point, but all of our local testers found it abhorent. Maybe they'll fix all these points in version 2.0. Wait for it... this bag will probably be on deep-sale soon. Cheers.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
UL? on 09/19/2007 09:07:14 MDT Print View

Is this what rei thinks is ultralight?

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
REI on 09/19/2007 10:00:28 MDT Print View

I gave up on waiting on this review, and bought one about 3 months ago. Not being one of the cognoscenti, or an REI anti, I guess I was just enough of a dumb a$$ not to know any better. Mine fits great, works great, is affordable, doesn't sqeek, and the velcro doesn't rip off. Hip belt pockets are way too small. I do think the velcro needs to be moved up a couple of inches for better engagement at a longer torso size. I emailed REI about that, but was ignored. So I think it was a great value, especially when I used the 20% off coupon. It fits a niche, which is apparently blue collar moron, so that must be why mine works so well.

Edited by skinewmexico on 09/19/2007 10:10:35 MDT.

Colleen Clemens
(tarbubble) - F

Locale: dirtville, CA
Re: REI on 09/19/2007 11:39:14 MDT Print View

I'm really glad to see this review. REI stuff is not cutting edge UL, but they have some stuff with respectable weights and attractive prices.

LOL Joe, i guess hubby & i are morons, too. we have the original UL 45s, almost the same as the 65 but smaller, and we love them. bought them on clearance for roughly $75 each and have used them very happily ever since. I like a framed pack and the price/weight ratio on these was just right. the internal compression is really nice, although with the thinner fabric on the original packs the gear inside tends to bulge out between the compression cords. a lot of pockets for organization, and the kanga pocket looks like a very useful addition to the pack. my 45 doesn't have one - wonder if it is just a feature for the 60.

Edited by tarbubble on 09/19/2007 11:43:35 MDT.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
REI Cruise UL 60 on 09/19/2007 15:55:29 MDT Print View

Tarbubble, the stow-it/kanga pocket is only found on the 60 line. I like the feature myself, having used it extensively with my Gregory Z-pack.

Personally, I am thrilled that REI offers the Cruise. I work for the store, and I routinely see beginners come in looking for 6-7 pound packs recommended in Backpacker or Outside Magazine. With the advent of the UL 60 and the new Cruise, I can help them down the lighter road from the get-go. Between the features and the price, many customers find it to be a very nice pack.

Personally I'll lay the packs in REI's UL series against many higher end packs. I used both the Gregory Z-55 and REI Quick UL this summer in warm weather hiking condition in Kentucky and Tennessee. While the vented backpanel made the Z-55 a bit cooler, I actually found the load better supported by the $99 Quick. At half the price and 12 ounces less, this is saying a lot.

My girlfriend owns and uses the older UL 60 as her winter pack. If I didn't already own a ULA Catalyst for those bigger loads, I'd probably buy the Cruise myself. For the money, it is a phenomenal pack.

Edited by Bearpaw on 09/19/2007 15:57:02 MDT.

Greg Vaillancourt
(GSV45) - F

Locale: Utah
I really dig the mesh kangaroo pocket on on 09/19/2007 18:40:11 MDT Print View

my old model Osprey Aether 60.

Wake up with a wet tarp or Tarptent and I just stuff it in the mesh pocket and go. Anything that might drip, stink, or mess up the interior of the main pack goes there.

Not convinced I'd like a nonmesh version.

Greg Brouhard
(gbrouhard) - F
Re: REI Cruise UL 60 on 09/20/2007 12:29:03 MDT Print View

Isle Royale

I purchased the UL60 in 2005 when part of it was made still made from Silnylon. I used the pack for an Isle Royale hike and loved it. The kanga pocket sure came in handy when I would start early and pack a wet rain fly. I agree that the mesh pockets need to be made to billow as I found them not very useable. I never noticed the squeaks or noises or problems that other people have had. I love the pack.

Sean Thompson
(Questtrek) - F

Locale: Michigan
I liked it! on 09/21/2007 08:22:31 MDT Print View

The UL60 might not be considered ultralight by any means but it worked for me. I carried about 30 pounds with it comfortably and my trek was only about 18 miles. I did buy a different pack though. I went for something about half the weight. This pack is perfect for the person who's starting out backpacking and doesn't want to spend all that money for those larger, heavier packs that are on the wall. $130 is a perfect start for the beginner and 3.5 pounds is sure better then 7 or 8.

P.S. It did squeak though ...

eric levine
(ericl) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado
Ultra-light? on 09/24/2007 23:58:38 MDT Print View

I guess this is a good direction for REI, and good info for those here to recommend to friends, and for those here who work with beginners. I don’t think most subscribers here will find much interest themselves though.

I recently weighed my old Mountainsmith 4000ci carbon stay internal frame, circa mid 1990s, and it’s 2.5 pounds. It has carried loads to its limit in the upper 30s well. Calling the REI over 3 pound pack “UltraLight” these days is just not accurate in my book.

Come to think of it, my Stephenson external frame (circa 1970s) with metal hipcarry frame and 6 convertible pockets came in at around 3-3.5 pounds.

Joseph Jacaruso
(CaptainJac) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
REI Going Ultra-Light? on 09/25/2007 11:50:00 MDT Print View

Bearpaw, you said you work for the store (REI). I was in the Durham, NC store and one of the sales people were talking about a new UL series. He said it had everything you needed at <16 lb. I didn't have time to follow up.

Do you know anything about this?

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
"UL" at REI on 09/26/2007 07:01:40 MDT Print View

Sure Pizza,

The best I can say is don't get too excited. The line is actually almost two years old, though it is improved and updated frequently.

To call this line "Ultralight" really is a marketing ploy, one made possible by the fact that there is no industry standard of what is UL. Here at BPL, "UL" means a base weight (everything except food, water, fuel, and other small expendables like sunscreen, mosquito repellent, etc.) of under 10 pounds. By the definition given, "<16 lbs", this doesn't qualify as UL.

HOWEVER, it does represent a decent trend. You'll find "Big 4" systems (pack, bag, shelter, and pad) that are relatively light. at least compared to the rather heavy offerings from most mainstream gear companies. Examples would include the Cruise UL Pack (51 ounces), Quarter Dome 2 UL (60 ounces), Sub-Kilo Sleeping Bag (29 ounces), and REI full-length Lite Core self-inflating pad (27 ounces).

Total 167 ounces, or 10 pounds, 7 ounces. You're already into the lightweight, not UL category and you haven't added kitchen gear, clothing, headlamps or any other gear yet. But the price of these items, a bit over $600, and a lot less if you shop scratch and dent sales, keep eyes open for promotionals and regular sales and use your 20% coupons (up to 3 a year now), is pretty good compared to other alternatives. So in this aspect, it is a decent "lighterweight" alternative. Just understand there are many lighterweight options out there, especially in shelters.

But REI's new gear is important for newer hikers transitioning into packing without making a "leap of faith" to shop with online niche companies. (Which by the way are usually MORE than worth the risk because their products really are superior to nearly all mass market gear out their today, at least in terms of lower weight for comparable performance).

Jon Rhoderick
(hotrhoddudeguy) - F - M

Locale: New England
Re: "UL" at REI on 09/30/2007 11:18:36 MDT Print View

I saw a guy hiking with this pack, and sensing the BPL reconnaissance potential, I tailed him and I'm pretty sure I didn't hear any squeaking from the pack.

Mike Feldman
(harpin) - F
REI Cruise on 10/03/2007 15:31:16 MDT Print View

I am influenced by what Shawn says along with the BPL contributor review. Sort of surprised there was a BPL review, thats cool, why not. The largest ULA pack, the Catalyst, weighs bout the same as the REI Cruise, popular large ULA/LW crowd internal frame pack. I love my frameless ULA Amp pack for weekend, or longer good water source non winter trips. Maybee apples and oranges BUT $130 at REI w/end of year refund after buying it for the Cruise, and/or the 20% discount offered. It does seem REI has made some improvement over the previous version. Am passing thru Atlanta to BP trip in N.GA early November, may stop by REI and consider the Cruise. Anyone has a ULA Catalyst large w/medium hipbelt you will sell for anything close to the REI cruise price I'm all over it, let me know?

Mike Feldman
(harpin) - F
Jonathan-your hilarious-above comments Cruise 60 on 10/03/2007 16:01:28 MDT Print View

Am still laughing on the BPL Recon. comment above, hope I run into you on a trail sometime!

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Recon on 10/04/2007 09:11:18 MDT Print View

I think I might be kind of creeped out if some guy start following me. "Oh, I'm just checking out your pack........"

Barrett Willet
(barrettwillet) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
pack volumes on 10/04/2007 11:10:25 MDT Print View

Be careful comparing other pack volumes to ULA pack volumes. ULA counts the mesh pockets in their total volume. This does not follow the ASTM standard for measuring pack volume which defines that in order for a pocket to be counted as measured volume it must have a method for closure. Mesh pockets do not have a method for closure. The REI Cruise is 60 liters plus it has the mesh pockets and kangaroo pocket that are not counted in the 60 liters. When you start taking the mesh pocket volume out of the ULA packs then you start to get a clear apples to apples comparison.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Recon on 10/08/2007 00:13:16 MDT Print View

Does the BPL Recon Force have to report to the National Intelligence Director? I'm gonna have a 3oz windshirt screen printed with BPL-RF in the same font as the FBI or DEA uses! But seriously, if anyone that looked like Jonathan's avatar started tailing me, they might get a mug full of bearspray!

And back to topic, I am very fond of my original UL60. Same minor issues as other noted - tight mesh sides, small hipbelt pockets, and makes a little noise. But overall a very comfortable and versatile performer. I've upgraded to lighter and smaller packs since, but still use the UL60 on occasion.

The adjustable torso is a actually a very nice feature when I loan the pack out to a companion. I've had a several friends and relatives from the Midwest come out to visit. Most want to hike and backpack a little, so I hook them up with the UL60. Perfect pack for that purpose, because it's easy to fit, comfortable, light, and large enough that they can bring that 400 weight fleece that they just gotta have along.

I definitely agree with Will's thoughful review and recommendation. Keep up the good work!

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
UL 60 and UL Cruise on 10/08/2007 13:15:24 MDT Print View

I own a UL 60 in large. A backpacking buddy owns a new UL Cruise.

We both liked the suspension. (For the poster who didn't like/couldn't undertand it's adjustability I say "HUH??")

I prefer his UL Cruise for its Dyneema fabric's durability over my ripstop. Virtually all else is the same except the dasiy chans (2 on UL 60, 1 on UL Cruise) and the hip belt pockets (bigger on Cruise). Oh, yeah, the neat sliding lower shoulder strap suspension on the UL 60 is changed to standard sewn-on lower straps for the UL Cruise.

I've added 2 REI ripstop side pockets to mine and my buddy is going to do the same on his. For bulkier, lighter items these pockets are ideal. The newer UL Cruise has better attatchment points for the pockets than my UL 60.

I've carried 37 lbs with this pack (UL 60) and been comfortable even in some scrambling conditions. The naysayers either don't know how to adjust a pack (unlikely) or didn't understand my motto - namely: "There are no comfortable packs, some are just less uncomfortable than others." (I love to quote myself.)

This pack is one of the MORE comfortable ones. Load it and adjust it correctly and ye shall be rewarded accordingly. Yes. it's not insanely light but it IS light, well designed and well made therefore I think this pack will be one of REI's perennial best sellers.


Edited by Danepacker on 10/08/2007 13:24:11 MDT.