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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > REI Venturi > Test Report by Patrick McNeilly

REI Venturi 40 Pack
Tested By Pat McNeilly

Initial Report: June 17, 2008
Field Report: Augsut 31, 2008

Venturi 40 Pack - Front ViewLong-Term Report: October 24, 2008

Name: Pat McNeilly
Age: 45
Gender: Male
Height: 5í 8Ē (1.7 m)
Weight: 155 lb (70 kg)
Torso length: 18.5 in (47 cm)
Email address: mcne4752 at yahoo dot com
City, State, Country: Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA

Backpacking Background:
I have been hiking for at least 20 years but backpacking for only the last five years.Most of my backpacking is done as overnight trips and occasional weekend and weeklong trips.My typical packweight is approximately 18 to 20 lb (8 to 9 kg) before food or water.Most of my backpacking is the three season variety in the mountains of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.In addition to backpacking, I also fish, hunt, and have been involved in disaster relief.As a result, some of my backpacking equipment gets used in a number of different venues.

Product Information:

Product: Venturi 40 Pack
Manufacturer: Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Color: Redstone/Granite
Venturi Suspension ViewSize: Large
Volume: 2634 cu in (43 L)
Torso sizes: 18Ė20 in (46-51 cm)

Weight (listed): 2 lb 13 oz (1.28 kg)
Weight (measured): 2 lb 13 oz (1.28 kg)
MSRP: $129.00 USD

Initial Report
Report Date: June 17, 2008

Product Description:
The REI Venturi Pack is a lightweight, top-loading, weather resistant backpack.The pack is constructed using a water resistant nylon fabric.The pack utilizes an hourglass shaped tubular aluminum frame and a tensioned mesh back panel which allows for airflow between the wearerís back and the pack.The packís hip belt and shoulder straps are constructed from perforated foam to allow for lighter weight and breathability.The shoulder straps are contoured to allow for a better fit.The pack also includes load lifter straps and lumbar stabilizer straps to help control the load.

The pack has a floating lid which includes a 14 in (35 cm) water resistant zipper.The underside of lid has a 10 in (25 cm) zippered map pocket which inside includes a small strap and mitten hook for securing items such as keys.The top of the lid also features four small webbing loops for lashing items to the top of the pack.

The hip belt has two mesh pockets which measure 4 x 6.5 in (10 x 16 cm).The pack also includes two pockets on the front of the pack.[When referring to the front and back of the pack, my convention is that the back is the side with the shoulder straps]One pocket has a horizontal 9 in (23 cm) zipper and measures approximately 8.5 x 12 in (22 x 31 cm) and sits underneath the lid when the pack is closed.The second pocket has a vertical 13 in (33 cm) water resistant zipper and measures 12 x 17 in (22 x 43 cm).There are also two mesh water bottle pockets on either side of the pack which appear to be large enough to hold a 1 qt (1 L) bottle.

There are two tool loops located on the bottom front of the pack.Located 13 in (33 cm) higher up and in-line with the tool loops are two bungee lash straps for securing tools or trekking poles.There are also two side compression straps on either side approximately 14 in (35 cm) from the bottom of the pack for securing incomplete loads.

The Venturi Pack is also hydration compatible and includes a hydration sleeve inside the pack, as well as the ability to place a hydration reservoir in the space between the frame and the mesh back panel.The latter would free up space inside the pack should that be necessary.

Product Review:
Airflow suspensionUpon arrival, the Venturi Pack looked just as it was described on the REI website.There were two things that I immediately noticed when initially handling this pack.The first was that it seemed to be very light.I was not surprised when it weighed in at under 3 lb (1.4 kg).The second this was that it seemed very large.The pack is described on the website as a daypack but looks much larger than what I would typically use for a dayhike, particularly on a solo hike in the summer.Of course, I immediately wondered how much stuff this thing would hold and began throwing equipment inside.After putting most of my typical equipment in the main compartment (i.e., sleeping bag, tent, sleeping pad) I still had plenty of room for more equipment and hadnít even touched any of the other pockets.

The construction of the pack appears to be quite good.I have not noticed any problems with the seams and all the zippers operate smoothly.The pack fabric does feel as though it has been treated for water resistance but the seams are not sealed, as far as I can tell.I will want to monitor how water resistant the pack is.

As with many packs, there seem to be straps everywhere.The Venturi Pack does have the typical complement of straps including load lifters, lumbar stabilization, side compression, sternum strap, and floating lid straps.All these seemed to be in their typical locations and well attached.I did notice that while I was inspecting and playing around with the pack that the lid flopped around more than expected and I noticed that two straps just above the shoulder straps which hold the lid on kept sliding out of their buckles.This may be due to them being new and not having been cinched down much before.They were easily reattached but I will keep an eye on this during the test period.

I next wanted to put the pack on and test for fit.I loaded the pack with approximately 15 lb (6.8 kg) of gear and tried it out.Once the pack was on, I noticed that there is a small foam pad located at the base of the pack in the lumbar area.I could feel this as a firm block in my lower back.This was not uncomfortable but it was noticeable because there was no other padding against my back, only the mesh back panel.The pack seemed to fit well and felt slightly stiffer than the internal frame packs I usually use.I noticed that I felt the need to pull the shoulder strap adjustments very far down to get a comfortable fit.This left the straps dangling at my sides much more than I am used to.It also seemed that I needed to pull the sternum strap up as far as it would go to be in a comfortable location.After further inspection of the Venturi Pack, it does not appear that there is any adjustment that can be made to the suspension and that differences in torso length are dealt with by adjusting the shoulder straps.I am on the short end of the torso size for this pack which might explain some of these aberrations.In any event, the pack does fit and I do not expect these things to be problems (but time will tell).

Hydration SleeveThe pack has a hydration sleeve and located just above the sleeve are two mitten hooks to secure a bladder and a small webbing loop with which to thread hydration tubing through.There is also a zipper located on the inside of the pack just above the hydration sleeve which when opened reveals two additional mitten hooks and a webbing loop inside.These appear to be for securing a hydration bladder between the pack frame and the mesh back panel (although there are not instructions to indicate this).I had a hard time inserting my hand through this zippered opening and wondered how I would get a full bladder through it.I then realized that a bladder would likely have to be fed through the side of the pack and secured through the zippered opening.

The pockets of the pack are worth noting.The two mesh pockets on the hip belt are easily accessible but seem a bit small.They will hold snacks and small items.I was able to put my digital camera in the pockets but it was a tight fit.The other pockets on the outside of the pack that will be exposed to the elements have water resistant zippers which operate quite smoothly.The horizontal zippered pocket on the front of the pack does not have a water resistant zipper.It appears that this pocket is intended to be covered by the packís lid and should not be directly exposed to rain, etc.Iím not sure how this might work if items are stuffed under the lid, but I will keep an eye on that.The side water bottle pockets appear to be of good size but I did note that I had a difficult time trying to put a water bottle in the pocket while wearing the pack.

Field Report
Report Date: August 31, 2008

Venturi Pack in use in SmokiesField Conditions:
Over the past two months, I have used the Venturi Pack on five dayhikes and on an overnight trip in central Maryland.I also brought the pack along on a trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee.This trip only involved day hiking rather than backpacking.The distances covered were all between 5 to 10 miles (8 to 16km) on maintained trails with elevations ranging from 300 to 6000 ft (90 to 1830 m).††† The weather conditions this summer have been very nice and I have been hiking in temperatures between 65 to 95 F (18 to 35 C).The humidity has also been lower this year and only once did I hike in high humidity conditions.I encountered rain on only one of these hikes, and that was only light to moderate.

Product Review:
I have been enjoying hiking with this pack.I have not seen any problems with the construction of the pack.The seams appear to be holding well and all of the straps and zippers are operating smoothly.I have not noticed any slippage of the straps as I mentioned in my Initial Report.

As I mentioned in my Initial Report, the pack seems very large and I find that I can load lots of gear in it.It seems to me as though I have a hard time filling it with gear.I have found myself questioning whether the volume calculation for the pack is correct.Quick calculations with a tape measure suggested that I was wrong.I must be significantly lightening my typical load.The volume is perfectly adequate for me to do an overnight or a weekend trip.It has also worked very well when hiking with my family in the Smokies where I would tend to carry gear for everyone.

I was initially concerned about how much weight could be easily carried with the Venturi Pack.I took two separate hikes, one where I carried approximately 20 lb (9 kg) and another carrying approximately 30 lb (14 kg).I found that the lighter load could be carried without any problem.The pack also did well with the 30 lb (14 kg) load.There was good weight transfer from the frame to the hips but I could feel the aluminum frame straining somewhat with that much weight.I would say that I would not want to carry more than 35 lb (16 kg) with the Venturi Pack.I would also note that in order to fit 30 lb (14 kg) into the pack required that I fit my hydration bladder between the mesh and frame of the pack.The bladder took up too much room inside the pack for that much gear.

Hydration portSpeaking of the using a hydration bladder, I found that trying to hook a hydration bladder to the mitten hooks located on the inside of the pack was very difficult.Removing the bladder from the mitten hooks proved even more difficult.I found it impossible to do this if the pack was full.I found that I needed to attach small loops of cord to my hydration bladder to make attaching the mitten hooks even a bit easier.Iím not sure why they included the mitten hooks since the sleeve for the hydration bladder does an adequate job of holding the bladder in place inside the pack.Trying to attach a full bladder between the mesh and the pack frame is an even more difficult prospect.There is almost no way to fit my hands through the zippered section located at the top of the pack (and I have relatively small hands) to grasp the mitten hooks.This is so difficult that I will only use this configuration when I absolutely have to.Lastly, since the hydration port of the pack is located in the center of the pack, as opposed to either side of the pack, the tubing tends to come straight out of the port.I found that unless I threaded the hydration tubing through the loops on the shoulder strap in just the right way, the tubing would hit me in the back of the neck.

I have found the hip belt and shoulder straps to be very comfortable.One thing that I did note is that to secure the pack around my waist (especially with a heavy load) I needed to pull the hip belt just about as small as it could go.I have a 32 in (81 cm) waist and felt that if I happen to loose any more weight I would not be able to cinch the belt tight.This could be an issue for thin people (at least thinner than me).The pockets located on the hip belt are very handy for keeping snacks or a small camera.I do get concerned about dirt and moisture getting into these pockets when the pack is on the ground since they are mesh, especially when I have my camera in the pocket.

It is hard to tell whether the perforated foam on the hip belt and shoulder straps keep me any cooler than any other type material.There certainly is no escaping sweating in the mid-Atlantic in the summer.†† The mesh back panel does tend to keep me cooler though.I can feel breezes through the space between the mesh and the frame.However, that airflow was significantly impeded when I placed a hydration bladder in that space.This left me feeling warmer and with a sweaty back.

I have not encountered much in the way of rain on my hikes.The one hike where there was a light rain I did not notice that any of the gear inside the pack had gotten wet.I was particularly interested in seeing if items in the vertical pocket on the front of the pack remained dry.I had anticipated this and placed some dry bandanas in this pocket before hiking that day.These items were dry as a bone after the hike.It wasnít a hurricane by any means but did leave me with the feeling that items would stay reasonably dry.

A couple of last items that I wanted to mention involve some of the pockets on the pack.I found that if the pack was very full the side water bottle pockets were almost impossible to access while wearing the pack.I might be able to get the water bottle out but I would not be able to get it back in without removing the pack.This was not as much of a problem if the pack was only partially full.The pockets are rather high up and I do have difficulty with them but I could get things in and out.I have used the pocket on the underside of the lid for storing certain items like maps.There is a mitten hook inside this pocket for securing keys.I do use this feature but always feel as if the keys might fall out.I have never had this happen but would feel more at ease if the hook was not on the underside of the lid.

Long-Term Report
Report Date: October 24, 2008

Field Conditions:
The Venturi Pack received a little less use during this phase of testing than I expected.I used pack on two weekend trips, one in western Maryland and the other on the Assateague Island National Seashore.In addition, I used the pack on three day hikes all here in central Maryland.The elevations for the trips were from sea level (quite literally) to 1500 ft (457 m).The distances covered were rather modest of between 5 to12 miles (8 to 19 km).I encountered a variety of trail conditions which ranged from loose beach sand to well maintained, rocky trails.The temperatures ranged from 45 to 85 F (7 to 29 C).I did not run into much in the way of precipitation, other than maybe some heavy dew overnight but no real rain to speak of.

Product Review:
The REI Venturi Pack has held up well over the testing period.I have not had any problems with the materials of the pack.The fabric seems to have held up well to abrasion, even on the bottom of the pack.The point at which the frame runs along the bottom of the pack appears to take the most abuse but even this does not show signs of excessive wear.The hip belt and shoulder straps also remain in good shape.

The packís zippers are working smoothly, even after encounters with sand.Although I did not encounter much precipitation while using the pack, I did fill the pack with gear and some towels and then hose it down in my yard.I used what I might consider a moderate flow of water, similar to what I might expect from a good rain shower.The items in the pockets with water resistant zippers seemed to stay dry, but I did notice that some water entered the main compartment.The gear wasnít totally soaked but things were wet.This is about what I expected and would likely be seen with most any pack.There is a horizontal pocket which is typically covered by the packís lid.The lid prevented water from entering this pocket, even though it does not have a water resistant zipper.

The pack is a bit too large for dayhikes, particularly in warm weather.The compression straps are able to cinch things down pretty well, but the lid tends to feel floppy when the pack isnít full.This is certainly not a show stopper but is sometimes a little annoying.On one hike, I did remove the lid entirely to see if I noticed any difference without it.The side compression straps were able to secure the load, which was only about 6 to 8 lb (3 to 4 kg), adequately.I did not find there to be any problem without the lid and it eliminated any sensation of the lid flopping about.

After using the Venturi Pack for four months, one thing that I keep wishing for are some extra lashing points on the body of the pack.The tool loops and bungee lash straps work very well, particularly for tall items, like trekking poles.However, when I want to attach an odd shaped item, such as a sleeping pad, I have problems finding a good attachment point.This isnít much of a problem on a dayhike because the pack volume is so large, but on overnights and weekends this is more of an issue.

The REI Venturi 40 Pack appears to be a well made, light weight pack constructed with weather resistant materials.This pack utilizes a tubular aluminum frame with a nylon mesh back panel which is comfortable, at least with light loads.The pack has plenty of capacity for a dayhike and appears to be ample enough for overnight and weekend trips.The Venturi Pack has plenty of pockets for organizing gear while on the trail. The pack is hydration compatible but attaching reservoirs and routing the tubing can be difficult.Although the pack is comfortable and can accommodate a range of torso lengths, it is somewhat limited in the adjustment which can be made to the suspension.Tall items can be easily attached but the pack has few additional lashing points for odd shaped items.

Things I like:

1. Comfortable fit
2. Ample capacity
Mesh back panel keeps me cool

Things I donít like:

1. Hydration attachment
2. Hard to access water bottle pockets
Could use some extra lashing points

This concludes my testing of the REI Venturi 40 Pack.I would like to thank REI and for the opportunity to test this item.

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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > REI Venturi > Test Report by Patrick McNeilly

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