A Great Bug Out Bag Back-Pack: REI Crestrail 70

I get TONS of e-mails from people asking me what pack to choose for their Bug Out Bag.  I wish I had a BLACK & WHITE answer to these questions.  The fact is that we (people) come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and quite frankly, different packs work best for different people.  My 92 lb. Mom would never carry the same size/make/style BOB as I would or as my 200 lb. Dad.

If you’ve read my book you already know that I cover some important Pack Selection Criteria but I don’t get into specific pack names/brands/etc…  Because this is such a popular question I’ve decided that when I see a good Bug Out Bag Pack I will do a post about it.  I think this will help people select specific packs.  I will only mention packs that are Bug Out Bag worthy.

My first featured Back Pack in this series is the Crestrail 70 by REI

I recently had an opportunity to try one of these packs on and was really impressed.  It has everything you need for a BOB.  I normally suggest a pack in the 4000 cu.in. range so this pack even in the SIZE M is a little larger (4271 cu.in.) but, wow, is it a solid pack.  Below is a list of features directly from  the REI web-site:

  • Sculpted FreeFlow back panel has multiple peaks and valleys to reduce sweaty contact areas and allow warm vapor to escape; soft foam conforms to your back for a stable fit
  • ActivMotion® hipbelt pivots to follow the natural motion of your hips, helping keep the pack balanced and stable on your back when hiking on uneven terrain
  • Hipbelt webbing tightens with a forward pull for easy adjustment; 2 zippered pockets provide handy access to snacks
  • Tubular aluminum perimeter frame is lighter than HDPE/stay frame sheets; it transfers weight to your hips and stabilizes the pack, helping prevent unwanted side-to-side sway
  • Top-loading main compartment also features 2 zippered access points to the main bag, plus separate access to the sleeping bag compartment
  • Large zippered front pocket, stretch stash pocket and lightweight lash points provide storage and organization for often-used gear and clothing
  • Side bottle-locking pockets secure bottles or other items, helping prevent them from falling out when bushwacking or taking your pack off
  • Speed Hook ice axe attachments are strategically positioned to avoid interference with pockets and access zippers
  • Over-the-top and dual side compression straps pull the load closer to your back, minimize bulk and provide external attachment points for gear
  • Floating top lid extends, allowing the pack to handle large loads
  • Cordura® fabric resists abrasion and tears; Durable Water Resistant finish repels moisture
  • Water-repellent zippers help keep your contents dry and eliminate the need for fabric zipper flaps
  • The REI Crestrail 70 pack features a hydration-ready design that allows your reservoir’s drink tube to be routed over either shoulder (hydration reservoir sold separately)

At $239, the Crestrail is a little on the pricey side but for the size and quality I don’t think you’ll get a better deal.  REI also has an awesome return/replacement policy should anything ever fail you.  You might even be able to find a used one on Ebay or Cragislist – don’t forget those options.

I like that the Crestrail comes in muted earth-tones.  Remember, you don’t want to be a beacon.  Bright colors are good for signaling but save all your bright colors for INSIDE your pack.  Give yourself the option to be discreet if you need to be.

It’s also hydration compatible and although I don’t use a hydration bladder, this is a nice feature for those who do.  The bottle pockets on the side are a huge PLUS for me.  Your standard Nalgene or Klean Kanteen will lock right into place and save primo space inside the pack.

I’ll also bet the Ice Axe Strap system would work for all you guys who can’t leave home without your Kukri machete or Tomahawks.  That’s right – set this thing up Bug Out style 🙂

Remember how I mentioned that we all come in many different shapes and sizes.  Well this pack adjusts in more ways than most that I’ve seen and I was able to quickly adjust it to my liking with no hassle at all.


REI has also filmed a really nice video on the Crestrail which can be seen here: http://www.rei.com/product/809761/rei-crestrail-70-pack#video-inner

Here is also a Women’s Version: http://www.rei.com/product/809763/rei-crestrail-65-pack-womens

For those of you who are looking for some specific pack suggestions I would recommend considering this pack.

Anyone out there currently using this pack?  If so, share your thoughts….?  Myself and 1000’s of others who read these posts would love to hear them.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,



  1. Currently, my wife and I have the REI Flash 65 – while not the same pack, the REI brand is very solid, we’ve had no issues fitting everything we need.

  2. I would look in to Eberlestock packs. Amazing packs! http://www.eberlestock.com

  3. I have been carrying a ruck more often than not for more than 50 years.

    Wide think straps, durable material like Cordura. Molle.

    Commercial sport hiking rucks are not the right choice for a BOB.

    Don’t want to attract attention with military looking gear?.. your dreaming .. If your in a SHTF situation and alone.. you are prey anyway.

    You need to gain access to stuff.. not unpack to reach a bandaid.. there are all manner of things you need to hang.. even camouflage if your fortunate enough to be in a place where there are benifits.

    You need to be able to tear the crap out of your pack and repair it.. Go to a second hand store and buy a couple different cheap backpacks.. cut tear and burn them then try to repair them using crude needle and thread.. Cordura even Canvass yes.. that thin Sports pack NO .. once torn it’s all down hill from there

    Surplus Military Rucks, Voodo, Blackhawk most of the rucks that actually find themselves in Combat today used by the US Military will do..REI while great for hiking with bells and pepper spray will not cut it..

    As always use what you have first.. address all the pieces of the survival puzzle then improve on your gear and skills. So don’t dump your new Sports Pack.. just don’t buy anymore of them and upgrade starting with yourself as you can..

    Lots of Lucks.

    • Rick-

      I appreciate your input. While I don’t agree with your criticism of recreation backpacks being a good BOB option, everyone is certainly free to draw their own conclusions. Similar packs as the one referenced above have seen trips to the peak of Everest and 2000 mile treks along the Appalachian Trail and are more than sufficient for a 72-hour disaster Bug Out for those who don’t like or don’t want the military options. However, like you said, there are some excellent military options available for a great price at surplus stores. With that said, you’ll probably see an ALICE pack features here in the near future.

      • Josef Shreve says:

        Hey Creek you should check out the company Eberlestock. They have gret packs for very need. I like the V69 Detroyer and the V90 Battleship. You should also check out the Terminator pack.


      • I have the Eberlestock Terminator pack, and have used it on a number of hikes/outings. So far: bulletproof, and surprisingly comfortable! Great pockets for organization, MOLLE straps for attaching extra accessories if need be, and ample amount of space in the main compartment, including a divider for when you want to segregate your sleeping bag from the rest of your gear. Best features:

        – Main compartment can be accessed from the top OR from the front. No more dumping everything out to get at the bottom of the pack
        – 2 pockets for hydration bladders, as well as routes for running the tubes
        – The lid detaches and can be used as a day pack
        – Included rain cover
        – can carry a rifle/shotgun in a separate channel b/w your back and the main pack compartment. When not in use, channel compresses completely flat and space is usable as part of main compartment. This weapon carry capability is Eberlestock’s headline feature.

        The only detriment would be the weight: 10lbs empty. This is due to the heavy material used (1000D Cordura) and all of the pockets/MOLLE. The good part is that the internal frame system carries REALLY well, so the weight is manageable.

        I got mine in Dry Earth color, and it’s a very low key, flat color, good for being a little more inconspicuous and not all .mil.

        Overall, LOVE this pack.

  4. I would like to say your blog is really awesome. I had a lot of fun reading it.
    If you may want to look at our best bug out bags for sale.

  5. I have had the debate over tactical vs. backpacking packs with a few people, and have come to the realization that people are going to go with what works best for them. There are definitely pros and cons to each option and neither is really “better” than another.

    That being said, I went with an Eberlestock F3F FAC pack for my BOB.
    It is a large pack, covered entirely with molle, and allows for a great modular style with multiple configurations. It has tons of built in storage, bladder compartments, and accessories can include a rifle or shotgun holder.

    For those that like the tactical packs, but are concerned about the statement such a pack makes, it also has an integrated rainfly that domes in camo, drabs, and a hunter orange.

    When comparing the weight to a hiking pack of similar volume, it certainly weighs more.
    Also, the pack does not have a lot of the stretch and has a pretty rigid shape, though it is very comfortable.
    And it does get noticed when I go camping, even though mine is not a camo pattern, they look like they mean business.
    It is also a hefty investment up front, when compared to the deals you can find on end of season hking bags etc…

    What’s more important than the bag you decide to go with…is what you put in it.

    Good review Creek
    How about a “Biggest space wasters most people pack in a BOB” article?

  6. Love this Bag!

  7. I recently obtained two Marine Corps ILBE Main packs from EBay to serve as my family’s BOBs. Huge packs made by Arcteryx and VERY inexpensive comparatively. 🙂

  8. Check out Kifaru bags. They are $$$ but will last forever.. Shawn’s recommendation on eberlestock is good also.
    For smaller BOB bag, check out Goruck GR2

    All of them are military style, made with 1000d cordura – basically the toughest material out there..

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi I own the bag. LOL I'm a 14 yr old prepper. it fits all of my freeze dried food and ammo for my 9mm block 17 4th gen and my 20 gauge mossenberg ammo. (spelled mossenberg wrong) most packs are not as useful as this one. there are straps all over to compress gear inside so its stabilized. this allows the pack to feel lighter and easier to carry. I use a camelbak so I was able to fit my entire tactical camelbak inside the pocket that holds the bladder. its a nice addition and its waterproof. BUY IT

    (Sorry for any spelling errors. I was in a hurry.)

  10. I was wondering if you think that this type of bag would be too much in an urban setting. Do you think that this type of bag would draw too much attention? What would you recommend for city dwellers?

  11. I'm currently hiking the Appalachian trail with this bag and have made it about 466 miles with it. This bag would be absolutely amazing except for one thing, The water poof zippers end up getting stuck and eventually they just break and open up your pockets whenever they feel like it aha. It has happened to other hikers with this same bag so its not just mine.

  12. I got my self a Molle and so far really enjoy it,with all the different attachments/options seems to be easy to set up for your mission(s) for a reasonable price,is like many things,it is what works for you and is comfortable.

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