Mountain Tested Mondays: REI Trail 5 Waistpack Review

The fanny pack is back and better than ever. Meet the REI Trail 5 Waistpack.

I am a huge fan of REI for so many reasons, but I think their #OptOutside slogan might be on the top of my list. If you’re unfamiliar with this motto – every year, the day after Thanksgiving, REI shuts down its stores, pays its employees, and urges their enormous community to go outside instead of wasting time and money on Black Friday shopping.

This was unheard of before REI decided to embark on this journey starting in 2015, and ever since, you can bet on me being outside on that lovely Friday after consuming twice my body weight in food the day before.

So the day after Thanksgiving this year, I decided to “#OptOutside” go for a long trail run in Saratoga Spa State Park, and fittingly kick off this gear review series with REI’s Trail 5 Waistpack.

Growing up just below the Adirondack Mountains in Saratoga Springs, NY, I spent a lot of time in this park as a kid; having picnics with my family, attending concerts at their outdoor concert venue, and running around the trails and roads of the park when I first got into running. I discovered a great trail there last fall and try to get on it every time I go home to visit my parents.

My Take on the REI Trail 5 Waistpack:

I had never used a waist pack for hiking or trail running before so I was a little skeptical about how this would work. Long story short – the pack was great!

The REI Co-Op Trail 5 Waistpack

Here are some of the keys areas that I appreciated:


Most times when we find ourselves out hiking, mountain running, mountaineering, etc., we are wearing packs that go over our shoulders. The Trail 5 Waistpack helps relieve your shoulders of the constant stress and pressure they receive. This pack was soft and comfortable (nice padding on the back) and sat nicely on the small of my back.


This pack had the perfect amount of storage for a day hike or trail run. Plenty of space for all of your necessities (keys, gloves, water, an extra shell layer, socks, etc).


I was worried about this pack feeling really restricting on my hips (similar to a seatbelt), or bouncing on the booty, and that was not the case. The bag moved with me as I ran through the woods and didn’t hold me back or make me feel like I was dragging at all.

Overall Rating

This pack is lightweight, holds what you need and keeps you moving while you’re jostling around on the trail. I would certainly use this for small, light-and-fast day hikes and trail runs up to 7 miles.

Additionally, I think this would be a great pack to bring on a trail run with your pup or other furry friend so you could easily stash treats and collapsible water bowls, etc. A good pack to have to give yourself a break from the normal wear and tear on your shoulders.

On a scale of 1 being a plain taco and 5 being a crunch wrap supreme, this pack is a chalupa (or a 3)! It’s got a surprising amount of awesome in a small package, with exactly what you’d need for a small trail run or short day hike, and without all the bells and whistles of more complicated taco fixings.

Keep following Explore Inspired’s #MountainTestedMondays series for more as I test this season’s best trail running packs and dig into the top outdoor gear for 2018!

Get the REI Trail 5 Waistpack

Emily Holland
Emily Holland

Co-Host, The Stokecast

Lover of all things outside. My life is mountains, rocks, running, dogs, fitness, & music. NY born, Boulder-based.

  1. Like your taco references. Have we ever thought of renaming the pack? Like ‘hipster’ pack or ‘low backpack’ or ‘belt pack’. Not that I mind the ‘fanny’ thing but I think of Fanny Brice aka Barbra Streisand. I love that it could carry everything and when you hike with over the shoulder packs, you’re adjusting all of the time.

    1. Yes! You certainly should test it out for some of your longer hikes and walks. Thanks for reading, always appreciate your support. 🙂

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