First Impressions

The REI Lookout 40 daypack delivered the largest carrying capacity in our test. At 40 liters (2440 cu. in.), the Lookout easily holds a three-season bag and enough other gear for an extended day hike or short overnight. REI uses recycled plastic in the fabric, similar to the Traverse 30 daypack that we reviewed last year. And the Lookout is just as well built as that impressive product.


The Lookout 40 takes a page out of the design book REI used on the original Traverse 30. That product, introduced two years ago now and updated for the 2012 season, crammed a ton of pockets onto a fairly compact main compartment. The Lookout does exactly the same thing but with a main compartment that’s 30-40 percent larger.

Carrying Capacity: 42 L (2440 cu in)
Weight: 3 lbs 3 oz
Construction: Nylon with ballistic nylon reinforcements
Frame: Internal plastic and aluminum
Dimensions: 21 x 12 x 10 in

On the exterior, there are no fewer than six pockets. REI located one stretch pocket on each side big enough for a water bottle, snacks or other items requiring easy access. Behind those, there are two zipper pockets for more storage. On the lid, REI placed another zippered pocket. And finally, there’s a large secondary compartment on the front of the pack with three separate mesh organizers.

Inside the main compartment is the sleeve for a three liter hydration bladder. Ports are located on both the right and left sides of the pack and clearly labeled. As mentioned above, the main compartment is cavernous, able to hold a three-season bag and more gear for an overnight camping trip.

Back on the exterior, REI included multiple lash points and loops for holding things like trekking poles, a favorite fly rod tube and other items. Compression straps help tighten down the load.


Here again, the Lookout 40 is much like its smaller cousin. The back panel is the same waffled padding. It’s comfortable and provides sufficient ventilation for all but the hottest days. Shoulder straps are padded and adjustable via both lower tensioners and upper load lifters. The waist belt is lightly padded as well and includes two hip pockets. Once tightened down, the excess belting can be stored away behind the pockets. Nice touch. The adjustable sternum strap includes the same safety whistle/buckle as the Traverse too.

Overall, these adjustments made it easy to customize the fit. No complaints here.

Final Verdict

With the Lookout 40, REI delivers a great daypack with all the capacity and features necessary for long day hikes and short overnights. They also deliver one heck of a bargain. At $99 MSRP, it’s the least expensive in our test. And at this writing, it’s on sale for less than $75. Check it out at your local retail location and I think you’ll be impressed.

Thanks for reading another outdoor gear review from GearGuide. And thanks to REI and and Turner Public Relations for providing product for this review. Written by Matt K.