REI Venus 75 Pack
So, I didn't buy it, but I did help my girlfriend…
Design: top and back loading internal fram pack
Size: approx. 4500+ cubic inches.
Number of Pockets: about 5 + main compartment
Max. Load Carried: 35-40 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'4"
Price Paid: $199
So, I didn't buy it, but I did help my girlfriend select her pack. She absolutely LOVES this pack!!! It is, by far, the most comfortable pack she has worn. The Mars pack and Venus pack are virtually the same, except that the shoulder and hip belts are contoured for their respective genders. As my girlfriend has very feminine hips, the straps really made the difference for her.
Carrying about 35 pounds of gear, about 40% of her own weight, she felt no strain on her back, as the pack positioned the weight properly on her hips. The cinching straps above the shoulder pads made the pack feel closer to her back and more controllable. The added bonus is that there is a concave portion to the pack between the shoulder straps to allow her head more space to straighten her neck. This allows her to pick up her head without hitting the pack... No more constantly look down on the trail for her!!!
Getting stuff into and out of the pack is extremely easy as it not only can be loaded from the top, but it has a zipper opening to allow easy access from the back of the pack. The pack itself seems well constructed as the material seems sturdy and the zippers seem well protected against water leaking in from the outside.
I would have given this pack a 5 stars out of 5, but my only concern is the lack of more compression straps. I have an old Dana Design pack, I think Marmot took that company over a while ago, but I've always been a fan of packing my bag in a modular way to fit whatever gear I may be hauling. So that might be the only gripe. That is not to say that you can't compress your gear down at all, It's just that there aren't as many straps to do so as my own pack... So it's more of a relative comparison. I have a network of straps combining to about 3-5 points of compression on my pack, so it maybe a bit tough to compare. My pack is also a 5000 cubic inch pack while this one, in the small model just tops 4500 cubic inches.
In summary, the pack is FIRST AND FOREMOST, comfortable, and in my opinion, the most important feature of any pack. And secondly, is well constructed for durability. I highly recommend this pack to those who are considering a GREAT pack for a cheap price... relatively cheap, I guess.
Here's what other sites are saying:
The REI Venus 75 pack is built to carry all the creature comforts. Features quick access and an ultra-adjustable suspension. Not just a small men's pack, it features a slim width and a short height, and its anatomic, ergonomic shoulder straps and hipbelt fit a woman's shape. Enjoy dual access to pack via the top-loading opening and the horseshoe-shaped, zippered front panel opening, which works much like a duffel opening. With a ''rip-and-stick'' torso adjustment, shoulder strap system easily slides along pack's frame to fit torsos of varying lengths. Removable top lid pocket with water-repellent zipper lets you stash your essentials to bring into tent, so pack can stay outside or in vestibule. Zippered pocket under lid stores maps and keys, spare batteries and other small essentials. Front panel features a welded, water-repellent zippered pocket for storing often-used gear. Precurved shoulder straps match your anatomy for non-binding comfort on and off the trail. Dual-density foam padded back panel provides a comfortable and supportive fit when carrying heavy loads. Precurved hipbelt is designed to cradle hip bones for a natural fit and to distribute weight without sagging. Hipbelt webbing system allows you to use a natural forward pulling motion for quick, easy cinching and precise adjustment. Internal sleeping-bag compartment with a zippered divider separates it from gear and clothes in the main compartment. Utilizing 4 buckles, the pack's streamlined compression system lets you cinch and strap down loads for jostle-free carrying. Concave head pod at the top of pack gives your head freedom of movement-no more staring at the ground. 2 side pockets-1 zip and 1 mesh-hold water bottles, energy bars and other essentials you want close at hand. Hipbelt pocket stores those small essentials you want at your finger tips, such as lip balm and sunscreen.