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Camp Trails Catskill

rated 4.0 of 5 stars

Camp Trails is no longer in business, and the Catskill has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best expedition packs for 2024.

A decent internal frame pack for less than $100 that's lasted just over a decade. Definitely not a good choice for those who want to travel lightly, but good for extended trips or packing all the luxuries for the weekend.


  • Plenty of capacity
  • Water resistant


  • Weight
  • Top-heavy when loaded

Fit: It's made for people with long torsos like myself, but getting the adjustment right is a bit of a challenge. Once you finally find the sweet-spot that keeps you comfortable all day, don't mess with a thing.

Comfort: The straps putting a lot of pressure on my shoulders has been the constant issue due to weight distribution issues. When packing well below capacity, it's not a problem, but it's a major issue when loaded over 35 pounds.

Capacity: I've had no problem fitting all of my gear in the 4,500 sq. in. There are plenty of options for attaching things to the outside as well, but doing so throws the weight balance off considerably unless you pack carefully. Being able to fit 2-liter bottles for cheap and light water containers is always a plus when water sources aren't easy to find.

Organization & Accessibility: Everything stays secure and the wealth of pockets is always a plus for keeping small items at hand.  As others have mentioned, the bottom partition is problematic when you're trying to repack your sleeping bag in the bottom with the top loaded.

Ride: The load distribution and comfort when completely loaded are marginal. Between 20 and 30 pounds, it's a dream. Once you get past 35 and have more weight at the top out of necessity, things quickly get uncomfortable. Past 50 pounds, which is just under 1/4 my body weight, my shoulders are screaming in short order no matter how I adjust the straps. Stability is an issue.

Compression: No issues here. I've managed to cram 70 pounds of gear in it and on it as an experiment. It held it all, but I'd hate to try lugging that load around, from both a weight and stability standpoint.

Ease of Use: The only problems are the lower compartment and finding the right adjustment for the straps on the fly.

Features: Nothing really to speak of. The water-resistant fabric is a nice feature, but I still use a rain cover just to be safe.

Construction & Durability: The zipper for the top compartment busted not long after I got this pack. Since you don't want much in this compartment for weight distribution reasons, it's been relegated to stowing my rain gear for quick access.

Conditions: My pack has been in use for just over a decade, all over Kentucky and Tennessee. The water-resistant fabric has been a real plus in this area.

Overall, it's a decent pack if you're looking for large capacity and low price. As I'm getting older and developing problems with my back and knees from old injuries, I can't haul around as much gear as I used to. I'll be passing this one down to my son once he gets older. It's perfect for stout people with long torsos like himself, just like his old man used to be.

I'm personally looking to switch to something with half the capacity and weight, if only to have mercy on what's left of my back.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $89

Version reviewed: 90

I bought this pack when I didn't know anything about packs, and feel I paid too much for it. It has proven to be a good pack though and has gone with me through north america, africa and south america.

The long pockets on either side of it allow storage of fuel bottles and water. The centre pockets are nice for first aid and/or compass, knife etc. And the lid pocket is quite big... enough to stuff rain gear and gloves into. There is an easily accessed sleeping bag compartment that is separated from the main compartment by an ajustable cinch inside (neat feature). There are two tool loops and two pieces of webbing with buckles for attaching various items.

The suspension is quite good and very adjustable. The aluminum stays can be removed and bent to the shape of your back for peak comfort.

What I was not impressed with was the pack material. It is very lightweight and I ripped it on my first trip by packing out garbage (someone else's unfortunately).

Overall, it's a great backpacking pack with lots of pockets for access to items on the go. It's also relatively compressible (I climbed the Grand Teton with it). But considering how far packs have come since I bought this one I wouldn't recommend it unless you can get it for $100 or less (I don't even know if they make it anymore).

Design: Internal frame
Size: 90 liters
Number of Pockets: 6
Max. Load Carried: 70 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'7"
Price Paid: $330 Cdn in '93

The Camp Trails Catskill is the best backpack I have ever owned by far! I used to work at a backpacking and camping store in Knoxville, TN, (Outdoor Outfitters) for several years and have had a chance to see and use just about every type and brand of pack on the market. The Catskill beats every one of them for a fraction of the price. I have easily packed over 2000 miles with it and haven't had a single problem. The models they are making now are almost the same as they used to be with a few additions. The quality is amazing. The waterproof material throughout the pack still stands up to the worst storms.

I have recommended the pack to several of my friends and they love them as well. I have had the pack for almost ten years and I see no need to replace it for another ten. If you are in Knoxville and want to look at the classic, drop by Outdoor Outfitters and look at the pictures on the wall of the many satisfied Catskill owners. (including me!)

Design: internal
Size: 2000?
Number of Pockets: 4-5
Max. Load Carried: 65lbs
Height of Owner: 6-2
Price Paid: $120 in 1990

I bought my Catskill a few years ago when I was going to be backpacking around Europe. At the time all I knew was that I wanted the maximum capacity I could find... now that I have put a few miles under it and gained much more experience with backpacking I know what I need in a pack. I didn't have any problems with my Catskill at all. It does seem a little heavy but other than that it was top notch (and still is).

The only negative thing to ever happen to it is the front strap attachments (on the sleeping bag compartment) ripped during one trip... of course I did have my tent strapped there so the weight was probably just too much, and not a manufactures defect.

After many loyal years it has become time to retire my Catskills pack, not because it has lost its quality but because my needs have changed. I will definetly NOT be giving it away and it will always be my trusty back-up!

Design: top-loading internal frame
Size: 90 L
Number of Pockets: 5
Max. Load Carried: A lot!!!
Height of Owner: 5' 8"
Price Paid: $175 Canadian

Bought it second hand in a local secondhand shop (UK calls them "charity shops") have used it for 7 years gentle backpacking as I am now 81. I have never had any problems with it but being old the waterproofing has peeled off.

Previous pack was a Lowe Alpine Appalachian? A good pack but straps and waistbelt material too hard for my own ancient body!

Improvements? I agree with reviewer re lower compartment access for my RAB Ascent. It is a bit tight but otherwise I will leave things as they are.

Price Paid: £3UK (about $5)

Lasted me a long time. Gone through at least 500 miles of trails over 13 years all over the western US and southern Alaska. Waterproofing on the inside deteriorated after 8 years or so. 

Time to retire it though, as the stitching has finally decided to come loose in several areas.  The material isn't exactly high quality. 

A good pack, but I'm ready for a step up now.

Price Paid: $120

It was when I knew about nothing about packs. I bought a Camp Trails Catskill that had, like almost every pack, a warranty on it.

This pack was very confortable, and its two compartments and many pockets made it very useful. I was very impressed by the quality of this inexpensive pack.

After two or three of extensive use, the waist belt unsewed and with time became completely separate from the pack. I sent the pack to Johnson Worldwide Canada, manufacturer of Camp Trails and Eureka products for have it repaired.

It is only after 4 months, 20$ of long distance calls, buying of another pack, and so on... that they send me a new one. It was a cheaper model, and smaller one too. For the delay, they gave me a cheap small pack as a bonus. Ridiculous. I keep the new pack in case some non-hiker friend wants to come hiking, anyway I couldn't get more than 60$ for it.

My new pack is a used North Face, I paid 175$ for it, and now I know more about quality.

Buy a Camp Trails if you want to make occasional trips, or if you're student and poor. If your main concern is the quality/price ratio, or even the quality, DON'T BUY A CAMP TRAILS PACK.

Design: Warranty on Packs
Size: N/A
Number of Pockets: N/A
Price Paid: $180

Bought this pack while I was in the Marine Corps... It was 100 times better than the standard issue Marine Corps backpack (A.L.I.C.E. pack) at the time but that's not saying much at all.

However, I used it as my suitcase when returning home on leave. It endured close to a dozen plane trips to Sea-Tac airport, San Diego airport, North Carolina airport and more... Not a single snag, rip, cracked buckle, or loss of strap. Looking back 13 years I am truly amazed.

I also have been on 4-5 day trips in the Smokey and Blue Ridge Mts., also the Cascade Mt. range, the Olympic Mts, and the Sierra Nevada's.

This pack performed well... lots of adjustments in the suspension to find that perfect fit... Plenty of room for the essentials... i.e., 0 degree sleeping bag, three season tent, stove and a small Therm-a-rest and of course clothes food and water. Comfortable enough to deal with steep mt. climbing in the rain of the Cascades, the steep uphill hiking in the dry heat of the Sierra Nevada's and the humid rolling hills of the Blue ridge Mt. range.

Not until a 2 and a half hour motorcycle ride to the Olympic Mts. with the back-pack strapped to my back did it begin to show signs of break-down...

Packing for the trip, the compression strap at the bottom of the pack broke in the buckle as I was compressing the bag... And after 13 years of severe abuse the stitching began to rip along the main side stitch at the top of the pack...

At this point the pack is still serviceable but not likely for long.

I would have given this pack a 5-star rating but I have only had one other internal frame pack and that was almost 15 years ago as I have not had to buy a new one for some time. This was the first ever large pack I ever bought.

The only thing I did not like was the color.... some sort of greenish teal color... They had a different color but it only came in a smaller pack... I opted for the larger one.

Design: Camp Trails catskill
Size: big
Number of Pockets: 5 ish
Max. Load Carried: 75-80 pounds
Height of Owner: 6 feet 1 inch
Price Paid: $150

I used this backpack for eight years. Has a nice cubic inch capacity and the suspension is comfortable. I think the sleeping bag compartment is too small and I always had to fight to get even a summer bag into it. The sleeping bag compartment zipper was linear instead of half moon shape and seemed to be worthless. Easiest to load the bag from the top of the pack. The water bottle side pockets are so small and narrow I could never use them. If I wanted water, I would have to stop, and open up the hood pocket to get my water bottles. I finally got tired of doing this.

I would not recomend this pack. If you are serious about backpacking, buy something a little higher in price, it will be worth it. I bought a Jansport, and have never looked back.

Design: Top loading
Size: 5000
Number of Pockets: 4
Max. Load Carried: 53
Height of Owner: 5'11'
Price Paid: $115 in 1993

This has been a wonderfull pack for me. I have more than 400 miles under these shoulder straps. I did experience one of the shoulder stabilizer straps tore on me during a week-long trek, this was easily fixed on the trail. After ten years of sweat being trapped in the shoulder pads they dried up and cracked. I called Johnson Worldwide Assoc. and off my pack went. In two weeks I had my pack waiting on my porch when I got home from work. They put on an upgraded suspension and restitched at the stress points. This new suspension is awesome!

In all this has been a great pack over the last 11 years and I have 100 (or so) planned in '98.

Design: internal
Size: 4500 approx.
Number of Pockets: 5
Max. Load Carried: 65 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'0"
Price Paid: $100



Size: 4500
Number of Pockets: 5
Max. Load Carried: 85 LBS
Height of Owner: 5'9"
Price Paid: $145

Having previously had poor experience with the Camp Trails Rainier, I was hesitant to buy this pack. However, it proved to be a valuable investment. I hiked over 250 miles with it, and It withstood all conditions. The only thing I dislike about the pack, was the construction of the hood. Unless the extension of the pack was completely full, the hood looked horrible. This is only aesthetic, and didn't hinder the performance of the pack, but it is still a thing that I didn't like.

Design: Internal Frame
Size: 4930-5830
Number of Pockets: 6
Max. Load Carried: 55 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'
Price Paid: $125

I bought this pack about eight years ago for use with the Boy Scouts simply because of the price. I am still amazed with it. It has served me well on numerous overnight trips as well as more than a few multi-day expeditions. So far nothing has broken or ripped, despite many years of torment. I highly recomend this pack for anyone who wants to get involved with backpacking or even simple mountaineering. For the price you can't possibly go wrong.

Design: internal
Size: ~5,000?
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 60 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'1"
Price Paid: $90

Version reviewed: Large

Having bought this backpack over 10 year ago, I can now say that it been worth every penny. Three 50-milers and overnighters more than I can remember and no problems. It has held up even being lent out to a 17-year-old scout for summer camp. I wish mine had the features of the latest model with water bottles on the side. A good pack for the $$$

Design: Internal
Size: 5600
Number of Pockets: 5
Max. Load Carried: 60 LB
Height of Owner: 5' 9"
Price Paid: $109

Very comfortable pack. It has two internal compartments with a drawstring to make one, five exterior pockets for the very disorganized person. Good price for a nice, reliable pack. Nice color, too.

Design: internal frame
Size: 5000
Number of Pockets: 5
Max. Load Carried: 55 lba
Height of Owner: 6'0"
Price Paid: $129.99

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