Expert Review: Patagonia Women's Nine Trails 20L BackpackPublished on 07/13/2022 · 8 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the backpack which I purchased with my own money in August of 2019.
Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park. All photos courtesy of Hunter Reed
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the pack which I purchased with my own money in August of 2019.
The Patagonia Nine Trails 20L pack is a great, smaller pack for use on day hikes that can also double as a great pack for travel, school, or work. The size of both the pack itself and the hip belts are specifically really comfortable for smaller women.
About the gear
- Model: Patagonia Nine Trails 20L Backpack
- Gender: Women’s
- Size: Medium
- Pack capacity: 20L
- Height: 5’3”
- Weight: 110 lbs
- Experience: 20+ years of backpacking
- When I bought it: August 2019
- Length of trips: Day trips
- What I usually carry: Extra layers, 32 oz water bottle, first aid kit, larger camera, small backpacking stove
- Total pack weight: 10 lbs.
- Used for: Day hikes, travel, school, and work
- Where I’ve used it: Glacier National Park, Montana; Costa Rica; Mexico; southern Utah; Idaho; Colorado; Hawaii
- Terrain: Rocky trails, hikes that involve scrambling, leisurely dirt trails, wet muddy hikes
- Seasons I’ve used it in: Spring, summer, fall, and winter, though it is definitely better to use on days that aren’t scorching hot.
How it performs
What I was looking for
As a smaller female, it can be hard to find a pack that is comfortable to carry for longer day hikes. Most packs are meant for people a bit larger so either the size of the pack doesn’t fit well or I can’t cinch the hip belts all the way down in a way that they are comfortable.
Why I chose this gear
I bought this product because it was a smaller pack and I had heard good things about the Nine Trails Pack. The hip belts seemed really stable and padded and like they would be comfortable, and the internal size didn’t seem too large. Originally, I just wanted something that I could toss a few layers and some water in. Afterward though, because I liked this one so much, I considered and also purchased the larger version of this pack. I have an Osprey pack that I really like and use for most climbing gear. When deciding I needed something smaller, I considered buying an Osprey pack, but this one is a bit cheaper. Overall the final reason I chose it was because it was smaller framed and I am short and small, so I needed something smaller.
What I love about it
- Durability: I have had this pack for about three years now and have seriously no issues with the durability, which is incredible because I tend to be pretty hard on backpacks. I haven’t had any zipper-related issues or any wearing-through on the fabric. I also know that if any of these issues did come up, Patagonia has an awesome warranty and repair program so that would probably be able to help me out.
- Weight: For a pack that isn't designated as an ultralight pack, the weight of this is super reasonable and it can carry a bit of weight without being uncomfortable on one’s hips or back.
- Ease of use: This pack is really easy to use for the most part. It has a large internal pocket, a hydration sleeve that can double as a laptop sleeve, hip belt pockets, side pockets, an internal zippered pocket, and a zippered pocket on the top of the pack, which all offer a lot of storage.
- Suspension and comfort: The suspension and comfort on this pack are great because the shoulder and hip belts are quite padded. The hip belts are also a bit thicker so they sit comfortably across the hip bones without putting too much pressure in just one spot. There is also a sternum buckle that makes it more comfortable and secure across the chest. The height of that is adjustable, unlike in some women's packs where it's too tight right across the chest, so it's nice that this one allows for moving those buckles if need be.
- Adjustability: This pack is really adjustable without having too many bells and whistles. The hip belts are adjustable and the shoulder straps are adjustable. On my Osprey pack, there are almost too many adjustments one can make to change the shoulder straps, but on the Nine Trails it's just one strap and that makes it really user-friendly.
- Capacity: Capacity for just a one-day hike is awesome because I don’t pack that much anyway, so there is enough room for water and snacks, without offering enough room that would risk overpacking.
- Weather Resistance: Though it’s not waterproof and never claims to be, there is a durable water repellent on the pack that avoids moisture from soaking through if it's just in small amounts (like light rain or some light, dry snow).
- Features: There are clips above the side water bottle pockets that I have really found to be useful, sometimes just for strapping a layer to if I don't want to go through the trouble of opening my pack, or sometimes to secure my water bottle if I am doing something really scrambly. I also like the hydration sleeve as it makes it easier to slip a water bladder in and out without worrying that it will be squished by the other contents in the pack.
- Hip belt: This hip belt is awesome. It has two pockets, one on each side of the hip belt that users can toss little things in. They are fully zippered and really secure so nothing will escape or accidentally fall out.
- Versatility: It is really versatile. I have used it all over from hiking to traveling and it has been awesome to have an all-in-one pack. The hydration sleeve can also be used as a laptop sleeve, so it’s nice that it can stay separate and protected when traveling either on a plane or to and from work/school.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Ease of use/Pack Access: The one complaint I have is that the zippered pocket on the outside can sometimes prevent being able to get the larger items in and out of the main compartment. It hasn’t happened too much but if I have my wallet, keys, headlamp, etc. in that pocket, I will sometimes need to remove one or two of them to pull out my stove, first aid kit, or whatever might be at the bottom of the pack. That is an annoying design flaw that was fixed on the larger 26L version of this pack by making the main zipper extend quite a bit lower on one side.
- Capacity: It would not be a great pack to use for anything longer than a day trip because it simply couldn't fit everything inside or attach everything to the outside that one would need for longer than just a day hike.
- Weather Resistance: It has a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, but it is not weather resistant and if it were out in the rain for too long it would soak through.
- Breathability: The back panel of this isn't super breathable and for that reason, I don’t love using it in the summer or on really hot trips. There are backpacks with more breathable back panels for sure, but with a jacket or pretty much anytime that it's not incredibly hot, it's great.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with this gear was a hike in Glacier National Park to Grinnell Glacier. It's a challenging 11ish-mile hike to a really blue glacial lake. I brought just an extra layer, water, a freeze-dried meal, and a small backpacking stove. We made dinner at the lake and then hiked back down. We wanted to get there around sunset, so it was a bit late by the time we were coming down and we ran into some bears which were pretty scary! The pack held everything I needed and it was awesome to not have sore hips or shoulders after the hike because my pack was so comfortable!
Value for the money vs. other options
For around $150, this is an awesome value for the pack. It has lasted me for so long and has so many uses. Other packs that would be either day hiking packs or travel packs would be the same price, if not more, and likely not be as versatile. As a smaller female who has struggled to find a comfortable, well-fitting pack, this was well worth the price point. I liked it so much that I ended up getting the slightly larger version of this same pack a few months later because I thought it was such a great product and a great value.
The Nine Trails 20L is a great pack to use on day hikes no matter the length or terrain. I never finish a hike with this pack and find that I have sore hips or shoulders afterwards and I’m forced to not bring more than I need on day hikes because of the smaller interior pack sizing. It will last forever and has kept all of my valuables secure!