REI Workload Mini Review

The REI Workload Mini is a youth backpack geared towards heading to school or a weekend adventure. It currently comes in two nature-y prints and solid black. Read on for our full review of this roomy pack!

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Tech Specs

  • Volume: 21.5 Liters
  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • Dimensions:  16.5″H x 11.5″W x 10″D
  • Hydration Compatible: No
  • External Pockets: 2+ main compartment
  • Material: Polyester
  • Ages: 5-10
REI Workload Mini

Key Features

  • Large main compartment
  • Front zippered pocket contains an organizer panel
  • Foam-padded back panel
  • Adjustable padded shoulder straps
  • Adjustable sternum strap with safety whistle
  • Internal sleeve holds a tablet
  • Daisy-chain loops and a bike light attachment point
  • Mesh side water bottle pocket
  • Haul handle on top of pack
  • Reflective details for added visibility
REI Workload Mini

Best Uses for the REI Workload Mini

With its large capacity, this backpack has the space for the daily school necessities and then some. The Workload Mini would also work great for an overnight bag at a friends or a quick day hike on the trail.

This backpack is best for ages 5-10. It is a little big on my 39″ tall 4 year old, but not unmanageable. We do have the shoulder straps cinched down all the way, so there is plenty of room to grow and we can use this pack for many years to come!

Bonus for adults: When I tried on this pack, it fit me comfortably too! So, when you get stuck carrying your kids pack, its not terribly uncomfortable. Could also double as a “parent pack” when not in school.

REI Workload Mini
39″ 4 year old kid tester

School ready!

Keep all your school supplies organized in the Workload Mini. The large main compartment is a nice rectangular shape, which means your folder corners are not getting crushed. There is a sleeve in the main compartment, perfect for a tablet, mini-laptop, or books.

The front pocket has an organizer with three pen/pencil slots, a larger slot for other necessities, and a key-holder. There is plenty of room to stash a book, calculator, or snacks in there too.

The exterior water bottle pocket easily holds a kids water bottle or a full size Nalgene bottle. The smaller water bottle doesn’t push into the pack at all, but the Nalgene pushed into the side of the backpack a little which could decrease your interior volume a little bit.

Adventure Ready!

Once school’s out, this pack easily doubles as an overnight bag if your kid is headed to a friends house or you are all headed out on a family adventure. Plenty of room for clothes, shoes, and toiletries for a few nights!

The tablet space can help keep your clothes sorted and the front pocket organizer can help organize your toiletries. Attach a carabiner to the daisy chain to clip on any extra items.

The Workload Mini would also make a great airplane carry-on bag for your kiddo with plenty of room for activities, snacks, and a change of clothes.

The sternum strap helps keep the pack in place while your kid plays!

What Does it Hold?

With a 21L capacity, there is plenty of storage space in this bag! Whether you kiddo is headed to school or headed to a friends overnight, this bag will get the job done.

Although we haven’t been able to test this pack out at school due to COVID, we easily fit a three ring binder, book, iPad, lunch pail and a sweatshirt in while testing out at home.

REI Workload Mini

Bottom Line:

What we love!

The REI Workload Mini is a durable, lightweight backpack. The large zippers pull nice and easy and large capacity means your kid has storage for ALL THE THINGS! I love that this backpack has a sternum strap to help keep the backpack from sliding off little shoulders. Of course, this backpack is also backed by REI’s fantastic 100% satisfaction guaranteed policy.

I really like the birds on it!

Kylie, age 4

What we aren’t so crazy about

Honestly, this is a great backpack for school and there isn’t much I would change. The addition of a second water bottle pocket on the other side or a small soft lined pocket for sunglasses/phone would would be a nice addition.

Making the pack hydration compatible would also be a nice feature, the sleeve is already there as well as the elastic on the straps. Its just missing the routing hole through the top of the bag and bladder hanger on the inside.

There is also no hipbelt, but this bag was designed with school in mind, not the backcountry.

Where to Buy

The Workload Mini is available for purchase exclusively from REI.

REI Workload Mini

© 2020, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.


  • Jami and her husband Greg were born and raised in Michigan, but now call Appleton, WI home. They have two little girls, Kylie and Nora, and two Springer pups, Reece and Lucie. They love getting out as a family camping, hiking, hunting, running, biking, and just playing outside. Jami and her family love spending free time in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula looking for adventure. Jami mostly stays home with her girls but also works part-time as an Athletic Trainer and a Personal Trainer. She also enjoys helping other families get outside as much as possible.

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