Basic problem: Packs that are good for travel are usually lousy for the backcountry. And hiking daypacks often prioritize technical features over the organizational convenience we need on the road. Solution: the Day Trekker.
Our gear editor hauled it more than 11,000 miles during a weeklong stretch that carried her from Boston to the Jordanian desert to the ancient city of Petra to the Dead Sea. Verdict? “This pack kept me organized the whole way through, and on the trail it was stable and comfortable with a 15-pound load of water, snacks, camera, and souvenirs,” she reports. Key upgrade: A wire BOA compression system (think snowboard boots or climbing helmets) replaces traditional compression straps. “It works just as well as strap systems to hug smaller loads in tight against my spine, minus all the flapping webbing that can overwhelm small packs,” she says. The substantial hipbelt and firm-but-flexible molded PE framesheet with three padded, mesh-covered pods that cushion the lumbar, yoke, and lower back make for a supremely comfy ride.
On planes, trains, buses, truck beds, and, yes, one camel, the 25-liter zip-top pack proved itself a superior travel bag as well. The hydration sleeve holds a small (11-inch) laptop or tablet, and an array of exterior pockets keeps carry-on items handy and organized. Gripe: Testers wished for hipbelt pockets. But you can’t have everything and a low price tag. $100; 1 lb. 14 oz.; 25 liters; 2 sizes; llbean.com