On a four-day backcountry ski trip to the Baldy Knoll yurt in the Tetons, our tester stuffed the top-loading Targhee with 25 pounds of provisions for the 5-mile, 2,000-vertical-foot skin in, and thanks to effective compression, he also carried it for less gear-intensive day tours. Equipment was always at his fingertips; credit a big lid pocket, extra-long front zippers, and a huge, U-shaped backpanel that splays the pack open like a clamshell. Bomber (rubber-reinforced) straps hold extra-fat skis (or a snowboard) and tools.
Bonus: An insulated hydration tube channel kept water from freezing when temps dropped to the low teens. The pack’s only design flaw: Shoulder straps attach directly to the packbag rather than the frame sheet, which makes for great backpanel access but reduces shoulder comfort (weight pulls) with loads heavier than 30 pounds. $199; 3 lbs. 14 oz.; 45 liters; gregorypacks.com