Limited budget or storage space? Get the Odyssee, a great choice for multiday trips year-round. This top-loader swallowed three days’ worth of winter gear in Norway, and the suspension felt stable even when a tester skied over variable snow. Credit a U-shaped aluminum frame that provides rigid support, and a narrow profile that reduces load sway. Thick, rubbery ski straps (for A-frame carry) support skis better than the thin compression straps found on most packs, which can get shredded by sharp edges.
The backpanel includes three cushioned pads—a lumbar pad and two vertical columns on the back—with wide spaces in between that enhance ventilation in warm weather. The top-loader has no panel access, though a separate sleeping bag compartment helps organize gear, and gusseted side pockets expand to hold fat gloves or river-crossing shoes, or collapse to keep the pack streamlined.
Bonus: A removable raincover is included. Caution: It’s possible to overload the suspension—more than 45 pounds sent the pack creeping down our tester’s hips and hanging hard off her shoulders. $199; 4,271 cu. in./70 liters; 3 lbs. 9 oz.; milletusa.com