Name the key features that most hikers require in a backpack, and the Silver Ridge nails them all—in a surprisingly compact package. One tester carried clothes and accessories (some gear and food were transported via horseback) for a three-day trip to Havasu Falls, and while she feared that the 35-liter capacity wouldn’t be big enough, there was room to spare. Rugged 210-denier ripstop nylon with ballistic polyester in key stress points thwarts snagging.
“I’m constantly scraping against the omnipresent barrel and cat claw cacti when I’m guiding trips,” says one tester, who spends 150 days a year in the prickly desert landscapes of Arizona, New Mexico, and Northern Mexico. “The Silver Ridge never got caught.” Another tester, after a week of hiking in the Cascades, said the suspension system effectively transfers up to 25 pounds, thanks to a stiff plastic framesheet with a moldable aluminum stay. $149; 2 lbs. 12 oz.; 35 liters; 1 size; columbia.com