The Nimbus Trace Ki is a women’s-specific weekend pack that can easily expand to fit a week’s worth of gear. The back panel looks like a padded ribcage over a molded framesheet, which allows for ventilation while still keeping the center of gravity close to your back for tricky-terrain stability. The frame tapers into a V to focus the weight directly between your hips, while the thickly padded hipbelt and shoulder straps provide stability and comfort for up to 40 pounds. However, one tester overloaded the men’s version with 55 pounds while in Wrangell-St. Elias, Alaska, and was surprised to find he didn’t have any sore spots.
The floating lid is removable for shaving weight, and instead of using webbing for compression straps it uses shoestring-like cords which are lighter, but will wear out faster (they’re easily replaceable). The side stretch pockets easily fit 1-liter wide-mouth bottles and there’s a long, narrow shove-it pocket on the front that reaches from nearly top to bottom. The hipbelt is angled to better fit a woman’s geometry, and the shoulder straps have a narrower spread. The hipbelt is available in three sizes, with a whopping four sizes of shoulder strap to choose from for a nearly custom fit. $260; 4 lbs.; granitegear.com