Lafuma Nazca 40
Since our Rocky Mountain editor began testing the Nazca last December, it’s edged its way into his go-to slot for dayhikes and minimalist overnights because it’s light, rock-solid stable, and has easy-packing features. "The whole harness and back panel hugged tight even while I was stumbling, via headlamp, down the hairy staircase of Lathrop Canyon Trail in Canyonlands," he reported. A lightweight trampoline-style frame easily carries 30 pounds of gear. The packbag is simple but smart: a top loader with two zippered top compartments, and a large zippered front pocket for clothing and low-bulk items. Twin mesh wand pockets swallow food, gloves, and hats securely. And a single hipbelt pocket holds two small energy bars. The hydration sleeve is big enough for overfilled three-liter bladders. There’s even a fold-out rain cover hidden underneath. All that, and the price and weight are both impressively low. $90; 3 lbs.; 2,440 cu.in.; one size (15.5-22-inch torso range). (303) 527-1460; lafumausa.com.