Get a lot of pack for a little money with the Manang. "I hauled more than 40 pounds on a 35-mile trip through the Wind River Range," said one tester, "and this top-loader performed way above its price range." How? The Manang's well-padded suspension includes shoulder straps with extra-cushy gel inserts, and the frame is plenty stiff for big loads, thanks to two aluminum stays and a rigid U-shaped tube.
The packbag is easy to load and organize, with a cavernous main compartment that has a vertical access zipper, lid and hipbelt pockets, and plenty of lashing options. Even more impressive: The mix of 840- and 420-denier fabric is bushwhack-durable, yet the pack is reasonably lightweight for the capacity. The catch? No sleeping-bag compartment, and the ladder-style, adjustable harness is not as stable as the best in this category. $180; 5,190 cu. in.; 5 lbs. 2 oz. Lafumausa.com
For speed and physical economy on the mountain, this lightweight alpine focused pack has room for the essentials and leave the superfluous features at home. How fast and how light is up to you, with stripable suspension components and a removable top lid.
NEW Spring 2008