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May 2006

Backpack Review: 4 Perfect Packs

Midsize internal-frame backpacks that do everything--and do it well

©Mitch Mandel

Gregory Baltoro/Deva 60
If heavy loads loom in your future, or you want the perfect hipbelt, look no further than this sturdy pair.

Ultralight may be all the rage, but these two packs reach out to all of you kitchen-sink backpackers who are still hefting creature comforts every weekend. First, you get this field’s best hipbelt, with a wrap that’s noticeably superior the moment you click the belt buckle. You also get soft padding that holds its shape, a plastic exoskeleton for load transfer, and independent pivot points on each hip to permit a more natural walking motion. Throw in ergonomically curved shoulder straps, bounteous back padding, and a single-stay framesheet, and you’ve got a pack that hauls 50 pounds with shocking comfort and stability. One tester, after an off-trail hike in Colorado’s Indian Peaks, voiced our consensus: "The suspension makes your load feel 10 pounds lighter."

With four men’s and three women’s sizes between the two models, fit is pretty much guaranteed. And since you’re packing luxuries, Gregory has rolled out almost too many storage features: five pockets (including a bellow front pocket), front-panel access, excellent compression/lashing straps, and a removable lid pocket that’s roomier than most (the Deva’s doubles as a fanny pack). Lastly, both are the toughest packs reviewed here; the waterproof bottoms are duffel-worthy. Overbuilt for small loads, they’re best for folks who haul 35-plus pounds.

Price: $269
Size: 4,300 cu. in.
Weight: 6 lbs. 2 oz.

Deva 60
Price: $249
Size: 3,700 cu. in.
Weight: 5 lbs. 3 oz. (S)

Contact: (800) 477-3420;

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