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Bargain Load Haulers: Weekend Pack Review

High performance and low cost? These 6 weekend packs deliver.

The Organizer
L.L. Bean White Mountain

This feature-rich, pocket-festooned pack is the answer for hikers who like a place for everything. The shoulder strap has a GPS/cell phone pocket and the hipbelt has two more, each big enough for a point-and-shoot camera or energy bars. Mesh water-bottle pockets are angled for easy access, and side pockets swallow snacks, sunglasses, and more. It’s a top-loader, but there are two additional ways to access the main compartment: through a horseshoe-shaped zipper hidden behind three front pockets, and through a lower sleeping-bag compartment, which has an internal divider. The harness has three inches of torso adjustability concealed under a zippered back panel. The penalty for so many bells and whistles? Weight. The White Mountain is the heaviest pack in our review by more than a pound. But if your hikes tend to be on the shorter side, the extra ounces shouldn’t be a deal breaker. The suspension is comfortable with up to 30 pounds on board–a bit less than we’d like–but testers praised the dramatically contoured shoulder straps and ultra-padded hipbelt, which wrapped hips evenly. A spindrift collar extends capacity by more than 800 cubic inches, but overloading this pack can tax the suspension and make the whole thing wobbly. Beginner bonus: Sewn-in tip sheets include packing checklists, plus tips on loading a pack and choosing a campsite.

> Capacity 4,500 cu. in.
> Sizes 2 men’s, 1 women’s
> Weight 6 lbs. 3 oz.
> Price $149
> Info llbean.com

Overall 3.5
Comfort 3.0
Loading 3.8
Stability 3.3
Durability 3.6

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