Minimalist packs often provide minimal comfort—but not the Pace. “It’s light and seemingly featureless, but it delivers great fit and unheard-of load support for the weight. Perfect for big, all-day adventures,” our tester reports. Even loaded with 25 pounds of avalanche gear and oxygen bottles (for a Wilderness First Responder class), he hiked without neck or shoulder strain, thanks to 2.5-inch-wide shoulder straps that evenly distribute the load and a funnel-shaped main compartment, which directs the weight to the mid-back and hips.
A U-shaped aluminum frame adds load-supporting structure. As a result, he says, “the load transfer is super—it rides right on your hips.” The top-loader offers plenty of capacity for snacks, extra layers, even an ultralight sleeping bag, and its simplicity makes it versatile enough for dayhikes, snow climbs, resort skiing, even commuting (a laptop slides inside the hydration sleeve).
For gear organization, it has two removable ice-axe loops, one gear loop (holds a small rack), one hip pocket, two side pockets, and a large stuff-it pocket to keep warm layers handy. Tradeoffs: The porous backpanel absorbed sweat on stiff climbs, and because it’s soft (no framesheet), it bowed outward when the pack was overstuffed. $99; 1,850 cu. in./30 liters; 1 lb. 15 oz.; deuterusa.com