“What is most impressive is how richly featured it is without being excessively heavy,” says one tester after using the top-loader for a multiday adventure race in the Sierra Nevada. “It’s definitely welterweight, but delivers a great fit, a suspension that transfers weight to your hips, and all the features you’d expect from a much heavier pack.” Even with the pack loaded with up to 35 pounds, he covered more than 50 miles through sketchy, steep terrain without shoulder or back pain.
Load support is provided by a perimeter stay* around the framesheet; it supplies rigidity without excess weight. The padded backpanel and 2.5-inch-wide shoulder straps slide vertically along two aluminum stays to fit torsos from 17.5 to 21.5 inches. The two stays form small circles, like rams’ horns, at the bottom of the pack and provide a secure mount for the removable hipbelt. “Load transfer is excellent,” says one tester. “The weight rode on my hips, not my shoulders.”
Nice: The narrow, top-loading main compartment can also be accessed through a front zipper. The removable lid has two zippered pouches, and a stretch-mesh exterior shove-it pocket and two water bottle holders help with organization and overflow. Ding: The shoulder strap padding is short and the sternum strap rides near collar bone level. $200; 3 lbs. 8 oz.; 50 liters; golite.com
*PERIMETER STAY A thin aluminum bar that wraps around the outside of the back panel; it provides stability and load transfer to the hips