For sidecountry hikes and day tours from huts, the Gambler offers the next best thing to no pack at all. Its stripped-down design carries a 100-ounce hydration bladder (included), shovel and probe—and little else. “It’s perfect for quick jaunts into avalanche-prone terrain,” reports our tester.
After using it while ski-touring the backcountry near Colorado’s Winter Park resort and at huts throughout the state, he praises the way it turns a bulky, unwieldy shovel blade into streamlined cargo. Side pouches fit his snacks and camera, but not skins (he stashed those in his jacket). Wide, lightly padded shoulder straps are insulated to keep a hydration tube from freezing and boost comfort and stability when cranking turns. $90; 1 lb. 4 oz.; 3 liters; camelbak.com