From a winter thru-hike of the Arizona Trail to a summer climb of Mt. Rainier to a fall weekend of backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park, the streamlined Tahoma always impressed. “The load transfer to the hipbelt and shoulder straps is remarkably comfortable–and stable–for a four-pound pack,” said our Arizona tester. “It easily handled a 15-pound base weight, plus as much as 32 pounds of water.” The Tahoma comes in short, regular, and tall and each features a “GridFit” plate between the shoulder straps that allows you to fine-tune torso length and shoulder width for a custom fit. A hipbelt pocket holds gels or a bar, and two side pockets capture bottles, the tail end of a tent, or trekking poles.
Two oversized Hypalon ice axe holders kept our tools from flopping, and the ultradurable sailcloth showed no signs of wear even after strapping crampons to the back of the pack. After summiting Mt. Rainier, another tester praised the clean design: “The pack’s narrow profile allowed for unencumbered ice axe use and rope management. I never felt restricted or bumped my elblows.” Gripe: The lid pocket is oversized and tended to flop if the main pack bag wasn’t loaded to capacity. Unclip it and shove it inside your pack–or leave it behind on summit day or for fast-and-light weekend trips. $280; 4 lbs. 4 oz.; 3 sizes; jansport.com