On a 1,200-foot sweatfest up rough trail to Cook’s Mesa outside of Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park, our tester loaded the Crestrail with 60 pounds of tents and kitchen gear for his daughter’s youth group. “Great stability during the scrambly climb and dicey descent,” he reports, adding that he found the 70-liter capacity conservative. “The bag just seems to swallow and digest gear,” he says, crediting the numerous lash points, the roomy shove-it and water-bottle pockets, and an enormous packbag with a sleeping bag divider than can be detached on one side to make room for long, bulky items.
Our tester dubbed the pack “ideal” for parents carrying huge loads or hardware-intensive expeditions. You’d think that so many exterior pockets would lead to a precariously balanced load, but weight transfer is efficient, thanks to generously padded hipbelt and shoulder straps with load-tension pulls that don’t slip. This superhauler has the traditional top-loading option (with a removable, floating lid that allows for massive overstuffing), plus dual vertical side zips to access the cave-like packbag. Our only quibble? While the side compression straps help keep the load balanced and close to your back, they interfere with the vertical access zippers. $239; 4 lbs. 14 oz.; 70 liters; 3 sizes each for men and women; rei.com