Best Climber/Hiker Hybrid
Four testers each gave this inexpensive climber-oriented pack–and its sister, the women's Diva–a thumbs up, praising the combination of tool-friendly features and trail-hiking comfort after trips through New York's Adirondacks, North Carolina's Linville Gorge, and Utah's Capitol Reef. It proved "rock-solid stable and comfortable to wear while scrambling over sketchy rock ledges and through old burns with shaky footing," said our tester.
The well-ventilated backpanel and comfortable shoulder harness managed 45 pounds of gear and water, but the payload sweet spot is around 38 to 40 pounds. The hipbelt offers more stability than load transfer, but plenty of freedom for high-stepping. The quick-release compression straps, hipbelt pocket, and molded plastic gear rack are all welcome details. Bummers: The top pocket is fixed (so it doesn't extend for high loads) and the shovel sleeve on the front is too short to hold items securely. $149; 2,950 cu. in.; 3 lbs. 4 oz. Marmot.com