Big-Load Comfort Need room? This cavernous top-loader gulps gear. The suspension handled winter mountain loads with ease, and the perimeter rod/center stay-reinforced framesheet didn't start wimping until well north of 55 pounds. Padding is firm but thick on the stable shoulder harness and ultra-supportive hipbelt. Testers found they could customize the belt by shifting the outer stiffened layer against the inner padding–nice for maximizing hip freedom. The packbag has huge, accessible holster pockets, a roll-top extension that seals against the elements and opens easily, and a detachable front pocket/summit pack.
You can fill the hydration bladder with the pack loaded, thanks to a separate zipper sleeve. Steel-buckled side and top compression straps handle bulky pads and poles easily, and compress the packbag down to overnight size. By stripping the daypack/top lid (and using the roll-top closure), you can drop the weight on this spacious hauler down to four pounds. $295; 4,600 cu. in.; 6 lbs. 5oz. Mountainhardware.com