Gear Guide 2009: Mountainsmith Eclipse 55 Review

Make the Eclipse your go-to pack for long treks and backcountry bushwhacks.

Rugged and Versatile

The Eclipse is simple and stable, light enough for thru-hikes, and tough enough for bushwhacks. The ultra-Spartan packbag has a streamlined shape that sailed through slot canyons without hang-ups, and the suspension is solid thanks to crossed aluminum stays and a cushy, reinforced memory-foam hipbelt.

The result is a versatile pack that can be overstuffed to your heart's content, yet still feel at home on a light-load weekend because of the overall compact size. The bucket-size mesh holster pockets are easy to reach, and each one can swallow a shell or a combination of hats, gloves, and snacks.

The frame stays require custom bending for the best fit, but they're easily accessed. Nitpick: We wish the holster pocket cordlocks were captured for easy one-handed adjustment. Solstice is the women's version. $199; 3,417 cu. in.; 3 lbs. 8 oz. Mountainsmith.com