Gear Guide 2012: More Tester Picks - Daypacks

These daypacks offer plenty of comfort, easy to access pockets and the kind of durability you need for any climbing adventure.

Hydrapak Jolla

As the company’s name implies, this updated pack is all about hydration, from its easy-access, three-liter reservoir to the hose’s high-flow bite valve. On a 60-mile round-trip road bike ride from Bend to Elk Lake, Oregon, in 90°F temps, our tester tanked up and loaded snacks, swimsuit, and towel into the 18-liter top-loading packbag for a mid-ride soak. “I loved the suspension’s ventilation,” he says, citing the waffled backpad and perforated foam shoulder straps for enhanced airflow. $145; 2 lbs. 6 oz.; 18 liters; hydrapak.com

CamelBak Highwire 25

On an 18-day Grand Canyon float, our tester put this pack and its (included) 100-ounce hydration bladder to the test on side hikes throughout the trip and, later, an epic Thunder River climbing adventure. The lightly padded hipbelt and shoulder straps comfortably carried 20-pound loads. $125; 1 lb. 13 oz.; 25 liters; camelbak.com

Platypus Origin 32

“This is the easiest reservoir system I’ve used,” said one tester after a long day exploring Mt. St. Helens. The three-liter reservoir snaps into the pack with a simple loop-and-toggle system. Thirsty testers praised the extra-long hose with multiple routing options and glove-friendly shut-off valve. Plus, the waterproof compartment holds enough for the most epic days. $160; 2 lbs. 2 oz.; 32 liters; platy.com

Eastern Mountain Sports Free Range 38

One tester hiked in the Three Sisters Wilderness with this well-organized, top-zip daypack. In addition to a spacious packbag, outside pockets include two microfiber-lined sunglass/goggle pouches, a front pocket with padded phone pouch, a padded computer sleeve with side access, and a mesh water bottle pouch. “The load felt secure, even when I was hiking through a giant boulder field,” she says, crediting the substantial shoulder straps and cushy foam backpanel with the carrying comfort. $95; 2 lbs. 9 oz.; 38 liters; ems.com

Outdoor Products Gama

A surprisingly comfortable, bargain-priced top-loader, the Gama has an über-wide, plush hipbelt and a padded, U-shaped shoulder yoke that conformed to our tester’s body and supported loads up to 25 pounds. “The raised foam-and-mesh backpanel provides great airflow,” says a tester who used it hiking in sweltering weather in the Cascades. Only quibble? It’s heavy. $80; 3 lbs. 6 oz.; 40 liters; outdoorproducts.com