Gear Review: Exped Lightning 45 Multiday Pack

This pack will fine-tune fit, carry 50-pound loads, and ease the burden with its ultralight weight.

[light and adjustable]

After a hiking blind date in the Catskills, our tester raved about the Lightning. “It’s always a challenge to bring a pack for a first-time hiker, sight unseen,” he admits, “but those are exactly the people you want to have a great experience.” She did, thanks to the pack’s extreme low weight, comfortable suspension, and easy-to-adjust torso length. Most packs this light have trouble with more than 25 pounds, but the Lightning’s aluminum stay anchors directly into the hipbelt, resulting in above-average load transfer and a close-to-your-back ride. One tester carried it stuffed with more than 50 pounds of climbing gear.

Need to fine-tune fit? Just tug the adjustment strap, which acts as a pulley to shorten or lengthen the shoulder straps, delivering six inches of play. The light but durable PU-coated, 210-denier Dyneema nylon kept contents dry in an epic New York shower. The pack has a drybag-style roll-top closure with a long collar—ideal for overstuffing. Gripes: There’s little organization, and the M-shaped compression straps cinch a full load effectively, but they tend to work their way loose. $219; 1 lb. 3 oz.; 45 liters; 1 size each for men and women; multiple volumes available; exped.com