Gear Review: Gregory Palisade 80 Backpack

Best pack for large winter loads and family trips.

Bulky Winter Loads

Got a heavy pile of awkward cold-weather gear to haul? Few packs we've used match this one for comfort, stability, and gargantuan capacity. On family backpacking trips from Yosemite to the Tetons, our tester credited the hipbelt for the pack's load-bearing success: "The belt is rigid yet amply padded, and because it adjusts to five different angles, I was able to find the perfect fit. Even carrying loads of 70 pounds, I felt like almost all of the weight was channeling directly to my hips–not my shoulders." The smooth and precisely contoured shoulder straps never chafed, even after hours of load humping.

"The wide top opening and main compartment swallow a boatload of gear–I never had space issues–and compression straps keep everything from shifting around," he reports. Though the Palisade is hydration-compatible, our tester used bottles, which are easier to keep from freezing in cold temps. The bottle pocket is canted for quick grabbing and restowing without dislocating your shoulder, and it can be folded away when not needed. Other sweet features: a convertible lid-fanny pack, a roomy front pocket for stowing shell gear, and dual hipbelt pockets. $329; 4,973 cu.in.; 6 lbs. 6 oz.; 3 men's sizes; gregorypacks.com