Long miles, heavy loads, and tricky terrain will quickly reveal any weaknesses in a pack. After a two-week trek through Alaska’s Brooks Range—carrying 50 pounds on a four-day climb of 9,020-foot Mt. Chamberlin, then monstrous 70-pound loads on the 40-mile hike out—our tester says, “This pack has none. It was always comfortable regardless of weight.” Credit the wide, soft shoulder straps sewn onto the fixed-length harness, and a thickly padded hipbelt.
Stability was “lock-on solid” on river crossings and tippy tussock grass. The packbag swallows gear, with a unique fold-over top flap that opens one-handed and works as a passable pack closure if you strip the top pocket for lightweight duties. “This expedition-caliber pack easily pares down to a weekend peakbagging pack,” says our tester.
The hipbelt has twin pockets that can each hold a small GPS or up to three energy bars. Z-shaped side compressors and a beefy, inch-wide top compression/rope lashing strap “were invaluable for big overloads,” writes another tester. Comes in two nonadjustable sizes; Nalu is the women’s version. $230; 3,950 cu. in.; 4 lbs. 1 oz.