In an old-school/new-school mash-up, these behemoth packs marry the superb load transfer of your trusty old external frame with the inherent stability of an internal. Credit the preformed hipbelt and a stiff framesheet, which is buttressed by a narrow aluminum frame that forced weight straight onto testers’ hips. We carried these packs in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Maine, with loads of 50 to 65 pounds, and all testers agreed that they are top-notch for extended trips where stability is paramount.
“So solid I’d even consider it for ski and scramble trips,” says our guy in Maine. Packing big loads is also a cinch. “I loved the stretch shove-it pocket and the two large, external front pockets,” says a tester who hauled it through Colorado’s Zirkel Wilderness. “It’s almost impossible to overload.” All zippers are water resistant, and most seams are glued rather than sewn, for weight savings and improved weatherproofing. “It has everything a ‘kitchen sink’ hiker could want, without kitchen-sink weight,” says another.
Three sizes in each gender allowed all of our testers, from 5’1” to 6’4”, to get a good fit. $299; 5,187 cu. in. ; 5 lbs.