[alpinists ’ choice]
Why we like it For those willing to sacrifice features in pursuit of peaks, the Ascensionist delivers: It’s light, low-profile, and “perfect in that there’s nothing left to take away,” according to one tester.
Packbag There’s no traditional lid on this pack; rather, a super-sized, asymmetrical storm collar that’s longer in the back than the front cinches over the top of the pack like a hood, then clips with a simple metal buckle. Inside, a small flap of fabric tucks up and around bigger loads. The result? A unique, two-layer closure system that allows you to securely overstuff or underpack. Plus, there’s no fumbling with zips or buckles: “Nice with cold or gloved hands,” one tester says.
Comfort A removable aluminum-and-mesh framesheet provides big-load support (up to 40 pounds), making this pack great for dense gear and climbers who want one pack that can handle huge days and minimalist weekends. Webbing on the 4.4-ounce, removable hipbelt threads through palm-size hip pads that slide for perfect placement.
Ding Some testers wished for a hydration sleeve (or at least one exterior pocket for carrying a bottle). $179; 2 lbs. 3 oz.; 45 liters; 1 size; patagonia.com