For everything from fast-and-light jaunts to gear-heavy, search-and-rescue epics, this pack was my perfect hauler. The frame—a plastic sheet with a single aluminum stay—handled up to 40 pounds, but it didn’t feel overbuilt for dayhiking because the shoulder straps and hipbelt are pliable and unobtrusive.
The 45-liter packbag compressed down securely and evenly for a dayhike up Mt. Constance, thanks to the gusseted panel pocket, yet the Serrac also held gear for a three-day trip around Mt. Gladys (both peaks are on the Olympic Peninsula).
The top-loader has a full-length side zip for easy access, and the 1,680-denier ballistic nylon easily withstood the abuse I inflicted over the course of 200 miles. $160; 3 lbs. 8 oz. (M); m’s S-L; gregorypacks.com.