Our take The North Face’s FuseForm Cordura nylon packcloth is the most advanced fabric we’ve seen. It fuses different fabrics together in the weaving process, eliminating the need for seams. The result: stronger Cordura thread on the bottom of the pack to combat abrasion, lighter stuff on the upper half that sees less abuse, and fewer seams overall. The construction saves weight without sacrificing durability. Testers raved about the material being tough as proverbial nails on the bottom but flexible and light on top. Ding: Some testers wished for more cushioning in the thin, EVA foam shoulder straps, which were uncomfortable carrying more than 40 pounds.
The details The low-profile shape helped this pack hug our backs. A Yosemite guide says that it rode better than anything he’s carried in a decade, and alpine testers reported that the streamlined shape never hindered arm and leg movement. We also liked the drawstring closure with a sewn-on toplid; it secures with a thin piece of webbing and can carry any size rope.
Trail cred “While thin fabric is the Achilles heel of ultralight packs, this lightweight load monster is like armor against sharp granite and cheese grater slabs,” noted an alpine climber after a bid for Washington’s 7,720-foot Liberty Bell.