Model: Bora AR
Our take Every now and then, reinventing the wheel works. Exhibit A: This new pivoting hipbelt from Arc’teryx. It takes dynamic design to a new level of comfort, minimizing rubbing and improving balance.
The details What’s new is the RotoGlide mechanism. The Bora AR’s hipbelt swivels as your hips rotate with each step, like other pivoting hipbelts, but the RotoGlide also allows the load to glide up and down (about 1.5 inches), holding the load in place whether you’re high-stepping, reaching for a handhold, or just tying your shoe. This flexibility means the hipbelt is always locked into place around your iliac crest, so there’s continuous load factor—and no chafing. Our destinations editor carried 30 percent of her body weight in and out of the Grand Canyon and the pack have her no trouble crossing boulder fields and navigating class 3 terrain.
Molded foam in the hipbelt and shoulder straps easily cushions and supports big loads. “I put more than 40 pounds in this pack, and the hipbelt swivel system effectively transferred the load to a quarter-size area on the small of my back,” said Deputy Editor Casey Lyons after carrying the Bora for a week. The stiff backpanel prevents pack sag on your shoulders and a grid system lets you fine-tune fit with nine shoulder strap positions for torso length and width. “The only better way to carry a load is to hire a porter,” Lyons says.
Trail cred The pack also got top marks for its weather-proofing, thanks to urethane-coated fabric that repels rain and mud. “I used this pack through five days of rain in Colombia, including setting it down on the wet, boggy páramo and using it as a seat,” says tester Kassondra Cloos. “The whole time, not a single drop of moisture got through. My puffy jacket, which I packed toward the top, was just as dry as it was before the trip started.
Downsides? It’s on the heavy side and pricey, but the comfort, weather resistance, and durability put it in a class by itself. The pack is available in both men’s and women’s models.