Brand: Bergans of Norway
Model: Skarstind 48
Overall Rating: 4.9
Why we like it
Unlike some minimalist packs, this one doesn’t skimp on space or durability.
A clever zippered baffle in the front stuff-it pocket lets you expand the pack’s capacity without marring the otherwise sleek profile. “The stuff-it pouch fit my shell just fine, but with the expansion feature, I could also keep my rain pants at my fingertips,” said one tester after an 8-mile hike in Badlands National Monument. Four side compression straps (plus two verticals pulling down the elastic-fitted lid) shrink the packbag for dayhikes and kept loads snug when we overpacked.
The spacious top-loader has a wide maw for easy stuffing, plus bottom access via a 22-inch zipper for the sleeping bag compartment. Boot-shaped mesh side pockets—the biggest in the test—secured 1-liter water bottles and extra layers. “I loaded the pack with 25 pounds of gear for a 4-nighter in the Adirondacks and never had a ‘where did I put that’ moment,” says one tester.
The padded hipbelt is a generous 4 inches wide and encases your hips like a firm hug. “I was afraid this lightweight pack wouldn’t have the sand for a heavy-duty trip,” says one Colorado tester. “But it handled 30 pounds of gear like a champ. No hot spots or bruises after 27 miles of hiking.” Testers raved about the suspension-to-weight ratio—one inveterate overpacker hefted 45 pounds of climbing and camping gear on a two-day trip and said it “didn’t overwhelm the suspension.”
There’s no framesheet, just a taut, mesh backpanel that’s supported by a contoured steel perimeter stay. “I sweat like a pig, but the trampoline-style frame kept the packbag off my back—enough airflow to keep cool and dry, but not so much space that a full load wobbles,” one tester says.