This classic top-loader proved “close to perfect for dayhikes and ultralight overnights,” said a tester who used it in Colorado’s Elk Range and southern Utah’s San Rafael Swell. He said it became his go-to pack all summer and fall. Light, simple, and conveniently laid out, it carried 30 pounds comfortably thanks to softly padded, wicking shoulder straps and a soft backpanel stabilized by a flexible perimeter rod.
The single-compartment sack is surrounded by two huge (and easily reachable) mesh side pockets and a gigantic front shovel pocket. Quick-release compression straps on the side and front take poles, pads, or tools. The wide, unpadded hipbelt adds stability and a bit of support, and it has a pleated zip pocket on each side that’s large enough for a day’s worth of chunky energy bars. The hydration sleeve holds the biggest reservoirs, and the hydration port passes fat valves. Our only quibble: You can’t extend the top pocket for inevitable overloads. $99; 1,850 cu. in.; 1 lb. 14 oz. Deuterusa.com