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Backpacks

Gear Guide 2009: L.L. Bean Mountain Guide Review

Bring along your winter toys— L.L. Bean's Mountain Guide pack can carry anything from ice climbing gear to skis.

Winter Bargain

Climbing gear, skis, snowshoes, or snowboard: If your idea of a weekend trip includes any of the above, this pack is a steal. We dragged the Mountain Guide up crags and through slot-canyon squeezes, and the tough fabric and one-inch quick-release buckles easily withstood the abuse. The pack is a tad heavy, but testers loved the comfort and versatility.

The molded composite backpanel can comfortably carry 35 pounds, and the harness and hipbelt provide a good blend of cushion, mobility, and venting. The backpanel, top pocket, hipbelt, and front shovel pocket are all strippable to shave ounces. Tough, molded rubber fittings on the front compression straps hold tools like snowboards or shovels and prevent their sharp edges from doing damage. $120; 3,350 cu. in.; 4 lbs. 6 oz. Llbean.com

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