Brand: Granite Gear
If you like to head out when others head in, you’ll love this everything-proof pack. Water-resistant zippers and heavy-duty, polyurethane*-coated, 600-denier nylon make the Superior a true workhorse. “I hike and ski with my iPad and phone, and I hate messing with waterproof cases,” reports a California tester. “With the Superior, I get total precip protection (though the pack is not submersible) at a fraction of what I’d pay for a typical pack and two cases.” While it has bookbag styling and features, like a padded laptop sleeve and soft, poly-lined gadget pouch (nice for sunglasses and goggles, too), the suspension system is all backcountry. “I carried 25-plus pounds during three months of geological research in Utah,” says one tester. And it’s large enough to press into service on minimalist overnights. “Its top-loading maw easily swallowed my hammock, tools, bag, and provisions, and the padded plastic framesheet cushioned against fist-size agates and geodes.” Organization is best in test: Zippered oblong side pockets (under the bottle holders, but still accessible) store snacks and binoculars, while maps and guidebooks slip neatly into the two external compartments. “The inside of my daypack generally resembles the aftermath of a hurricane,” says our geologist, “but the pocket arrangement lends itself to nearly scientific neatness!” Knock: The hipbelt consists of two palm-size wings and webbing that support the load, but one tester felt that the pads should be longer to better cushion his iliac crest. $80; 2 lbs. 13 oz.; 32 liters; 1 size; granitegear.com
*Polyurethane A rubber that can be applied to a fabric’s surface. It’s more durable and waterproof than typical DWRs.