Model: Capture 25
With the Capture, Kelty designers prove that even the simplest features can be improved. Case in point: they reinvented the water bottle pocket. The zip-top, slim-profile packbag has a slick, tunnel-like bottle pocket nestled behind the lower back. We found it easy to access while wearing the pack, and we loved how the weight of the water stays centered on your lower back. More upgrades: The wider-than-average shoulder straps evenly distribute weight across the torso and provide a platform for two-palm size mesh pockets, which gave us instant access to snacks and energy gets. A tri-fold nylon case (included) attaches to the shoulder strap to secure a cell phone or point-and-shoot camera; pop it off and use the case to prop up your device for selfies or group shots. A stretchy shove-it pocket on the outer packbag is perfect for stashing a shell, puffy, or helmet. Ding: The main packbag has a mesh organizer panel, which we like, but its three vertical sleeves are too narrow for anything wider than an energy bar.
The 300-denier polyester is already on the beefy side for backpacks, and this fabric has diagonal threads that increase tear strength. After more than 50 dayhikes covering 290 miles (with loads up to 18 pounds), the packbag shows zero wear and tear.
$80; 1 lb.8oz; 25 liters; kelty.com