Brand: Mountain Hardwear
Model: South Col
This cavernous, 100-liter top-loader manages monster loads without any superfluous weight. It easily swallowed all of my gear and food for a 12-day gig on the PCT, and stability proved top-notch, even when I was scrambling and bushwhacking.
Credit the plastic framesheet with aluminum perimeter rod and center stay, which attaches firmly to the stiffened hipbelt and provides excellent load transfer, even when I schlepped 65 pounds—more than half my body weight! And after a few days, the hipbelt’s memory-foam padding molded to my curves for customlike comfort.
Thick shoulder straps held the load snug to my torso without rubbing or pinching. Nice touch: Plastic tubing on the zipper pulls is easy to grab with gloves on. $340; 5 lbs. 6 oz.(S); 3 unisex sizes; mountainhardwear.com.