Readers' Choice 2014: Mountainsmith Haze 50 Backpack
A durable, ultralight pack that's affordable.
Model: Haze 50 Backpack
Why I love it Most ultralight gear comes at a price that pushes it out of my budget. But the 50-liter Haze is affordable enough for an unpaid intern like me, and after five months of testing, it’s muddied and sun-bleached but doesn’t have so much as a loose thread.
Stability The (removable) EVA foam back sheet is not meant for monster loads, but the frameless Haze handled 30 pounds on a weeklong backpack in the Winds. Even after a 25-mile day my shoulders felt fine, despite the pack’s lack of load-lifter straps.
Organization The Haze lacks a toplid (to save weight) in favor of a cinch cord. Two front pockets store raingear, and stretchy side sleeves fit water bottles.
Fave feature The hipbelt: Cutouts keep it pliable, so it wraps smoothly and distributes weight around my iliac crest. A pronounced lumbar pad sticks weight at my best load-bearing point. $130; 1 lb. 13 oz. (S/M); 2 sizes; mountainsmith.com
Shey Kiester, 22
Hometown – Jeffersonville, VT
Day job – Editorial intern, Alpinist magazine