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Backpacks

The Backpacker Gear Hall Of Fame: Packs

A look back at the packs we've loved for years that are still at the top of their class.


The butterfly-shaped, torsionally flexible perimeter stay and stiff nylon framesheet transfer loads of up to 20 pounds with no bounce or sway. The…

The butterfly-shaped, torsionally flexible perimeter stay and stiff nylon framesheet transfer loads of up to 20 pounds with no bounce or sway. The shoulder straps and hipbelt move independently to keep weight in sync with your body and improve balance when you’re scrambling or high-stepping. $130; 2 lbs.; 24 liters; blackdiamondequipment.com

“The best hipbelt we’ve ever tested,” is the verdict on this 2010 Editors’ Choice winner. Credit the pivoting action and the wide, stiff,…

“The best hipbelt we’ve ever tested,” is the verdict on this 2010 Editors’ Choice winner. Credit the pivoting action and the wide, stiff, memory-foam-like padding for all-day comfort, with not even a hint of big-load sag. A rigid framesheet aces load transfer and wide, padded shoulder straps boost comfort. $399; 5 lbs. 1 oz.; 75 liters; arcteryx.com

Take it anywhere. That’s the word from half a dozen testers who have hauled this rugged top-loader all over the globe. It works well as a travel bag,…

Take it anywhere. That’s the word from half a dozen testers who have hauled this rugged top-loader all over the globe. It works well as a travel bag, a crag pack, or a dayhiker. The 1,200-denier polyester fabric with TPU-film laminate and DWR finish thwarted the worst conditions and remained impervious to weather and sharp rocks. $149; 2 lbs. 3 oz.; 35 liters; 1 size; patagonia.com

“This pack carried epic winter loads like a dream,” says an editor who hauled 50 pounds up a steep skin track in Montana. This 2013 Editors’ Choice…

“This pack carried epic winter loads like a dream,” says an editor who hauled 50 pounds up a steep skin track in Montana. This 2013 Editors’ Choice Snow Award winner is versatile, with plenty of winter-specific features—hipbelt sled-attachment points, ice axe loops, shovel pouch, and wand pockets—but it’s light enough for summer trips, too. $239; 4 lbs. 10 oz.; 55 liters; bergans.com

Thanks to an adjustable torso, this pack is a perennial favorite for families with growing teens. A no-fuss Velcro system quickly customizes the…

Thanks to an adjustable torso, this pack is a perennial favorite for families with growing teens. A no-fuss Velcro system quickly customizes the torso length from 16 to 21 inches, and an extension collar adds 10 liters so dad can carry hero loads. $269; 6 lbs.; 75 liters; deuter.com

Boreas Lost Coast With a great price, low weight, and a remarkably breathable backpanel, this 2012 Editors’ Choice pick has top-class load transfer,…

Boreas Lost Coast With a great price, low weight, and a remarkably breathable backpanel, this 2012 Editors’ Choice pick has top-class load transfer, thanks to webbing-reinforced seams that wrap the packbag like a rib cage. They’re angled to pull the load in, countering the sag that plagues many packs. $210; 3 lbs. 6 oz.; 60 liters; boreasgear.com

Female backpackers continue to rave about the Cienega. The fixed shoulder straps have an exaggerated S-curve so they contour backward at a sharp…

Female backpackers continue to rave about the Cienega. The fixed shoulder straps have an exaggerated S-curve so they contour backward at a sharp angle to minimize pressure on breasts. The sternum strap has 5 inches of vertical adjustment, a feature our full-figured testers appreciated. $125; 2 lbs.; 32 liters; jansport.com

Gregory Baltoro 75 This 2008 Editors’ Choice winner continues to wow users with its comfort and stability. The key feature is its harness, which…

Gregory Baltoro 75 This 2008 Editors’ Choice winner continues to wow users with its comfort and stability. The key feature is its harness, which consists of a molded foam hipbelt and well-padded shoulder straps. The system automatically adjusts (via plastic pivot points) to the angles of each hiker’s body, giving a custom-fit feel and impeccable load transfer for more than 50 pounds. $349; 5 lbs. 14 oz.; 75 liters; gregorypacks.com

Alpinists love this clutter-free, low-profile daypack with its 8-inch roll-top storm collar. The flexible, molded-foam backpanel and lightweight…

Alpinists love this clutter-free, low-profile daypack with its 8-inch roll-top storm collar. The flexible, molded-foam backpanel and lightweight butterfly aluminum stay offer great stability with loads up to 20 pounds. While the price may seem high for a daypack, the Trion is built for abuse. After three years in the field, our original test packs are still in daily service. $230; 2 lbs. 6 oz.; 28 liters; mammut.ch