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You’re not the kind of hiker who goes into hibernation for the winter. That’s because you know the season’s secret: When the mercury starts falling, trails empty out, and the world gets covered with the kind of sound-absorbing hush that only a blanket of fresh snow can provide. Make sure you have room for everything you need this winter without weighing yourself down by grabbing one of these four perfect packs.
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Best for Big Miles: Mammut Trion Nordwand 28
Our take In the winter, the secret to staying warm is constant motion. The secret to constant motion? The Trion Nordwand 28. Two mesh pockets in the vest-style shoulder straps let you access snacks, lip balm, and extra gloves without stopping. Buy the Mammut Trion Nordwand 28 Now / Read the Full Review
Most Comfortable: Osprey Soelden 32 / Sopris 30
This pack has all the characteristics of a good ski partner: safety-oriented, up for anything, and always supportive. Credit that latter trait to a contoured fit, which made the lightweight Soelden (and Sopris, the women’s version) our go-to option for long tours. Buy the Osprey Soelden 32 / Sopris 30 Now / Read the Full Review
Most Versatile: Gregory Targhee FastTrack 45
Modular features and an impressive capacity range made this pack our top choice for day missions of every sport and size, from winter hiking in New Hampshire to ice climbs in Quebec. Removable components—the hipbelt, toplid, and framesheet—let us strip the pack down to a mere 1 lb. 14 oz. for light-and-fast objectives, and the sleek profile made it sway-free on snow climbs. Buy the Gregory Targhee FastTrack 45 Now / Read the Full Review
Best Organization: Ortovox Haute Route 40 / Haute Route 38 S
With an easy-access avalanche tool pocket, three internal pockets, and three zippered external pockets, the redesigned Haute Route 40 (the 38 S is the women’s model) is a compulsive organizer’s dream. “This pack has compartments for everything, including maps, goggles, avy gear, and radios,” one tester says. Buy the Ortovox Haute Route 40 / Haute Route 38 S Now / Read the Full Review