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Best All-Around: Osprey Talon Pro 30/Tempest Pro 28
We would describe our relationship with the Talon Pro as “codependent.” Thanks to its best-in-test combo of cushion, breathability, and support, we found ourselves using it on everything from sweaty epics to after-work scrambles. The broad, wraparound hipbelt wings and flexible shoulder harness provide a close-to-body fit that eliminates pack sway, even when we had 20 pounds on board. Buy Now / Read the Full Review
Most Durable: Lowe Alpine Cholatse 52:57 /Cholatse ND 50:55
Hard on your gear? Challenge accepted. We threw everything we could at the Cholatse (the ND is the women’s version), but its reinforced stitching, minimalist profile, and 420-denier and 210-denier Robic ripstop nylon resisted both butt-slides through steep Colorado scree and bushwhacking in Alaskan scrub. Buy Now / Read the Full Review
Best Bargain: Kelty Asher 55
If you’re on the fence about shelling out for your first pack, ease in with the Asher. This all-purpose weekend warrior is kitted out with the essentials—adjustable fit, bottom sleeping bag access, a big U-zip-access external pocket, and a decent suspension that transfers moderate loads to the hips—at a killer price. Buy Now / Read the Full Review