One thing that every backpacker can appreciate? Gear that helps you lighten the load (or at least makes it feel lighter). That’s the initial feedback on the Ducan Spine, which has a unique suspension system: Beefy pads at the lower back and shoulder blades are connected with a pliable metal rod; when you walk, the rod (which is sheathed in comfy padding) and the pads adjust to your gait, meaning you don’t fight the weight on your back so much as move with it, a much more natural motion. In its initial outing, the Ducan Spine impressed one tester as she carried 30 pounds of climbing gear up a twisty approach in the Flatirons outside Boulder, Colorado. She never felt off-balance, even while scampering across large rocks. The pack is now heading out on a three-week testing trip to the Washington Cascades, and we’re excited to see how it performs.
– Eli Bernstein, gear editor