Get a lot of pack for a little money with the Manang. "I hauled more than 40 pounds on a 35-mile trip through the Wind River Range," said one tester, "and this top-loader performed way above its price range." How? The Manang's well-padded suspension includes shoulder straps with extra-cushy gel inserts, and the frame is plenty stiff for big loads, thanks to two aluminum stays and a rigid U-shaped tube.
The packbag is easy to load and organize, with a cavernous main compartment that has a vertical access zipper, lid and hipbelt pockets, and plenty of lashing options. Even more impressive: The mix of 840- and 420-denier fabric is bushwhack-durable, yet the pack is reasonably lightweight for the capacity. The catch? No sleeping-bag compartment, and the ladder-style, adjustable harness is not as stable as the best in this category. $180; 5,190 cu. in.; 5 lbs. 2 oz. Lafumausa.com
With a ski-specific soul, the Khamski is renowned for its top-loading classic style. The all-winter design is set to stow safety gear, haul sizeable loads and shed snow. Bora-derived suspension rides smoothly. A wise choice for tele touring, ski summiting and pro patrolling.
External compression straps
External daisy chains
Fixed top pocket with map pocket
Hypalon quick release ski attachments
Ice axe loops
Interchangeable thermoformed hipbelt
Modified kangaroo pouch to hold skins, mitts and most shovels