Our tester loved the "load and go" simplicity of this single-compartment pack. After a heavily laden overnight on the south slopes of Longs Peak, he reported "no pack-flop at all when I jumped rocks and creeks," and credited the shallow, back-hugging pack shape and suspension, which consists of a dual-density framesheet, twin aluminum stays, and closed-cell foam bivy pad. The framesheet, stays, and pad are all removable, so testers could beef up support or shave ounces, depending on the trip.
The thin, soft-flexing, removable hipbelt did a decent job of transferring weight, but like most climbing packs, the emphasis is on freedom of motion, low bulk, and easy high-stepping. Stripping all frame and hipbelt components trims almost two pounds.
The narrow packbag proved tight for bulkier sleeping bags, but quick-release compression straps and a front bungee net compensate. The top lid extends for high stacking, plus you get the usual gear loops and tool attachments. Bummer: no hipbelt or bottle pockets–although a hydration sleeve located in the top lid makes refilling easy, even with the pack loaded. $249; 3,661 cu. in.; 4 lbs. 4 oz. Arcteryx.com
This sleek, women's specific AC² pack has all the features and carrying capacity needed for overnight trip, and the 100% waterproof 420ACT fabric protects gear from moisture. The Maia's entire suspension system is ergonomically shaped for the female anatomy, and the rotating Load Transfer Disc allows unprecedented hip mobility and pack stability while moving through uneven terrain.
Double re-curved shoulder straps designed for the female form
Women's specific hipbelt, styling and ergonomics
Fully seam sealed
Hydration bladder pocket
Laminated map pocket
Laminated molded AC² Fusion Points
Load Transfer Disc
Pigment dyed WaterTight zippers
Radially formed Binary hipbelt
Radially formed shoulder straps
Removable WaterTight top lid
Side access kangaroo pocket
Four external compression straps