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
Made with revolutionary 420ACT pack material, this pack will keep your load dry. More than a conventional drybag, it also carries comfortably with the frictionless Load Transfer Disc, features a side access kangaroo pocket for easy entry, and includes extra side straps to hold skis, tools or equipment.
Fully seam sealed
Hydration bladder pocket
Laminated map pocket
Laminated moulded 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
Six external compression straps