A great choice for long weekends, thru-hiking, and streamlined summer weeks, the Vapor Trail (and new women's Vapor Ki) has everything you need (strong suspension, ample storage, durability) and nothing you don't (myriad pockets, heavy zippers, bulky padding). It won an Editors' Choice Award in 2003 for this simplicity, plus its comfort and versatility. The packbag design is the secret. It features featherlight materials in low-abrasion areas, and no pockets or lid. The weight savings gained here allow Granite Gear to keep a stiffer frame and hipbelt than on many packs in this weight class, which means your shoulders won't scream after an hour spent carrying 35 pounds. The packbag also lets you ease into ultralight: It's big enough to swallow some creature comforts, but when you're ready to downsize, it compresses to accommodate smaller loads. Also new this year is a high-mountain version, the Alpine Vapor.
Volume: 4,000 cu. in.
Weight: 2 lbs.