Backpack Review: Kelty Illusion 3500

A pack that's light, affordable, and durable.

It's no secret that this pack is light, affordable, packed with bells and whistles, and big enough to hold 4 days' gear. We've said that before. But the Illusion gets our recommendation again because it's also proven to be very durable. Ten months and many miles after it earned high marks in our weekend pack field test, this midsize is fraying a bit in its mesh side pockets, but is otherwise intact. Our map editor adds this praise: "The design proves you don't have to eliminate useful features to cut weight." The pack has five mesh pockets, a daisy chain, ice-axe loop, and various compression straps. A big panel zipper allows access to the main compartment. The stiff back panel and well-padded hipbelt control loads up to 35 pounds, but your shoulders will take the brunt if you pack more than that.

Price: $170

Volume: 3,500 cu. in.

Weight: 3 lbs. 9 oz.