Maybe it doesn't fit the current ultralight ethic, but you gotta give some props to the Traverse for its old-school toughness. Tester Berne Broudy worked it out during a monthlong spin through New Zealand, where for decades Christchurch-based Macpac has developed gear with the South Island's wet and rugged backcountry in mind. After five consecutive multiday tramps, she reported: "Its unique wax- and resin-finished poly-cotton fabric is rip-proof, poke-proof, and amazingly waterproof. Even after accidental dunkings in more than one glacial stream, my sleeping bag and other essentials stayed dry." She also praised the pivoting hipbelt, which kept even the heaviest loads balanced during slippery stream crossings. And she noted that the Traverse has features you won't find on lighter packs: a sleeping-bag compartment, extra lumbar padding, a cushy hipbelt, and extra organizing pockets. Downsides: No water-bottle pockets or a hydration sleeve, and it's a heavy pack for the capacity. That said, the high-quality construction and heavy-duty materials should last for years.
Sizes: 3,970 cu. in.; 3 sizes (12"-20" torso)
Weight: 5 lbs. 12 oz.
Contact: (866) 548-6505; www.macpacnewzealand.com