The 6 Best Backpacks for Hauling Heavy Loads
Got a gear-heavy trip coming up? These packs have got your back.
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We love going light. But sometimes, for whatever reason—kids, winter, a luxury trip—you just need more space. When you’ve got a big load to tote, these six packs will do it without making your shoulders, back, and hips scream.
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Most Durable: Deuter Aircontact Pro 70+15 / Aircontact Pro 65+15 SL
Price: $380 / Weight: 6lbs. 11oz.
With a sturdy aluminum frame that stabilizes loads up to 60 pounds, this ultratough pack is ideal for rugged, expedition backpacking. The frame’s V shape transfers weight to the center of a wide, padded hipbelt, and a slender profile keeps loads close to the back. Read the Full Review / Buy Now
Best Oranization: Helly Hansen Capacitor
Price: $290 / Weight: 4lbs. 2oz.
Testers loved the 12.5-inch-long vertical pockets on either side of the pack. “I was able to keep my thermos in one, so my hot tea was always accessible,” said one tester after a sleet-filled trip in mid-30°F temps in Denali. Read the Full Review / Buy Now
Most Versatile: REI Co-op Traverse 60
Price: $229 / Weight: 4lbs. 4oz.
The hipbelt wings are moderately padded and provide a central channel to accommodate the iliac crest, preventing compression and rubbing at the top of the hipbone. Multiple adjustability points let us dial in fit even further: Each size—there are four to choose from for both men and women—offers three inches of vertical torso adjustability. Read the Full Review / Buy Now
Most Eco-Friendly: Fjällräven Kajka 65
Price: $375 / Weight: 7lbs. 1oz.
We may complain about heavy loads, but the Kajka never does. (We mean it: The eco-friendly canvas and birch-wood frame don’t squeak like plastic or metal.) Its sturdy-but-flexible parallel wooden stays mimic a spring-steel frame surprisingly well (caveat: they’re more expensive). Read the Full Review / Buy Now
Best Suspension: Mystery Ranch Terraframe 65
Price: $400 / Weight: 5lbs. 11oz.
For packrafters, overpackers, or anyone who’s just gotta have that second case of beer, the Terraframe offers a unique solution originally conceived for backcountry hunting: a 7-inch-deep shelf that accordions out from between the main packbag and backpanel. The shelf provides you a spot to load your heaviest gear right against a reinforced carbon-fiber lattice frame (which, by the way, is rated to carry up to 150 pounds). Read the Full Review / Buy Now
Best Value: Kelty Coyote 65 / Coyote 60
Price: $160 / Weight: 4lbs, 10oz
One zippered hip pocket on the Kelty fits a phone and headlamp, and one non-zippered mesh belt pocket holds a few granola bars. Our testers also loved the space between the lateral zipper pouches and the packbody, which creates a hollow sleeve: “You can run tent poles or trekking poles through the sleeve and into the mesh bottle pockets. Read the Full Review / Buy Now
From May/June 2021