Big enough for hero-dad loads but adjustable down to teen-torso lengths, this was our testers’ choice for gear-intensive family camping trips. A no-fuss Velcro-and-loop system adjusts the torso length from 16 to 21 inches.
On a three-day excursion up Benson Plateau in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, our tester humped 60 pounds of gear for himself and two young sons. After they devoured the food—dropping the weight by nearly 20 pounds—the 12-year-old tweaked the torso length and carried it out. The father liked the simple, stable design, as well as the pack’s ability to shrink or expand with the load.
An extension collar adds 10 liters; the floating lid* has a wraparound fit that securely covers monster loads. The pack has a plethora of useful features, including a built-in rain cover; a huge, U-shaped zippered front panel; a long vertical zip pocket that’s perfect for rolled maps; and small pockets on the hipbelt. $269; 6 lbs.; 65 liters; deuterusa.com
*FLOATING LID A top compartment that attaches via adjustable webbing, allowing you to overstuff your pack and secure bulky items under the lidThese packs are designed to carry heavy loads by combining the backpack and your body into one unit. The Aircontact 55+10, 65+10, 75+10 and womens Aircontact 60+10SL pair Deuters improved Aircontact ventilation system with its pivoting VariFlex hip belt for increased flexibility and comfort. Additionally, the Aircontact packs utilize the VariQuick system for infinitely adjustable back and shoulder adjustments. Key features of the packs include: hollow core aluminum stays, divided main compartment, ice axe loops, top lid pocket, hydration compatible, interior and exterior pockets, and built-in rain cover.