Our toughest tester would criticize his mother's cooking, but he had nothing but praise for the ACT Trail, calling it "a near-perfect all-purpose daypack" after using it in Montana's Lee Metcalf Wilderness. That's because the ACT Trail 32 (and the women's SL 28) delivers the rock-solid stability and neat-freak organizational features you'd expect from an expedition pack.
This top-loader's U-shaped zipper provides easy access to the main compartment; a mesh panel on the front stashes a jacket and hat; zippered pockets on the lid, side, and hipbelt stow a camera and snacks; and adjustable shock-cord loops secure trekking poles or ice tools.
Despite the many features, the pack isn't cumbersome: One tester hammered up a multipitch ice climb in Montana's Hyalite Canyon, unimpeded by shifting loads or restricted reach. The suspension (a plastic framesheet reinforced with a Delrin rod) handles up to 25 pounds.
Two mesh-covered foam panels on the back provide outstanding comfort and ventilation. Bonus: The built-in raincover kept our gear dry during a five-hour slush storm on Colorado's Hahns Peak. The pack's 210-denier nylon fabric should handle years of abuse. Downside: It's heavy.
- Capacity 1,950 cu. in.
- Sizes 2 gender-specific; 16"-21" torsos
- Weight 3 lbs.
- Price $129
- Info deuterusa.com
The Futura Pro 42 utilizes Deuters Futura PRO Aircomfort back system with increased padding in the hip belt and lumbar region and VariFlex hip belt. The VariFlex hip belt allows a pivoting motion in the hip belt to better move with the body. This patent-pending system, combining the ventilated back and pivoting hip belt is the first of its kind and offers superior ventilation for hiking enthusiasts.