Bells and Whistles
If you like luxe features and don't mind carrying extra weight, consider this fully outfitted mountain pack. It has a comfortable, supportive, stay-reinforced backpanel; broad, memory-foam shoulder straps and hipbelt; and an easy, secure torso-length adjustment. (But testers noted you need to bend the aluminum X-stays for a custom fit.)
The packbag has a dizzying array of features, from stiffened mesh bottle holsters to a front pocket organizer and reinforced, quick-release compression straps, all with Velcro strap captures to prevent flapping in high wind. You also get a large shovel pocket, rubberized gear loops, built-in raincover, a small organizer pocket near the pack bottom, a three-compartment top lid with clear vinyl map flap, a fleece-lined MP3 pocket, and Velcro lash-on points for poles and tools. The usable capacity is much higher than the numbers suggest. The tradeoff: It's heavy. $249; 3,000 cu. in.; 5 lbs. 9 oz. Wengerna.com
ARAS Eagle Pack
The Equinox ARAS pack features a dual hydration sleeve, an adjustable quick release suspension system, 3 strategically placed drain holes, and bottle loops on the shoulder pads. The ARAS is loaded with pockets for multiple storage options: 2 large capacity mesh pockets, hip belt pockets, 2 wing pockets and a 6" zippered pocket on the hood. Cinch straps prevent the bottom from sagging when he pack is not full. Hood on top opens easily with quick release buckle.
Constructed from 1.1oz silicone impregnated ripstop with 200 denier ripstop side panel. Hip belt and lumbar panel are constructed from 1/2" open cell foam with a Cool-Max. Back panel is open mesh.
Torso Size: 17"-19"
Waist Belt: 32"-40"
Capacity: 3,200 cubic inches
Weight: 20.8 oz