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
The Pamola, a diminutive version of the Katahdin, offers all of the features of the Katahdin, but is designed for hikers requiring less carrying capacity or for those of smaller stature. Of particular note, the shoulder straps and hip belt are narrower and reduce potential friction points and create a better fit. An excellent choice for an ultralite hiker looking for a tighter fit.
Constructed from 1.1oz silicone impregnated ripstop with 200 denier ripstop side panel. Hip belt and back panel are constructed from 1/2" open cell foam with a Cool-Max lamination for added comfort.
Top cinches together for easy access to main compartment
Two bottle carry pockets
Capacity: 2,475 cubic inches