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The freedom of the outdoors doesn’t mean you should just dump all your gear into your backpack and hope for the best. The weight distribution of your pack is going to be off, you might forget things at home or in camp, and it’s going to be hard to find what you need without taking everything out. These five organizers will help you keep track of your gear so you can focus on the trail ahead.
Best for Clothes Storage: Therm-a-Rest Stuff Sack Pillow
This is no ordinary stuff sack, as we discovered when we took it on a winter backpacking trip in Colorado’s Weminuche Wilderness. By day, we jammed the 12-liter, 20-denier polyester bag full of clothes and jackets. Come nightfall, though, we flipped inside out so we could use the brushed polyester interior as a soft, inviting pillowcase. “That little bit of extra softness is so much better than cold, harsh nylon,” our tester says. “You get the feeling of luxury without having to carry an actual pillow.” $19; Buy Now
Best for Easy Access: Peak Design Field Pouch
Don’t have a hipbelt pocket on your backpack? Bring your own. Peak Design’s Field Pouch is loaded with six stretchy internal compartments and padding throughout. (It attaches to your hipbelt strap via loops on its back.) The Field Pouch is large enough to hold a couple pocket’s-worth of gear without getting in the way. We stuffed it with an energy bar, an extra camera battery, sunscreen, and a multitool. It’s also durable and protective: A 500-denier, weather-resistant exterior (it’s not fully waterproof, but kept its contents dry when we encountered rain in Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness), a velcro closure, and the aforementioned padding gave us peace of mind. Bonus: With accessory Peak Design shoulder straps, the Field Pouch easily converts to a shoulder bag for short hikes from camp. $40; Buy Now
Best for Electronics: Nite Ize RunOff Waterproof 3-1-1 Pouch
The standout feature on this waterproof bag is its zipper. Rather than use one with conventional teeth, designers fitted the RunOff with a smooth zipper that’s seemingly impossible to snag or break. (It’s still dustproof and waterproof, though.) The easy sliding action is especially convenient for storing gear you need to access regularly and still want to protect, such as batteries, charging cables, and power banks. The quart-sized “3-1-1” pouch (it adheres to the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule for liquids during air travel) is gusseted and opens wider at the bottom, which prevents overstuffing. $35; Buy Now
Best for Sleeping Bags: Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack
No more rushing to fasten the roll-top of your sleeping bag’s compression sack before air seeps back in. This fully waterproof sack is made from 70-denier nylon on the sides, but the bottom is air-permeable eVent material. The design allows you to seal it up, and then use the compression straps to squeeze as much air out of the bottom as possible. Get the size that fits your sleeping bag—there are multiple options. $33 and up; Buy Now
Best for Expeditions: Mountain Hardwear Expedition Duffel 140
Not only is the 140-liter Expedition Duffel big enough to haul a month’s worth of gear, it’s durable enough that you could just drag it up the mountain if you needed. The 840-denier nylon is infused with ultratough carbonate to prevent abrasions and tears and is water-resistant. A huge D-zip opening makes the Expedition Duffel easy to pack and unpack, an internal compression system keeps the bag’s contents together, and shoulder straps allow you to take up the load where the yak train stops. Our tester loaded his to the brim with Denali gear without even a creaking seam. $260; Buy Now