Gear Guide 2012: Gregory Savant 58 Backpack

With effective compression and great load stability, this lightweight pack offers great balance and comfort.

[light and stable]

This pack’s precise, effective compression nets great load stability. “There was no sway whatsoever,” wrote one tester after a 10-mile epic dayhike across the rugged, uneven terrain of the Three Sisters Wilderness. Inside the capacious packbag, he carried three liters of water, an emergency bivy, winter layers, and a stove; despite the awkward 30-plus pounds of unruly gear, he never had to readjust.

Compression straps aren’t new, but the Savant’s array of load-stabilizing straps (well-positioned above the shoulder straps and behind the hipbelt), combined with two Z-shaped straps that tug in the lid (and whatever’s underneath), kept even Herculean loads balanced and snug up against our testers’ backs. Side compression straps crank in the front stuff-it pocket, pulling the weight back to the framesheet and over the hips.

One tester, after 11 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation change on the Benson Lake Trail in the Willamette National Forest, gave the pack’s load transfer ability nine out of 10 points. Caveat: Three out of four testers gave the suspension two thumbs up, but one, after a 25-mile loop in the Wind Rivers with a 45-pound load, reported that, while he appreciated the load control, a seam near the lumbar pad rubbed the small of his back. $199; 3 lbs. 9 oz.; 58 liters;