This 60-liter top-loader is lighter (by pounds) than a standard internal frame, but not so spartan that it sacrifices the support, comfort, and stability I want for multiday trips. The frame—molded plastic with an aluminum stay—easily bears 40 pounds, while the thick hipbelt and shoulder straps provide enough cushion to prevent sore spots.
In hot summer weather, I stayed plenty cool, thanks to ample venting channels and the wicking synthetic back panel. I love the extendable roll-top (lid pocket optional), and the seemingly bottomless side and front pockets. Watch for a complete review in April.
Backpackers who have pared down their loads but still need the support of a frame and padded suspension system
> Joel Nyquist (other tester: Jon Dorn)
> Duration Aug. to Oct.
> Locales VA, CO, New Zealand
> “A simple design and rugged, 100-denier, silicone-coated Cordura make it more weather-resistant and tougher than its weight suggests.”