The strategy with this stripped-down top loader: Get the most from the least. The packbag is reinforced with Cordura on the bottom and corners (key wear points), while gram-counting designers used silnylon on the sides and substituted nylon webbing with cordage for the compression straps. A single-compartment lid extends six inches for overpacking, and a stretchy front pocket with vertical zip access carries rain gear. To test load transfer, our tester stuffed it with 48 pounds—12 more than it’s rated for–and set off for three days in Utah’s Escalante Canyon.
The verdict: “It carries as well as a pack twice its weight.” Credit the full-length polyethylene backpanel, which flexes slightly for mobility but is rigid enough to rest weight squarely on the hips and lumbar region. Stability gets a boost from the shoulder harness, which has two straps that slot directly into the backpanel, creating a sway-free ride (two frame sizes fit torsos from 15 to 22 inches).
Testers’ take: A great choice for mileage-oriented trekkers (hello, thru-hikers!) who want an ultralight pack that can handle any load. $200; 3,660 cu. in.; 3 lbs. 2 oz.