The Trace is a tougher, bigger doppelgänger of the Editors’ Choice Award-winning Blaze. “It’s light and compact enough for a weekend, but it expands to hold enough gear for a week or more on the trail,” says one tester. What sets this pack apart from other svelte load monsters is the “topoflex” backpanel, which tapers in a V and slides into the center of the hipbelt to focus weight directly between your hips. Big loads are evenly stabilized via contoured shoulder straps and a hipbelt made of dense foam.
“I packed an unholy amount of weight—55 pounds—for weeklong treks in Alaska’s Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks, and I never had any sore spots,” says another tester. Granite Gear’s signature compression system (two burly, vertical 210-denier Cordura strips) provides strength to key cinch-down points, enabling the use of lighter silicone-impregnated nylon on front and side panels and cordage instead of webbing. This saves weight without sacrificing load control.
Nitpick: Plastic tabs on the compression cords popped off (our tester improvised with stopper knots). $260; 3 lbs. 15 oz.; 62 liters