This pack’s arced, trampoline-style frame puts a full 2.5 inches of space between the packbag and your torso. Result: best-in-class air circulation—the antidote to sweaty-back syndrome. “I used the Gamba while scrambling on steep scree fields on days that nudged into triple digits,” reports our tester, who knocked off nearly a half-dozen 14,000-foot Colorado peaks in three months. “The ventilation system allowed gusts of air to pass through, cooling my back,” she says. A rigid plastic framesheet arcs away from the spine, supported by a similarly curved metal perimeter frame. The shaped suspension transfers weight without pulling the load away from your body, a common weakness among trampoline-style packs.
The Gamba is very stable, with no wobble or sway. Our tester deemed the capacity “perfect” for intense dayhikes: She hauled a 15-pound load that included a 100-ounce bladder, a shell, a hat, gloves, snacks, camera, and her dog’s water bowl with zero space issues. The foam-and-mesh shoulder straps and lightly cushioned hipbelt received high marks for comfort and stability. Minor ding: The half-moon zip that accesses the main packbag could be longer; it leaves the bottom part of the pack in the dark. $140; 2 lbs. 9 oz.; 30 liters; 1 size; grivel.com