If you want one daypack for every purpose, make it this Goldilocks model. It’s not too small for a light-load overnight (one tester used it for just that in Shenandoah National Park), and not too big for quick-trip peak-poaching (Z-shape compression straps cinch it tight). It approaches ultralight territory, yet a stiff, U-shaped aluminum frame and an extra-wide, load-dispersing hipbelt manage any load you can cram in. “I carried 30 pounds up a 1,500-foot climb in Colorado and hardly felt the weight,” says one tester. And the trampoline-style suspension* puts a good three inches of cooling air between your back and the load.
“My back was actually drier than my chest after a dayhike in hot, muggy weather in Virginia’s Bull Run,” says a tester. And it carries super stable, like a fixed suspension pack, but the shoulder harness has three independent settings that let you fine-tune torso length (rare for a pack this size). Also unusual and welcome: zippered access to the lower packbag, so you don’t have to dig down through the narrow main compartment.
Other just-right features include a hipbelt pocket that’s plenty big for a point-and-shoot, a large shove-it pocket, and a floating top lid for inevitable overloading (because you can!). Minor downsides: While the packbag and reinforced bottom proved plenty durable, the mesh side pockets tear if snagged. Except for that, says one tester, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” $160; 2 lbs. 3 oz.; 32 liters