If you hit the peaks year-round, you need a versatile pack with multiple gear-hauling options. Enter the Fluid 32 and its ice axe- and ski-carrying capabilities, a tough shove-it pocket that handles crampons, and a narrow packbag that carries your inevitable extra weight in line with your center of gravity. “On Pyramid Peak in Colorado’s Elk Range, I felt balanced, even on small ledges,” says one tester.
The framesheet is made of a corrugated nylon panel that twists and flexes forward and backward, enhancing mobility, but won’t bulge when the pack is tightly stuffed. Mesh-covered lumbar and shoulder-blade pads lift the framesheet off of your back to create an air-conditioned gap that kept testers sweat-free, even while hammering up sun-baked, steep grades. A flexible hipbelt adjusts to wrap comfortably around everything from baselayers to harnesses to puffy jackets and could handle 35-pound overloads.
Zig-zag compression straps that run from the top of the packbag, down both sides, and become the hipbelt’s stabilizer straps keep the payload centered and stable. As one tester puts it: “It’s light, simple, and made for peakaholics.” $130; 1,950 cu. in.; 2 lbs. 7 oz.