“This is the best-fitting pack I’ve ever used,” said our tester after hauling it on a bevy of summer trips. He suffers from sensitive shoulders due to old bike and snowboard injuries, and reports that with the Conness, he had a rare pain-free carry. All other testers agree: The Conness nails comfort. Credit the Opti-Fit X system, which allows easy fine-tuning of the suspension. Just flip it open and adjust the three buckles—one in the center changes torso length (16 to 19 inches) and two behind the lumbar pad modify the length of the plush hipbelt wings—to find the ideal positioning on your hipbones. “We had a grueling 13-mile uphill section at the start of a seven-day trip in Colorado’s San Juans, but even with 50-plus pounds on my back, I never felt any irritation,” one tester reports.
The notable load support comes from a rigid framesheet that’s reinforced with an aluminum “X” stay: It flexes with you to better balance the load as you move, but transfers weight to the hips. Plus, the angled pack bottom prevents sagging and directs the load directly to the backpanel, which has dense foam cushioning with molded triangular air channels that facilitate airflow. Testers applauded the packbag layout, with plenty of well-placed pockets and ample access via zippers along the bottom and front panel. (Note: Access is hindered when ice axes or trekking poles are lashed on.) Extra credit: The removable lid doubles as a hip pack. Ding: The sloped bottom makes it difficult to prop upright. The 65 is the women’s version, and an 82-liter version is available for hikers with even bigger plans. $299; 5 lbs. 12 oz. (S/M); 70 liters; 2 sizes each for men and women; thenorthface.com