"Ideal for summer weekends or an ultralight week," wrote one tester. "Very comfortable, light, and easy to live out of," said another after toting high-mountain overnight loads in Rocky Mountain National Park. After stuffing it with bulky, pointy group gear that would jab your back through the flimsy materials of many lightweight packs, testers lauded the supportive protection from the shaped and padded backpanel, which is easily customizable with bendable aluminum stays.
The hipbelt has twin mesh pockets, and a large zippered front pocket is compartmentalized for toys like avalanche probes or climbing skins. The quick-release side compression straps convert to carry snowboards or snowshoes, a feature all multisport packs should have. The lid pocket and hipbelt are strippable and combine to make a fanny pack for side trips and dayhikes. GoLite makes several capacities in very similar packs, but the reasonably priced Pursuit is a perfect match of harness support and payload capacity (up to 35 pounds). $150; 3,100 cu. in.; 3 lbs. Golite.comThe Ion is a unisex model that comes in 3 sizes.