Our take This small-yet-mighty pack might have a Napoleon complex, but we’re not complaining: It makes up for its size (and price tag) with a tough exterior and scrappy performance in everything from canyoneering to trail running. “I subjected this pack to tons of sandstone scrapes, and it survived,” says one tester, who dragged the Mezzo down brushy trails and tight side canyons during a 10-day Grand Canyon rafting trip. The bag’s 210-denier nylon also sports a DWR treatment which proved more than a match for 20-minute desert cloudbursts. “I got caught in the pouring rain, and the pack kept my stuff miraculously dry,” our tester says. (There’s no waterproof membrane or taped seams, so we don’t recommend the Mezzo for all-day downpours.)
The details The Mezzo owes its low price and light weight to a no-frills layout. Small mesh side pockets each fit a headlamp or granola bars and the main pack body, which has one internal zippered key pocket, holds layers, snacks, and a 3-liter reservoir. Simple side compression straps allowed one tester to cinch the pack down tight enough for trail runs along the Chuckwagon and Mezcal Trails near Sedona, Arizona. (A mesh-and-EVA backpanel left her sweaty in late-August heat, however.) The pack sits relatively high on the back, similar to the Camelbak Zephyr, but testers didn’t notice an issue with balance. “Even with eight to 10 pounds, I could scramble and rappel comfortably without it shifting around,” one reported after taking the Mezzo canyoneering in Capitol Reef National Park.
$50; 12 oz.; one size