Dense, heavy climbing gear can easily overwhelm a pack’s suspension—but the top-loading Trad made even a 40-pound load feel stable and secure. “Its uncluttered, low-profile shape makes it great for scrambly approaches and leading ice on New Hampshire’s Franconia Notch,” says our tester, who deemed the Trad his favorite not just for rock and ice climbing, but also for backcountry skiing, mountaineering, and general backpacking (up to three days).
The proprietary HardWave framesheet (with horizontal ridges that let it bend vertically, to conform to your back, but remain torsionally rigid for outstanding load support), paired with an aluminum stay in the center, keeps heavy loads from sagging or rounding out the backpanel. Wide ski straps made of ballistic nylon on the sides secure skis and stand up to sharp edges. Nice: The top can be opened and closed with one hand thanks to a smartly integrated cordlock that’s sewn to the pack, not the drawcord. “That let me keep my gloves on during frigid weather on Mt. Washington’s summit,” says our tester. $130; 2,150 cu. in./40 liters; 3 lbs. 9 oz.; mountainhardwear.com
Womens specific SoftEdge Shoulder Straps. FL Suspension combines Flow-though ventilation with effective Load transfer abilities and maintains smooth contact surfaces and transitions for long-term comfort. Trapezoidal lumbar pad shape allows back of womens specific hipbelt to wrap hips better. Lower sleeping bag compartment with zip access (no divider). Tensioned smooth mesh backpanel allows airflow while volume profile is designed to accommodate bulky items (e.g. bear canisters).
For experienced backpackers who have modern, lightweight kits and take weekend to week-long trips, weekend backpackers who may still have some bulky gear but keep it as simple and tight as possible, thru-hikers on any of the big trails, trekkers and travelers who are carrying a sleeping bag, and traveling trekkers who want a technical pack for comfort on long hikes.