Our take This pack got top marks for organization from everyone who used it. A big, two-pocket lid made it easy to separate kitchen items (utensils, mug, plate) from other at-the-ready essentials (water filter, stove fuel, headlamp). The toplid also converts to a daypack (pictured). Although the Stein 62 is a top-loader, its full-length, 20-inch side zip kept spare clothes easily accessible. Two vertical front pockets run the full length of the pack. One is 9 inches wide and the other is 6; the two sizes allow for better storage of various items, like a tarp in the big pocket and stove in the other. Sleeping bag compression is the best of any pack in the test thanks to a cinch strap inside. However, some testers deemed the exterior cluttered with straps and buckles.
The details Carbon-fiber stays and high-density foam keep weight down (for a pack this burly), but neither compromise the pack’s load-carrying performance. The 400-denier fabric was like armor against grabby branches and sandpaper-like rock; it’s called “air-textured” and uses fluffier yarn to give it a slightly bigger profile, creating better tear resistance in a lighter weave.
Trail cred “My biggest load was about 40 pounds, including a bear canister with a week’s worth of food and a hardcover book, and I never stressed out the zippers,” reports a tester who carried this pack for 16 days and 200 miles on Montana’s Sacred Door Trail with only a single resupply.