Why we like it
This do-it-all hauler fit female testers best of any pack in the review.
Two vertical straps cinch up the base, while dual V-shaped compression straps on the sides keep loads tight and stable. The side straps pull the load more effectively into the framesheet than simple horizontal straps. With a fit that’s so snug against your back, one Sierra Nevada-based tester nicknamed her Viva “the corset.”
This top-loader has a 22-inch zipper with two glove-friendly zipper pulls to access the sleeping bag compartment. In addition to being the roomiest packbag in the test, the Viva has a big, stuff-it pouch to keep your shell at the ready, two side mesh pockets, and four more zippered pockets that satisfied even our most compulsive organizers.
“I loved the conical hipbelt that wrapped my iliac crest like a baby boa,” said one Oregon-based tester after humping a 35-pound load through the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness for four days. The hipbelt wings extend an extra 3 inches on each side—nice for those spare tires. An adjustable backpanel (a plastic frame supported with a light aluminum wire) adapts to fit testers with torsos from 14 to 19 inches—17 to 22 for men—via a velcro-style flap.
Corrugated, mesh-covered foam on the backpanel provides decent breathability while still sitting flush against the back for a very stable carry. One tester claimed that despite the 90°F temps, her back was merely damp after hefting the 210-denier nylon ripstop packbag on a 2,000-foot sweatfest in Banff National Park.