Our take The XA 25 is the only pack in the test to combine the on-the-go organization of a trail running vest with the capacity of a full-size daypack, which we appreciated on runs and peakbagging missions alike. It boasts eight stretch-mesh shoulder-strap pockets; they kept a headlamp, phone, snacks, and a liter of water accessible, which let us hydrate, refuel, and double-check our route without stopping during a run along Bozeman, Montana’s Bridger Foothills Trail. In the frameless main body, we were able to stash a puffy, shell, Thermos, and a full day’s food with room to spare. “I could load this thing up with 15 pounds of snacks and water, and the close fit kept it from jostling while I was running downhill,” says one tester.
The details A unique cordage compression system laces around the XA 25, which made it easy to cinch flat for shorter hikes with just three quick tugs: one to compress the roll-top tight, and two to squeeze volume from either side. It’s also fast, and the pack goes from baggy and cavernous to completely flat in about a second. Bummer: The tiny hooks of the sternum-strap closure are futzy.
$190; 15.6 oz. (M/L); unisex S/M and M/L