They're our faithful companions in the backcountry, hauling our loads down the trail. They're mobile homes, beer carriers, sit pads, even makeshift stretchers. Without backpacks, backpackers would just be, well, people lost in the woods. We tried dozens of packs, taking them on everything from afternoon jaunts to expeditions into the heart of nowhere, and these 22 rose to the top. Meet the best backpacks of the year.
Nights out: 240
Miles hiked: 3,025
Longest trip: 21 days (northern Rockies)
Longest day: 16 hours (Matterhorn Traverse)
Coldest temp: -15°F (Yutufeng Cirque, Tibet)
Hottest temp: 105°F (Yosemite Valley, CA)
Heaviest pack: 85 lbs.
Highest trip: 16,000 feet (exploring an unclimbed peak and glacier in Tibet)
Most remote trip: First ascents in the eastern Himalaya