The North Face Forecaster 35

Best for mountaineering


Weight 2 lbs, 10 oz


Our take Get this streamlined pack for missions in steep, tricky terrain. “The narrow packbag never felt unwieldy, something I appreciated on dicey cliff traverses in Colorado’s Elk Mountains,” one tester says. The Forecaster’s plastic framesheet is comfy under 25-pound loads, and keeps the weight centered. This pack can carry skis A-frame style or diagonally, and excellent side compression takes it down to 20 liters for fast-and-light missions; even when the Forecaster was half-full, we never felt that it was bouncing around.

The details Despite its minimalist profile, the Forecaster doesn’t lack features: It has ice pick garages, rope carry, and a removable mesh helmet holder. We also found the scythe-shaped avy-tool compartment zipper easy to deploy. Warning for pocket lovers: The main packbag has no organization inside.

Trail cred “During a week of ski touring and via ferratas in the Italian Dolomites, the backpanel had just enough torsional flex to mimic my every movement,” one tester says.

(S/M); 35 liters; S/M, L/XL