This classic pack has been updated for 2008, but nothing has changed about what makes it a perennial tester favorite: It'll carry big loads through rough terrain, and keep doing it for years to come. Our testers used the Bora (the women's version is called the Briza) to schlep 50-pound loads on Teton ski tours, Sawtooth backpacks, and hardware-laden climbing approaches. "Great fit with a beefy hipbelt and nice shoulder harness wrap," said one tester. Everyone praised the clean design, tough 420-denier fabric, and wide-mouth top-loading access. The capacity is underrated; you can cram in two weeks of traditionalist gear and grub, and the suspension won't sag. There's no hydration sleeve or port, but the retractable bottle pockets make up for that. We just wish it was a tad lighter. And cheaper. $350; 4,640 cu. in.; 6 lbs. 10 oz.
Millet Treklite 60+10
This high-tech top loader offers great trail comfort in a full-featured package with amazing bells and whistles. The hipbelt rotates directly off the stiff backpanel, the harness yoke slides up and down as a unit, and each shoulder strap pivots independently. The result? Said one tester, who pushed the pack to 60 pounds: "I got solid load control, a very easy leg swing thanks to the pivoting belt, and all-day shoulder comfort." A front pocket stashes raingear easily, but also zips off the pack to reveal a hanging toiletry kit/kitchen organizer. Finishing touches include a built-in rain cover and even a lightweight, integrated hanging scale so you can weigh your payload. All doodads are instantly removable. It's not cheap or light, just smart and comfortable. $359; 3,660 cu. in.; 4 lbs. 15 oz.
Osprey Argon 85
"It doesn't get any better without porters," wrote one tester. This is the most stable big pack we tested all year. Cushy memory foam on the hipbelt and harness turn crushing loads into Cadillac comfort. Hips, knees, and shoulders move freely despite the monkey-hug fit, making it a pleasure to carry on bushwhacks and through boulder fields. Plus it'll take any adrenaline tools you desire, thanks to versatile compression straps and a stretchy shove-it pocket. Demerits: It ain't light, and the water bottle pockets can't be accessed on the fly. $369; 5,300 cu. in.; 6 lbs. 8 oz.
The North Face Primero 60
Rainforest on the itinerary? Get this innovative waterproof pack. Not only is it watertight (we couldn't get it to leak even when we blasted it with a hose), it incorporates a pivoting hipbelt for carrying comfort and a slotted foam rubber backpanel for ventilation. "It carried superbly with 35-pound loads, both scrambling and trail-schlepping," wrote one tester after a trip through the Tetons. "No soreness or fatigue even on my longest days." Load capacity is good up to about 45 pounds; beyond that, hipbelt load transfer wilted due to a lack of stiffness. Features are few: mesh water-bottle pockets and a small hipbelt pocket for trail snacks. $269; 4,300 cu. in.; 4 lbs. 10 oz.