Pack makers are increasingly designing hipbelts and other components with dynamic movement. These nonstatic harnesses swivel with your every stride. Result? Less of the straitjacketed chafing you get from old-school systems, plus improved all-day comfort, especially with heavy loads in rough terrain. You'll find dynamic suspensions on review models from Arc'teryx, Gregory, Mountainsmith, and The North Face.
Lids and hydration sleeves that convert to summit packs are getting lighter and simpler to use. If you like to day-hike from base camp, this feature will save weight on the way in. Look for smart daypacks on models from The North Face and JanSport.
The best new external pockets are made of stretch-woven fabricmuch like your favorite soft shell. The upgrade means better durability (as the fabric is stronger and less likely to snag on branches) and a more streamlined profile, since the stretchy pockets hug the pack when empty.