It’s easy to get caught up in gadgetry. I should know. I’ve been reviewing outdoor gear for more than a decade, and it doesn’t take much to have me geeking out about midsoles and membranes. But in a previous life, I was your typical dirtbag paddling guide. I used to think shiny new gear was for poseurs; wearing my dad’s old wool sweaters instead of fancy new fleece gave me pride. Which is probably why I’m so enamored with Topo Designs’ Klettersack. While highly engineered packs undoubtedly have their place (technical peaks, heavy loads, long distances), they can be overkill. For knocking around local trails, an old-fashioned top-loader like the Klettersack is all you need. The Cordura fabric takes a beating, the heavy-duty plastic buckles are easily replaceable, and it cinches down to a tidy bundle when half-full. The only real concession to the times: an integrated laptop sleeve. But hey, a guy’s gotta work. ($170)
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