The 3,970-cubic-inch, top-loading Sentinel may not look as sleek and stable as the other packs here. But it's sturdier than it looks. The traditional suspension system consists of two aluminum stays, while the main compartment includes rear sleeping-bag access and a generous stuffsack. What impressed us were the extras like a gadget holder on the shoulder strap and a removable, built-in pack cover. Some testers questioned the quality of construction, though the Sentinel held up fine during our field tests. Other drawbacks include the ridiculously long adjustment straps and the squishy shoulder straps, which aren't nearly as comfy as thermo-molded ones. Bottom line: You get a solid pack for the price. 5.3 lbs; highsierrasport.com
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