The first question, of course, is what size to get. I should think that anything between 4,000 and 5,000 cubic inches would be fine. That'll give you enough room for three or four days of gear and food, without creating a monster pack that lets you pack TOO much. REI's Morning Star 75 ($145; www.rei.com) is at the high end of that range, coming with a decent suspension built around dual aluminum stays and good gear-organizing design. The Alps Mountaineering Red Tail is about the same size, sells for $170, and has a wide range of belt and shoulder strap options (www.alpsmountaineering.com). It's a good-looking, cleanly designed pack. Kelty's Tornado 4000 is at the low end of the same size range, and sells for $150 (www.kelty.com).
You might also look at Granite Gear's Nimbus Ozone 3800, a new, well-regarded pack that sells for $195 and features just under 4,000 cubic inches of capacity (www.granitegear.com). It has excellent suspension for a pack in this price range, so you could really overstuff the thing and still carry it comfortably.
Have a great summer!
Support Outside Online
Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.