LIGHT AND VERSATILE
Consider the Talon an experiment in reduction: Every detail has been whittled down to bare essentials, making it a great warm-weather ultralight. But it's no one-trick pony. Thanks to a stiff aluminum/composite suspension, smart external lashing options, and a large stretch-woven shove-it pocket, one tester was able to overload it for two nights of winter camping in the Tetons. "My friends laughed," he says, "but it swallowed a zero-degree bag, layers, down booties, cooking gear, food, fuel, and thermos." And after he off-loaded the extra gear, the Talon "felt compact and stable while ski touring." 2.7 lbs, 2,600 cu in; ospreypacks.com
Bonus: The large hipbelt pockets are the best we've seen—big enough for a digital camera, snacks, and more.
Bummer: Buckles are a bit flimsy; we broke one on a smaller-volume Talon (it comes in four sizes, but only the 44 has a rigid frame).