If today's stripped-down packs are a little too austere for your tastes, but full-featured packs are too heavy, you'll find the Ridgeline just right. It's light enough for weekend duty but doesn't require a minimalist approach to packing. Go ahead and throw the espresso maker and extra vino in the large shove-it pocket, or stash a deck of cards in one of the small zippered compartments. Heavy loads are no problem, thanks to a wraparound aluminum frame and a pivoting hipbelt that reduces friction on long days and improves stability on technical terrain. One tester said, "It allowed the pack to move freely and stay close to my body when I crossed a creek on skis." 4.4 lbs, 3,967 cu in; rei.com
Bonus: A huge U-shaped access zipper lets you open it up like a suitcase.
Bummer: The lid is not extendable, and the hydration ports put the hose at an awkward, too-low angle.