The North Face Terra 40 Backpack
One of the best weekend packs you can buy
We were skeptical: How could a pack this big and technical be so inexpensive? But after schlepping even 40-pound loads with the Terra, we finally concluded there's no catch. It's just a great deal. The well-padded suspension can handle weekend duty (though the split lumbar pad slips a bit if overloaded). And unlike some other inexpensive packs, you don't need to treat the Terra with kid gloves. It's made with durable 420-denier ripstop nylon, and stretchy polyester external pockets won't snag or abrade during off-trail detours. 4.2 lbs, 2,450 cu in; thenorthface.com
Bonus: You can access the side pockets even when compression straps are cinched. Pack makers, please take note.
Bummer: It's heavy for the size, but the weight penalty is negligible for shorter-mileage trips.