Osprey Variant 52 Backpack
Variant 52 Backpack (courtesy, Osprey)

Are old-school backpacks worth buying, or has technology advanced too much?

I have the chance to purchase an old, never-used Dana Design Bomb pack to replace my Dana Sluiskin 30, which has proven to be a bit small. I do a lot of peak bagging and some light overnights in Colorado and occasionally take friends who don't have packs. What do you think? Mark Topeka, Kansas

Osprey Variant 52 Backpack

Ah, the Dana Design Bomb. Possibly the most classic daypack of all time. I still have one somewhere. Purple and red. Very 80s.

Osprey Variant 52 Backpack

Osprey Variant 52 Backpack Variant 52 Backpack

If you can, but it just to have it. What a cool thing to have in 20 years! Otherwise, much as I love the Bomb, pack technology has progressed. Take Osprey’s Variant 52 ($199). It’s lighter than the Bomb, for starters. And it has a feature that is heir to the Shovit pocket—a handy place to stuff jackets and ropes that’s expandable and outside of the main pocket. It also has a much trimmer suspension than da Bomb that still makes 30-pound loads easily manageable. Or more in a pinch. So the Variant would a great choice.

For more of a daypack-size pack (the Variant holds 3,200 cubic inches and is a small overnight pack for today’s gear), try the Gregory Z35-R ($159), It’s a 2,100 cubic inch pack that does very nicely carrying big day loads. And it has a front “bucket” pocket that is the same thing as a Shovit. I have the version that doesn’t have the bucket pocket (the Z35) and like it a lot. Very light, good suspension, and good load-carrying ability.

I have more advice: Get your friends to buy their own damn packs!

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From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: courtesy, Osprey