Gear Guy

Can you help me choose an expedition pack?

I in search of a backpack with a volume of 6,000 to 7,000 cubic inches for a month-long expedition that departs on November 29! Price is not an issue—I'm seeking a good fit for my five-foot-six fre and 17.5-inch torso. The Arc'Teryz Bora 75 women's pack fits well, but the volume is too small. I have also tried the Gregory Denali Pro, which has the capacity but not the fit. Cecilia Canmore, Alberta

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Oh great, so now you have about two weeks to go before you need that pack in hand. No pressure then!

I’ll start by asking, Are you sure the Denali Pro ($460) won’t fit? You’re of medium height, and the “small” size of the Pro is meant to accommodate torsos from 16 to 17.5 inches. Yet it still has 6,200 cubic inches of capacity, placing it within your desired range. So, if you can make the Pro work, that would be great as it’s an excellent pack with great suspension, thoughtful design, and tough construction.

Barring that, Dana Design’s Astralplane ($469) in the extra small size will certainly fit—it’s designed for torsos down to 15 inches—while still providing just over 6,000 cubic inches of cargo capacity and superb load-lugging capabilities. I should think the same bag in a small size, similar to the Denali Pro, would also work.

After those two, the list of potential, off-the-shelf packs gets moderately small. Lowe Alpine’s Liberty 95 ($279) might fit, although it would be at the low end of your capacity range. Osprey’s Crescent 110 ($460) also should fit in its smaller configuration, with plenty of capacity. Ditto for the Vortex 5800 ($445).

My advice, then, is to get yourself to a good outdoor shop that carries at least two of the above brands, ask who the best pack-fitter in the store is, and get to work. You’re well within the range of standard sizing, so I’m supremely confident you can find a pack that fits.

And, I hope you have a great trip!

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