Overnight packs


The latest

Archive

Most functional bags of 2015.

With ice-ax retention you can release with the pack on, gear loops for ’biners and belay devices, and an integrated crampon pocket, the Matrix is purpose-built for ski mountaineering. But you don’t have to rope up to appreciate how light, roomy, and useful the Matrix is.

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Alchemist 40L This shape-shifter might just replace every pack you own. Lashed down, the Alchemist is compact enough for one-day summit bagging. Unzip the top wedge and unfurl the hideaway lid, and it morphs into an entirely different beast—a roomy 55-liter hauler with plenty of space…

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the OutThere AS-1 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Mountain Hardware Fluid 48 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Gregory Z40 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Black Diamond Epic 45 pack.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Camelbak Aventura.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the REI Grand Tour 85M backpack.

OVERACHIEVER This streamlined pack performed above its weight class on every trip, thanks to durable polyurethane-coated nylon throughout and a suspension—framesheet and aluminum stay—that can handle a heavy load. One tester took a larger version (called the Quest, 4,250 cu in, $175) on a weeklong trek in Wyoming's Wind River…

1. We’ve tested overnight packs this big and light before, but none as stable as the 2.3-pound, 2,800-cubic-inch Exos 46. The usual ultralight materials and buckles are in play, but it’s the suspension system—a superlight aluminum skeleton securing a mesh back panel—that makes the Exos stand out. In addition…

AN ELEGANT BRUISER Imagine the offspring of a Ferrari Testarossa and a Toyota Land Cruiser: precise handling, hard-duty construction. That's the essence of the Alpine Pack 50. It's a no-nonsense, climber-oriented pack with zero bells and whistles to create weak points. The 420-denier nylon—reinforced with 1,000-denier fabric on the bottom—should…

Got straps? The 3,350-cubic-inch Mountain Guide has plenty, making it a favorite with our most fastidious testers—you know, the guys who spend hours fiddling with their pack until it’s just right. The vertical-carry center straps held a Therm-a-Rest, snowboard, or snowshoes equally well and, thanks to sturdy molded-plastic reinforcements,…

CLASSIC WEEKENDER 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…

The svelte, 2,150-cubic-inch Koa 35 was ideal for light, fast overnight trips. Testers loved the breezy mesh back panel and the cram-friendly roll-top closure. And although it looks minimalist, the Koa is actually bedecked with a bunch of clever features. There’s a stretchy zip-away pocket on the front of the…

One of the best weekend packs you can buy

The light-yet-stable Vapor Flash bridges the gap between an overnighter and a multi-day hauler. At 3,200 cubic inches, this traditional top-loader is just big enough for several days’ worth of gear (one tester even hauled a six-pack in it). But at a waifish three and a half pounds, it…

POCKETS GALORE Are you forever looking for ways to stash small items, like camera, snacks, GPS, sunscreen, first-aid kit, and more? The Nimble, with no fewer than seven pockets and three storage compartments, is your pack. “It's more organized than my kitchen!” said one tester. Even better, the Nimble still…

While pack makers continue to experiment with new suspension and ventilation systems, fit is still the most important factor. Go to an outdoor specialty store and try on several. Load up with at least 20 pounds, adjust them, and walk around. Take time to fiddle with all the straps…

STAY ORGANIZED We were all impressed with how well the Futura Pro carries a full load, but it was our anal-retentive testers who were most partial to this feature-laden, everything-has-its-place pack. A bottom compartment keeps food separated from clothing and gear, while a bevy of quick-access compartments (two long pockets…

All-Season Workhorse The Lookout 45 was designed with winter in mind—there are ski-, snowboard-, and snowshoe-specific straps. But our testers liked it so much, they kept grabbing this 2,870-cubic-inch bag for weekend adventures all summer. That’s because everything—from maps to hydration tubes to camera cases—has its place on this tricked-out…

BIG-TRIP MASTER This 3,200-cubic-inch pack’s suspension system—a compression-molded back panel and nicely padded shoulder and hip straps—can handle the heaviest of loads (and the floating top lid really allows you to overfill the thing). But strip off the top pocket and framesheet and swap out the big hipbelt (pictured) for…

TRADITIONAL TOP LOADER “Airy and easy to adjust” is how one tester summed up the Locus 40. It’s light, too: The minimalist design boasts an impressive weight-to-capacity ratio. Torso adjustment takes just a few seconds, then the pack slides into place. The AeroFly suspension rides nice and tight to the…

Can Take a Beating The Ascent 40 was designed with climbing in mind; for example, it comes with a rope tarp. And while it does a fine job getting rope to the crag, we also loved it as an adventure-travel pack. That’s because the 2,450-cubic-inch Ascent is basically, as one…

Aigle Shems – Midweight Jackets: Reviews   With a soft fleece interior and warm, durable merino wool/nylon exterior, this jacket combines our favorite fabrics in one versatile top. 1.9 lbs; aigleusa.com         Patagonia Pau – Footwear: Reviews (Terry Heffernan) The coolest mocs we’ve ever laid eyes…

TOWN AND COUNTRY The perfect travel backpack needs to be versatile, compact, and sturdy. On all three counts, the panel-loading Instinct nails it. If you travel light, it’s just big enough for weekend trips. Out on the trail, the lightly padded back didn’t vent body heat as well as other…

Built for the Long Haul If you’ve got big plans this summer—or you’re the mule for a weekend family trip—you want a beast like the 5,200-cubic-inch XT 85L. The suspension system, a hybrid of old-school frame construction and new-school torso padding, didn’t flinch when one tester loaded it up with…

1. Comfort: Go ahead, try and overload it. On treks in New Mexico's Pecos Wilderness and even ski touring in the Tetons, testers were unanimous: The Meridian carries like a champ. Credit the firm yet flexy composite frame-sheet that moves with your body, dual-density foam in the hipbelt that cushions…

CLIMBER’S FAVORITE The stripped-down Prolight 27 performs best when it’s going up. How do we know? After spending time in Colorado scaling multipitch climbs in Eldorado Canyon and summiting (and then skiing down) Longs Peak, our American Mountain Guides Association–certified tester didn’t want to give it back. “It was perfect,”…

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…

EFFICIENT MOUNTAINEER Our most organized testers especially liked this tough, sensible 1,850-cubic-inch pack. Internal pockets hold snow-safety gear, valuables, and a hydration bladder. Outside, five more: two on the side, one in the lid, one on the hip belt, and one shove-it pocket on the back panel. The ski and…

BEST FOR HOT WEATHER Beat sweaty-back syndrome with the Z 55's ventilated suspension. The frame's concave shape creates a pocket of cooling air between your back and the pack. Most impressive: There's zero drop-off in load support. The perforated framesheet efficiently transfers weight to a perfectly sculpted hipbelt, and a…

It’s just big enough to carry a multi-day load, but because there’s nary an unnecessary strap or frilly feature here, it’s also ultralight. The roll top cinches the pack tight, and finding things is a snap, thanks to its enormous opening. 3.4lbs, 3,050 cu in; mountainhardwear.com…

There's the gear you want, and there's the gear you need. After much internal debate, we present the 25 products every guy should own.

Years ago I wrote in and you recommended a Gregory Forester pack for my separated shoulder. It has served me well. I have lost too much weight for the large belt to keep the pack on my hips and getting a new belt has been difficult. I am headed to Philmont and am looking at the Gregory Baltoro 70, Osprey Aether 70, Deuter Act lite 60 +10, and the REI Flash 65. Could I go wrong with the REI Flash? Very light on the back and wallet. Mike Spory, VA

I am trying to decide between a Gregory Whitney 95 or the Gregory Baltoro 70 for the best-all around pack for anything from weekend trips to taking on the Appalachian Trail, and hopefully further reaches of the planet. Just trying to decide if the Baltoro offers enough space for the AT or if stick with the Whitney.—DavidOcala, FL

I travel a good deal, mostly to visit friends or on vacations. I've made it my goal to never check a bag, which of course dictates that I pack simply (and wash clothes often). It also demands the right bag for the job. What would you recommend?—DavidDansville, NY

Everything I've ever read or experienced says external fre backpacks are more forgiving to pack, better for trail hiking and cheaper than internal fre packs. I understand internals have advantages on rough terrain, but given all the benefits of external fres, why do they seem to be going extinct? I missing something? Chuck Pittstown, NJ

I planning a number of long backpacking trips in the Cascades and Olympics, as well as climbs of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ads, and Mt. Rainier this summer. Recently, most of my old gear was stolen from my car while moving. I still have a tent and sleeping bag, but I no longer have my backpack, boots, stove, or any foul-weather gear. Can you recommend the best all-around light gear that is not too expensive but can hold up to the demands of the Pacific Northwest? (Just so you know, I a small women—5'2" and 103 lbs—so I need to keep things light and small.) Michele Portland, OR

See the archive