Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Backpacks

Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60

87

2017

Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60

The Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60 may be the largest pack in the test group, but it doesn’t act like it.

Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus

90

2017

Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus

The Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus is a bare-bones rucksack designed for the long-distance hiker who seeks durability and minimal weight. 

Osprey Exos 48

82

2017

Osprey Exos 48

The Osprey Exos 48 is comfortable and accessible to backpackers carrying smaller loads but is heavy for its size. 

Marmot Graviton 58

81

2017

Marmot Graviton 58

The Marmot Graviton 58 caters to both backcountry and urban travelers, resulting in increased weight and reduced durability. 

Mountainsmith Scream 55

80

2017

Mountainsmith Scream 55

The Mountainsmith Scream 55 is an affordable and durable frameless pack with some out-of-place features.

Bergans Trollhetta 55 Backpack

90

2016

Bergans Trollhetta 55 Backpack

The Bergans Trollhetta 55 is one of Bergans’ most popular backpacks and has been recently updated. The latest enhancements to the pack’s design include a torso adjustment system and several other technical features.  

Mystery Ranch Sphinx 65 Backpack

93

2016

Mystery Ranch Sphinx 65 Backpack

The Mystery Ranch Sphinx 65 is a lightweight and supportive backpack designed for the avid backpacker and avid mountain adventurer.  

Granite Gear Lutsen 55 Backpack

89

2016

Granite Gear Lutsen 55 Backpack

The Granite Gear Lutsen 55 is a highly technical backpack developed with a custom fit in mind thanks to their Re-Fit air current suspension system that provides fully adjustable torso length, and an adjustable hip belt.

Montane Summit 50+15 Backpack

89

2016

Montane Summit 50+15 Backpack

The Montane Summit 50 backpack is a fully featured pack with an emphasis of being lightweight for multi day trekking and backpacking trips.  

Osprey Stratos 50 Backpack

89

2016

Osprey Stratos 50 Backpack

The Osprey Stratos 50 is designed for lightweight overnight trips and multi-day excursions when carrying lighter loads.  

Thule Guidepost 65 Backpack

90

2016

Thule Guidepost 65 Backpack

The Thule Guidepost 65 backpack has a 65-liter capacity and is designed to carry larger loads for extended weekend trips or weeklong backcountry excursions.   

Osprey Talon 44

86

2016

Osprey Talon 44

The Osprey Talon 44 is a lightweight pack with superb ventilation and a long list of usable features.

The North Face Shadow 40+10

80

2016

The North Face Shadow 40+10

The North Face Shadow 40+10 has a simple design, a minimal but mobile suspension system and sparse features, keeping the weight as low as possible. 

Gregory Zulu 40

87

2016

Gregory Zulu 40

The Gregory Zulu 40 is a well-ventilated and stable pack, capable of hauling heavier loads comfortably into the backcountry.

Black Diamond Speed 40

82

2016

Black Diamond Speed 40

The Black Diamond Speed 40 is a workhorse alpine pack that stresses simplicity and balances weight vs. durability.

Granite Gear Lutsen 45

91

2016

Granite Gear Lutsen 45

The Granite Gear Lutsen 45 backpack is armed with an excellent suspension system and quick size adjustability.

Bergans of Norway Helium 40

82

2016

Bergans of Norway Helium 40

The Bergans Helium 40 is an ultralight, compact alpine pack with adjustable torso length that excels at ferrying lower volume loads during active pursuits. 

 Osprey Volt 60

80

2016

Osprey Volt 60

The Osprey Volt is a 60L backpack that is well suited for beginner to moderate hikers on overnight or weekend length trips.

Kelty Redwing 50

74

2016

Kelty Redwing 50

The Kelty Redwing is a durable 50 liter backpack of solid construction. 

Gregory Zulu 65

93

2016

Gregory Zulu 65

An all around-bag that has the functionality of many different types of trips with the comfort of a thru-hiker’s pack.

Deuter ACT Zero 50+15

87

2016

Deuter ACT Zero 50+15

The Deuter ACT Zero 50+15 is an expandable pack well suited for beginning and intermediate backpackers. 

Arc’teryx Altra 65

94

2016

Arc’teryx Altra 65

The Arc’teryx Altra 65 is an incredibly comfortable 65 liter backpack that is very durable.

Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 Backpack

91

2015

Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 Backpack

The Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 is a 70-liter climbing and expedition pack that works well for both climbing and backpacking and has a waterproof membrane for extended backcountry trips and expeditions.

Gregory Denali 100 Backpack

93

2015

Gregory Denali 100 Backpack

The Gregory Denali 100 is a 100-liter expedition backpack that was re-designed for sheer performance and is capable of comfortably carrying heavy loads through harsh weather and demanding terrain.

Osprey Exos 58 Backpack

89

2015

Osprey Exos 58 Backpack

The Osprey Exos 58 is a 58-liter top loading technical backpack designed for the super light weight hiker or trekker. This pack was redesigned for 2014 to provide more comfort and organization for thru-hiking and trekking.

Osprey Atmos 65 AG

95

2015

Osprey Atmos 65 AG

The Osprey Atmos 65 AG is a 65-liter backpack that has been redesigned for 2015 to provide maximum comfort and ventilation without sacrificing load carry and organizational features.

Millet Torong 52 Backpack

90

2015

Millet Torong 52 Backpack

The Millet Torong 52 is a 52-liter top loading alpine backpack that combines lightweight comfort and functionality for alpine climbs or backcountry treks.

Gregory Baltoro 75 Backpack

95

2015

Gregory Baltoro 75 Backpack

The Gregory Baltoro 75 is a 75-liter backpack that has been redesigned for 2015 to provide maximum comfort and organization to make your life easier for weekend and extended backcountry trips.

Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack

89

2015

Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack

The Granite Gear Virga 2 is a 54-liter top loading ultra-light backpack that has been redesigned for the super lightweight hiker or trekker. 

Outdoor Research Levitator

84

2014

Outdoor Research Levitator

The OR Levitator offers noticeable improvements over typical lightweight summit-sacks. I found it to be a nifty load-hauler for day trips that caters to the unique needs of harness-wearing mountain-climbers.

Mammut Trion Guide 35+7

87

2014

Mammut Trion Guide 35+7

The Mammut Trion Guide 35+7 intentionally packs on some extra weight in the name of improved durability, versatility and long-day comfort. Some of those features come as removal accessories, so the pack’s weight can be trimmed a bit at times, but the Trion Guide is still heavier than most packs we tested. 

Patagonia Ascensionist 35L

91

2014

Patagonia Ascensionist 35L

As pure a climbing pack as I’ve ever tested, the Patagonia Ascensionist 35L earns the Best in Class award for this season and sets a new bar for alpine backpack performance. 

Millet Ubic 30

78

2014

Millet Ubic 30

The Millet Ubic 30 is a comfortable, tough mountain daypack. The Ubic 30 proved itself to be a generally well-rounded backpack capable of taking on a wide variety of tasks.

JanSport Sinder 15

77

2014

JanSport Sinder 15

It doesn’t get much more basic than the JanSport Sinder 15. JanSport distilled their daypack designs down to the barest of bones to create the Sinder. 

Gregory Z30

80

2014

Gregory Z30

Gregory’s venerable Z30 gets a nice update here with lighter fabrics and some nifty new features. 

Bergans of Norway Rondane 38L

83

2014

Bergans of Norway Rondane 38L

The Bergans of Norway Rondane 38L felt purpose-built for hut-to-hut hikers, which left it somewhat lacking in more general functionality. 

The North Face Banchee 50

89

2014

The North Face Banchee 50

The North Face Banchee 50 backpack provides great organizational features for weekend backpackers or extended backcountry trips. 

Black Diamond Element 60

90

2014

Black Diamond Element 60

Despite being a lightweight, streamlined pack, the Black Diamond Element 60 backpack provided great organizational features for weekend and extended-weekend trips. 

Vaude Astrum 60+10

90

2014

Vaude Astrum 60+10

The Vaude Astrum 60+10 backpack provides great organizational features for weekend backpackers and extended mountaineering expeditions. 

Millet UBIC 60+10

91

2014

Millet UBIC 60+10

The Millet UBIC 60+10 backpack provides great organizational features for weekend backpackers or extended mountaineering expeditions. 

Sea to Summit Rapid 26L DryPack

79

2014

Sea to Summit Rapid 26L DryPack

The Rapid 26 is a streamlined and durable all-weather day trip companion, perfect for rainy-day commuting or adventure travel. 

Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34

85

2014

Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34

The Salute 34 is a burly little rig that’s just right for done-in-a-day adventurers who carry heavy but still need all of their gear immediately available. 

REI Crestrail 70 Backpack

88

2013

REI Crestrail 70 Backpack

The REI Crestrail 70 backpack performs especially well in this category in terms of organization, weather protection and price.

Mountainsmith Lookout 50 Backpack

89

2013

Mountainsmith Lookout 50 Backpack

Little brother to Mountainsmith's Apex 80, the Lookout 50 performs very well in terms of comfort, organization and stability in comparison to other backpacks in this category.

Osprey Xenith 75 Backpack

91

2013

Osprey Xenith 75 Backpack

The Osprey Xenith 75 is one of the best performing backpacks in this category and should be considered if looking for a multi-day or expedition backpack.

Mountainsmith Apex 80 Backpack

89

2013

Mountainsmith Apex 80 Backpack

The Mountainsmith Apex 80 performs very well in comparison to other backpacks and the price point is the best in this category.

Gregory Contour 70 Backpack

84

2013

Gregory Contour 70 Backpack

The Gregory Contour 70 backpack is a 70-liter, lightweight backpack, designed to incorporate the best features of Gregory’s larger backpacks but weighs nearly two pounds less.

Arcteryx Altra 50 Backpack

86

2013

Arcteryx Altra 50 Backpack

The Arcteryx Altra 50 is a medium volume backpack that encompasses several modern upgrades. It performs well in terms of weight, organization and comfort.

Deuter ACT Lite 40+10

88

2013

Deuter ACT Lite 40+10

Tanner Jackson says the Deuter ACT Lite 40+10's terrific padding and amazing adjustability all contributed to a best-in-class comfort rating.

Deuter Futura Pro 38

87

2013

Deuter Futura Pro 38

The Future Pro 38 is a tough mountain pack that exhibits brilliant design execution in its organization and carrying comfort.

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