1. Deuter ACT Lite 65+10
This big, serious pack doesn’t feel bulky thanks to Deuter’s Aircontact Lite system, which strikes the perfect balance between load supposrt and air flow. That makes for a full, big-trip pack that feels more like a fast-and-light hauler. And load it up—its 65 liters of volume, plus an extra 10 liter extension, swallowed a full rack and rope along with all of our camping gear.
Best For: long, carry-the-kitchen-sink backpakcing trips
2. Millet Atacama 48
In Europe, Millet (pronounced me-yay) has all the cachet of Patagonia and other expedition-worthy American brands. With a pack like the Atacama, a svelte top-loader that carries like a much bigger hauler, the brand should make big inroads here, too.
Best For: overnight and weekend backpacking, alpine ascents
3. Black Diamond Burn
We put this pack through its paces tagging 14ers in the San Juans and we found it to be one of the most comfortable day packs we have ever used, even when negotiating loose talus and tricky Class 4 moves. Thank the dynamic suspension system, which connects the shoulder straps so they move along with your torso.
Best For: Peakbagging, big day hikes
4. Mile High Mountaineering Divide 55 – EDITOR’S CHOICE
Up-and-coming Coloado-based brand Mile High has crafted a pack that makes a lot of sense. As Travolta would say, it’s the little details that impressed us, chief among them a front zipper that allows you to access any section of the pack when you stop on the trail.
Best For: big backpacking trips
5. Platypus Origin 9 (not pictured)
Meet the perfect pack for a half-day hike. With just enough space for a shell and snacks, the Origin was all we wanted for quick trips out the backdoor. Its built-in reservoir holds 3 liters of water, enough for a quick desert hike.