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Ask Me: Advice on Buying a Lightweight Backpack

Ask Me: Advice on Buying a Lightweight Backpack

Hi Mike,

Any recommendations on a lightweight backpack for overnight to five-day trips?

McCall, Idaho

Hey Todd,

I’d say get a pack around 50 liters that’s lightweight but not ultralight, so you can use it on a greater variety of trips, that will carry up to 35-40 lbs., but is light and compressible enough for a 20- to 25-lb. trip.

The Deuter ACT Zero 50+15 is an excellent example and reasonably priced.

The Osprey Exos 58 is one of my favorite packs for light to moderate loads; I’ve used it for years. It’s a pound lighter than the other packs I’m recommending here, but will handle 30 to 35 lbs. comfortably.

The Gregory Savant 58 would handle a somewhat bigger load, but is still not too big for what you’re looking for.

You might consider a slightly larger-volume pack if you want to have one that would allow you to also carry some of another person’s (wife, kid) stuff, like the Osprey Atmos 65.

Hope that helps. Make sure you measure your torso correctly to get the right size pack. Try on packs with weight in them before picking one. Good luck.


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Michael Lanza

A former field editor and primary gear reviewer for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.


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  1. Avatar

    I’d also recommend a ULA Catalyst or for a smaller pack that can still get the job done, a GossamerGear Gorilla or ULA OHM 2.0.

  2. Avatar

    Will a 50 L pack be able to handle a bear canister, or should I look at something bigger? I am looking for a new light weight pack for the JMT next summer.

    • Michael Lanza

      Hi JJ, yes, you can fit a bear canister inside just about any 50L pack (including the packs mentioned above), assuming the mouth (opening) of the pack is wide enough to insert the canister. In most packs this size, you’ll have to stand the canister up vertically to fit it inside, which makes fitting all your stuff inside a little trickier. Take a look also at the Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 (, which is wide enough to fit a smaller bear canister horizontally, a more efficient way to load a canister into a pack.

  3. Avatar

    I have a Deuter 60+10 (lady’s model) that works really well for me.


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