Ask Me: What Pack Do You Recommend for Hut Treks?

Hi Michael,

Hope all is well. I’m looking for your opinion on a 30-liter pack. I am going to Nepal in October on a 15-day trek. I think this would be the perfect size for me, because also I like a little bigger daypack for my hikes in the White Mountains. I have an older Gregory Z30, and I just tried on the new one and like the new details, plus I sweat really badly on hikes. As always thank you in advance, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Everett, MA

Hi Mike,

Nice to hear from you again. Congrats on heading to Nepal. I trekked the Annapurna Circuit almost 20 years ago (the lead photo at the top of this story was taken outside a teahouse high up the Marsyangdi Valley on the Annapurna Circuit). Are you still planning to go, despite the earthquake devastation? It’s possible that, by October, you won’t have trouble traveling there. I just wonder how long it will take to rebuild roads and transportation systems, which are primitive.

When I’ve picked a pack for an overseas hut trek in places like the Swiss AlpsNorway, Italy’s Dolomites, or New Zealand, I often think about the travel logistics before and after the trek, which entail some of the same questions you’ll consider when traveling to Nepal. Big question: Is there a place in the country you’re visiting where you can safely leave some luggage and personal belongings for days while you’re on the trek? If not—and it’s not always convenient to do so—I like to travel as light as possible, so that I can carry everything I brought to that country everywhere I go, and still keep my pack reasonably light on my trek. That means minimizing everything from your clothing to toiletries and reading material, but it’s certainly possible. (I’ve done it several times.)

If your pack is compact enough to carry onto your flights rather than checking luggage, that’s all the more convenient. If not, it’s helpful to also have a tough, lightweight, flexible duffle bag that you can put your pack and everything else inside while flying, then crumple it up small and bury it inside your backpack while trekking. (I’ve used the Mountain Hardwear Lightweight Expedition Duffel, which stuffs into its own pocket.)

I also want my trekking pack to be fairly light and compressible, but have some pockets that allows me to compartmentalize and organize my stuff and access some items quickly.


My wife and daughter trekking below the Pale di San Martino in Italy's Dolomite Mountains.
My wife and daughter trekking below the Pale di San Martino in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains.

A 30-liter pack will be adequate if you’re only carrying a liner sleeping bag or travel sheets. But if you’re bringing a sleeping bag—as you probably are for trekking in Nepal—you might want to consider a somewhat bigger pack that’s still lightweight, which can also pull double duty as a large daypack or a weekend backpack.

The ultralight REI Flash 45 is good for carrying up to 20-25 pounds, and may be all you need, plus it’s light enough to double as a daypack or hut pack. Look at the Osprey Exos 38 or Exos 48 (I reviewed the Exos 58), or the new Gregory Stout 45, which I tested recently in the Grand Canyon and will review soon. The North Face Banchee 35 is a nice pack (I reviewed the Banchee 65). Osprey also has the Kestrel 32 and 38 and the Stratos 34 and 36. I’ve reviewed the Sea to Summit Flow 35L Dry Pack, which is waterproof and super durable, although it has little in the way of external features for convenient access to items.

You may also want to check out my story “Buying Gear? Read This First,” and my “5 Tips For Finding the Right Backpack.”



The Dart Hut on the Rees-Dart Track in New Zealand's Mount Aspiring National Park.
The Dart Hut on the Rees-Dart Track in New Zealand’s Mount Aspiring National Park.


I should have said that I have a small The North Face Expedition Duffel, and I will only be carrying a daypack with what I need for the day, a porter will carry my duffel.



Ah, you’re taking the luxury route! Smart man. If you only need a large daypack, see all of my daypack reviews, and specifically the Osprey Manta 28 or Manta 36, the L.L. Bean Day Trekker 25 with Boa, and the Gregory Miwok 24.

Good luck.


In Ask Me, I share my response to a reader question. Got a question about hiking, backpacking, gear, or any topic or trip I write about at The Big Outside? Send it to me at [email protected], message me at, or tweet it to @MichaelALanza. I will answer the ones I can in a post, using only your first name and city, with your permission. I receive a high volume of questions, so I cannot always respond quickly.

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza

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