Black Diamond Infinity 50
$210, 50L/3,050 c.i., 3 lbs. 14 oz. (men’s medium)
A lot of packs feel good when you first put them on; only a few are still your friend at the end of a long day. I carried this streamlined top-loader with upwards of 30 pounds on 16- to 18-mile days on the rugged Rees-Dart Track in New Zealand’s Southern Alps—and it stayed comfortable right up until I took it off every day. The key feature is BD’s ergoACTIV hipbelt that attaches to the pack via a simple ball joint: The hipbelt pivots with your hips, but the pack itself doesn’t, eliminating the side-to-side shifting with each step that can fatigue your back and rub your hips raw over the course of a full day. The removable hipbelt, which detaches using an Allen wrench, comes in four sizes in both the men’s and women’s versions, fitting men’s waists from 26 to 45 inches and women’s waists from 27 to 43 inches. I’ll give extra points for the basic but efficient organization: a floating lid pocket, a front stuff-it pocket big enough for a jacket or rainfly, one hipbelt pocket, and stretchy side pockets that you can reach into when wearing the pack. I also like how the mesh and air channels on the back pad kept my back cool. It’s a great choice for lightweight backpacking, but the thin fabric on the front and side pockets would get chewed up fast if you used it climbing or on rugged off-trail scrambles. There’s also a 60-liter (3,660 c.i.) Infinity. The women’s versions are the Innova 50 and 60.