Gregory Savant 58 (men’s) and Sage 55 (women’s)
$199, 58L/3,539 c.i., 3 lbs. 9 oz. (men’s medium)
Ultralight packs have their place, but they’re not for people who want assured comfort when carrying a little extra weight—whether it’s in creature comforts like a fatter air mattress and a roomier tent, or just food for a longer trek. For that backpacker, there is hardly a better midweight, midsize pack than the men’s Savant or women’s Sage, perfect for traditional backpacking trips of two to five days. On a four-day, 57-mile September hike in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains—including an 18-mile last day—I found the Savant 58 made loads of 30 pounds feel several pounds lighter; I’d confidently say it’s good for carrying 40 pounds. The explanation lies in the wishbone-shaped internal frame, stabilizer straps positioned to really pull the weight close to your hips, and Z-shaped side compression straps that maximize load control. A molded-foam back panel, hipbelt, and shoulder straps soften the load. The Savant felt light when fully loaded, and stable even when only partly full while I scrambled in steep, rocky off-trail terrain.
Both packs have a great set of features without adding superfluous weight. I love the huge, U-shaped, panel zipper that lets you get into the main compartment without having to unclip the lid, and the spacious, waterproof, roll-top lid pocket to protect valuables like electronics. The Savant and Sage have two hipbelt pockets large enough for a GPS receiver and a stash of energy bars; deep side mesh pockets that are tough enough for serious abuse, one of which has a zippered pocket behind it; external sleeping pad straps that double as bottom compression; and an integrated rain cover. Maybe best of all: These packs deliver the comfort and features of competitors priced upwards of $40 more. They also come in smaller versions, the Savant 48 and Sage 45 ($179 each) and Savant 38 and Sage 35 ($159 each).