Millet Prolighter 30
$135, 2 lbs. 12 oz.
I carried this top-loading rucksack with a rock-climbing rack, clothing, and food for a roughly 14-mile, nearly 4,000-foot climb of Mt. Heyburn in Idaho’s Sawtooths, which is mostly a long, substantially off-trail hike with a couple short pitches of easy rock climbing to the summit. (My partner carried the rope, though it would have easily fit under this pack’s rope strap.) The Prolighter 30 nails it as a pack for an all-day, technical rock, snow, or ice climb in the backcountry, or a cragging pack: It sports all the needed features while weighing in under three pounds, is comfortable carrying 25 to 30 pounds, and built to sustain serious abuse.
The suspension—a plastic framesheet with two crossed stays, shoulder straps with light mesh padding, and a lightly padded, wide, removable hipbelt—kept the pack stable, whether the task was scrambling up and down steep talus, slabs, and very loose scree, or climbing an awkward chimney. Sporting very tough, 420-denier fabric, with no external features that could get torn off (like mesh pockets), the pack survived thrashing up a chimney climb without a scratch. It has all the bells and whistles for a climbing daypack without anything superfluous: two ice-axe carriers, a rope strap atop the main compartment, side compression that will carry poles or skis, and, of course, hydration compatibility. I really like the lid pocket being large enough to hold a helmet. There’s no dedicated snow-tools pocket, so I wouldn’t call it a true backcountry-skiing pack, although the main compartment has adequate space for an all-day backcountry ski tour if you don’t mind throwing your shovel, etc., in with your extra clothes and food. The Prolighter 30 supposedly fits torsos measuring 16 to 20 inches; mine is 18 inches and I’m close to the low end of the fit, so I’d say the fit range is more like 17 to 20 inches.