daypack reviews

A backpacker hiking over Park Creek Pass in North Cascades National Park.

5 Expert Tips For Buying the Right Backpacking Pack

By Michael Lanza

If you’re super fit and strong, hike with a pack of any weight 50 or more days a year, and have never known any sort of injury or ache in your body, then don’t bother reading this article. But for everyone else, knowing how to find the right pack for backpacking and other outdoor activities—and for your body—will make a world of difference in your enjoyment when carrying that pack for hours a day on a trail or up and down a mountain. This article will lead you through five steps to accomplish exactly that—helping to ensure that you spend your gear money smartly.

Read on

Salomon ADV Skin 12 running hydration vest.

The Best Running Hydration Vests of 2023

By Michael Lanza

Some ideas are so obviously better than everything that came before that the new thing just takes off: Many serious runners now recognize that the smartest way to carry water on a run—plus clothing layers and food on longer trail runs—is in a lightweight, streamlined, torso-hugging hydration vest. This review spotlights the best vests for trail running—how they differ in fit, comfort, capacity, and details—and offers expert advice on choosing the right one for your runs and dayhikes.

Read on

Arc'teryx Aerios 30 hiking daypack.

Review: Arc’teryx Aerios 30 Daypack

Arc’teryx Aerios 30
$190, 30L/1,831 c.i., 2 lbs. (men’s regular)
Sizes: men’s and women’s regular and tall

Even in the context of how much continued, impressive innovation has occurred in the category of hiking daypacks in recent years, the Arc’teryx Aerios 30 raises the bar for versatility and sheer ingenuity. Marrying the best elements of traditional daypacks and running vests, this comfortable sack combines a reasonable weight with bountiful capacity, a smart feature set, and top-shelf durability. It also has one flaw, though not one that constitutes a dealbreaker.

Read on

Deuter Speed Lite 24 daypack.

Review: Deuter Speed Lite 24 Daypack

Deuter Speed Lite 24
$120, 24L/1,465 c.i., 1 lb. 11 oz.
One size

With the Speed Lite 24, Deuter set out to make a pack that does it all. Weighing well under two pounds—low for a pack with this much capacity—it’s marketed as an ultralight, all-around daypack for long trail days, technical rock climbing, and even snow climbing. I wanted to see if such a light pack could fill all those roles, so I tested it extensively, including a 4500-foot, eight-mile hike up Ferguson Canyon and a 3,000-foot scramble up the South Ridge of Mount Superior in Utah’s Wasatch Range.

Read on

Mystery Ranch Coulee 25 daypack.

Review: Mystery Ranch Coulee 25 Daypack

Mystery Ranch Coulee 25
$189, 25L/1,525 c.i., 2 lbs. 11 oz. (men’s S/M)
Sizes: men’s S/M and L/XL, women’s XS/X and M/L

NOTE: See my new review of the update to the Coulee 25, the Mystery Ranch Coulee 30.

The long arc toward lighter gear in the outdoor industry has undeniably brought many benefits to those of us who love going into the backcountry. But the flip side of that trend sometimes manifests in compromises in comfort, features, and durability. The Mystery Ranch Coulee 25 represents a very impressive balance between achieving all of those laudable traits while keeping the weight modest—making it one of the best daypacks on the market today.

Read on