daypack reviews

Gear Review: Camelbak Highwire 20 Daypack

Camelbak Highwire 20

Daypack
Camelbak Highwire 20
$110, 1 lb. 9 oz.
19L/1,129 c.i.
One unisex size
camelback.com

A daypack loaded for an all-day adventure can turn into a hot and clammy pig on your back, but not the Highwire. On hot hikes in the Boise Foothills, my back stayed relatively cool and dry because of the Highwire’s excellent ventilation: channels promoting air flow across your back, and back padding and shoulder straps made of wide-gauge mesh. A flexible, plastic framesheet provides enough support for carrying 12-15 pounds.

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Gear Review: Black Diamond Blaze Daypack

Black Diamond Blaze

Daypack
Black Diamond Blaze
$90, 1 lb. 8 oz.
18L/1,098 c.i.
One unisex size
blackdiamondequipment.com

Sometimes a piece of gear just grows on you; that was the case with the Blaze for me. Its simple, streamlined design and low weight, rather than limiting its functionality, make it incredibly versatile. I’ve used it for everything from a 19-mile, one-day hike the length of the Carter Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and on numerous shorter dayhikes, to employing it as my biking-around-town pack and as a carry-on when flying.

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Gear Review: The North Face Enduro Hydration Daypack

The North Face Enduro

Hydration Pack
The North Face Enduro
$140, 10 oz.
5.5L/336 c.i.
One size each in men’s and women’s-specific models
thenorthface.com

After numerous outings dayhikes, trail runs, and mountain bikes rides wearing the Enduro, I’ve decided it may be the most stable hydration pack I’ve ever used. Credit goes to the unique design. For starters, the shoulder straps attach using a hook-and-loop patch in a V-shape over your sternum, like the arms of a kid riding piggyback. A nylon hook-and-loop waist belt wraps around your waist like your kid’s legs.

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Gear Review: Osprey Syncro 20 Daypack

Osprey Syncro 20

Daypack
Osprey Syncro 20
$119, l lb. 15 oz. (M/L)
Sizes: S/M 18L/1,098 c.i., M/L 20L/1,220 c.i.
ospreypacks.com

This daypack is all about organization, comfort, and versatility for several hours of hiking or biking. On hikes, rides, and light ski tours in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, I found its suspension super stable, thanks to a single, aluminum perimeter stay that wraps around the back panel and flexes with your torso motion while providing enough support for loads of 15 pounds or more. The trampoline-style back panel allows lots of air circulation, which kept my back cool on long uphill slogs, while the lightly padded, mesh waistbelt and shoulder straps are comfortable without being bulky or obtrusive.

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Gear Review: REI Flash 30 Daypack

REI Flash 30

Daypack
REI Flash 30
$80, 1 lb. 6 oz. (medium)
Sizes: Medium 30L/1,830 c.i., Large 31L/1,892 c.i.
rei.com

Unless you can afford a quiver of packs, you expect a daypack to be many things: lightweight and compact for when you don’t need to carry much, spacious and comfortable when you do need to haul a fair bit of stuff. Not many daypacks are that flexible—but the Flash 30 is. On a recent trip to Oregon, I used it on Columbia Gorge dayhikes by myself and with my family, and even a quick morning ski up to 10,000 feet on Mt. Hood.

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