Tag Archives: ultralight backpack reviews

June 19, 2018 Backpackers in Titcomb Basin, in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

Ask Me: What’s the Best Ultralight Thru-Hiking Backpack?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

Hi Michael,

I’m looking for a backpack for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I am considering some Osprey packs and others. What to you recommend as the best thru-hiking backpack?

Thanks.

Bruce

Continue reading →

May 24, 2018 Osprey Aura AG 65

Gear Review: The 10 Best Backpacking Packs of 2018

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By Michael Lanza

Backpacks come in many sizes and flavors for a reason: so do backpackers. Some of us need a pack for moderate loads, others for heavy loads, while still others want a pack designed for lightweight or ultralight backpacking. Some prefer a minimalist design, others a range of features and access. Everyone wants the best fit and comfort they can find, and almost everyone has a budget.

I looked at all the backpacks intended primarily (if not exclusively) for backpacking that I’ve tested and reviewed at The Big Outside, and selected for this article 10 top performers that stand out for reasons that make each appeal uniquely to a certain type of backpacker. (In addition, I point out below two excellent packs for kids of all ages.) I think one of them will be perfect for you—possibly even more than one if, like me, you prefer different packs for different kinds of trips. Continue reading →

May 17, 2018 The Gregory Optic 58 ultralight backpack in the Grand Canyon.

Review: Gregory Optic 58 and Octal 55 Ultralight Backpacks

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Ultralight Backpack
Gregory Optic 58 (men’s) and Octal 55 (women’s)
$210, 58L/3,539 c.i. (men’s medium), 2 lbs. 7 oz. (men’s small, without the included rain cover, 3 oz.)
Sizes: men’s S-L, women’s XS-M
Moosejaw.com

No one loves loading extra water into their pack—especially upwards of 13 pounds of it, as I did as we left our last water source on our final evening backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop. We needed to haul enough liquid sustenance to get us through the 2,600-foot climb we were embarking on at 5:30 p.m., plus another 2,000 feet uphill early the next morning. That pushed my total pack weight up toward the limit of the ultralight Optic 58—as good a test as any. And Gregory’s first foray into ultralight packs not only handled that assignment well, it shines for many other reasons, too. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Ultralight Backpack

October 3, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider backpack in the Wind River Range.

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider backpack in the Wind River Range.

Backpack
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider
$345, 55L/3,400 c.i., 1 lb. 15 oz. (medium)
Sizes: S (fits torsos 15-17 ins.), M (17-19 ins.), L (19-21 ins.), Tall (21+ ins.)
hyperlitemountaingear.com

When the 3400 Windrider was delivered to my house, the box looked much too small to contain a backpack—if I’d had no idea, I might have guessed it contained a small tent. It’s not often that a backpack, or any piece of gear, leaves an impression on me before I even remove it from its packaging. Intrigued by its incredibly low weight—it’s by far one of the lightest packs made for lightweight backpacking and thru-hiking—I loaded it up with about 35 pounds of gear, clothing, and food and took it out on a three-day, 39-mile backpacking trip in mid-September in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Having used other ultralight packs that simply did not have the support for more than 20 to 25 pounds, I entered this experiment with healthy skepticism. But the 3400 Windrider made me a believer. Here’s why. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 Backpack

August 3, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 backpack.

Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 backpack.

Backpack
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60
$200, 2 lbs. 9 oz. (men’s S/M pack with S/M hipbelt)
Sizes: men’s S/M (fits torsos 16-19 inches) and M/L (fits torsos 18-21 inches), plus four hipbelt sizes (XS/S to L/XL)
moosejaw.com

Many avid backpackers eventually find themselves facing an expensive quandary: the need for a second or even third pack to better handle the range of trips they take. Sierra Designs confronts that challenge with the Flex Capacitor, which changes size to cover a range of trips from weekends to a week or even a thru-hike. Curious about how it performs, I took it on a trip where a pack with that capacity range would come in handy: on a nine-day hike of the 105-mile Tour du Mont Blanc, where on some days I’d be carrying two people’s stuff, and on other days only my own (when that second person didn’t hike). Continue reading →

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