Leaders of the Pack

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By Graham Averill, Will Harlan and Jedd Ferris

The backpack is more than just the sack that holds your stuff. It’s your passport to adventure. Below are four new packs that will have the gear junkies salivating.

Long Haul Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian 3 lbs. 8 oz.  3800 cu. in.

Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian
Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian

The Nimbus Meridian is light enough to use as a weekend pack yet big enough for a week’s worth of supplies, thanks to an assortment of compression straps. The dual-density foam in the hipbelt and flexible composite frame-sheet mold com-fortably to your torso. Other bonus features: a panel zip allows instant rummaging in the main compart-ment, and the top lid converts to a fanny pack. Siliconized ripstop nylon shaves ounces and makes the pack extremely weather-resistant, while a few key high-stress areas—like the bottom and compression panels— are made with tough Cordura.

$270; granitegear.com

Day Pack Gregory Z 252 lbs. 14 oz. 1500 cu .in.

Gregory Z 25
Gregory Z 25

One of the snazziest day packs on the market, the Z 25 sus-pension system—called the Jetstream DTS—is loaded with customizable tension straps, support padding on the shoul-ders and waist belt, and a mesh ventilation system that moves air through the space between your back and the pack. The suspension system takes up some storage space, making the Z 25 best suited for day hiking or ultralight overnighters, but it’s far more advanced and comfort-able than most backpacks in the same category.

$129; gregorypacks.com

Weekender The North Face Skareb 65 3 lbs. 12 oz. 3270 cu. in.

The North Face Skareb 65
The North Face Skareb 65

The Skareb 65 is a fast-packing lightweight junkie’s delight. We appreciated the snugly contoured hip belt and mesh pocket, which kept gels and other essential nib-bles handy. Best of all was the pack’s X Radial suspension, with two crossed aluminum poles pro-viding the bulk of the support. We expected this new weight-saving approach to buckle, but the frame stayed surprisingly sturdy. The Skareb’s dense cushion plas-tic mold felt good on the back, and the pack’s durable parachute fabric kept clothes dry through a consistent day of rain.

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