The day pack is your work horse, the pack you reach for most often, whether you’re hitting a festival or scrambling up Bearfence Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. You could carry a knapsack into the woods relatively comfortably, but will it fall apart when it scrapes against a branch? These four packs put a premium on durability.
1.The North Face Pivot 22 [1525 cubic inches] You want a durable pack? Look for bags made from Cordura. It’s a thicker, beefier synthetic material that gear companies use to make climbing bags, like Pivot 22, which is made to handle the repetitive abuse of being dragged up a cliff. The Pivot is built from a mix of airbag-grade Cordura and 630 Ballistics nylon, two of the toughest pack materials in use today. Bonus: Our tester digs the big front zipper that makes accessing maps and food a cinch, as well as the water bottle pockets, which expand inward, eliminating “Nalgene protrusion.” $99; thenorthface.com
2.Granite Gear White Pine [700 cubic inches] The fanny pack may seem like a fad from the ‘90s, but all hikers should have one in their arsenal. Hike for more than a few hours and even the most comfortable backpack will wear on your shoulders. Hip packs, on the other hand, keep the load where it’s carried most effectively: on your lumbar region. The White Pine is built from a mix of Cordura and Ripstop, with heavier forms of Cordura reinforcing common wear zones. The combo of materials makes the pack lighter than most Cordura bags, but nearly as sturdy. Bonus: Gear stays organized with a host of interior pockets, including one large pocket with a hose port built to house a bladder. $59.95; granitegear.com
3.Salomon XA 25 [525 cubic inches] A waterproof pack that’s actually comfortable and versatile enough to become your go-to day pack? Yep. Inside the Ripstop nylon exterior is an integrated waterproof bladder. The traditional outer pack reduces weight while providing the standard day pack goodies (hip pockets, mesh pockets, adjustable straps) in a durable shell, but the interior bladder employs a roll-top closure to keep important items dry, even when the pack is fully submerged. The XA 25 is designed for adventure racers, but hikers who fight afternoon thunderstorms will find it handy as well. $115; salomonsports.com