The Best New Backpacks of 2016

Claudia Feature, News, Reviews

From featherlight daypacks to multiday to ultimate capacity trekking packs, our editors rounded up the 5 best new backpacks for 2016.

Almost every outdoor adventure begins with you wearing a backpack. If you are new to the world of backpacking and trekking, get the right gear and find your adventure. Stop staring at the landscapes on your screensaver and stop chalking up adventures to your bucket list that is already one mile long. Climbing mountains doesn’t get easier when you’re 60. Start checklists instead of bucket lists – the first thing you’ll need is a backpack to carry everything on your checklist.
When setting out to see the outdoors, getting the full experience is all about getting the right equipment. From Hiking, Biking to Alpine Climbing, here is a list of the best backpacks for 2016 for every outdoor adventure. So for the gear lovers who want more for less, and because you have too many hobbies to blow all of your money on one piece of gear – we’ve gathered the best packs with the best value yet are packed with features. Get the latest innovations in fabrics, technical features and performance without the price tag.

Choosing the Right Pack

With so many great packs out there, what is the best backpack for you? It all depends on the activity, weather conditions (cold weather adventures or hot climates), what gear your packing and how long your trip is. Knowing you’re “Adventure Profile” will help you decide which back will best suit your needs. You’ll also need to consider your personal preference for comfort and fit. The goal is to find the right fits you, with the design/ suspension system that can handle the weight – in the lightest form possible.
There are field tips to know when buying a pack. Choosing the right backpack all depends on the activity, duration of your trip and your personal preference for comfort and fit.

Length of Trip

One of the first indicators of your backpack needs is the length of your trip. Is it just a day trip up the canyon, or an overnight-er setting a camp sight? Or are you really setting out for an escape from civilization and won’t return for a week or more? All of these questions need to be answered before you can decide what functionary you need from your pack. As different packs are designed for different tasks, from accommodating a sleeping back attachment, to hydration bladders.

Carrying Weight & Suspension system

There is a give-take relationship when it comes to weight versus comfort. When you get the weight/comfort ratio right – magic happens. Know the weight of your gear. Is it bulky? Are you toting around winter gear through the backcountry? Or ultralight gear for an overnighter? Just because a pack doesn’t have the padding or frame of a traditional trekking pack, doesn’t mean it isn’t comfortable.

Know the Gear You’ll be Packing

If you’re heading into the backcountry for a snowshoeing or ski trip, you’ll need an entirely different pack than the backpacker who sets out to explore the trails with a sleeping bag and a trekking pole. While Ultra-light backpacking is all the rage right now, load bulky/heavy gear in pack without the right frame or suspension – that light weight pack will drag you down more than your gear. Consider your needs for durable weather resistant fabrics, suspension system carry heavy winter gear and external attachment systems. You’ll need to consider weather resistance, rain covers and wet/dry pockets.

Know your Torso Length

Finding the right size of pack depends on the length of your torso (spine), (not your height). For measuring purposes, locate the bony bump at the base of your neck – the one that protrudes when you lean your neck forward (touch your chin to your chest) – C7 vertebra.

Give yourself some love and grab your love handles. Your thumbs will find the top of your hip bones (iliac crests). The imaginary line between the marks of your thumbs marks the bottom of your spine.

Most adult’s torsos range between 15″ and 22″. Many packs of the same model come in a different torso length, so make sure they have when you need.

If you are going to try the pack on before you buy it = load it up with 20 Lbs (even lightweight packs should handle 20lbs. Loosen up all the straps on the backpack before you put it on. When you put on the pack, shrug your shoulders to lift the pack up and adjust the hipbelt. After your hip belt is tight and secure, then tighten the shoulder straps and load lifters. Make sure there aren’t any gaps between your shoulders and the top of the pack. A good pack should equally disperse the weight, any significant sources of pressure now will be pain points on the trail.

Storage and Organization

How OCD are you? Consider how you like to pack your gear and organize your gear and find a pack that has the storage system you need. Are a minimalist who just wants a single compartment bag, or do you prefer a lot of pockets?
Consider what gear you want most accessible. Are the side pockets large enough to accommodate your favorite water bottle? Can you get the gear out of your side pockets without taking off you pack? Are the external pockets secured, or supported with mesh? When you bend over to tie your shoes, does the gear in the side pouch stay put?

Don’t go overkill when it comes to capacity of your back, and don’t buy a bigger pack than you need. Be realistic on how you’ll use the pack. Don’t get a back that has more capacity that you actually need. Otherwise you’ll end up with a bulky pack that you’ll likely just fill up with stuff you don’t need. Only pack the gear that you need, and leave the kitchen sink at home.

Volume Size
There are so many great backpacks are on the market, for all activities from lightweight daypacks to full-size trekking packs designed for six months on the Appalachian Trail. The pack volume indicates how much storage space there is inside the pack liters. Many large backpacks include the volume, in liters, within the name, such as the EMS Long Trail 70 or The North Face Terra 35.
What size of pack is best for you? While it all depends on what you’re using it for and what you need to carry, there are some basic guidelines when it comes to trip length.
Volume (Liters) Activities
15 – 30 Day/Multi-day hikes
30 – 50 Overnight (1-2 nights)
45 – 55 Weekend (2 -3 nights)
55+ Extended Trips (3+ nights)

Ultralight Backpacking Counting ounces is an obsession. These packs have shed weight wherever possible. From thinner straps, to smaller zippers and buckles and lighter weight fabrics. The compromise is often comfort depending on the weight of you’re load. Ultralight packs typically are frameless without traditional suspension systems. Yet these ultralight packs are ideal for day packs or trips where you aren’t carrying heavy gear.

The Minimalist
For the Minimalist: They want the features to get them exactly where they want them to go. While design is key, streamlined is where the money is at, and function is the goal. These hardcore trekkers may sacrifice some weight for performance.

Extended Trips 55-80 Liters
When you’re heading out to explore the 4 corners of the world, or taking a week off to explore the mountains in your backyard, you need a comfortable, high performance pack that can carry a load. While you may have sold most of your belongings to buy that plane ticket to the Himalayas, you need a backpack that can hold your tent, sleeping bag, cooking kit and everything else without weighing you down. Here are our top 3 picks for extended trip backpacks.

Extended Trip Backpack: 60-80 Liters

When you’re heading out to explore the 4 corners of the world, or taking a week off to explore the wilderness – you need a comfortable, high performance pack. While you may have sold most of your belongings to buy that plane ticket to the Himalayas, you need a backpack that can hold your tent, sleeping bag, cooking kit and everything else without weighing you down. Here are our top 3 picks for extended trip backpacks.

Granite Gear Virga 2 Review

Virga 2 First Impressions

The original ultralight day pack by Granite Gear, the Virga 2 is the poster child ultralight backpacking. The Virga 2 is decked out with all the features for ultralight backpackers want, without the weight. The Virga 2 has been the go-to pack in the lightweight backpacking community, an a standard when it comes to light weight performance. A longstanding favorite for the ounce-counting backpackers, Virga 2 has been updated with new features to make this favorite frameless even more ultralight, comfortable and functional. Consistent with the other Granite Gear packs, the Virga 2 has a large main compartment and three external mesh pockets for additional easy access storage (one large mesh pocket on the back and two size mesh pockets).

The Virga 2 is rated at 54 liters for internal compartment capacity – this does not include the external side pockets. The roll-top closure also features a long extension collar, accommodating even more gear exceeding 54 liters as needed. The Virga 2 is light weight, and with adjustable features from compression straps and roll-top closure – also impressively high-capacity. Being a frameless pack with no formal suspension system, maximum recommended carrying weight is 20 lbs.

The most notable enhancements are the redesigned padded shoulder straps. The shoulder straps are just the right width and have an adequate amount of dense, high quality padding offering comfort without the bulk of typical pack straps. Previous versions of the Virga 2 did not have a hip belt, yet the new model features a fixed padded hip belt and mesh pocket front which makes the pack more comfortable and stabilizes the pack. The internal hydration system has updated for better functionality and weight reduction. The new Virga 2 features a true “roll top” closure.

The Virga 2 has a top loading compartment. The roll-top closure is easy to close, increase capacity, and enables better accessibility. The roll top not only provides more protection an acts as a multi-layer sealant against the elements.

The roll top is created with an extra 5 inches of material rolls and buckles together to hold in and seal your gear. The extra material makes the roll-top dynamic, and can be used to expand storage capacity in the main compartment or compacts down when you don’t need the extra space. Use as much as the material you need to expand the length of the pack, roll down and use the buckle to close the top. We loved the dynamic accessibility/compact-ability the roll top created. While other packs offer additional storage in a separate “lid” compartment, you still have the bulk whether you use it or not.

Mesh pockets and padded hip belts make the Virga 2 more comfortable and with details to make it more more functional. The short story, the Virga 2 is ultralight defined and lost some serious weight since the last version, and gained some added capacity with new features.

Virga 2 Fit & Feel

The key to ultralight backpacking is minimal weight, yet being able to maximize comfort without all of the heavy padding and suspension systems of other packs. The Virga 2 is a frameless 1-compartment storage pack. To get the optimal comfort out of this frameless pack you need to know how to pack it. Ultralight-backpacking 101, but if you just throw all of your gear in there, you’ll end up with what will feel like lumpy rocks poking your back the whole trip.

The best way to achieve optimal comfort is to smartly pack your back to provide some structure to the pack/spine of the pack. For example, packing a sleeping pad inside against your back to make it comfortable. Essentially, learn to pack your gear in a manner that creates the back frame, or some other firm/cushioned surface with other gear firmly packed against it to help create structure.

A common gripe from previous versions of the Virga 2 were the lack of a hip belt – yet the new fixed hip belt is great for stabilizing the load. With the added compatibility for a hydration system and more pockets, this all time favorite just got a make-over that Ultralight backpackers will love.

Virga 2 Durability

Despite being so light weight, the Granite Gear Virga 2 is very durable due to high quality materials, reinforced stitching and an overall good design. The straps and hip belt were are designed with thicker heavy duty material and held up well against the elements. The fabric was very abrasion resistant and dirt repellent. The fabric less porous than other packs and has somewhat of a sheen to it. dirt and dust just wiped of.

The backpack held up well to a variety of weather conditions on and off the trail, and there was no damage to straps, pockets, and remainder of the fabric. I also used this pack as a carry on while traveling and found that its light-weight nature and storage options worked well for this purpose, especially since it did not have a frame. The versatility of the Virga is one of its strongest features.

Virga 2 Specs and Features

  • Fixed padded belt
  • 10mm webbing straps
  • Tool loops
  • Hydration compatible/ports
  • Internal hydration hanger
  • Large stretch side pockets
  • Stretch mesh front pocket
  • Rolltop closure
  • Extended overflow
  • Padded rolling stay
  • Frameless suspension
  • Material: Durable 210D Cordura on high wear areas
  • Maximum recommended Load: 20 lbs
  • Weight: Short: 1 lb 2 oz / 510 g
    Regular: 1 lb 3 oz / 540 g
    Long: 1 lb 4 oz / 570 g
  • Capacity: 3051 cu in / 50 L (Short); 3300 cu in / 54 L (Reg); 3540 cu in / 58 L (Long)

Granite Gear Virga 26 Review

VIrga 26 First Impressions

The Granite Gear Virga 26 is the ultimate day pack, but can be used as an ultralight multi-day backpack too. The streamlined Virga 26 day pack is is tougher than most ultralights, loaded with smart features that don’t weigh you down. While the Virga 26 has no framesheet or suspension system, modest shoulder padding and adjustable side straps and load lifters let you customize the fit for a comfortable load.

Unlike the Virga 2, the Vurga 26 is only offered in 1 torso size. The torso length might be considered on the short size. If you are taller in stature, the Virga 2 may not give you the optimal performance or fit – even if you don’t use the belt. For the tall peeps, you may opt for the Virga 2 as it comes it different torso lengths.

The Virga 26 is engineered for light weight performance, the first thing you’ll notice is the narrow design, smaller buckles and more narrow webbing straps to save on weight and bulk. An ideal day pack, The Virga 26 features single-compartment storage with a roll top closure for easy access to your gear. The roll top with top strap is a a great design, giving you added water protection and excellent compression/expansion depending on the size of your load. The roll top collar gives considerable extra storage space with the extension of the collar, yet the collar isn’t overkill like some roll-tops. Too big of an roll top/extension collar can just get in the way and make it difficult to pack the bag – turning your pack into a long tunnel. The Virga 26 seems to be the just the right size, giving you extra space when you need. The the roll-top closure notches all your gear down into a secure little bundle. The rope strap on the top of the pack is also great for piling on extra gear like jackets etc.

There is plenty of storage space, including clever stretchy mesh pouches designed on the shoulder strap – perfect for chapstick, sunscreen or an energy gel. Two generous side pockets can hold up to 1 liter water bottle. The side pouches are larger than other light weight packs and a great feature for extra storage considering the weight and size of the pack. Especially if you don’t like to use a hydration bladder, the ample room for water bottles on such a light weight pack is ideal. The lower side compression straps are versatile and can be placed over or under the side pocket. This is a great feature to help secure gear in the side pockets.

The mesh side and center pockets are ridiculously expandable, giving ample volume for easy access gear. Six narrow (¼-inch) compression straps are used to lock and load gear tighten against the spine. The adjustable compression straps and roll-top closure help to keep your gear tight no matter the size of load. Being a frameless pack, take time to mindfully pack your gear (keeping things centered). Packing the Virga 26 correctly will help ensure optimal comfort.

The shoulder straps have moderate padding, dense cushioning that provides ample support for loads up to 20 lbs. The frameless pack doesn’t have the suspension system to support heavy loads and distribute weight, and you’ll feel the excessive weight pulling back on your shoulders. The backpack has a hip-belt, yet the hip belt is designed to stabilize the load not transfer the weight of the bag. See video review of the Granite Gear 26 2016.

Virga 26 Fit and Feel

The Virga 26 is very adjustable and comfortable considering it is a frameless pack with, without traditional hip belt support. The shoulder strap padding and width is right on spot. The long narrow design of the pack contours well against your back one you get the load lifter straps fine tuned. Once you get the Virga 26 dialed in just right, the weight of the pack seems to disappear.

The shoulder straps are comfortable and constructed with a conservative amount of dense padding for cushion. The amount of gear you can pack into the Virga 26 seems unnatural, in a good way. Both shoulder straps have convenient stretch mesh pockets. The design is versatile, with ample storage space large volume of gear – yet the webbing straps serve like draw strings to tighten the bag – virtually constricting the pack for smaller loads. This dynamic design is ideal for keeping your gear secure within the pack whether you are carrying a small or a large load.

The Virga 26 has load lifter straps, yet the function seems to differ from the traditional load lifter straps. The real use of the straps pulls the upper portion of the pack closer to your back. As the shoulder straps are not attached at the top of the pack, rather quite lower on the pack – the load lifter straps are needed to fine tune the positioning on your torso. If you adjust the load lifter straps just right, the shoulder straps fit more comfortably and the pack will better contour to your back.

Sternum strap seems to sit a bit high on the chest than other packs. The sternum strap is adjustable, but note it’s not removable. Aside from wrapping the sternum straps around the shoulder straps they can get in the way unless you keep them buckled.

Considered a day pack/multi day back – the frameless backpack doesn’t have the suspension system for heavier loads. The Virga 26 has a narrow inch wide webbing hip-belt, noting the hip-belt is removable. Unlike traditional hip belts, these don’t function much to distribute the weight of the load. The webbing hipbelt serves more to stabilize the load versus transferring weight of the load to the hips. While going frameless saves on the weight, without any structure, the pack tends to cling to your back – limiting airflow and trapping in the heat.

The best part? When you’re not using your Virga 26 – you can just roll it up into a little burrito. No more wasting your closet space with empty packs.

Virga 26 Durability

The Virga 26 might be a feather weight, but it’s a heavyweight when it comes to durability. The Granite Gear Virga 26 is has a solid construction. Designed with strong abrasion resistant materials and quality webbing and buckles, you can count on this pack to last. The Virga 26 features 100-denier nylon on the main body, and on the high-wear points like the bottom and the back, the pack is reinforced for durable performance with thicker, 210-denier nylon. From scuffing on rocks to scraping against tree branches, you can be confident the Granite Gear Virga 26 will get you through any adventure.

Virga 26 Specs

  • 10 MM Webbing Straps
  • Tool Loops X2
  • Dual Hydration Ports3
  • Interal Hydration Hanger
  • Large Stretch Side Pockets
  • Stretch Mesh Front Pocket
  • Removable webbing hip belts
  • Sternum strap
  • Roll top Closure
  • External Collar
  • Frameless/no suspension system
  • Load  Lifter Straps
  • Stretch Mesh Shoulder Strap Pockets
  • 1” Real Webbing Belt
  • Torsoal Length  18”-21”
  • Max Load Carry Lbs 20lbs
  • Weighal Oz.Cordual Fabric High Tenacity Nylon  (100D AND 210D)

Fjall Raven Kajka 75L Review

First Impressions

The Kajka has a signature minimalist design, yet it’s loaded with technical features for any outdoor adventure. The FjallRaven Kajka is constructed with durable materials designed for high performance and function, with unexpected versatility. With it’s signature birch wood frame and 100% customizeable suspension system – the FjallRaven Kajka is in a league of it’s own.

Don’t be misled by the minimalist design, the Fjällräven Kajka is a technical pack loaded with features. Every inch of the Kajka has been expertly designed for comfort and function.

Pockets, pockets and more pockets. Two metal rods run the length of the main compartment so that the compression straps pull all of the contents easily. Expanding side pockets allow for extra gear when full, but can lay flat when not being completely utilized. Pouches on each side of the pack allow water-bottles to be stored at different angles for easy access. The main compartment can be opened up from the side, making it simple to get to your gear and avoid “digging” for that something at the bottom. Looking at the Kajka, it’s almost hard to believe that there are too many features to list in a short review but that is exactly the case.

The down side? The Kajka is no light weight. Weighing in at 7lbs, the Kajka is one of the heavier packs in it’s class. While the actual pack alone may weigh more than others in it’s class, the comfort and weight distribution is superior than most and more than compensates for the weight in our opinion. Yet, for those who are really concerned with shedding the pounds and ultralight backpackers, this may not be the best option. Yet the excellent suspension system, comfortable padding, and fully adjustable torso length and shoulder size seem to more than compensate for the extra weight. The waist belt is fully adjustable and super comfortable. The adjustable and padding helped distribute the weight of the overall pack very evenly.

Even despite the weight of the frame, everyone found it to be one of the most comfortable pack on the test floor. The suspension system is comfortable and equally distributes the heaviest of loads – effectively transferring the bulk of the weight off the shoulders to the hips like a good pack should. The suspension system is fully adjustable, and ventilation through the back – the extra few pounds is worth it. The Kajka also has less external strapping/attaching straps. Perhaps not ideal for long skiing trips or boarding trips. Yet this bag will handle airline baggage claim without a scratch.

When you first open the Kajka, the smell of birch wood remind you of the unique wooden frame of the Fjällräven Kajka. If you’re suspicious about the durability of a wooden frame, don’t be. The frame is sturdy and solid. The benefit of wood over metal or other synthetic materials is as win for your and the environment. Fjällräven claims using a birch wood reduces the pack’s carbon footprint by 90%. Feel good about reducing your impact on the environment without a reduction in quality.

Fit & Feel

The suspension system has been designed to equally distribute even the heaviest of loads. We noticed this during even the most vertical descends, when having a top heavy pack, the Kajka distributed the weight to the hip belt as intended, enabling steady balance throughout the hike. The user-friendly “Perfect Fit Adjustment System” enabled different parties in our hiking crew to wear the pack and adjust to their different length torso with ease, male or female. The generous hip belt offers a high degree of carrying comfort on long hiking days. The easy access water bottles and waist belt pouches made it easy to reach necessities while hiking without needing to stop on the trail. An overall great hiking experience, and this pack – although the heaviest pack by itself – was utmost surprisingly the BEST BACK TO CARRY!!!!! We found yourself choosing to wear this back out of all the other packs. Way to go Fjällräven!!!

Durability

The Fjällräven Kjaka is in a league of it’s own when it comes to durability. This beast is constructed with the highest quality material built for trekking around the world. The suspension system is more adjustable than anything we’ve seen. If you have a long/short torso, don’t worry you can get a perfect fit. It’s also green. The exterior material is is tough as nails. Another huge win, excellent organization pockets, front and top access. When you have wet gear, there is also compartment for drying wet gear. For longer trips, this is the most durable high performance bag.

Fjällräven is an exclusive brand, no known by many you will not find any trekking pack built with more quality construction and durable materials than a Fjällräven. The following video gives insight to the construction process and materials that give the durable integrity to the Kajka frame.

The company is committed to crafting unique quality products. Each pack is constructed with such quality craftsmanship and materials like natural birch wood that not only reduce your carbon footprint, but improve performance. This beast of a back is more heavy duty than any other backpack in our testing room. The Fjällräven has a durable quality construction that you can feel. From the tough zippers, reinforced seams- this has the thickest/most durable material and you can feel it. The heavy duty polyester/vinyl material that the Kajka is constructed with, the Kajka can hold up against any beating thrown at it. Weather it’s a down pouring from mother nature, or you dragging it across your campsite or sliding along a rock face. The seams are reinforced, and the zippers are hefty. You can pack the bag as thick as you can and don’t have to worry about breaking the zipper when you try to close up a bag that’s too full (and in all likely hood this bottomless pack will never be too full). Seams feel well constructed and rugged, and zippers/buckles appear to be of a very high quality and operate smoothly. It is apparent that higher weight comes from the quality of the materials used. When purchasing a pack, you need to consider the trade off between weight and durability.

After your adventure, the Kajka can be compressed/collapsed easily and efficiently thanks to small poles on the sides.

Fjällräven Kjaka Specs

  • Material 600D Polyester
  • Width and length of suspension system are fully adjustable
  • Available sizes: 65L, 75L, 85L
  • Padded Waist Belt with pockets
  • 3 access points: Top, bottom or front zipper panel
  • Main compartment can be divided into a top and bottom section
  • 2 Large zipper sides pockets
  • 2 side water bottles pockets
  • Wet Dry Compartment
  • 2 Zippered Hip belt pockets
  • 1 zipper lid storage pocket
  • Sleeping back compartment
  • Includes raincover
  • Attachment points on top cover and bottom
  • Detatchable daypack – the top storage lid detaches
  • Weight: 7 lb 9 oz
  • Syspension System: Fully adjustable
  • Height: 80 cm
  • Rain-cover: Included
  • Width: 37 cm Depth: 29 cm Weight: 3300 g
  • Recommended use: Backpacking
  • 1 year manufacturer warranty

Osprey Atmos AG™

First Impressions

The suspension system on the Osprey Atmos AG series is unparalleled. It’s a serious load monster, transferring up to 60 lbs of weight from your back to your hips without leaving your back a sweating mess due to the ingenious suspension system. The new suspension system is leaps above the previous models, and better than any other we’ve tested. The over sized and strong mesh panel backing rests against your back. It feels like the pack is just floating on your back, carrying the weight extremely comfortably and evenly. Why is this suspension system such a big deal? When you’re trekking 50lbs of gear through the backcountry, it’s the difference between a 50lb sandbag strapped to your back digging into your shoulders and hips, whereas the Osprey Atmos seems to float on our back. The Osprey has a contoured fit, that moves with you.


If you love pockets, then you will love this pack. Especially if you are one of those ultra organized OCD packers who needs a home for everything, the Osprey Atmos is ideal for giving you quick access to everything you need most without having to take of your pack. Because more time hiking, is more time happy. Right?

Here is the low down on pockets: Two zippered pockets in the brain, generous bottom compartment, top storage is adequate – still fit a lot of gear if you are good at Tetris. Two side zipper pockets go fairly deep providing room for a fair amount of gear. The signature Osprey front mesh pocket is like a black hole fitting an impossible amount of gear, a great stowaway spot for all of your rain gear. There is also a sleeping bag compartment on the bottom, I never used it though.

Another of the smartest features of the Osprey Atmos packs is the angled water bottle pocket. With other packs, you nearly have to take off your pack to reach your water bottle. The Osprey allows you to reach on either side of the pack for your water, the mesh pocket has adequate room for up to a 32 oz bottle.

The sturdy yet light weight frame holds it’s form. When resting on the ground, you can find you gear easily. The generous interior space with easy stowaway pockets make it great for organizing, and securing zip pockets on the hip belt. without the bag sagging even when you aren’t wearing it. That means when you put it on the ground to find something, it doesn’t turn into some saggy sack and make it impossible to find something.

Fit & Feel

The Osprey Atmos AG backpack is packed full of features, lots of awesome pockets offering excellent organization. The genius suspension frame is incredibly comfortable, and the design of the pack has got to be one of our favorites. The ultra comfortable frame and suspension combined with one of our favorite overall pack designs. The suspension system equally distributes weight. Mesh suspension not only contours to your back, but creates amazing ventilation – no more sweaty back nonsense. Once you put the Atmos 65 AG on you’ll be surprised how evenly the AG or Anti-Gravity suspension spreads out the load creating a fairly even and pressure-point free feel. The AG suspension takes the trampoline style suspension to a new level incorporating not only the entire back panel but also the waist belt that makes the Atmos with loads up to 40-45lbs the best feeling pack in our review.

Very comfortable, the suspension system not only evenly distributes weight it also creates space between the back and the pack- allowing for air ventilation. This is also the most breathable backpack we’ve tried. Between the weight distribution, cooling effect and adjustable hip belt – this is a great light weight pack for long treks. Not only is the Atmos an awesome feeling pack but it features a ton of accessible pockets that will keep even the most OCD organized backpackers happy.

Durability

Definitely an A+ when it comes to durability. When you compare the material to other packs, it just feels stronger. While it has a slight sheen, it feels much more durable than other materials with the same visual appeal. The material seems to repel dirt, and water beads up on it and it has to seriously pour before it gets wet. Yet don’t worry, you have the rain shield.,. For any dirt or dust that does stick to your pack, just a few pats and it comes right off. The fine woven material doesn’t leave a lot of spaces for the dirt to hide.

From sliding past rocks to brushing against tree branches and shrubs, the pack held up like a champ. Sometimes I thought I’d snagged the bag or had torn a hole in it, yet when I checked it was fine. Dragged around multiple campsites and trekked for hundreds of miles – the Osprey Atmos comes out on the top of the list when it comes to an all around serious trekking back.

Mountainsmith Mayhem Backpack Review

  • Mountain Smith Mayhem Strap
  • Mountain Smith Mayhem Back
  • Mountain Smith Mayhem Waist
  • Mountain Smith Mayhem Front
  • Mountain Smith Mayhem Wearing

About Mountainsmith

Mountainsmith is known for expertly crafted backcountry adventure gear that’s durable, functional and affordable. With 35 years behind the belt, Mountainsmith has a proven track record of designing innovative, high performance backpacks that are built to last.

Despite the trend in the Ultralight Backpacking, Mountainsmith packs have stayed committed to their “Forged for Life®” durability and value. Featuring technical packs designed for extreme adventures from Ice Climbing to backcountry skiing, Mountainsmith packs have smart features and streamlined designs.

Innovative materials, smart functions, fresh colors and technical design for optimal comfort. solid construction with durable materials that can handle a beating. Versatile functionality for all terrain and all-season adventures, with sleek designs fit for the streets. The Mountainsmith lineup of 2016 backpacks are in a league of their own.

First Impressions: Mayem

The Mountainsmith Mayhem 45l is a versatile technical pack, constructed with durable materials built for extreme ad outdoor adventures. The Mayhem has a minimalist design, yet is loaded with high performance features.

Littered with hidden pockets and smart features, get geared up for anywhere.

There is plenty of easy access storage in addition to the main compartment. The front expandable mesh pocket is great for quick access gear. Side zipper panel pocket for your passport or wallet Smartly designed angled water bottle pocket makes for easier access. The firmly padded forward pull hip belt adjustable with a zipper pocket for essentials like chap stick, sun screen or your cell phone.

Ideal for winter sports, the Mayhem is decked out with all of the technical features would need for alpine climbing, snowboarding or backcountry skiing. High performance for extreme backcountry adventures, the Mayem is equipped with all the features you’d expect from a traditional trekking pack. The Mayhem has a versatile streamlined design.

The ideal size for backcountry day trips, the Mayhem is has the capacity to comfortably carry for all the food, water and gear you need for your adventure. The versatile external attachment system is user-friendly and keeps your your tools and gear secure and super accessible.

Constructed with with durable Cordura material, the Mountainsmith Mayhem can take a beating. The Mayhem 45 has an insanely large opening – front zipper access. The front zipper opening gives you access to the main compartment, ideal for packing bulky gear and getting the most out of every inch. The large front access us super convenient, you can stop on the trail to pull out some gear without having to empty your whole pack.

With high performance materials and constructions suited for the outdoors, easy access pockets and interior stowaways for organization make the Mountain Smith Mayhem great for travel as well. The streamlined design make the Mountain Smith a smart choice for airplane carry-ons. The Mayhem has a small internal, hidden stash pocket for important documents, passports, and money.

The Mayhem has all of the technical specs for climbers and serious backcountry adventures, yet the fashionable a streamlined design suited enough for a travel bag. The price point is competitive, and given the versatility a great purchase for a well rounded bag that is built to last.

The Mayham has has a pocket behind the hip belt specifically for water bottles. The pocket is angled slightly, enabling you to easily pull out your bottle without having to take off your pack or remove any straps. There are a plethora of pockets and stowaway points, from the hip belt pocket to small side zipper pocket perfect for keys.

Fit & Feel Mountain Smith Mayhem

Despite how heavy and bulky winter gear can be, the frame sheet and ventilated suspension system does a great job of evenly dispersing the weight. The padded hip belt and lumbar pad make even the heaviest of loads comfortable and balanced. The low profile hip belt easily tucks back behind the waist when you don’t want it out in front. The hip belt is perfectly compatible with a climbing harness.

The shoulder straps have a firm padding, and are fully adjustable. The Hip Belt is also adjustable enabling you to dial in the perfect fit for optimal comfort.

The Mountainsmith Mayhem comes in a 35l and 45l – each seemed to have subtle different. The 35l pack is a good option for anyone At 5’8″ or under. Taller peeps may want to opt for the 45l just for the longer torso length. It all really depends on your torso length, the important thing is to ensure the hip belts fit properly in order for the suspension system to work correctly and for the weight to transfer to your hips. If the pack is too short, you’ll end up feeling the weight of your load in your back.

Durability Mountain Smith Mayhem

For 2016, Mountainsmith is introducing a line of packs made from burly Cordura HP fabrics (a tough polyester weave). The Cordura has a quality you can feel, and the durability to last through any extreme backcountry adventures.

These packs are aimed more at all-around users — those who might go hiking one weekend, then take the pack on a plane to Europe the next — than the ultra-light hiking crowd.

Mountain Smith Mayhem Specs

  • Load lifter straps
  • Ski and Snowboard Carry
  • Front Panel Pocket
  • Side panel mesh pockets
  • Low Profile Tuckable Hip Belt (climbing compatible)
  • Ski and snowboard carry options
  • Avalanche Shovel pocket
  • Trekking pole/ice axe loops
  • Avalanche shovel pocket/ice pick
  • Load distributing Lumbar Control Point™ pad
  • Dense cushion shoulder straps
  • 6 Liter capacity Storm Collar
  • Water bladder hydration system compatible
  • Torso Size: 16” – 21”
  • Tuck away Waistbelt: 28” – 48”
  • Dimensions: 27” x 12” x 9”
  • Weight: 3 lbs 8 oz / 1.58 kg
  • Volume: 2745 in
  • Capacity: 45 lbs (realistically 35 lbs)
  • 305d Multi-Rip Cordura HP
  • 610d Cordura HP
  • Spring steel wireframe suspension

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