Disclaimer: Since I am only one man, I unfortunately have neither the time nor the resources to acquire and laboriously compare many different pieces of gear. As such, the reviews on this blog are only my honest assessment of certain pieces of gear and clothing that I’ve purchased and used over the years. If you are looking for exhaustive comparisons backed up by hours and hours of testing and data, I’d highly recommend checking out reviews from sites like The Wirecutter (or its sister site, The Sweethome) and OutdoorGearLab, both of which I refer to in these reviews and when I’m shopping for myself. I am not affiliated with any of these sites, but I rely on their research like any other consumer, and have found their work to be helpful, transparent, and extremely thorough. All of this said, thank you for reading, and I hope you find that the following recommendations positively inform your outdoor gear research and purchasing.
Along with good footwear, a solid and comfortable pack is one of those pivotal pieces of gear that can make or break a hiking trip. It helps keep all the rest of your gear organized, accessible, and comfortably transportable. I've actually had the same pack for the majority of my life – the Gregory Baltoro – and it has comfortably lasted through many trips and many hundreds of miles on the trail.
It has long been lauded as one of the most comfortable packs on the market (especially for larger loads), and I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. It's versatile and highly adjustable design can handle anything from weekend supplies to multi-week loads. During 200 miles of trekking through the Himalayas of Nepal, the weight on my back was the last thing I had to worry about (potable water and goring by yak ranked towards the top of that list). The Baltoro kept my entire 40 pound load stable, breathable, and nimble every step of the way.
At the time I bought mine, the pack was already turning heads and making waves with gear reviewers. The Baltoro has been updated over the years, but the current incarnation continues to garner awards and wow gear testers with its comfort and stability. It has received Backpacker Magazine's Editors' Choice Award, and has also been crowned winner of Outdoor Magazine's 2015 Gear of the Year.
This pack is bombproof. It has weathered every condition I've dragged it through and maintained it's structural integrity over many years and many miles. It shows no sign of wear and tear, and based on its glowing track record, I have no reason to doubt its ability to faithfully serve me for many years to come.
If I had to get a new pack, and I was forbidden of buying another Baltoro as a replacement, I'd like to explore Osprey's line of packs, featuring their All Mighty Guarantee (which should make /r/BuyItForLife proud). But if I had to recommend a solid pack that can handle anything you throw at it, I would unashamedly suggest the Gregory Baltoro 75 for $320.