A comfortable pack is an important part of any hiker's equipment. Whether you're on a day hike or a weeklong trek into the wilderness, a pack that allows you to comfortably haul gear is essential. If you're looking for a comfortable backpack, try to find one that's lightweight, with well-padded straps and an efficient load-bearing harness system.
Gregory Palisade 80
Featured in "Backpacker" magazine's Fall Gear Guide, Gregory's Palisade 80 ($250, as of January 2010) was noted for its ability to carry big loads without sacrificing comfort. Gregory credits the Palisade's comfort to its Response CFS suspension system, with its aluminum stays and five-point angle waist belt. The "Backpacker" review noted, "Few packs we've used match this one for comfort, stability and gargantuan capacity." The adjustable weight belt enabled them to find the most comfortable fit, and under larger loads, the weight transferred successfully to users' hips, instead of their shoulders.
Osprey Exos 36
Ideal for light hikers and fastpackers, Osprey's Exos 36 ($150, as of January 2010) is among the lightest, most comfortable packs available. Its Airspeed suspension system is framed with a lightweight aluminum alloy to provide support without adding weight, and every point of contact with the wearer is either breathable mesh or ventilated foam. The pack weighs slightly more than 2 pounds.
Arc'teryx Naos 55
Once featured as "Outside" magazine's gear of the year, the Arc'teryx Naos 55 ($499, as of January 2010) set "a new standard for blending comfort, durability and waterproofness," according to the publication's review. The harness effectively transfers weight to wearers' hips, and the dynamic Load Transfer Disc on the hip belt follows the hiker's movements to keep the pack stable.
Article Written By Billy Brown
Billy Brown is an outdoor sports writer living in Northern California.
An avid rock climber and trail runner, he's been writing about outdoor activities, fitness and gear since 2005. He regularly contributes to "The Record Searchlight," uncooped.com, and Trails.com, as well as other print and online publications. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Simpson University and is a NASM-certified personal trainer.