This year was the time to upgrade our backcountry gear. Boy have things changed from 1994!
The only backpacks back then available for us were external frame packs. I really thought I would never be able to give up my external frame pack. But after a camping trip this past October with friends, we realized it was a must do! Their tent weighed 2lbs., ours Eureka tent weighed 8.5lbs. Our packs weighed in at 50lbs easy. Their packs were around 20lbs.
Doing tons of research on this stuff was long and tedious. There were no real good websites that gave good advice. We are avid subscribers to major camping magazines and to date have purchased very little from their reviews and recommendations.
We decided on Kelty Packs. A mens Cloud 90 and a womans Cloud 80. Why? Well, because the military use the Kelty Packs. Our prior packs were Wenzel’s, a product of Kelty. We like how the Kelty Packs fit on our backs. It has a fanny pack on top that can be removed and used as a day pack. There are plenty of compartments. The main compartment can be accessed from the front, top and bottom. I hate a pack that is nothing but a big deep hole where you loose everything. Both packs are hydration compatible. They have a separate sleeping bag compartment. Airflow panels well as thick padding around the shoulder straps and hip belt area for extra comfort.
The main thing is go to a good outfitter and get measured. Then go to another and get re-measured. Try on as many packs as you can before making a decision. You will be glad you did.