This year, backpacks are all about personal fit


Quick adjustability and activity-specific designs make it easy to find the perfect backpack.

This year, backpacks are all about you. New designs are becoming more customizable for a wider range of hikers: Look for features like dynamic adjustability, packs tailored to specific users and even broader colorways that help personalize an individual’s look outdoors.

Gone are the days where a shoulder harness could be set in, say, one of three possible positions. According to Granite Gear Senior Director of Design and Development Michael Meyer, “Quick and simple micro-adjustability for a custom fit has been a growing trend, and the ability to achieve a fully custom fit provides the highest level of comfort.” Brands are also introducing pack lines that come in a range of sizes, making it easier to fine-tune fit.

Packs designed specifically for certain consumers, such as trail runners, are also having a moment.Features such as weight-shaving buckles and thinner webbing, integrated waterproof covers or waterproof materials and improved external pockets for on-the-go access to water and jackets are geared toward athletes achieving thru-hiking records or one-day peakbagging objectives.

Also look for high-tech add-ons, such as mobile power sources. Chris Ritchie, Thule’s PR and communication manager, said integrating technology into packs is more important than ever. “Brands are adding things like solar panels to their packs, and while it may come across asgimmicky at first, it’s a feature that has staying power,” he said. “Just like a new trend or technology dictating a product line’s needs, we as manufacturers need to evolve with what the consumer is asking for. Hikers and backpackers are innovating and creating features on their own, like clipping a mini solar panel to their bags, and the brands are listening.”

1.Arc’teryx is pushing the design envelope with new suspension technology in the Bora AR Backpack series, which comes in 50L (49L for women; MSRP $499) and 63L (61L for women; MSRP $549) sizes. Each pack features what the brand is calling RotoGlide, a hipbelt system that slides up and down on a track. This follows the lengthening and straightening of the back that occurs while climbing and also rotates up and down with the hips while walking.

Arc'teryx Bora AR backpack

2. Granite Gear’s new Crown2 (MSRP $200), thoroughly tested last year on the first winter thru-hike of the PCT, follows the on-the-fly adjustability trend in lightweight, high-capacity packs. Choosing to go with three distinct torso lengths instead of an adjustable shoulder system, Granite Gear achieves customization through the Re-Fit hipbelt, which slides out from behind the backpanel and includes hook-and-loop closure straps on the waist for microadjustments.

Granite Gear Crown2 backpack

3. Mystery Ranch said it sees growth in the heavy-duty approach to tactical and hunting pack design. Its new Stein 62 multiday pack (MSRP $299) is the “best balance between bombproof materials and lightweight constructions we could find,” says company founder Dana Gleason.

Mystery Ranch Stein 62 multiday backpack

4. Kelty is putting its innovation dollars into the Millennial (read: versatile, comfortable, fun) and women’s markets, rolling out its new Kinesis Hip Belt and a “Built for Women, by Women” line of packs. Look for its Sira 45W daypack (MSRP $200) and 60L Reva multiday pack (MSRP $220). The Reva features an adjustable suspension system designed to eliminate common pressure points for women, and the hipbelt moves side to side to match a woman’s stride.

Kelty Sira 45 backpack

5. When it comes to versatility, keep an eye out for the new line of high-end, multiuse but tactically focused packs from knifemaker SOG, celebrating its 30th anniversary at the show this summer. The 33L Prophet (MSRP $229) is the most adaptable, going from backpack to duffle with stowable straps. It also features long-item carry on the outside, compression straps and lots of attachment points.

SOG 33L Prophet backpack

6. For something less traditional but on-point with the versatility trend, Peak Design offers the Everyday Backpack, which comes in an 18L (MSRP $225) and 30L size (MSRP $275). Aimed at “urbanites, photographers, travelers, creatives and everyone in between,” it features a single, 300-degree waterproof zipper for full top- and side-loading access.Internal dividers and padded pockets protect everything from tablets to a full kit of photo gear.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack

7. The new Aerolon Series of multiday packs from Gregory features toplid loops for integrating solar panels and a hydration sleeve that converts into a superlight daypack for summit trips. The men’s 48L Paragon (MSRP $180) weighs only 3 pounds, 3 ounces.

Gregory Paragon backpack



Gear Trends: 2017 Sleeping Bags and Pads

Light weight is no longer the most coveted quality in the line up of 2017 sleeping bags. Brands are incorporating comfort into backcountry nights like never before with zipperless technology and luxury-class sleeping pads. Quilted for comfort  Sierra Designs took quilts to the more


2017 camp kitchen essentials turn up the heat

Outdoors eatin’ gets busy with this year’s crop of faster, lighter and more efficient cooksets for groups. Whether you're trekking along the trail or staying close to your car, the line up of 2017 camp kitchen tools and accessories are lighter, more compact, and cut down on prep more

Slumberjack tent

Gear trends: Tents of '17 are all about versatility

Shape shifters: New tents have versatile designs that adjust to the demands of weather, season, or group size. SAME SHELTER, MULTIPLE CONFIGURATIONS: Campers continue to press for tents that can adjust to different pursuits and conditions, allwhile providing ample space without more

got your bak lab door resize

First Look: The new S'17 CamelBak line

In anticipation of the fast-approaching Summer Outdoor Retailer show, SNEWS got a sneak peek behind the curtains at CamelBak headquarters in Petaluma, Calif., which houses the innovation lab behind the brand’s Got Your Bak guarantee. CamelBak began down in Texas, in 1989. As more


Beta on backpacks at outdoor retail

In the world of outdoor backpacks, sales trends are as varied as the terrain consumers carry them in. “Consumers are looking for lightweight packs that are durable and functional,” said Nancy Bouchard, backpack category manager for Backpacker magazine. “Clean lines are in, fussy more

Garmin Will Acquire DeLorme

Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN) announced it will acquire privately-held, family-owned and operated navigational company DeLorme, in what DeLorme VP of marketing Kim Stiver said is a “very friendly acquisition.” Garmin will acquire “substantially all” of the DeLorme assets and retain more


MSR® Engineers WindBoiler Personal Stove System for Weekend Backpackers

MSR (Mountain Safety Research®), the Seattle-based manufacturer of high-performance outdoor equipment, today announced its all-new WindBoiler Personal Stove System for Fall 2014. The new stove offers outdoor enthusiasts the superior wind protection of the award-winning, alpinist more

John Christian Walbrecht. Photo from Walbrecht's LinkedIn page.

Mountain Hardwear finally gets new president, six months after Gaylord's departure

After a long wait, Columbia Sportswear Company has announced that John Christian Walbrecht, a 17-year industry veteran, will serve as president of its Mountain Hardwear brand beginning March 7. Walbrecht will not speak to media until his official start date, but Columbia more


Gregory Wins Outside “Gear of the Year” for Border 35 Travel Backpack

Gregory, the leading pack maker for over 35 years, has been presented the coveted “Gear of the Year” award from Outside for its Border™ 35 travel backpack. Announced today in the magazine’s Buyer’s Guide, the award adds to the haul of accolades that Gregory has already collected more