On several occasions and in several places I’ve written that one only needs three packs: a daypack, a 40ish liter light framed pack (for light backpacking and heavy day things), and a big load hauler.  At no time in the last five years have there been fewer than 10 packs in our household, even if only half are functional at any given time.  But if I had to choose only three from the past half-decade I would pick the following, and wouldn’t even have too many regrets in doing so.

I’m not sure what to make of the fact that none of the three are currently available for sale.

The Osprey Rev 18 is my favorite daypack, ever.  It has all the great things at which Osprey is the best-ever at, and few of the things Osprey often over does.  The pockets are convenient, the harness is body hugging and super comfy for light loads, and the thing doesn’t even weigh that much.  For hiking and especially mountain biking it just cannot be beat, in my experience.


There are a lot of things I didn’t like about the 2011-2013 Gossamer Gear Gorilla.  The fabric was weak (for my uses), and the feature set and bag shape left a lot to be desired for anything other than trail backpacking (which in fairness was the only thing the Gorilla was built for).  The pack was well built, but the construction and detailing came across as simplistic, verging on crude.  But the thing carried brilliantly.  I occasionally loaded it up close to 50 pounds, and it struggled but did fine, while it owned loads between 20 and 30 pounds.  I learned a ton from carrying that pack, mainly about simple solutions going very far indeed when the details are done right.  A bunch of my own pack building and research since has come down to fixing the flaws of the Gorilla without taking away too much of it’s basic brilliance, something I’ve often failed at.


Seek Outside has made a bunch of bags, and I’ve made a lot for their system, since the original Unaweep 3900, which I received in May of 2014.  The Divide side pockets are better, the Revolution is far more versatile, and I can fit much more in the many larger packs I’ve made, but the tall and skinny 3900 remains my favorite.  The 36 inch diameter is just big enough for most of what you’d like to haul, while riding close and tight and maximizing the potential of the compression panel.  In the photo above I’ve got backpacking and packrafting gear for summer, 7 days of food, fishing gear, and a 6 pack of Kokanee on board.  This bag reminds me that for all the preoccupation with features, a big pack just needs to do the basics well, and let the user sort out organization depending on trip and personal preference.  The first generation of Unaweeps also came with my favorite massively overbuilt frame and dual density foam hipbelt.

Good things are worth holding on to.