A smaller-volume ZPacks’ Arc-series pack, unique for its curved frame that keeps the pack away from your back for better air movement and less sweating.

The ZPacks Arc Blast pack has been around for a while, and I expect most BPL readers are aware of it. But there is a good reason for its longevity: it is a framed pack that weighs less than many frameless packs. Arcing the frame keeps the pack away from my back and allows air to circulate, a feature I prize on hikes through the desert and other hot places. Although the frame looks dainty, I have loaded the pack up with as much as 11 L of water. This is not a practice I recommend, but the pack survived, and so did I. The pack has also survived many miles of bushwhacking with only a few small tape patches to show for it. Perhaps more surprisingly, it has survived baggage handlers on a dozen or so flights. There are plenty of great new packs out there, but none have yet convinced me to move on from the Arc Blast. – Drew Smith