This category has a built-in internal frame that the rest of the pack is designed around, and the frame is not removable. A backpack of this type with a volume in the fifty- to sixty-five-liter range is very popular for lightweight backpacking, carrying a total weight of twenty-five to thirty-five pounds. Our weight limit in this category is three and a half pounds. These packs are generally better padded, sturdier, and capable of carrying a heavier load more comfortably.

My current favorites are:

  • Granite Gear Vapor Trail (59 L, 37 oz, US$160)
  • ULA Equipment Catalyst (75 L, 43 oz, US$225)
  • REI Cruise UL 60 (60 L, 50 oz, US$130)
  • GoLite Quest (72 L, 51 oz, US$175)
  • Gregory Z-55 (55 L, 53 oz, US$199)
  • Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian (60 L, 56 oz, US$250)

Please note that total pack volume can be very misleading, because it doesn't indicate how much of the volume is contained in outside pockets versus the main compartment. The actual pack size/volume can be significantly larger or smaller than expected. I strongly recommend comparing packs in detail before making a purchase. Factors that contribute to weight - but also to comfort - are adjustability and padding. The Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian is the heaviest pack on our favorites list, but it is also the most adjustable and arguably the most comfortable.


  • Built-In Internal Frame Backpacks
  • Osprey Re-enters the Lightweight Pack Category
  • Lightwave Introduces a (Nearly) Waterproof Backpack
  • Gregory Further Expands Their Popular Z-Pack Series
  • Updated North Face Skareb Backpacks are Better than Ever
  • Backpacks with a Removable Frame
  • REI's New Flash Ultralight Backpacks are Spot On
  • Six Moon Designs Introduces a Travel Pack
  • The Super Scrambler from Mountain Hardwear
  • Frameless Backpacks
  • Gossamer Gear Murmur Replaces the Whisper
  • GoLite Upgrades the Jam2 and Pinnacle for Spring 2009
  • Mountain Laurel Designs Replaces the Zip Pack with the Exodus and Arc
  • Terra Nova Expands Into Backpacks
  • Assessment and Trends

# WORDS: 3250
# PHOTOS: 12

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