- Buyer's Guide
Best Active Backpack Champion | Carry Awards X
Made for the mountains, our Best Active Backpack champion delivers a deft balance of light weight and durability, paired with great carry comfort and all the features you need for a day of active exploration…
The Best Active Backpack category this year was a really tough competition, with all the nominees being stunning packs, to say the least. But there could be only one winner, and we have a great one. The Scrambler 25 delivers in all areas: overall quality and usability, ultralight materials, and well-thought-out design. And it’s a hard-performing mountaineering carry tool that’s available at incredible value.
Mountain Hardwear is a company that is often overlooked. And year after year, they deliver packs that are nothing short of amazing, designed in every tiny detail to perfection. Even such small things as a toggle to keep the back of the lid attached without that usual small back gap, which could let snow and rain in. Or doubled daisy chains or internal gear loops, this team really know what they are doing!
So if your next adventure will lead you into the mountains and you’re looking for a compact daypack or summit pack, the Scrambler 25 should be on your shortlist. It’s available in multiple color variants, including classic black and alpine white. And at below $120 (directly from the manufacturer), it’s one of the best value-for-money genuine mountaineering packs out there. It’s a complete package. Congrats, Mountain Hardwear, on a well-deserved win!
These are the pieces that just missed out, and in most cases, by the smallest of margins. To them, we award a High Commendation. The below were of outstanding quality, displaying fine craftsmanship and design flair. With honor, we bow our heads in the utmost respect and kudos. If this were a dais, they’d be biting their teeth into silver medals, while their flags were hoisted into the horizon.
Need a pack that’s tough and practical enough for the outdoors but sleek enough for city use too? This is where the Arc’teryx Mantis 30 shines. The durable build will handle a variety of active uses while the clean aesthetics make this pack smart enough for work use too. A variety of pockets also offer useful organization for smaller items and gear you need to access quickly.
The chest strap and removable waist strap help stabilize the load during dynamic movement, while the padded back panel and harness offer good comfort for moderate loads. If you’re looking for one pack that will lend itself to multiple uses, from work commutes to travel, gym trips, day hikes, and more, the Mantis 30 is a great choice. Bravo, Arc’teryx!
Osprey’s UNLTD AirScape 68 excels when you need to carry a lot of gear. Key to its excellent performance is the focus on carry comfort. Osprey have incorporated a host of highly considered features to deliver the ultimate comfort, including a 3D Printed Fitscape Lumbar with Carbon DLS™ Technology for enhanced ventilation, an AutoLift System that automatically adjusts the harness length, as well as a Fit-On-The-Fly® hip belt for fine-tuning the fit.
The reverse panel loading design offers easy packing and access, while an assortment of pockets provide handy storage for smaller items. The pack also has a nifty trick up its sleeve with a removable top lid that converts into a daypack. Plus you also benefit from additional included features such as a raincover and a transit cover if you’re using the pack as check-in luggage but want a little added protection. When you need to carry a lot and need next-level comfort, this pack confidently rises to the challenge. Bravo, Osprey!