Sea to Summit Rapid 26L
Weight: 760 grams
Best For: Canoe tripping.
This is one of the few waterproof backpacks that is actually nice to carry. The plush padding covering the whole back and shoulders resists absorbing water and is nicely cushioned for long trail miles. Stabilizer straps help pull the load towards the back for hiking comfort, compensating for the webbing waist strap. Two zip-pockets separate valuables from the main top load pocket.
Bottom Line: Our pack of choice any time water-travel or rain is in the forecast.
Columbia Pour Osity Stretch Jacket
Weight: 397 grams
Best For: When you know it's going to rain.
Sitting in the pouring rain in a speeding zodiac — yeah, that's a pretty good test of a jacket's weatherproof chops. Our tester cinched the helmet-friendly hood snug and then let the Omni-Dry membrane create a sanctuary within. When it came time to schlep gear along the rainforest trail, the wicking and highly breathable liner and two pit-vents did an admiral job of keeping him dry from the inside too.
Bottom Line: Even after abuse on land and water, the four-way stretch shows no wear; a workhorse shell.
The North Face Ultra Fastpack Mid GTX
Weight: 800 grams
Best For: Going fast and far.
Like its name suggests, the Fastpack is all about moving quickly, whether it's on or off trail. The shank and protection plate not only deflect sharp rocks, but they also bow, giving a noticeable push into the next stride. For their height, these are lightweight shoes. But that comes at the expense of cushioning, especially on the tongue; if we cinched our laces too tight we felt them bite.
Bottom Line: A steal, especially if you value weight over plush comfort.