Trekking: Step into Spring with our favorite backcountry packs

Exped Thunder 70
Man isn’t meant to stay indoors — our weekly “Trekking” column can attest to that. It’s a column dedicated to the adventurer inside of all of us, the one pining to ditch the office humdrum for a quick surf session or seven-week jaunt in the Grand Tetons. One day we may highlight an ultra-light stove and the next a set of handmade canoe paddles. Life doesn’t just happen inside the workplace, so get outside and live it.

There’s no piece of equipment more important when backpacking than… well, the pack itself. And while long-form, external backpacks have recently made a comeback thanks to films such as Wild, it’s tough to ignore the ergonomic design and intuitive features afforded by a modern offerings. They lack the rustic appeal and, instead, opt for a more streamlined design that often comes outfitted with sternum straps, hip-belt pockets, and other components better suited to accommodate your wealth of gear (and your back). The best of them even include small enhancements, such as hydration ports and trekking pole loops, while keeping weight and cost to a minimum.

Related: These are the 10 best flasks to take with you into the backcountry and beyond

Below are three of our favorite packs for 2016, each of which is just as poised for a 5-day excursion in the desert as a thru-hike of epic proportions. Now you just need to pick the right size and select a destination, which, frankly, never seems to get any easier.

REI Flash 65 Pack ($200)

REI Flash 65

The folks at REI know their way around a pack, especially when you consider the company sells the biggest brands and manufactures its own gear. The new REI Flash 65 is a lightweight, budget-friendly option that utilizes REI’s suspended mesh panel, which helps it better conform to your body and adds comfort without sacrificing breathability. It’s also extremely versatile, lined with both 100- and 420-denier nylon ripstop, and features an adjustable torso that’s designed to fit a range of back lengths. Twin tool loops and a bevy of easily accessible pockets, including an ultra-convenient j-zip pocket on the front, just ensure you have plenty of room for your  sleeping pad and other gear.

Exped Thunder 70 ($289)

Exped Thunder 70

The larger the pack, the heavier it typically is. The same can’t be said of the Exped Thunder 70, though, given the behemoth backpack weighs a mere 3.5 pounds. It still manages to provide an admirable set of features despite its lightweight design, however, including an adjustable single aluminum stay and a lavish hipbelt that furthers stability alongside the pack’s tapered build. A welcome array of pockets line everything, from the extendable lid and hipbelt to the the sides and internal compartment, the latter of which is quickly accessible via three individual access options. Velcro webbing even keeps all the compression straps and other components in check, so you don’t have to.

Osprey Atmos AG 65 ($260)

Osprey Atmos AG 65

Comfort is not something most people associate with backpacking — I mean, how can strapping 50 pounds on your back be anything other than painful? That’s precisely where Osprey’s Atmos AG 65 excels, however. The central component to the pack is its AV (anti-gravity) suspension system, which is comprised of a network of non-stretch mesh that provides complete contact with length of your back, thus eliminating pressure points and helping with balance, airflow, and load transfer. The unique pack additionally benefits from robust storage space and excellent adjustability — namely in the hipbelt and torso — as well as a removable top lid, four compression straps, a trekking pole attachment system, and ice axe loops for frigid mountain ascents.

Deuter ACT Lite 40 + 10 ($180)

Deuter ACT Lite 40 + 10

The Deuter ACT Lite 40 + 10 doesn’t showcase a wealth of bells and whistles, though the lack thereof actually functions as the pack’s strong suit. It features a classic internal design with a set of dependable features that come only second to its innate versatility, which takes advantage of adjustable torso length, anatomical shoulder straps, and comfortable mesh paneling that hugs the body in all the right places. A lightweight, aluminum frame and embedded ventilation channel deepens the level of comfort and improve airflow, while both wet and dry storage compartments give you ample room to house your gear alongside the exterior gear loops and cavernous bottom pocket.

Travel

Casa de Campo Resort and Villas is the Perfect Place for a Guys’ Getaway

Everyone from the likes of Jay-Z to Michael Jordan to former President Bill Clinton, Drake, and honorary dude Rihanna have stayed at (and no doubt loved) Casa de Campo Resort and Villas.
Outdoors

The Best Ski Brands and Our Top Men’s Gear Picks from Each

The number of ski brands has exploded in recent years. How do you know which ones are the best?
Culture

Get Your Fitness Into Shape with the Best Workout Apps

Finding time to hit the gym can be tough. Get fit at home or on the go with the best workout apps. All it takes is one click to get started. No gym required.
Outdoors

The Best Winter Camping Gear to Pack This Season

If you're looking to head out on your first winter camping expedition, we recommend that you look past your usual gear to a more substantial packing list.
Living

5 Useful Ways to Recycle that Old Christmas Tree

An evergreen offers myriad opportunities for new uses, and many of these projects are both easy and fun.
Living

Sunset Ridge Residence Is a Stunning Snowy Retreat in Telluride

With mountain views from every room, this secluded home in the Rockies is a picture perfect winter getaway
Living

The Drama of this Home Matches Its Stunning Icelandic Surroundings

With a two-story curving wall of wood, Casa G stands out for all the right reasons
Living

For Sale: 348,000 Acres of Pristine Patagonian Wilderness

Even the NSA won't be able to find you here.
Living

The Village House Is a Reimagining of the Classic Farmhouse

For one Australian architect, the path to creating his client’s dream home involved building an entire “village.”
Living

Modern Architecture Meets Finnish Mountain Cabin at Jávri Lodge

The beautiful simplicity of Finnish design meets rustic style at this boutique hotel.
Living

You Can Buy Nicolas Cage’s Former Mansion in San Francisco

Fit for a refined, treasure-hunting lunatic. Or you.
Living

Shaq’s Florida Mansion Is for Sale and the Price Just Dropped by $6 Million

The property is lake-side and includes a massive indoor basketball court, gentleman's room, and a bizarre Egyptian fish tank room.
Living

Is This $30,000 Porsche 911 Desk Worth the Price Tag?

In celebration of the automaker's 70th anniversary, this one-of-a-kind writing desk sold at auction for a cool $30,000. But is it worth it?
Grooming

10 Products to Help Your Home Smell Like a Cabin in the Woods

Bring the outdoors in with these 10 scent-sational products.