Best for Day Hikers: Kelty Captain
Credit: Photograph by Travis Rathbone

We were impressed by this compact, classically styled 23-liter pack's ability to devour a stack of big heavy books – and overstuffed shoulder straps made hauling them less of a chore. But it's well suited to the trail, too, thanks to puncture-proof Cordura fabric and a waist strap that helps distribute the load. [$100;]