Price $149, www.ospreypacks.com, 4 stars
IF THE OSPREY Stratos 40 were a person, you’d probably hate him—this pack does it all really well. Fortunately, the Stratos 40 isn’t human, but a well-designed union of four different types of durable, lightweight and stretchy nylon.
The Stratos 40’s standout feature is its AirCore back panel. Two fiberglass struts create a concave frame over which is stretched a durable mesh sheet. This design is, hands down, the coolest, most comfortable frame I’ve worn, especially under heavier loads (70-meter rope, rack of draws, three liters of water, shoes and harness).
The Stratos 40 is fine for all types of winter climbing, but it doesn’t carry ice tools as well as other Osprey packs, especially their new Variant 28 (review coming this fall).
I recommend taking this pack to rock-climbing areas and on overnight trips. The Stratos 40 weighs just under three pounds in the medium size, carries 40 liters (2,400 cubic inches) and handles loads like a nylon fork lift.