Millet Axpel 42
Swiveling waistbelts and “dynamic suspension” are becoming pretty common among packs, but for its new line of mid-sized packs, Millet is doing something unique. The pivot point lies several inches above the lumbar pad, in the middle of your lower back. Our testers said these innovations significantly increased stability and carrying comfort: “It moved with me when I was boulder-hopping on the way to the Petit Grepon in Rocky Mountain National Park,” one tester said. “I’m always leaning over to grab rocks and trees for support when I hike, and with this pack I could do it easily and comfortably.” The 42-liter pack is well-sized for a full day in the mountains, with a full panoply of pockets, ice axe holders, rope carrier, and removable rain cover. Side compression straps connect to an X of stiff fabric across the back of the pack to suck the load closer to your body, which Millet calls Load Directed Construction. (Millet is also making a 48-liter Axpel, and a women’s 38-liter model.) A zippered bottom compartment made a great place to stash helmet, shoes, and harness for easy access at the base of a route.