GGG Staff Picks: Packs Edition!

GGG Staff


The decisions that go into selecting a pack are deeply personal and combine factors of where you're adventuring, the weight and volume of your gear, your body shape, and so much more. We spoke with GGG team members about their favorite packs and why they love them. There's a real mix of styles, sizes, features, brands, looks, and places journeyed to. Check out each team member's choice, with plenty of stories woven in!

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 55

- Rich, Warehouse

My current favorite pack for a 3-10 day trip is my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 55. I’m about 6’2” and have the tall size pack. My preferred hiking area is the Southwest U.S. and especially Grand Canyon National Park. The HMG Southwest works great in the desert with solid fabric pockets instead of mesh. Most of the pack is heavy duty but still lightweight as it is made with Dyneema fabric, which is slippery to slide over rocks but very abrasion resistant. The pack is also very water resistant. I like the white color and dirt just doesn’t stick to it. My white pack looks cleaner than my friend's black one. Some people complain that HMG doesn’t have load lifters, but I really don’t notice anything missing. The HMG Southwest replaced an Osprey Exos 58. The Osprey was comfortable, but was easily damaged and had multiple holes from sliding across rock.

Zpacks Nero Ultra 38L 

- Ali, Writer

I use my Zpacks Nero for everything: a gym bag, grocery getter, day hike hauler, travel suitcase, and a beloved thru-hike companion. I chose it for its lightweight, simple, no-frills design that allows me to pack it down into a tight little bundle and stuff it into my bikepacking bags. Then, I pedal into remote access trailheads, transfer all my camping gear from my bikepacking bags into my backpack - and head off into the woods. The classic bike-to-hike is one of my favorite pastimes and the Nero makes it easy to do!

A DIY Pack Made for the Arizona Trail

- Katya, Website

The pack I made for the Arizona Trail (AZT) is probably my most favorite. I learned a lot from making it, and I'm most proud of it, even though there's a lot I might consider "wrong" with it.  Plus there's a ton of sentimental value in this pack for me since I hiked the whole AZT with it. I used fabric that I had on hand for this pack, even though I knew it wasn’t “perfect,” and I learned about the limitations of my sewing machine. I changed a whole bunch of things from my first pack since I wanted to test a bunch of ideas/features at once. I also finished sewing it in the early morning hours before I flew out to visit my grandma and then get on trail. Realistically that was far more stressful than anything I faced on trail, so it was a good stress test I guess! Despite everything "wrong" with it, it survived a whole thru-hike with minimal wear and tear, and I probably won’t ever hike in this pack again, but it still is a legend in my mind. I would also make an argument that everyone's "favorite" piece of gear is always the next one; the elusive “perfect,” just on the horizon, "if I just change ___" is very much the mindset of a MYOG-er!

Joey by Pa'lante Packs

- Adam, Buying

Over the past ten years or so I've changed packs quite a bit, moving from Osprey packs to a few packs from various cottage vendors. I've sewn several of my own, and used one of them for about half of my AT thru-hike, just before I started working at GGG. I love DIY packs because, as long as you have the skill set, you can make your dream pack! More recently, though, I've been hiking with a Pa'lante Joey and Sidebag. I'm a huge proponent of vest-style hiking packs, and it's hard to beat the comfort of the Joey if you have your kit dialed in enough!


The Atom +

- Rafael, Writer

A relic of the 2010's, my Atom+ has been the hauler pack in my closet for the better part of a decade. I wrote a full review of it after my 2019 PCT LASH, and I use it whenever I have large water carries across the desert, or on trips where a bear canister is required. It still comfortably carries full pack weights in the lower thirties, even after it's endured years of scree and miles of cholla. Tom from Atom Packs technically doesn't offer some of the features on my pack anymore, but you can find a lot of the same features on the current run of the Mo and Atom +. Personally though, I might join the fanny pack crew and get their Roo Fanny Pack. I've wanted one for years! Plus, Tom does excellent work and offers excellent customer service. 

Desert by Pa’lante Packs

- Ethan, Warehouse

My favorite pack so far has been the Pa’lante Desert Pack. Mine is a 17" in white Ultra fabric – it’s the first frameless pack I've tried, and I love it. The external pockets provide excellent spots for me to store crucial items like sunscreen, hand sanitizer, snacks, and more in quick access spots. White packs may be a turnoff for some people, but I dig the worn patina look. I also found a cool way to use the pack with a powerful headlamp inside of it so that it glows.

Ultralight Pack by Thrupack

- Ben, Customer Experience

My go-to pack is new to me; I was a lucky winner at the Garage Grown Gear Holiday party and took home a simple and unique pack from Thrupack. I was originally visually struck by the sleek look and cosmic colorway Thrupack elected to use for the stretchy front pocket. I've always been a fan of their eye-catching fanny packs, and to have a similarly made backpack is pretty awesome. I've grown to really appreciate its spartan construction: Thrupack used p-cord instead of straps in some places, which not only cuts down on the weight but makes this a cinch to repair if and when the need arises. I'm also becoming a fan of the two-pocket design as it forces me to stay organized on trail and cuts down on time searching for small items stowed away in odd places. I'm looking forward to breaking this pack in on a longer hike; so far it has been the perfect weekend companion. It has ample space to bring home any wild edibles I find while romping around the wilds of the Minnesota River Valley while also holding an extra day's worth of food in case I get the urge to stay

1 comment

Martin J. Camp

Martin J. Camp

Actually MAKING a Backpack sounds so complicated, and I’ll bet it takes only the greatest skill to construct a pack that will withstand the rigors of the trails. Congratulations to these people who seem so unafraid of doing so!

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