A new local park with miles of excellent hiking trails opened last month; it’s only 10 minutes from my house, so I plan to spend a lot of time there this spring. Here’s what I’ll have with me:
Osprey Escapist 20 ($99; OspreyPacks.com) Full disclosure: This pack was designed for mountain bikers, and there’s even a helmet attachment (called a “LidLock”) to prove it. But I love it for day hikes, too. It keeps sweat at bay better than any other pack I’ve tried, thanks to the ingenious mix of strategically-placed foam and mesh on the back panels and straps, and that’s a huge thing if you live in an often-steamy climate. In addition, there are lots of little extras that show that great care went into the design: a secret rain cover hidden in the bottom, a small top “slash” pocket so small items (wallet, sunglasses, camera) are easy to access, a pocket on the shoulder strap for your ID and some cash, and two water bottle pockets.