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i have three basic uses for backpacks - big daypacks for long hikes or overnights, the middle size 'weekend' at about 60 liters, and a large pack for longer trips and winter. perfectly happy with the small and large options, but debating whether or how to replace my mid-sized pack - a dana designs/marmot bridger. it's heavy for a 60 liter pack at 5 pounds, and the lid has a perpetually confusing set of straps that i still haven't quite figured out. the lack of any useful side pockets is annoying. i'm kind of used to that at this point, and it's a secondary issue, but usable side pockets would be nice. it can handle 50 pounds easily, putting virtually all the load on my hips - suspension is a frame sheet, single aluminum stay, and twin flexed fiberglass stays at each edge of the framesheet. foam on the hips, shoulder, back are relatively stiff. it's a comfortable pack for the most part, but i'm not sure the split hipbelt is the best design - sometimes, it feels like it isn't distributing weight as well as it could. highly durable - in great shape after a number of years. mystery ranch makes a larger version of this, the Glacier, but it's larger, heavier, and more expensive than i want or need.
for the most part, i don't carry 50 pounds in a pack this size, and i have tried on some more modern designs that are more comfortable. so, i think about replacing it with something a little lighter, but still capable of carrying a decent amount of weight and handling abuse.
i have pretty much ruled out lightweight backpacks because i like hiking off-trail - so granite gear and the lighter-weight REI, Osprey, Gregory packs are out. there are solid gregory, osprey and arcteryx solutions, but they are just as heavy as the current pack. i like the durability of alpine packs (wild things, cold cold world), but the lack of a frame probably doesn't fit my needs. i'm intrigued by McHale but don't think i need to spend that much on a pack this size.
the subject of my latest rumination is the mystery ranch trance and the cilogear 60 liter worksack. both have a frame/suspension that would be an able replacement, and both should be durable. if the cilo had pockets, it would appeal to me more.
any thoughts about these? any suggestions of something else i should look at?