The Claim: Terra Nova, an English company that holds the Guinness world record for lightest tent in the word, takes pride in making lightweight yet super tough equipment for the alpine world. The Quasar 30L pack carries that pedigree, with a hangtag promising a "lightweight, simple, and compact alpine pack with extra durability."
The Trial: The Quasar 30 came with me for quick weekend backpacking trips in the high country from May to July, and piled on miles with short hikes in the Boulder foothills.
The Verdict: The Quasar 30 shines when weight is a concern. Even with the removable hip-belt pockets and the full lid still attached, the Quasar tips the scales at 20 ounces. (Comparable packs weigh in around two pounds.) For day hikes, the pockets, lid and the 8mm foam back panel can be left behind, cutting weight to 12 ounces. Initially I questioned the strength of Terra Nova's nearly see-through Matrix fabric, but it's showing no signs of wear. A Dyneema/Cordura blend reinforces the base and back, upping durability in high-abrasion areas. The key is to load gear carefully for comfort: Thin fabric and minimal structure means the Quasar takes on the shape and feel of contents. Two side pockets, plenty of compression straps, and a double cord closure on the main compartment offer plenty of loading options. Tuck a hydration bladder into the internal pocket, and attach ice axes and gear (small tripod, sleeping mat, trekking poles) on outer flanks. A chest strap and harness-compatible waistbelt keep your load secure while moving fast and light through the mountains. $240; terra-nova.co.uk —Olivia Dwyer