Backpacker magazine reports on its extensive field tests of the Mountainsmith Treklight Eclipse 55 backpack in its 2008 Gear Guide. Very detailed and thorough reviews of a comparable Mountainsmith weekend backpack are available at BackpackGearTest.org.
The Mountainsmith Treklight Eclipse 55 is a top-ranked backpack for weekend trips with a capacity of about 3,400 cubic inches. Weighing only about 3.5 pounds, the Mountainsmith Treklight Eclipse is an internal-frame pack, which most experts recommend for balance and comfort. The Mountainsmith Treklight's side pockets are big enough for 32-ounce water bottles, and its two loops hold climbing ropes or other accessories while a zippered top pocket holds maps. The hip belt also has a zippered pocket. Women might consider the Osprey Ariel 65 (*est. $240), which fits most women better. Hikers and campers looking to spend less might also enjoy the budget Teton Sports Wilderness 55 (*est. $75).
1. Backpacker Magazine
This backpacking magazine tests more backpacks than any other publication. The March 2008 Gear Guide recommends the Mountainsmith Treklight Eclipse 55 as the best weekend pack, praising its tough durability and its memory-foam hip belt.
Review: 2008 Gear Guide, Editors of Backpacker Magazine, Mar. 2008
The Mountainsmith backpack reviewed here is a different model, but the praise for the quality of its construction applies to similar backpacks from the same brand.
Review: Mountainsmith Boundary Backpack, Contributors to BackPackGearTest.org
3. Lightweight Backpacking and Camping
This book makes recommendations for hikers interested in trying ultralight backpacking. The authors recommend a backpack size of 3,355 to 4,000 cubic inches (such as the 3,400-cubic-inch Treklight Eclipse 55) for longer hikes.
Review: Chapter Two: Backpacks; Chapter Three: Pack Weight, Ryan Jordan and George Cole, Oct. 2005