06/22/2010 04:46 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Beasts of Burden: The Best Backpacks for 2 Hours - or 2 Months

Whether you're headed out for a sunset stroll or a multi-month slog on the Appalachian Trail, you'll want to shoulder the latest in comfortable, Earth-minded packs. Not hooked into what's new? I've got your back.


CHICOBAG's DayPack rePETe, made of 95 percent recycled
content (mainly water bottles), easily swallows a couple of snacks, a
Sigg, and some sunscreen for a hike or bike ride. Back at home, you can
stuff it into the small attached pouch. Other niceties include stretchy
bottle pockets and a carabiner that's 97 percent recycled aluminum.
ChicoBag was started in 2004 after its founder, Andy Keller, toted some
trash to his local landfill and was horrified by the mountains of
plastic he saw. 5.6 ounces; holds 20 liters; $20;


When you're up for an overnight trip, the easily compressed JANSPORT
Salish keeps you light on your feet. It features a hydration tube, a
padded back and belt, a detachable hood, vented shoulder straps,
conveniently placed compartments, and several lashing points. JanSport
raises funds for, and donates gear to, Big City Mountaineers, a nonprofit
that takes urban teens on wilderness adventures. 59 ounces; holds 34.4 liters; $120;


are PVC-free, recyclable, dyed via a water-saving process, and designed
in an eco-friendly office. The men's Baltoro 70 and the women's
counterpart, the Deva 70, feature hypercomfortable suspension systems
whose adjustable straps make it feel like the pack is giving you a firm
but gentle hug. They're ideal for a fortnight, especially if the rest
of your gear is on the smaller side. Baltoro 70: 85 to 94 ounces; holds 68 to 76 liters; $290; Deva 70: 85 to 91 ounces; holds 69 to 74 liters; $290;


Most long-term trekkers plot out resupply points and thus don't need to
truck a huge load on their back. They look instead for the latest,
lightest technology to help them make it safely from port to port.
Altra models are just about perfect. Their clever suspension system
lets in plenty of air, while a rotating disc transfers the load in
harmony with the body's movements. Arc'teryx employs an independent
auditor to help the company "substantially reduce the total amount of
materials used over time." 76 to 81 ounces; holds 62 to 75 liters; $375-$400;

[via Sierra magazine]