If you’re looking for a new but inexpensive backpack for overnight trips, the REI Flash65 could be your best bet. After using it for a two-location camping/kayak trip, it carried everything I needed it to.
I packed it the night before, and I was surprised at how little room the “essentials” took up. I started to load in some extra things that I usually pack in a separate bag. In all, I loaded it down with about 45 pounds of gear. When I put it on, it felt like all the weight was on my hips, which was great for moving around. It felt amazingly light. The shoulder straps at that point felt like they were just stabilizing the pack — which is how a good pack is meant to be worn.
It has a place for a water sack, but I didn’t use one this time. I’m old fashioned … I prefer the old round canteen with the strap you throw over your shoulder. I might get a hydration sack to go in it one day, who knows.
Another great thing was the amount of storage on the outside. It has, of course, the top pocket (which removes), and a nicely sized outside pocked on the back (or front, depending on which way you’re holding the pack). There are also four mesh pockets (two on either side), where you can store a few items you need ready access to on the trails (like a water bottle, PowerBar or something like that). There is also a small zipper pocket on the waist belt that I didn’t even use because I’d already found a home for all my other gear and gadgets. It’s a good place to put your keys I guess if you’re just doing a park-n-hike for an afternoon. If my multi-tool didn’t have a belt clip, I’d probably put it in there.
There are also plenty of tie-downs, straps and clips to secure some of your more bulky gear to the outside of the pack. There are two straps on the bottom that are perfect for a sleeping pad or a bag if you just roll it up without folding it length-wize down the center. I have a Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite, and if I roll the sleeping back and pad together without folding, the straps still go all the way around.
In all, for the price, I’d definitely recommend this pack. It’s at REI for about $150. Good deal.