Packing for the mountains often means packing a mountain of gear — ropes, harnesses, ice tools, crampons, helmet and protection, not to mention your clothes and base camp kit — into a big, sturdy pack. But quick summit bids favor a lean, lightweight minimalist pack that won’t weigh you down or get in the way on a multi-pitch climb. Enter Eddie Bauer’s shape-shifting Sorcerer, which manages, through a slick conversion trick, to be both a 40-liter summit pack and a 55-liter freight hauler at once.
While this pack appears, at first sight, to be little more than an update to EB’s award-winning Alchemist, it’s a real game changer. The company built the Sorcerer to be a professional alpine guide’s go-to pack, which in turn makes it the weekend warrior’s ultimate dream pack. It’s lightweight and, thanks to space-age materials, rugged enough to shrug off daily abuse in the world’s most forbidding environments. Most of the pack is constructed from bombproof CTF3, a high-performance wonder-fabric that’s four times stronger than Kevlar and 15 times more abrasion resistant than steel. The standard plastic buckles were chucked in favor of aluminum. The featherweight CTF3 helped the Sorcerer shed nearly a pound from its predecessor, and pulling out the back support (a foam insert that can serve as a bivy pad or emergency splint) further lightens it to a paltry 2 pounds, 10 ounces.
The Sorcerer has plenty more tricks up its sleeve: it compresses snugly to secure small loads, it’s nearly weatherproof, and it’s pocket-tastic. But by far its best quality is supreme versatility with very few trade-offs (besides price). It’s a best-in-class pack that’s at home atop Denali, but handles a weekend backpack in the Whites with equal aplomb. And that’s nothing if not magical.
Capacity: 55 liters
Weight: 3 pounds, 6 ounces