The Variant 52 pack carries a big load with the comfort our testers have come to expect from a company like Osprey. It also has the features of a backcountry ski pack, a mountaineering pack, and a general backpacking pack. Once we left the trail and got into technical terrain, all these buckles, straps, flaps, and other bells and whistles just got in the way and we found ourselves wishing for something simpler. Our testers think this pack could be paired with a pack from our Climbing Day Pack Review for a "big pack, little pack" strategy.
The simplest and most streamlined pack we tested is the Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45, our Editors' Choice winner. If you can't live without a lot of features, at least check out the CiloGear 45L WorkSack, which has modular features so you can keep the pack simple when it matters.