There's the gear you want, and there's the gear you need. After much internal debate, we present the 25 products every guy should own.

I'm looking for a new multi-use bag for graduate school. I'd like a bag I can use during the week for biking to school (I have a 17 inch laptop), and on the weekends for long day hikes with my dog. It'd also be nice if it was waterproof, and it doesn't need to be specifically for holding laptops since I have a sleeve. Liz Harvey Denver, Colorado

Hi, I compete in triathlons and I was wondering what you would suggest for a backpack. Even better, a backpack that could also also used for snowboarding and camping. — John Fargo, ND

Advice on finding the best gear—and tried-n-true methods for maintaining your gear for years to come.

Sleeping Bags Twenty-seven testers fanned out across the Pacific Northwest, bedding down for an accumulated 88 nights in 25 different sleeping bags. Trail Shoes Over five months, Jason Stevenson and his team of three testers evaluated 70 pairs of light hikers in six states—from Arizona…

This fat-tire Shangri-La's got stunning scenery, challenging riding, plenty of beer and music—and you don't have to be an expert rider or endurance junkie. Here's everything you need to make the most of this weekend-long party, er, mountain-bike race.

1. Zoic‘s Black Market ($69; quickly became our go-to shorts. The reasons: plenty of pockets, a loose but not baggy fit, and, most important, an inner short with a super-comfy chamois. Mountain biking apparel MTB style 2. Thanks to its street-smart style and semi-fitted…

Cortez, CO

When spring showers make a mess of your favorite streets and trails, fight back.

I have been trying to find a good pack for packing camera gear. Although there are camera backpacks out there, they do not allow me to carry personal stuff, and they don't seem to be that well made. My question is...without hiring a sherpa, what company makes a "real" backpack that would allow me to carry both. I have looked at the Deuter Futura Pro 42, and would make the bottom compartment into the camera storage. I will go out for a day, maybe a day and night. Thanks a lot! Daryl Wheat Ridge, CO

The tools and gadgets that made the cut for our second annual celebration of the best in design and technology.

I looking for the best backpack type child carrier. Any suggestions? Rudi Gardiner, NY

Carry a featherweight load without leaving comfort behind.

There are two choices when confronting the current chaos in the job market: Be afraid. (Useless.) Be bold. (That’s the spirit.) Because moments of turmoil present the biggest opportunities to take a new direction, to find an employer who gets your need for adventure, to finally break free of the cubicle. How We Picked…

What is the best all-around urban backpack? Kirsten Edmonton, Alberta

From African safaris to Indian trekking to Brazilian backpacking, the right gear will make the trip

I have the chance to purchase an old, never-used Dana Design Bomb pack to replace my Dana Sluiskin 30, which has proven to be a bit small. I do a lot of peak bagging and some light overnights in Colorado and occasionally take friends who don't have packs. What do you think? Mark Topeka, Kansas

Who makes quality comfortable backpacks for kids, ages 8 to 12? My grandsons love our weekend camping trips, but the best packs we can find, extra-small women’s packs, still have harness systems too large for them. S Fairbanks, Alaska

I live in an Army town where my choice for outdoor gear is fairly limited to military surplus products. Relatively cheap ALICE packs and woodland co Gore-Tex abound here. Is military-issue gear comparable to more expensive brand-ne gear? Jeff Lawton, Oklahoma

Get a lift with the best new peak-bagging gear

What are the pro and cons of so-called “bodypacks” that balance the load on both the front and back of your body, such as the Aarn Bodypack? John Athens, Georgia

When we reviewed winterized packs (“Cold Storage,” February 2007), all of our favorites couldn’t fit on a single page. So here are four more ski-and-snowboard friendly backpacks that you can strap on wherever the snow is deep.

My wife and I are looking for a backpack with a child carrier so we can introduce our new little one to the pleasures of nature. Should we go with a backpack/carrier with less storage space for my petite wife, or a big carrier for me with lots of storage space? Alex Toronto, Ontario

I'm recovering from a ruptured disc and have an extended backpacking trip planned this summer, with doctor's approval granted! What's your opinion on the best packs for those of us with back problems; if not specific models, maybe manufacturers that build the best support systems? Andy Charlotte, North Carolina

After pulling my large backpack out of storage in my attic, I was dismayed to find that it stinks to high heaven. Are there some big guns that I can pull out to deodorize it without daging the pack?

My girlfriend and I are going backpacking for a few days. She wants to buy a female-friendly backpack. Any suggestions? Bill Cobb, California

What's the best way to waterproof a pack? Mike Bethany, West Virginia

I'm training as an emergency medical technician for wilderness search and rescue, so looking for a backpack that will give me compartmentalized access to my medical supplies. Any ideas? Daniel Patterson, New York

I hear there is a new Arc'teryx backpack looming on the horizon this April that is supposed to be a huge step forward in backpacking technology. Is there any truth to this? Kolby Vancouver, British Columbia

Do backpackers make lifetime investments? I'm 21 and just got into backpacking last year. I didn't have any gear, so I bought the cheapest of everything, which was a mistake! In my second round of purchases, can I realistically expect that boots, tents, packs, and sleeping bags will last a lifetime if I buy good quality? What about proper gear maintenance? Kate Wooster, Ohio

I'm looking for a lighter backpack around 1,000 cubic inches to hike several 100 miles. I'm right now using a REI Flash UL Pack which is good for a four-day hike but its weight is 10 oz. I know there are lighter packs. Is there any that you would recommend? Keith Waynesboro, PA

G'day, Doug. I'm after an "all-rounder" backpack for trekking, travel, backpacking, the lot! I want a top-loader but can't decide between two Deuter bags, the Aircontact 75+10 or 65+10. The 75 might be a bit big for city travel, but it could carry all my climbing gear, trekking boots, tent, sleeping bag, and the like. On the other hand, the 65 might be better for ease of use, and I can then carry a cargo bag for the excess. What do you think? Mark Brisbane, Queensland

My husband is going on his first ecology field study in the Amazon rainforest. He's been looking at different backpacks, including some from Kelty, but is unsure what he should get for his ten-day trip. He will need to take a sleeping bag and hydration pack. I'd like to surprise him with something for Christmas. What do you recommend? Kristi Walnutport, Pennsylvania

I pretty new to running and going to do a 13-mile trail run that is expected to take about four-plus hours. I looking for hydration packs as there will not be aid stations or anything like that. My concern is with the hydration backpacks or lumbar packs that offer only one place to store one kind of drink. What do I do about carrying water and my electrolyte replacement? Are backpacks out of the question? How do you feel about The North Face Dayhiker Lumbar Pack? It has plenty of room for food, and has a dual source for water and my other drink. Tia San Jose, California

I need a waterproof backpack for my digital SLR on canoe trips—something that won't leak at all! I've checked REI and other outdoor websites and stores, but couldn't find anything. Do you have any suggestions? Brandon Hilton, Ontario

The gear world's global Big Tent returns to Salt Lake, and things get dirty. The Gear Guy reports.

My college-aged daughter will be studying abroad starting in January. The program requires that she bring everything she needs for the entire semester in a single non-wheeled backpack. She won't be camping out but doing homestays in Germany and Tanzania, with some travel in between. Deb Amherst, New Hampshire

Which multi-day backpack do you recommend for a vertically challenged (four-foot-eleven), large-chested female backpacker? Lori Chula Vista, California

Any advice on which packs will help transfer as much weight as possible off my shoulder while backpacking? I broke my collarbone a few years back and the newly formed peak in the bone is right where the shoulder strap lands. After a few hours with a fully loaded pack my arm seems to go a bit numb, and quitting isn't really an option. Matt es, Iowa

The makers of adventure gear and apparel had utility dialed long ago. Now R&D types are zeroing in on style.

What is the best multi-day backpack for a tall guy (1.97 meters)? Thanks! Deon Cape Town, South Africa

Where can I find a decent-sized conversion pack (those backpacks with the flap that covers the hip belt and shoulder straps)? Eagle Creek's packs are too small, and they have the largest on the market, at least in the U.S. I'm looking for something between 80 and 90 liters; a panel-loader with a sleeping-bag compartment and a zip-off daypack. Bill Atlanta, Georgia

Would you be seen dead wearing a fanny pack on a day hike? Pack makers like JanSport do model bigger backpacks with detachable waist packs, but I'm not convinced that this would do my trail cred much good. However, I after some sort of compact, light daypack that will cover me for short yomps where my load isn't all that big. Any ideas? Aaron Salt Lake City, Utah

The Gear Guy Reports from Outdoor Retailer 2004

Dear G-squared: Why are 90 percent of backpacks internal- as opposed to external-fre? Is their comfort and performance really that much superior to justify the price difference (yes, I cheap, but I try not to be stupid)? My son and I will be carrying about 50 pounds for ten days in the New Mexico mountains. Also, can you get a good fit on a pack you buy on the Internet, or is it better to deal with a local shop? W.B. Nako Cincinnati, Ohio

I know this is a huge question, but I'm going on a six-month backpacking trip across Europe and was wondering if you could give me some suggestions for a good backpack, tent, and sleeping bag. I've been doing a lot of research on my own, but I would love to compare what you have to say with what I have found. Ricky Powder Springs, Georgia

I just got back from camping in Tennessee and Kentucky's Big South Fork NRA (which you should check out, by the way!) and had some fun pulling ticks off my legs the whole time. I'm letting the backpack air out, but how do I make sure it's 100 percent bug-free? Take it to the dry cleaner or just spray it down with agua? Incidentally, how'd you get such a cool job? Chris Loveland, Ohio

When the frost bites hard, fight back with the latest winter hydration systems

Camp overnight or camp all week. We've got the gear to let you go fast and light under blue skies or gray.

Just be sure to share the load with one of this year's best backpacks

Using cutting-edge techniques, three young mavericks set out to tackle one of the hardest routes in the Himalayas