Known for putting a creative and innovative spin on adventure travel gear—think award-winning toiletry bottles—Boulder, CO-based Matador isn't used to settling. Even though the company had already created an ultralight and ultra-packable frame backpack for hiking and climbing, Matador's designers decided to push further. The result of their efforts is the Beast28 Helium, a 28-liter backpack that's worthy of serious mountain adventures but smooshes down flat and weighs next to nothing.
More specifically, the Beast28 Helium weighs 22 ounces, making it ideal for fast-paced day hikes and alpine strike missions. It's one of the lightest frame packs on the market, and it's also sleek in design and constructed from a ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene reinforced ripstop nylon fabric (if you never took organic chemistry, just know it's rugged AF). The pack also has weatherproof zippers and reflective paracord that add to both the durability and aesthetic, plus space inside for a hydration bladder, two exterior water bottle sleeves, and a removable hip belt.
Ultralight backpacks are no new thing though; the real innovation Matador bestowed upon the Beast bags is a unique flexible frame that distributes weight across the body while carrying, but packs down for travel. That frame allows the Beast28 Helium to be twisted and folded in half to the shape of a big pancake that fits in an included compression sack that's easy to pack into any travel bag. Once at your destination, the bag pops back into shape and is ready to provide the support you need to tackle any long distances or steep scrambles.
With ultralight hiking philosophies now reaching far beyond niche thru-hiking message boards, cutting weight and carrying the lightest pack possible is becoming more mainstream, but many folks still prefer not to give up too many features in exchange for a few ounces. With the Beast28 Helium, they don't have to, and they still get what Matador claims is one of the lightest hiking packs of its size with a frame inside. That means you don't need to worry about those couple extra ounces of snacks you might want to throw in for the summit.