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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Slightly heavier than average, supportive foam can feel slightly stiff at first
The Gregory Baltoro 65 is a Top Pick award winning pack that is rich in features and one of our higher overall scoring packs. This award winning pack excels at carrying massive loads (60+ lbs) and was certainly one of the most comfortable packs that we tested, especially for extended or laden trips. While the Baltoro is slightly on the heavier side, this newest version is noticeably lighter than previous models and is now very close in the running in terms of weight (and when compared to other contenders).
RELATED: Our complete review of backpacking backpacks
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This pack is easily one of the most comfortable packs in our review and is comparable to our other top performers, such as the Osprey Xenith 75, Arc'teryx Altra 65, and Osprey Atmos 65 AG. This model utilizes extremely well-designed and nicely articulated shoulder straps that use high quality foam, while the face fabric is among the best in the review and performed above average, even if the user was wearing light clothing (or was shirtless).
One of the biggest reasons that folks love this pack (and really, Gregory packs in general) is that impressive lower back support is present; the lumbar support is the most substantial in the review and most of our testers loved it. However, one in seven of our testers thought the lumbar support was a little much; fortunately, the lumbar support is removable, which makes the pack fit a broader range of consumers. When we used the lumbar pad, it felt like a classic Gregory; once we took it out, the level of lumbar support felt like most of the other packs out there.
At 5 lbs 3 ozs, this pack is about a half a pound lighter than the previous model, which used to weigh 5 lbs 10 ozs. This new weight brought the pack from being on the heavier side of comparable packs, to being pretty average (if on the heavier side of average). For the weight, this contender has a host of usable features and a fantastic suspension system that is close in weight to comparable packs, while weighing in as lighter than a handful of others. This model is heavier than the Arc'teryx Altra (4 lbs 13 oz), the Osprey Atmos 65 AG (4 lbs 6 oz), and the Osprey Xenith 75 (5 lbs 2 oz), but remains lighter than the Deuter Air Contact 65 + 10 (6 lbs 3 oz) or the Kelty Coyote 80 (5 lbs 9 oz).
This pack has the burliest suspension out of all models in the review and is even more robust than the Arc'teryx Altra; it is equal to, or slight more robust than the Osprey Xenith 75. While all of the aforementioned packs handle loads extremely well, if pure weight hauling comfort is what you're after, then this contender is the pack you should consider. One of the sweetest features of the suspension system is both the shoulder straps and the waist belt can automatically pivot into the ideal angle to maximize load distribution and increase comfort; the benefit of this subtle feature is even more noticeable while negotiating rough terrain with heavier loads.
Features and Ease of Use
This competitor stands out for its pockets and features. After using it on several trips, one of the features our testers enjoyed the most was the two zippered pockets featured on the top of the lid. Not only did this pocket set up allow us to stay more organized, but because there was two smaller pocket and zippers on top of the pack, we were able to see inside with ease; as a result, we were able to find items more quickly than compared to a more traditional full length pocket.
This competitor features one additional traditional mesh water bottle holder on one side of the pack, while the other side is a stowable forward-facing bottle pocket; the forward facing bottles were (fairly) easy to remove and return without having to take off your pack. The straps underneath the pack and around the sleeping bag compartment were functional in length and long enough to fit over a closed cell foam pad or something of similar size. Another nice feature is the dual waist belt pockets that were big enough to fit a small camera, chapstick, and a bar at most, but not all smartphones. A cool feature is the wearer's left side, which includes a mesh pocket, while the right pocket is all nylon and features a weather resistant zipper.
Other features that are standard on this pack is a completely removable pack cover (that you could use on any of your packs) and a completely detachable "side-kick" hydration backpack that doubles as a water bladder holster. This is actually a pretty functional little pack on its own that weighs very little; we ended up taking it on short day hikes or even just to the grocery store. For folks that like a lot of access in their pack or might use this model for traveling, there is a large upside-down U-shaped opening that allows access to nearly all of the pack's contents.
Fit and Adjustability
This competitor is available in three torso lengths and offers interchangeable hip belts and shoulder straps that are in between sizes. Certain users will surely appreciate the ability to mix and match torso lengths, with waist belt and shoulder straps to help provide the best fit.
This pack is most at home on trekking and backpacking trips or on the occasional mountaineering adventure. The 65 liter model is great for the average person on most 2-5 day trips, depending on your packing tendencies. This model does have the suspension to handle 50+ pounds, so long as you do. This is the ultimate pack for heinous 70+ pound loads.
At $300, this contender is more expensive than average among comparable options in our review. Despite this, it remains $150 less than the $450 Arc'teryx Altra 65, which is six ounces lighter, but with less overall features (it also can not handle the monster loads quite as nicely). It's $30 less than the $330 Osprey Xenith 75, but a little more expensive than some of our other Top Picks like The North Face Banchee ($240) or the Osprey Atmos 65 AG ($270). This particular pack could be worth it for anyone whose adventures include extended trips where a lot of equipment is needed, or you are the designated porter for the group. Further increasing the Value of the Baltoro is its' included rain fly and a separate small pack that doubled as a hydration bladder holder and sweetens the deal.
The Bottom Line
This model might not be the lightest pack, but the latest iteration is noticeable lighter than previous models and still has all the features that backpackers seem to want (plus a few extras). Most importantly, this beast is a load hauling machine; anyone looking for a super comfortable pack with a few bells and whistles can appreciate the robust suspension and comfortable design that was among the very best in our review.
The overall design of this series is fairly similar, with the biggest difference being between the large 75 L and 85 L volumes; these larger volume packs feature a second lower stay and extra frame sheet to assist in the heavier loads that will likely come along with the large sizes. All have similar features, but the 85 L option features a slightly more robust suspension.
Gregory Baltoro 75
Gregory Baltoro 85
Gregory Deva 60
Gregory Rain Cover
— Ian Nicholson
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 12, 2016
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