Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Super comfortable, awesome suspension, easy to pack.
Best Uses: Backpacking, mountaineering, trekking.
The Gregory Baltoro 65 was our second highest scoring pack behind the Arcteryx Altra 65 and is the best backkpack we tested for carrying massive loads (70+ lbs). It was maybe the most comfortable pack we tested and is ideal for folks willing to carry a heavier pack and who want comfort, many pockets, and features. It had the best shoulder straps and best lumbar support of all the packs. It is $100 cheaper than the Altra and delivers a great value. If you want the most bang for your buck in a lighter pack, check out our Best Buy winner, the Osprey Aether 60. Finally, if you are looking for a lighter pack more suitable for mountaineering and ski mountaineering, we recommend the Gregory Z65.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Gregory Baltoro 65 was among the most comfortable packs in the review. It ranked high along with its big brother the Baltoro 75 and the Arc'teryx Altra 65 and 75. It was a full step up in comfort from the Osprey Aether 60 or 75 and an even bigger step above the REI Flash 65 or the Gregory Z65. This was even more noticeable once we were carrying around 35 pounds and above. The shoulder straps were articulated very nicely and were as comfortable as the Osprey Aether 60 or 70 and maybe a hair nicer than the Arc'teryx Altra 65 or 75. The Baltoro features a slightly pivoting waist belt that helped to transfer the weight to our hips, especially when carrying heavier loads on uneven terrain. The waist was second in quality only to the Arcteryx Altra 65 and 75. The frame sheet is super burly and while carrying more than 70 pounds is never fun, if we had to pick one pack to carry massive horrible loads, it would be the Baltoro.
One of the biggest reasons why folks love the Gregory Baltoro is the lumbar support. It is the most substantial in the review and most of our testers loved it. However, about one in seven of our testers thought the lumbar support was too much and felt like the pack was sticking into their back
The Baltoro stands out for its pockets and compartments. It has two zippered side pockets, one zippered pocket on the front of the pack, zippered hip belt pockets plus two water bottle pockets, one vertical and one diagonal. All the pockets and access points make the Baltoro one of the best packs in our review for people who really care about having an organized pack. Because of the cargo-pocket-like design of the side zippered pockets, you can get into most of the pockets even if the pack is super full. We also liked how long the straps were on the lower part of the Baltoro. They are long enough to fit even the biggest of pads plus tent poles or whatever else you might want to strap on. They can even be buckled cross-wise to make an excellent place to put crampons. We liked how durable the materials on the Baltoro are. While none of our testers ever used it, it is worth noting that the lid of the Baltoro turns into a small but very functional fanny pack for short day hikes out of camp or from the car.
You either love all the extra pockets on the Baltoro or feel they are unnecessary and heavy. With ten separate pockets and two large access points plus a ton of straps to lash things to your pack, the Baltoro has a lot going on. All these features make this pack the second heaviest in the review at 5 lbs. 10 oz. for a size medium. That is not ridiculously heavy, but there is no confusing this with a lightweight pack.
The buckles that separate the sleeping bag compartment from the main compartment are burly, but they are hard to operate, especially if you have cold hands.
The lumbar support was great and most people loved it, but about 15 percent of our testers thought it had too much – they felt like the back was sticking into their lower back.
The Gregory Baltoro 65 is most at home trekking and backpacking or general mountaineering. The 65L is good for the average person for most 2-5 day trips, depending on your packing tendencies. The Baltoro does have the suspension to handle 50+ pounds so long as you do. This is the ultimate pack for heinous 70+ pound loads.
For a larger version of this pack, check out the Gregory Baltoro 75
— Ian Nicholson
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 28, 2013
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