The Gregory Baltoro 65 sports an excellent overall pack design. This feature-rich contender earns a Top Pick Award for its comfort and load hauling ability. It also has fantastic pocket design and access. This award-winning pack is one of the most comfortable models that we tested for extended trips. While it is on the heavier side, the additional ounces are not a huge deal when you are toting loads of 40+ pounds. If you need a pack with excellent load hauling ability and even more volume, check out the Osprey Xenith 105, otherwise, this model is an excellent option.
Gregory Baltoro 65 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable, handles heavy loads, dual zippered lid pockets for accessibility, large "U" zipper allows easy access
Cons: Average weight, supportive foam can feel stiff at first
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Gregory Baltoro 65
|Price||$299.95 at REI|
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|$249.95 at Backcountry||$290.00 at REI|
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|Pros||Comfortable, handles heavy loads, dual zippered lid pockets for accessibility, large "U" zipper allows easy access||Shoulder straps are very comfortable, many awesome pockets, excellent ventilation, extra adjustable hip belt||Lighter weight, comfortable to carry for long periods of time, tons of useful pockets, good hip belt adjustability||Packed full of features, great pockets, comfortable and solid ergonomic design||Great value, solid features, ergonomic shoulder straps and back-panel, versatile|
|Cons||Average weight, supportive foam can feel stiff at first||Not as supportive for loads over 45 pounds, snow gets trapped in back panel||Compression straps not effective if pack isn't full, external lid pocket isn't easy to search through||Slightly on the heavier side, not the best for super heavy loads||Just okay suspension and support, tall folks with 35+ pound packs won't find it as comfortable|
|Bottom Line||A excellent pack that handles loads well, while offering a respectable weight that even folks carrying modest loads can appreciate.||This pack offers awesome comfort and above-average suspension for most backpacking loads.||A sweet pack with lots of well-designed features and user-friendly pockets at a below-average weight.||An extremely comfortable and feature-rich design that handles heavy loads, while only being marginally heavier than average.||This light and versatile pack doesn't give up much in the way of features.|
|Rating Categories||Gregory Baltoro 65||Osprey Atmos 65 AG||The North Face Banchee 65||Osprey Aether AG 60||Osprey Volt 60|
|Suspension And Comfort (45%)|
|Features And Ease Of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Gregory Baltoro 65||Osprey Atmos 65 AG||The North Face...||Osprey Aether AG 60||Osprey Volt 60|
|Measured Weight (pounds)||4.84 lbs||4.54 lbs||3.63 lbs||5.13 lbs||3.88 lbs|
|Volume (liters)||65 L||65 L||65 L||60 L||60 L|
|Access||Top + Front U-shaped access zipper + sleeping bag compartment||Top + sleeping bag compartment||Top + sleeping bag compartment||Top + side access zipper + sleeping bag compartment||Top + sleeping bag compartment|
|Materials||EVA foam harness & hipbelt, LifeSpan Foam & silicone lmbar grip zone||Main body: 100D X 630D Nylon Dobby, Accent: 210D High Tenacity Nylon, Bottom: 420HD Nylon||210D nylon ripstop||Main body: 210D Nylon Dobby Accent: 210D High Tenacity Nylon, Bottom: 500D Nylon||Main body: 210D Nylon Double Diamond Ripstop, Accent: 600D Packcloth, Bottom: 600D Packcloth|
|Sleeping bag Compartment||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
There are few packs we'd rather haul with a heavy load. With its rock-solid suspension and plush padding, this pack makes big weight feel manageable. Even beyond its load-hauling prowess, our testers loved its well-designed feature set, complete with fantastic pockets and a top-notch access zipper, ensuring gear is easily accessible and as organized as possible.
The Gregory Baltoro 65 has excellent suspension, features, and solid comfort, earning it a top spot in our review.
Suspension and Comfort
This pack is one of the most comfortable in our review and is comparable to our other top performers, such as the Osprey Xenith 105, Arc'teryx Bora AR 63, and Osprey Atmos 65 AG. This model has extremely well-designed and nicely articulated shoulder straps that use high-quality foam. The face fabric is also among the best in the review and performed above average. The shape of the shoulder straps is very ergonomic, and every one of our testers enjoyed using it.
The Baltoro 65 is geared toward heavier loads which its slightly stiffer-than-average foam suggests. However, it isn't too stiff. Even with moderate pack weights, the foam spreads even pressure across the surface area of the shoulder straps. This model also sports decently wide shoulder straps. All of our testers like the wider shoulder straps and felt they were one of the reasons this pack felt so comfortable.
For smaller or narrower shouldered users, this design might not be as comfortable. The fabric on the inside of the shoulder straps is certainly above average. However, if you were shirtless or wearing light clothing, we like the feeling of the material on the Osprey Xenith 105 and Arc'teryx Bora AR 63 slightly better.
One of the biggest reasons that folks love this pack is the exceptional lower back support it offers. Our testers agree that it's a valuable addition. If it's not your thing, it is removable; however, we feel that this reduces the overall comfort of the pack.
This pack has one of the burliest suspension systems currently available. If we knew we had heavier loads in our future, this pack would be on our list — along with the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63 and Osprey Xenith 105. While all of the packs above handle loads exceptionally well, if pure weight hauling comfort is what you're after, then we'd get this contender or the Xenith 105. The Baltoro's "Y" shaped aluminum is quite stiff and does a fantastic job of transferring the load from the pack to the waist belt.
One of the sweetest features of the suspension system is that 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 when negotiating rough terrain with heavier loads.
Features and Ease of Use
This competitor stands out for its excellent pockets and features. Our testers enjoyed the two zippered pockets on the top of the lid. Not only did this pocket allow us to stay more organized, but we were able to see inside easily. As a result, we were able to find items more quickly than we could with a more traditional full-length pocket. This design is significantly more user-friendly than the top-lid pocket found on the Osprey Atmos AG 65 or Osprey Xenith 105.
The two zippered pockets on the front of the pack are favorites. Each one is large enough to fit a 1 liter Nalgene bottle. These pockets keep you organized and keep essential items accessible. The stretchy mesh beavertail-style pocket is excellent for drying socks, storing a rain shell, or fitting oddly-shaped things like flip-flops.
This competitor has a mesh water bottle holder on one side of the pack and a stowable forward-facing bottle pocket on the other. The forward facing pocket makes your water bottle relatively easy to remove. The straps underneath and around the sleeping bag compartment are long enough to fit over a closed cell foam pad.
The dual waist belt pockets are big enough to fit a small camera, chapstick, and a bar at most, but not all smartphones. The left pocket is mesh. The right pocket is all nylon and has a weather-resistant zipper.
It also comes with a completely detachable "side-kick" hydration backpack that doubles as a water bladder holster. While the daypack isn't quite as sweet as the Osprey Xenith 105 and Osprey Aether 65 lid-turned daypack, the Baltoro's hydration bladder-holder is a functional pack on its own that weighs very little. We ended up taking it on short day hikes.
A rain cover comes folded in the pocket underneath the main lid but isn't permanently attached. In reality, we store it elsewhere else to be able to utilize this pocket better. This bonus rain-cover is a nice perk.
For folks that like a lot of pack access and who might use this model for traveling, there is a large upside-down U-shaped opening that allows access to nearly all of the contents.
This model weighs in at 4 pounds, 14 ounces. The main reasons it isn't lighter are that its suspension is one of the most robust in our review and it has a solid array of features, pockets, and access points.
For the weight, this contender has a host of useful features and a top-notch suspension system. It's slightly lighter than packs with similarly robust suspensions like the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63. This model is more or less the same as our award winner the Osprey Atmos 65 AG and handles heavier loads better. If you like this pack but want to save a little weight and don't need a monster load-carrying suspension, check out the Gregory Paragon 68 or the Gregory Zulu 55.
Adjustability and Fit
This competitor is available in three torso lengths and offers interchangeable hip belts and shoulder straps that are in between sizes.
Certain users will appreciate the ability to mix and match torso lengths with a waist belt and shoulder straps to provide the best fit. The only other adjustability this pack offers is some vertical movement in the shoulder straps.
While it's not an adjustment in the traditional sense, the shoulder strap attachment points pivot and automatically create the best fit for the wearer. We found this design pretty useful. It added to the pack's overall comfort, particularly with heavy loads and long days.
This pack is most at home on trekking and backpacking trips or the occasional mountaineering adventure. The 65-liter model is great for the average person on most 2-5 day adventures, depending on your packing tendencies. This model does have the suspension to handle 50 pounds and is one of the best contenders for heinous 70-pound loads.
It is also excellent for traveling. We like it for backpacking through Europe, Southeast Asia, Thailand, etc. It's a great travel pack thanks to its above-average durability and a plethora of useful pockets. We also like that the front panel opens up almost entirely for easy access, acting like a suitcase or a duffel bag. This model is even easier to load than several duffel bags but naturally carries far better.
At $300, this contender is on the less expensive side of the models with similarly robust suspension systems. This particular pack could be worth it for anyone whose adventures include extended trips where a lot of equipment is needed, or if you are the designated porter for the group. Though it is pricier than the average pack when it comes to comfort and suspension, this model doesn't give up anything, which we feel makes it an exceptional value overall.
This model is not the lightest, but considering its suspension, it's still a respectable weight. Aside from its comfort and suspension, the Baltoro 65 has one of our favorite overall designs and offers all the features that backpackers 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 is among the best in our review.
— Ian Nicholson