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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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. 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 are shirtless or wearing light clothing, we like the feeling of the material on some other packs more.
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 shortlist. The Baltoro's "Y" shaped aluminum frame 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.
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. 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. If you like this pack but want to save a little weight and don't need a monster load-carrying suspension, look elsewhere, as there are some great options in our review
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 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