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Gregory Paragon 68 Review

A solid, versatile, and low weight backpacking pack that is a great option for a variety of trips.
Gregory Paragon 68
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Price:  $250 List | $249.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Good set of features, supportive frame, excellent lid design
Cons:  Uncomfortable fit for users with narrow shoulders, no additional access
Manufacturer:   Gregory
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 9, 2019
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 16
  • Suspension and Comfort - 45% 7
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Features and Ease of Use - 20% 8
  • Adjustability - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Gregory Paragon 68 is an excellent all-around backpacking pack. It keeps weight down without giving up much in the way of features or suspension. In fact, it has a noticeably more robust suspension than many packs that weigh a pound or more. We wouldn't consider it a load hauler for users that regularly carry 40-45 pounds, but it can get the job done for 2-4 day trips. The Paragon 68 excels at carrying loads better than some packs of similar weight and is a great option if your back appreciates more help along the way. If you are looking for exceptional suspension with a little more of everything else as well, we recommend the Arc'Teryx Bora AR 63 or the Gregory Baltoro 65.


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Gregory Paragon 68
This Product
Gregory Paragon 68
Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $249.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$269.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$250 List$289.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$199.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Good set of features, supportive frame, excellent lid designShoulder straps are very comfortable, many awesome pockets, excellent ventilation, extra adjustable hip beltLighter weight, comfortable to carry for long periods of time, tons of useful pockets, good hip belt adjustabilityPacked full of features, great pockets, comfortable and solid ergonomic designGreat value, solid features, ergonomic shoulder straps and back-panel, versatile
Cons Uncomfortable fit for users with narrow shoulders, no additional accessNot as supportive for loads over 45 pounds, snow gets trapped in back panelCompression straps not effective if pack isn't full, external lid pocket isn't easy to search throughSlightly on the heavier side, not the best for super heavy loadsJust okay suspension and support, tall folks with 35+ pound packs won't find it as comfortable
Bottom Line A solid, versatile, and low weight backpacking pack that is a great option for a variety of trips.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 Paragon 68 Osprey Atmos 65 AG The North Face Banchee 65 Osprey Aether AG 60 Osprey Volt 60
Suspension And Comfort (45%)
10
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7
10
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9
10
0
7
10
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8
10
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7
Weight (20%)
10
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6
10
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5
10
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7
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4
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6
Features And Ease Of Use (20%)
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8
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8
10
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9
10
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9
10
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7
Adjustability (15%)
10
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7
10
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8
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8
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10
Specs Gregory Paragon 68 Osprey Atmos 65 AG The North Face... Osprey Aether AG 60 Osprey Volt 60
Measured Weight (pounds) 3.88 lbs 4.54 lbs 3.63 lbs 5.13 lbs 3.88 lbs
Volume (liters) 68 L 65 L 65 L 60 L 60 L
Access Top + sleeping bag compartment Top + sleeping bag compartment Top + sleeping bag compartment Top + side access zipper + sleeping bag compartment Top + sleeping bag compartment
Hydration Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Materials Main body: 210 CryptoRip Nylon & 100D High Tenacity Nylon, Bottom: 210 High Tenacity Nylon w/135D HD polyester, Harness and Hip-belt: dual density LIfeSpan EVA foam, 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

The Paragon 68 is a pack that sports a supportive suspension system while keeping weight in check. It features one of our favorite lid designs, and though we do think its fit isn't right for everyone, it offers decent comfort.

Performance Comparison


Solid suspension and features keep this backpack solidly in the middle of the bunch.

Suspension and Comfort


The foam found in the shoulder straps is exceptionally supportive, and the shape articulates nicely. Compared to other models, the shoulder straps are slightly stiffer and wider; this is a benefit for heavier loads, where the foam will be more supportive, and the wider surface area will spread out the load evenly and effectively.

The Paragon's shoulder straps proved above average in comfort and were surprisingly supportive   especially considering this pack checks in under 4 pounds. They are wider than most  which is good and bad; for average and broad shoulder folks  we loved them  but for narrower shouldered people  they can "wing-off" to the side and aren't quite as comfortable.
The Paragon's shoulder straps proved above average in comfort and were surprisingly supportive, especially considering this pack checks in under 4 pounds. They are wider than most, which is good and bad; for average and broad shoulder folks, we loved them, but for narrower shouldered people, they can "wing-off" to the side and aren't quite as comfortable.

Narrower-than-average shouldered folks likely won't find this pack to be as comfortable as other models. Our team thinks that its comfort is comparable to the The North Face Banchee 65 and Gregory Zulu 55.

The waist belt features relatively supportive foam and is stiffer than most. Like a handful of other packs  the girth of the waist belt is adjustable to help more effectively fit a wider range of users. The lower back panel features Gregory's classic lumbar support  which the vast majority of users find to be comfortable and supportive.
The waist belt features relatively supportive foam and is stiffer than most. Like a handful of other packs, the girth of the waist belt is adjustable to help more effectively fit a wider range of users. The lower back panel features Gregory's classic lumbar support, which the vast majority of users find to be comfortable and supportive.

This model has a surprisingly supportive suspension, especially considering it's a lighter pack. It also has a reasonably robust frame and waist belt, which we found do the job of effectively transferring load, essentially doing more to save our hips and backs at the end of the day. In our direct comparisons, we noticed the frame of the Paragon 68 is significantly stiffer (and subsequently more supportive) than the Osprey Volt 60 and is bolstered by its supportive waist belt.

We found that it scored similarly to the Osprey Atmos AG 65 and Osprey Aether AG 60, but does not handle heavier loads as well as the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63, Gregory Baltoro 65, or Osprey Xenith 105. It works fine for moderate loads, but there are other better options out there for really hauling.

The Paragon features a well-designed lid with two zippered pockets. A larger lower lid (seen on the left) that zips open on three sides in a "U" shape that made searching for small items much easier and a smaller flat pocket above it to help with organization. While we really liked this design  compared with the Gregory Baltoro or the Arc'teryx Bora (which featured our two favorite lids)  we had to be slightly more careful with the Paragon to make sure items didn't fall out  particularity if the pack was very full. This certainly wasn't a big problem but something we occasionally pay attention to.
The Paragon features a well-designed lid with two zippered pockets. A larger lower lid (seen on the left) that zips open on three sides in a "U" shape that made searching for small items much easier and a smaller flat pocket above it to help with organization. While we really liked this design, compared with the Gregory Baltoro or the Arc'teryx Bora (which featured our two favorite lids), we had to be slightly more careful with the Paragon to make sure items didn't fall out, particularity if the pack was very full. This certainly wasn't a big problem but something we occasionally pay attention to.

Features and Ease of Use


At first glance, the Paragon 68 has a simple design. While we found this to be accurate, it still has all the features that most backpackers desire the most, plus a handful of extras that have top-notch designs. Like most bags in our fleet, this one features a sleeping bag compartment and lower external straps. The straps can be configured to carry items either below or in front of the sleeping bag compartment found at the bottom of the pack.

The Paragon features a stretchy mesh beavertail style pocket that is great for stashing items that you might want more easily accessible. The mesh fabric breathes fantastically and we found this to be a great spot to dry things out. It is worth noting that while we love this pocket and used it heavily on our field days.
The Paragon features a stretchy mesh beavertail style pocket that is great for stashing items that you might want more easily accessible. The mesh fabric breathes fantastically and we found this to be a great spot to dry things out. It is worth noting that while we love this pocket and used it heavily on our field days.

This pack also features a stretchy mesh beavertail style pocket. We did, however, have a preference for this pocket on many of the Osprey packs because it is generally deeper. In any case, all of our users found themselves taking full advantage of this feature, as it was a great place to put wet rain gear or flip-flops. The Paragon 68 also comes with an included rain cover that stows nicely in a low profile pocket (underneath the stretchy mesh beavertail pocket).

The Paragon features two straps over the sleeping bag compartment that are a great place to carry a tarp  closed cell foam sleeping pad  or other oblong items. These straps were average in length and would fit most average and compact sized closed cell foam pads  but not "plus-sized" models. These straps continue around to the bottom of the pack to give the users the option of storing less large diameter items in both places or storing things like closed-cell foam pads in either place (but not both at the same time).
The Paragon features two straps over the sleeping bag compartment that are a great place to carry a tarp, closed cell foam sleeping pad, or other oblong items. These straps were average in length and would fit most average and compact sized closed cell foam pads, but not "plus-sized" models. These straps continue around to the bottom of the pack to give the users the option of storing less large diameter items in both places or storing things like closed-cell foam pads in either place (but not both at the same time).

The size of the hip belt pockets is nice, though they are not as big as many of the Osprey models (but we found to be more usable than the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63 and similar to the The North Face Banchee 65) and are one of the more natural models to open and close while hiking. The lid pockets on the Paragon 68 feature one of our favorite designs; there's one smaller zippered pocket on the top of the lid and a much larger "U" shaped zipper that gains access to the much larger lid-pocket. The "U" shaped opening offered easy access to the pocket and allowed us to find gear easily.

The Paragon features a zippered pocket on either side of the waist belt. While they weren't particularity big  we could easily fit a smartphone  GPS  sunblock  or some snacks. Another nice feature is that the zippered waist belt pockets actually move when the waist belt girth is increased  helping them to stay in an appropriate and accessible position. We did find these pockets fairly easy to open and close while hiking but also very secure and they never came unzipped.
The Paragon features a zippered pocket on either side of the waist belt. While they weren't particularity big, we could easily fit a smartphone, GPS, sunblock, or some snacks. Another nice feature is that the zippered waist belt pockets actually move when the waist belt girth is increased, helping them to stay in an appropriate and accessible position. We did find these pockets fairly easy to open and close while hiking but also very secure and they never came unzipped.

The internal hydration sleeve is also a removable daypack, complete with shoulder straps that are nice for day hikes from camp or for a stroll around town; for folks wanting to shave even more weight, it can be left behind. The Paragon 68 doesn't have any additional access points beyond the sleeping bag compartment zipper and the primary top-loading opening. We felt like this was only a minimal downside, especially considering how many other sweet features this pack has.

Weight


This pack weighs 3 pounds, 15 ounces, keeping it light enough. It is similar in weight to the Osprey Volt 60 and Osprey Aether Pro 70. It is heavier than the Osprey Exos 58 (2 lbs 8 oz) which starts to truly blur the line between a classic backpacking pack and an ultralight pack, but the Paragon carries loads 35+ pound loads far better.

Adjustability and Fit


The Paragon offers a similar amount of adjustability that is comparable to the Osprey Atmos AG 65 and The North Face Banchee 65 and features a very similar design. The shoulder straps are attached to a Velcro-covered flap that slides up and down in a sleeve. The sleeve is found inside the back panel and allows the height of the shoulder straps to be finely tuned.

We found this design to be simple but effective and we never had a problem with it slipping out of place. Like the Osprey Volt 60 and The North Face Banchee 65, this model's waist belt is adjustable and can be extended to help better fit its wearer. The zippered pocket of the waist belt also moves forward as the belt extends, allowing for easy access.

The Paragon features roughly four inches of horizontal adjustment to help to effectively fine-tune the fit to the wearer. The adjustment is made by moving a Velcro covered flap inside the back panel that the shoulder straps are attached to. Despite being a simple design  we never had any problem with it coming undone or slipping and shifting out of place.
The Paragon features roughly four inches of horizontal adjustment to help to effectively fine-tune the fit to the wearer. The adjustment is made by moving a Velcro covered flap inside the back panel that the shoulder straps are attached to. Despite being a simple design, we never had any problem with it coming undone or slipping and shifting out of place.

Best Applications


The Paragon 68 is a great all-around backpacking pack. It is light and large enough for long-range missions, but also supportive enough for shorter weekend trips with more weight. If we knew we were going to carry 50+ pounds regularly, we would look for the Gregory Baltoro 65 or Arc'teryx Bora AR 63. We found that the Paragon 68 is light enough and has a slim profile, making it one of the more versatile backpacking packs that also make it viable for some mountaineering or multi-day ski touring applications.

Value


At $250, this pack is fairly average in terms of both price and value. It costs more than the Osprey Volt 60, but it has a far more supportive suspension system and a better feature set overall, but it isn't necessarily more comfortable when carrying loads under 35-40 pounds. All in all, this pack has a fair value.

Conclusion


The Gregory Paragon 68 has most of the features we want. It's lighter than some top-scoring competitors, and can still handle moderate loads. Overall, we think it's a pretty solid pack with just a few downsides. It's certainly more comfortable than the lighter weight Osprey Exos 58, but if you are going to carry 45 or more pounds regularly, we would get something more robust.


Ian Nicholson