Overall, we were impressed by the Gregory Octal 55. Spring 2018 has brought many exciting ultralight-inspired pack models into the world of women's specific packs, and we couldn't be more stoked. Contenders like the Octal combine a women's specific fit with the simplicity of an ultralight pack. We loved the large stow pockets on the outside and the breathable, light back panel on this new Gregory model. It was hard to find aspects of this pack we didn't like and found ourselves using the Octal more frequently than any other model in this review. For comfort and ease of use, this pack takes the cake.
Gregory Octal 55 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Comfortable, lightweight, good set of features, large stow pockets
Cons: Simple suspension, lacks support
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Our Analysis and Test Results
From comfort to weight to overall design, the Gregory Octal 55 wowed us in almost all categories. The pack took very little time to break in and was comfortable carrying loads around 40 pounds. The frame is sleek and straightforward, to the point of being hardly noticeable. We also loved the feature set on this new pack.
Comfort and Suspension
Comfort is the most important metric in our eyes; if a pack isn't comfortable, then the other aspects of it, like weight and features, are irrelevant. Luckily, the Octal 55 is an incredibly comfortable pack. The market seems to be trending away from heavy-duty, overly built full-frame packs, and the Octal is a great example of a lightweight pack that still manages to be very comfortable, even after miles on the trail. We found this pack to be much more comfortable than the Gregory Deva and more comparable to the Lowe Alpine Manaslu, except with a much lighter design. The waistband is wide, but not overly bulky, and the shoulder straps provide enough padding to avoid chafe.
The suspension of the Octal 55 was one of the features about which we were most excited. The AeroSpan suspension and moisture-wicking back panel make this pack breathable and comfortable, even on hot days with heavy loads. The suspension system is enough to provide support and stability but does not overpower the pack or add a ton of extra weight. Reminiscent of the suspension on the Osprey Aura AG or the Osprey Ariel, but without the excess weight and bulk, the Octal got high praise in our minds in this metric.
The Octal is a product of a shift in design toward lighter, more simple pack designs. We were excited to see such a slimmed down model in this season's fleet of women's specific packs. Though not as lightweight as the Osprey Lumina 45, it has a similar design and provides a tad more padding for the extra weight it can carry. The Osprey Eja is more on par with this model regarding weight, weighing in at 2.6 pounds. The Octal weighs a hair less, with a total weight of 2.58 pounds.
This pack shines in this metric because of the overall simplicity of its design. The main body of the pack is large and open, making it easy to stuff items into the very bottom to maximize storage. A bear can fits, but it's tight. The Octal also has three large mesh pockets on the outside, similar in design to the Osprey Eja 58. These pockets are great for extra jackets, snacks, or water bottles that you may use throughout your day on the trail. Other lighter models, like the Osprey Lumina 45 also received high scores in this metric because they are, in general, easier to use than more complex models, like the Osprey Ariel AG.
There are no extra pockets, bells, or whistles on this pack, which we much appreciated. For a simple, straightforward, easy to use pack with a basic feature set, look no further than the Octal. Much like the Eja or the Levity, this pack is for light trips into the backcountry. It will help you streamline your backcountry kit because there isn't room for extra items! We loved the mesh pockets on the outside and the large lid, which has two roomy pockets.
Aside from a removable lid, this pack doesn't offer much in the way of adjustment. The fixed torso heights and the hip belt doesn't offer anything unique except the standard sliding nylon clip. We aren't too surprised here since most of the other ultra-lightweight packs in our lineup follow suit, but if you want something with a little more customization and comparable in weight, the Granite Gear Blaze 60 is certainly worth a look.
We found this pack best suited for short overnights or weekend trips that are focused on bringing less. There are a few pockets on the outside for extra storage, but the majority of your kit will be inside the main body of the Octal. This arrangement requires strategic packing, making the Octal a good option for more seasoned backpackers who have their kit whittled down to the essentials.
For $210, the Octal 55 is a pack of fairly good value in comparison to other models on the market. The Deuter AirContact Lite 60+10 is the same price, while our Best Buy option, Osprey Renn 65 costs $45 less, ringing in at $165. Other comparable packs are the REI CO-op Traverse at $245 or the Lowe Alpine Manaslu at $235. Because the design is new and thoughtful, and the Octal seems durable overall, this pack is a great choice for a reasonable price.=
If you can't tell, we loved the Gregory Octal 55. This pack is lightweight, simple, but still has all the features we look for in a good pack. It carries heavy loads well because of its suspension system and felt comfortable from the moment we put it on. The mesh pockets and large lid provide enough extra storage and organizational features to keep your kit dialed, without causing confusion. It also helps limit overpacking, which for us, was a plus!
— Jane Jackson