Overall, we were impressed by the Gregory Octal 55. 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 newer Gregory model. It was hard to find aspects of this pack we didn't like and found ourselves using the Octal more frequently than many models 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. The Octal is a superb choice for backpackers who have lightened their base weight and want to put in big miles or those who prefer to take weekend adventures and just don't need to haul a lot of gear.
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. 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.
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.
The 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. These pockets are great for extra jackets, snacks, or water bottles that you may use throughout your day on the trail.
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. 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.
The Octal 55 is a pack of good value in comparison to other models on the market. It is priced a little below the mid-point of packs we tested but offers a lot in the way of comfort and weight savings. 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