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Gregory Octal 55 Review

The Octal 55 is light, simple, and still provides for tons of storage space.
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Price:  $210 List | $209.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, lightweight, good set of features, large stow pockets
Cons:  Simple suspension, lacks support
Manufacturer:   Gregory
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 8, 2019
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 17
  • Comfort and Suspension - 45% 8
  • Organizational systems - 20% 8
  • Weight - 20% 9
  • Adjustability - 15% 8

Our Verdict

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.


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This Product
Gregory Octal 55
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $209.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$269.95 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Comfortable, lightweight, good set of features, large stow pocketsVery comfortable, slimmed-down waist-belt and suspension system, easy-to-remove top lid, wide range of fitting options and adjustments, good number of pockets.Roomy, inexpensive, ultra comfortable, durable.Durable, comfortable even with heavier loads, streamlined features, great attachment points at outside of pack, integrated rain coverHuge main compartment, customizable compression straps, super lightweight, comfortable with heavy loads.
Cons Simple suspension, lacks supportLarge, narrow contoured waistband gets in the way when putting the pack on (some users complain it's too narrow), suspension can feel bulky, expensive.Not many bells and whistles, set adjustment points, wider pack is difficult to fit a bear can comfortably.Main compartment is a little narrow, water bottle holster is awkward, requires thoughtful packingDark material makes pack contents difficult to see, hip belt difficult to adjust, rigid padding might not last over time.
Bottom Line The Octal 55 is light, simple, and still provides for tons of storage space.This award-winning pack has stood the test year after year with its streamlined, lightweight design and incredibly ventilated and comfortable back panel.The Osprey Renn combines comfort, volume, and price. This simple pack will take you anywhere and won’t break the bank.The Kyte 46 is a small, but mighty pack, built for a more advanced user. The comfortable wear allows you to tackle rough terrain with ease.The Blaze does the unthinkable with the combination of a lightweight pack that can haul heavy loads and still feel comfortable.
Rating Categories Gregory Octal 55 Osprey Aura AG 65 Osprey Renn 65 Osprey Kyte 46 Blaze 60
Comfort And Suspension (45%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
Organizational Systems (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
Weight (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
10
Adjustability (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
Specs Gregory Octal 55 Osprey Aura AG 65 Osprey Renn 65 Osprey Kyte 46 Blaze 60
Measured Weight (pounds) (medium) 2.58 lbs 4.63 lbs 3.93 lbs 3.42 lbs 2.63 lbs
Volumes Available (liters) 45, 55 50, 65 50, 65 35, 45 60
Organization: Enclosed Compartments Main compartment, lid, front shove-it pocket Main compartment, lid, front pocket, side access pockets, dual front access pockets Main compartment, lid, side pockets main compartment, lid, 2 mesh side pockets, 2 hip belt pockets, lid pocket, front mesh pocket, internal sleeping bag pocket Main compartment, lid
Access Top Top, side Top Top Top
Hydration Yes Yes Hyration compatible Hydration compatible Hydration compatible
Women's Specific Features Women's specific fit Women's specific fit Women's Specific fit & sizing Women's specific fit Women's Specific fit & sizing
Sleeping bag Compartment No Yes No Yes No
Bear Can Compatible Tight fit Yes yes - but awkward tight fit yes
Main Materials Nylon Nylon 600D polyester 210D x 630D Nylon 210D HD nylon
Sizes Available XS,S,M XS,S,M One size XS/S, M/L Short, Regular
Warranty Limited lifetime Lifetime Lifetime Lifetime Lifetime

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.

Performance Comparison



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.

We loved the Octal for its carrying comfort and lightweight design.
We loved the Octal for its carrying comfort and lightweight design.

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 large side pocket shown here is good for water bottle storage  but is also big enough to fit clothes or snacks.
The large side pocket shown here is good for water bottle storage, but is also big enough to fit clothes or snacks.

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. 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.

We were into the simple design of the Octal. It took about 5 minutes with this pack to adjust it and figure out the ins and outs of its design.
We were into the simple design of the Octal. It took about 5 minutes with this pack to adjust it and figure out the ins and outs of its design.

Organizational Systems


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.

The stretchy mesh pocket is large enough to store a down jacket  water bottle  and a few snacks.
The stretchy mesh pocket is large enough to store a down jacket, water bottle, and a few snacks.

Adjustability


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.

Best Applications


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.

The back panel on the Octal is reminiscent of the suspension system on both the Osprey Octal and the Lumina.
The back panel on the Octal is reminiscent of the suspension system on both the Osprey Octal and the Lumina.

Value


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.

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Conclusion


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