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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
Pros:  Comfortable, lightweight, good set of features, large stow pockets
Cons:  Simple suspension, lacks support
Manufacturer:   Gregory
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2019
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 16
  • Comfort and Suspension - 45% 7
  • Organizational systems - 20% 6
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Adjustability - 15% 3

Our Verdict

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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Gregory Octal 55
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $209.95 at Backcountry$255 List$179.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$269.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$269.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Comfortable, lightweight, good set of features, large stow pocketsComfortable, supportive suspension, simple design, large pockets, durable, customization from manufacturerDurable, 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.Comfortable, plush padding, wide range of fitting options and adjustments, good number of pockets, easy-to-remove top lid,
Cons Simple suspension, lacks supportNon-ventilated back panel, less organizational featuresMain 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.Large, spring loaded waist band is hard to get into, suspension can feel bulky, expensive, hip belt can sag uncomfortably on some users
Bottom Line The Octal 55 is light, simple, and still provides for tons of storage space.The ULA Circuit is a durable bag with all the right pockets and suspension that will keep your back, hips, and shoulders comfortable all day.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.This pack has stood the test year after year with its robust feature set, comfortable straps, and a strong yet light suspension featuring an incredibly ventilated back panel.
Rating Categories Gregory Octal 55 Circuit Osprey Kyte 46 Blaze 60 Osprey Aura AG 65
Comfort And Suspension (45%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Organizational Systems (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
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6
10
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8
Weight (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
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4
Adjustability (15%)
10
0
3
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
9
Specs Gregory Octal 55 Circuit Osprey Kyte 46 Blaze 60 Osprey Aura AG 65
Measured Weight (pounds) (medium) 2.58 lbs 2.68 lbs 3.42 lbs 2.63 lbs 4.65 lbs
Volumes Available (liters) 45, 55 68 35, 45 60 50, 65
Organization: Compartments Lid, front shove-it pocket, main compartment Side pockets, front pocket, hip belt pockets, main compartment Lid, mesh side pockets, hip belt pockets, lid pocket, front mesh pocket, internal sleeping bag pocket, main compartment Lid, front pocket, main compartment Lid, front pocket, side pockets, dual front pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment
Access Top Top Top, bottom Top Top, side, bottom
Hydration Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rain Cover Included Yes No Yes No No
Women's Specific Features Women's specific fit S-Curve Shoulder Straps Women's specific fit Women's Specific fit & sizing Women's specific fit
Sleeping bag Compartment No No Yes No Yes
Bear Can Compatible Tight fit Yes - Vertical tight fit yes Yes
Main Materials Nylon 500 Cordura 210D x 630D Nylon 210D HD nylon Nylon
Sizes Available XS,S,M S, M, L, XL, Kids XS/S, M/L Short, Regular XS,S,M
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. 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.

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. 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.

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.

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


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.

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.

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


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.

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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