Gregory Nano 18 H2O Review
Cons: Fewer pockets, lacking breathability
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Gregory Nano 18 H2O
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|Pros||Big volume, lightweight, great price||Breathability, excellent storage, comfort and support||Lightweight, large storage volume, solid hydration system||Lightweight, sleek, solid performance in a minimalist pack, nice price||Lightweight, hip belt pockets|
|Cons||Fewer pockets, lacking breathability||Expensive, thin hip belt||Limited organization, poor back panel ventilation||Almost no storage, shoulder straps are snug for users with wide shoulders and lats||Minimal storage, lacks breathability|
|Bottom Line||A simple bag with a functional design and an excellent volume to weight to price ratio||This comfortable, breathable, supportive, and full-featured hydration pack earns our highest praise||An all-around pack that successfully blurs the line between hydration pack and daypack||Not just a classic, but THE Classic in minimalist packs and our recommendation for minimalists and those on a tight budget||A minimalistic pack best suited for those who are weight conscious and engaged in low exertion activities due to poor breathability|
|Rating Categories||Gregory Nano 18 H2O||Osprey Syncro 12||Osprey Skarab 18||CamelBak Classic||CamelBak Octane XCT 70|
|Ease of Drinking (20%)|
|Ease of Filling (20%)|
|Ease of Cleaning (10%)|
|Specs||Gregory Nano 18 H2O||Osprey Syncro 12||Osprey Skarab 18||CamelBak Classic||CamelBak Octane XCT 70|
|Pack Size (liters)||18 L||12 L||18 L||0.5 L||5 L|
|Bladder Capacity (liters)||3 L||2.5 L||2.5 L||2.5 L||2 L|
|Weight (measured)||25.6 oz||34.0 oz||25.5 oz||11.2 oz||17.6 oz|
|Weight (claimed)||18.4 oz||27.5 oz||17.6 oz||5.0 oz||10.0 oz|
|Waist Belt||Removable 3/4" webbing||3/4" webbing||Removable 3/4" webbing||None||Padded with two zipper pockets|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Gregory Nano 18 H2O combines built-in 3-liter water capacity with a simplistic, lightweight, well-designed backpack. The main storage compartment is a simple storage design, making stowing large and bulky items easy. A lid pocket and side pocket provide secure storage for smaller items, and a side mesh pocket is large enough to hold an additional water bottle or even a light jacket. This product scores well across all of our rating metrics, and combined with one of the lowest prices in our lineup, takes home our Best Buy Award once again.
Ease of Drinking
The Nano 18 H2O comes standard with the company's 3-liter 3D Hydro bladder, whose DryLock bite valve is held in place by a magnetic clip. Unlike some magnet bite valves that don't fit securely on their magnet, Gregory's magnetic clip works well and stays put. The built-in 3-liter bladder is tied for the highest capacity among the models we tested in our lineup and can pack enough water for most longer or more grueling adventures.
The DryLockbite valve is comfortable in the mouth and easy to drink from but does not have as high of a flow rate as other packs in our test. A small on/off switch is built into the bite valve, which works fine, but is not as smooth as others in its operation. Depending on the size of your torso, you may find the hose to be a bit short. On our 6'-3" tester, the hose was stretched across his chest and barely just reached the magnetic clip.
Ease of Filling
Compared to some of the other packs in our lineup, the Nano 18 H2Oreceives average scores when it comes to filling the bladder. The 3-liter 3D Hydro bladder has a circular opening, whose cap is easy to twist off but is smaller in diameter. The bladder is easy to fill from a sink or trailhead spigot but would be more challenging to fill from a lake or stream, or if you'd like to add large ice cubes (which is not something our testers do very much, but some folks may prefer).
The bladder has a few features that really make it stand out, one of which is a quick-connect located at the top of the bladder. This feature allows you to easily disconnect the hose before removing the bladder from the pack and reattach it after the bladder is loaded back into the pack. We found this design to be much easier to use than bladders that do not have a quick connection or those whose quick connect is located at the base of the bladder.
Another great design feature that makes refilling the bladder much more efficient is its completely separate and easily accessible storage pocket. To remove the bladder, you need to unzip the pocket, detach the quick connect, unhook the bladder from the SpeedClip and pull it out. To replace the bladder, you need to reverse the steps. It's a very efficient and easy-to-use design and one of our favorites.
The Nano 18 H2O has just enough rigidity and structure not to make it floppy on the back and is relatively comfortable for a sack-like pack. Even fully loaded with a first aid kit, extra layers, and a water bottle for the dog, the pack does not sag low on our back but is rather bulky.
The shoulder straps are comfortably padded and hug the body making the pack comfortable for hiking, but we found that it jostles around too much for singletrack mountain bike trails and is better suited for pavement rides around town.
One of the biggest drawbacks to the Nano H2O and similar packs is the lack of breathability, although it does breathe better than some other packs in our review. The pack sits directly against the back, allowing little airflow, leading to a hot and sweaty back. The hip belt is narrow webbing, and its adjustment is towards the back, which prevents long straps from dangling down in front of you and keeps them out of the way. There are no hip belt pockets on the Nano 18 H2O, but this is a trade-off as many comparable packs with hip pockets are considerably more money.
With 18 liters of storage space, the Nano 18 H2O is among the largest packs we've tested in this category. Of the handful of larger volume hydration pack models in our lineup, the Nano has our favorite storage design, with a large no-frill main compartment, easy-to-use drawstring closure, large zipper pulls, separate bladder compartment, and two external zippered pockets. We like the simplicity and convenience of this design and appreciate how it balances bulky item storage and smaller item organization.
While the sizeable overall storage volume is convenient, the Nano does lack some of the organizational features for smaller pieces of gear, like what is found on some pricier fully-featured packs. If you don't need quite so much organization and want a way to keep your bulky items separate from your keys, wallet, and phone, we think the Nano 18 H2O can do the job admirably. For longer excursions, the Nano even has an additional external water bottle sleeve and a handful of tie-down loops.
At a measured 25.6 ounces (1.6 pounds), the Nano 18 H20 lands in the middle of our test lineup when it comes to weight and is one of the lighter, higher volume backpacks in this category. We did test other similar lightweight designs, but they lacked the structure of the Nano, which prevents loads from sagging.
Conversely, while some other packs have more luxurious features like built-in insulation or padded storage compartments, those features certainly come at a weight premium. For a great balance performance and weight, the Gregory Nano is tough to beat.
Ease of Cleaning
As you'd likely imagine, with a smaller circular opening, the 3D Hydro bladder on the Nano 18 H2O is not as easy to clean as other models with much wider openings. While not ideal, the bladder structure makes it possible to squeeze a cleaning brush inside, but this is not as efficient or effective as other models with a larger opening.
One nice feature on the Nano not found on other packs is that it includes a Quick Dry Hanger to make sure that the bladder can sufficiently air out. Our testers liked this feature a lot, as completely drying out the bladder after cleaning helps keep it fresh.
The Gregory Nano H2O is one of the lightest full backpack-style hydration packs we tested, and with a huge 18-liter storage volume, 3-liter water capacity, low weight, and surprisingly low cost. It provides tremendous value and walks away with our Best Buy Award. While you may sacrifice some top-of-the-line features, you'll likely be paying half the price of the top-end models in our lineup. For most people looking for a great all-around hydration pack that won't break the bank, the Nano 18 H20 should be on your list.
The Gregory Nano 18 H2O offers great performance and value for a fraction of the price, taking home our Best Buy Award. A simple yet effective design, solid construction, and lightweight materials make this a solid pack for everyday use or your next adventure.
— Tara Reddinger-Adams & Nick Bruckbauer
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