In our tests, we had packs that are comfortable on the approach, and we had packs that were comfortable to climb with. What sets the Alpinisto apart from its competition is that it is comfortable on the approach, but also climbs well when it's time to go to the summit.
McKenzie Long on the descent in Alaska. We like how well the Alpinisto 50 morphed from mild-mannered load hauler to sending machine.
The Alpinisto 50 vies with the Mountain Hardwear Direttissima 50 OutDry for the heaviest pack in the test in both max weight and when stripped. When the volume is considered too, this pack barely wins. Its got a high (low = good) weight-to-volume ratio of 27.8 g/L max and 25.7 g/L stripped. This is in part because of superfluous features, like the long side zipper, the weird bivy pad, and the A-frame ski carry slots.
Our testers also found that this pack has some unusable volume, a characteristic unique among packs in this test. The pack body curves to meet the hip belt in the area where the hip belt webbing attaches to the pack. Our testers found it challenging to get gear into this "wing" space in the course of normal packing. When they did get gear in here, it often had an adverse affect on the hip belt fit. Mountaineers can't afford to be carrying around unusable space on their backs!
Though the Gregory Alpinisto 50 (right) is nominally bigger that the CiloGear 45L WorkSack (left) our testers found the CiloGear to be significantly more voluminous.
Gregory built a pretty durable pack with the Alpinisto 50. The 630d bottom is nice and burly. The crampon pocket is so durable that this pack could probably be hauled with crampons in there. Surrounding this is 420d nylon, for a stout front panel. Like many packs in this review, Gregory uses 210d nylon on the sides. While we feel this is a pretty vulnerable fabric for use in alpine environments, our tester pack has survived with little damage so far. The only packs that our testers found to be more durable were the Mountain Hardwear Direttissima and the Editors' Choice Award-winning Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45.
The Alpinisto can play in all alpine environments, but we feel it could be better in this category. It's durable enough for use on the rock. When it's time to go to the summit, the pack compresses well, the crampon pocket all but disappears, the ice tool head attachments tuck away, and all the usual removable parts (lid, framesheet, hip belt padding) come off.
Many of our testers aren't big crampon pocket users, preferring instead to stow their crampons inside a pack. All testers, however, like the way this crampon pocket folds up and velcros down, for a streamlined profile when not in use.
We are disappointed that the padding on the back panel is not removable. It is pretty bulky and we would like the option to take it out and put in our own bivy pad. As a consolation prize Gregory includes a small piece of thin foam that is removable. However this isn't a part of the suspension at all, so it's not multifunctional. Upon packing this pack for the first time, every one of our testers pulled it out and set it aside.
While the Alpinisto 50 had all of the features we wanted, some of them are problematic and the pack could be more simple and streamlined overall. We already talked about the strange additional bivy pad (see "Versatility" above). The ice tool head attachments are particularly tricky. Gregory gives two options here: a traditional loop for mountaineering axes and an aluminum toggle for technical tools without an adze or hammer. However, the small piece of webbing that the toggle lives on won't let it pass through the head of any current Petzl ice tools. One of our OGL editors owns this pack and had to modify the toggle webbing for use with her Nomics. Petzl is a popular ice tool brand in North America, we think it's silly to build an alpine pack that's not compatible with one of the top brands of ice tools. We wish Gregory would have one ice tool head attachment system that works with all mountaineering axes and technical ice tools, like most of the other packs in this review. The Osprey Variant 52 offers a great example of the many packs with good ice tool attachments.
Our testers found The Gregory Alpinisto 50 ice tool head attachment to be problematic. The toggle (which is there for tools without an adze or prominent hammer) is not long enough to work for any Petzl ice tools.
Our testers almost never used the side zipper, except as a port for a hydration hose. We also feel that the two side compression straps were sufficient to secure a pair of skis to the pack A-frame style, making the webbing "slots" on the bottom of the pack redundant.
We do really like the compression straps. The buckles are reversed, so that the straps can buckle all the way around the pack. This is a great feature for strapping on awkward items and for compressing the pack when it wasn't very full. We think this simple yet versatile feature should be on every pack that has fixed (not removable) side compression straps.
The Alpinisto 50 is a really comfortable pack on the trail, which was no surprise coming from a company with a history of making load hauling monsters. The hip belt is very well padded, and the shoulder straps are comfy without being bulky. We are pleasantly surprised by how well this pack carried on technical terrain. The contoured cut of the shoulder straps never hindered big reaches, and the webbing hip belt that remains after stripping the padding off secured the load well on 5th class rock.
Justin climbs 5th class terrain with the Alpinisto carrying his bivy gear.
This pack does everything well, except carry your Petzl ice tools. It's durable enough to take alpine rock climbing.
While we like the durability of this pack, we feel that the poorly executed features and the moderately high price keep it from being a great value. The Black Diamond Speed 50 is less durable, but is lighter, has a better feature set, and is less expensive.
Gregory has been making backpacks for a long time and we were excited to get our hands on this one. Generally, our testers are pleasantly surprised, especially given Gregory's history of heavy and heavily featured packs. We feel that the Alpinisto 50 is a big step in the right direction, but has some flaws we just couldn't get over.
Crossing the Illecillewaet Glacier with gear and food for a 5 day trip. The Gregory Alpinisto 50 has a well padded hipbelt and shoulder straps for this task.