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Gregory Alpaca Review

From its streamline design to its top notch weather resistance and multitude of lashing options, this is a solid duffel.
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Price:  $150 List | $115.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Highly weather resistant, easy to pack, comfortable shoulder straps
Cons:  Externally accessed pocket is on the smaller side, shoulder straps take a little more work to remove
Manufacturer:   Gregory
By Jediah Porter & Ian Nicholson  ⋅  Oct 21, 2019
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 12
  • Ease of Transport - 22% 7
  • Ease of Packing - 22% 9
  • Durability - 22% 8
  • Weight - 24% 6
  • Weather Resistance - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Gregory Alpaca is built with expeditions and exotic adventures in mind. It's one of the most durable in the bunch and is also highly weather resistant. It was one of the easiest models to lash to vehicles, animals, or whatever your mode of transportation might be. The supple fabric and large opening make it easy to pack, and its only small downfall is that it doesn't offer as many pockets as several of its close competitors; additionally, the pockets it did feature, particularly its external access pocket, weren't quite as user-friendly as other models. The Alpaca is at home for any travel situation but certainly excels where its distinct advantages of excellent weather resistance, easy-to-pack design, and robust construction are a benefit. As a result, it's truly one of the best expedition models currently available because these features help facilitate easy travel while dragging it around the globe and lashing it to yaks, donkeys, buses, etc.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Gregory Alpaca
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $115.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Highly weather resistant, easy to pack, comfortable shoulder strapsRugged, stiff and wide opening, variety of carry optionsEasy to pack, comfortable shoulder straps, excellent pockets, super durableExcellent shoulder straps, thick waterproof coatingDurable, waterproof, comfortable backpack straps
Cons Externally accessed pocket is on the smaller side, shoulder straps take a little more work to removeOnly one smaller pocket, heavyNot super light, fabric is a little stiffRelatively thin fabric, extra unnecessary featuresExpensive, narrow main opening, only two organizational pockets
Bottom Line From its streamline design to its top notch weather resistance and multitude of lashing options, this is a solid duffel.The best darn duffel bag for all kinds of adventuresome travel.While it faces stiffer competition than it used to, it remains the duffel that all others are compared against.Carries on your back better than any other duffel we’ve assessed and is a top contender.A burly, waterproof sack that comes in a few sizes, all with nice backpack straps; it has a narrow niche, but is the only product we’ve found that checks the boxes it checks.
Rating Categories Gregory Alpaca Sea to Summit 90L The North Face Base Camp Osprey Transporter 130 YETI Panga 100L
Ease Of Transport (22%)
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8
Ease Of Packing (22%)
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5
Durability (22%)
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Specs Gregory Alpaca Sea to Summit 90L The North Face... Osprey Transporter... YETI Panga 100L
Weight (Pounds) 3.72 pounds 4.30 pounds (90 liter model) 4.20 pounds (95 liter model) 3.44 pounds 5.83 pounds (100 liter model)
Volume Size Options (Liters) 30, 45, 60, 90, 120 Liters 45, 65, 90, 130 Liters 33, 50, 69, 95, 150 Liters 40, 65, 95, 130 Liters 50, 75, 100 Liters
D or I opening D D D D I
Back Pack Straps Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
# of pockets (excludes main compartment) 2 1 3 3 2
Info window Yes Yes Yes Yes ID tag
Material 900D TPU diamond rip-stop material with additional layer of 630D nylon on the bottom Tarpaulin Laminate 1000D nylon 1000D phthalate-free TPE laminate body with additonal 840-denier Jr. ballistics nylon on the bottom 840D Nylon TPU Double Coated Laminate, high-density nylon, EVA

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Gregory Alpaca is one of our favorite all-around duffels that is reasonably well-suited for everything from exotic expeditions to running to the gym. While we think this model could be used for most travel applications, some people using it for more traditional travel might wish it had a few more pockets and organizational features. However, for those far-flung adventures, few folks won't be delighted with this model. The Alpaca is one of the most durable and weather-resistant models currently available. It offers plenty of lashing options, as well as nicely articulated, comfortable shoulder straps that performed as well as we could hope for a duffel bag.

Performance Comparison


The Alpaca is a top-notch duffel that placed second in our review. Here tester Ian Nicholson uses the backpack straps as a more traditional over-the-shoulder strap.
The Alpaca is a top-notch duffel that placed second in our review. Here tester Ian Nicholson uses the backpack straps as a more traditional over-the-shoulder strap.

Ease of Transport


To help you tote the Alpaca around, you'll find many of the same features as other top-tier contenders.

It sports comfortable and relatively easy to remove shoulder straps, a second set of straps for traditional briefcase-style carrying, nice big grab loops at each end of this bag, and daisy chains that run the length of the duffel. These features make it far easier to transport and strap down this model when attaching it to sleds, jeeps, snowmobiles, llamas, or various other animals.

The Alpaca was one of the easiest models to lash to different things. Sporting two full-length daisy chains  one on either side of the bag  these daisies are constructed with robust webbing and stitched with a burly bartack. They are sewn in such a way to keep a little space to make threading them even easier.
The Alpaca was one of the easiest models to lash to different things. Sporting two full-length daisy chains, one on either side of the bag, these daisies are constructed with robust webbing and stitched with a burly bartack. They are sewn in such a way to keep a little space to make threading them even easier.

Not only did we find these daisies help facilitate lashing the duffel to a multitude of creatures and vehicles, but they are also easily among the most rugged of any model we tested. The Alpaca uses thick webbing on the loop and does skimp on the number of bartacks.

Our review team found the Alpaca's shoulder straps to be above average for comfort. Our shoulders were noticeably less sore than when wearing the Marmot Long Hauler or Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2. We loaded up each duffel with 50 pounds for 20 minutes.
Our review team found the Alpaca's shoulder straps to be above average for comfort. Our shoulders were noticeably less sore than when wearing the Marmot Long Hauler or Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 2. We loaded up each duffel with 50 pounds for 20 minutes.

Some of the models we tested sport a design where the shoulder straps can be cinched to double as a briefcase-style duffel. The Alpaca, however, has a dedicated second set of straps for this purpose. We didn't mind this as we found ourselves stowing the shoulder straps while checking luggage (a good idea on any model to protect them from getting caught in the conveyor belts), and it was nice having them ready for quicker carry type situations.

The Alpaca is simply a solid duffel for all sorts of adventurous travel.
The Alpaca is simply a solid duffel for all sorts of adventurous travel.

We liked the small clear window (accessed from the inside) to help with labeling the bag or simply putting a business card or other contact information - in the event the bag is lost.

Thanks to its large "D" shaped opening  the Alpaca is one of the easier models to pack. Not only does this design facilitate easy packing  but it also lets the user maximize the volume of the bag (AKA cram stuff in). It was less challenging than most to close when it was near max capacity; this was due to a combination of overall design  zipper locations  giant zipper pulls  and a large gauge zipper.
Thanks to its large "D" shaped opening, the Alpaca is one of the easier models to pack. Not only does this design facilitate easy packing, but it also lets the user maximize the volume of the bag (AKA cram stuff in). It was less challenging than most to close when it was near max capacity; this was due to a combination of overall design, zipper locations, giant zipper pulls, and a large gauge zipper.

Ease of Packing


The Alpaca was one of the simplest models to pack. It features a large "D" shaped zipper that practically extends the perimeter of the top of the bag. The large zippers used to close this lid are burly, and rarely got snagged. The zippers proved to be super durable, and their large size made grabbing the pulls easy, even with gloves on. One bonus of the zippers is they feature reflective tabs to help with finding them in the dark or low light conditions.

Our testers absolutely loved the dual-zippered mesh pockets featured underneath the lid of the Alpaca. A handful of other models featured a similar design which was useful for staying organized. Our review team enjoyed this feature so much that several of the review team commented on not having them when taking out a bag that didn't share the design.
Our testers absolutely loved the dual-zippered mesh pockets featured underneath the lid of the Alpaca. A handful of other models featured a similar design which was useful for staying organized. Our review team enjoyed this feature so much that several of the review team commented on not having them when taking out a bag that didn't share the design.

We liked having the small end pocket on the Alpaca but preferred the pockets found on the Marmot Long Hauler and The North Face Base Camp a fair amount better.
We liked having the small end pocket on the Alpaca but preferred the pockets found on the Marmot Long Hauler and The North Face Base Camp a fair amount better.

The Alpaca also sports a single external zippered pocket on one end. While we certainly appreciated this feature and used it, most of our testers liked the slightly more substantial pockets (externally accessed) on some other bags. The Alpaca's pocket was a tad on the small size and thus limited our uses. The dual compression straps were excellent and kept our gear from sloshing around when we didn't fill this bag up. We also noticed the straps made the bag easier to handle and were far more comfortable when carrying like a backpack.

The wide  u-shaped opening of the Alpaca is easy to pack. It helps too that the fabric is stiff enough to hold its shape while you pack.
The wide, u-shaped opening of the Alpaca is easy to pack. It helps too that the fabric is stiff enough to hold its shape while you pack.

Durability


The Alpaca is incredibly durable. It uses a 900D TPU diamond rip-stop material throughout, with an additional layer of 630D nylon on the bottom, which helps maximize the duffel's overall life. We like the diamond rip-stop of the Alpaca and found it to be puncture-resistant overall.

The fabric featured on the Alpaca was nearly the most weather resistant and durable of any model we tested. While there is a handful of marginally more abrasion resistant models  we think the Alpaca is seriously built to last and will likely withstand even the most abusive traveler decades of abuse.
The fabric featured on the Alpaca was nearly the most weather resistant and durable of any model we tested. While there is a handful of marginally more abrasion resistant models, we think the Alpaca is seriously built to last and will likely withstand even the most abusive traveler decades of abuse.

When push comes to shove, the Alpaca is plenty durable for the vast majority of users and will withstand most countless expedition and days of travel - no matter how rugged.

Duffel testing and an early morning airport drop off. Our tested Alpaca shows virtually no wear after a few weeks of use.
Duffel testing and an early morning airport drop off. Our tested Alpaca shows virtually no wear after a few weeks of use.

Weight


At 3 pounds, 15 ounces, the Alpaca is not the lightest pack in our review. In the long run, this isn't a massive amount heavier, and it remains half the weight (or less) than most rolling or wheeled luggage. This duffel may appeal to certain users who will appreciate its extremely robust material, as well as the fact that it's among the best performers in our weather resistance tests, and consider it worth the extra ounces.

With multiple bags  being able to backpack one of your bigger ones is handy.
With multiple bags, being able to backpack one of your bigger ones is handy.

Weather Resistance


The Alpaca was nearly the most weather resistant full-function duffel we tested. The fabric holds up, but the seams and zippers are vulnerable. This is a familiar story, as the vast majority of tested duffels meet this description.

In both real-world testing and our side-by-side garden hose tests, the Alpaca performed well time and time again. It features TPU material that we originally associated with that of other models, but we found it to be consistently more weather resistant, and it did a better job of keeping its contents dry.

We liked the side compression straps featured on the Alpaca. Why? They did a respectable job of compressing the bag when it wasn't totally full  which made it far more comfortable to carry in backpack-mode.
We liked the side compression straps featured on the Alpaca. Why? They did a respectable job of compressing the bag when it wasn't totally full, which made it far more comfortable to carry in backpack-mode.

Value


The Alpaca is very similar in price to its closest competition. While we like all three of these duffels and they are similar, they do each offer their own subtle but specific advantages. Especially if you find a good deal, you can't go wrong with its value.

Conclusion


The Gregory Alpaca scores high across the board. Its performance is highlighted by its comfortable shoulder straps, numerous lashing options, and top-notch durability. The Alpaca gives the Editors' Choice a run for its money. In the end, the two top award winners edge ahead in terms of durability but yield a little of that back to the Alpaca in weather resistance.


Jediah Porter & Ian Nicholson