Gregory Baltoro 65 Backpack
The Gregory Baltoro 65 is a great pack, with a decent amount of room, and a very thought out design. The Gregory Baltoro 65 is made of 210D DDR and 210D x 420D HD flat weave fabrics, and are extremely durable and weatherproof to a degree. Using this pack the last year, I have some up's and down's for this pack, mostly positive things.
First, lets talk about the functionality of this pack. It is on the heavy side, weighing 5lbs 10oz's, but it carries it well with the great suspension system it has. That suspension system is a Thermo-molded back panel with elastomeric gription technology on the lumbar pad. Comfortable is a word you could associate with this pack, it does not have side to side movement and is very secure on your back. It surely is a different feel, as the curved back support is different than most on the market. The downside is the breath ability, as it is a solid and flat panel. So lower back sweat ensues when using this in a warm environment. For me, I will take it over having an uncomfortable pack. All zippers are great, not super heavy duty but they are DWR coated, water-resistant zippers and like I said earlier, this pack is slightly waterproof without a rain cover. The bottom is dual layer with a wear-resistant bottom panel, which is great and smart. Where does a pack need extra material to be tough? It is the bottom, the place where it gets used the most. So companies that use lighter weight material up top, and heavy duty on the bottom are making strides in keeping things lightweight yet durable in the long haul. The elastic on the bottle holder is good, and has lasted me with no degradation to this point.
The shoulder straps are the hallmark of this pack in my opinion. They are pre-curved and have a great padding footprint, very comfortable and are not bulky like some on the market. All of the tension points allow you to cinch up the straps or loosen them easily, and they hold perfectly as I have never had one come loose. The waist belt is 3D pre-curved with something Gregory calls LifeSpan EVA foam. It is again, comfortable and has been durable. It comes around to the front, and the belt buckle is really nice. Although it could be upgraded to something more heavy duty I think, it gets the job done, is lightweight and tensioning the belt is very positive. Very simple to tighten and loosen the belt for fast unloading of the pack. The only tension point that worries me, although nothing has happened to mine, is the chest buckle. It is very almost flimsy like and I recommend Gregory upgrade that buckle as I have heard from others theirs has broken (Of course Gregory will fix it though, they have great customer service).
The pack itself is a 3,800 - 4,100 cubic inches depending on the size your purchase. I have the medium sized one, as I am 6' and 200lbs. I fit my 20 degree Mountain Hardware sleeping bag in the sleeping bag compartment with no problems, although anything much bigger proves to be a challenge. Inside is lined nicely and has a decent stretch too it, although I would like to see materials used that do stretch more. The ultimate part of this pack, is the open front design, which is what sold me on this pack. Having the ability to unzip two zippers and have access to the pack, as it is packed is amazing. Instead of opening the top, digging through things, just unzip those zippers and choose. The two side pockets on this Gregory Baltoro pack are decent, although again, they need more stretch to them. They have in interesting design with the zippers, and zip fine. The zipper goes back to the back of the pack from the front bottom and then ultimately there is a Velcro closure to keep the pocket in place at the back of the pack. The front pockets is great, seems to stretch more than all the other pockets. I would like to see that increased some, as I wish I could fit my medical kit and water filtration solution in there together, and it proves difficult to fit both in there.
The top pouch is great, secures onto the pack well and I have never had one issue with it. Zips securely, and I have overstuffed it a few times and it always has gotten through my adventures. Now while people will complain about the weight of this pack, the comfort of this unique suspension system almost offsets such complaints. I never have had back pain or shoulder pain after using this pack, and I have gotten it rather heavy at times, particularly when I am taking gear to remote locations to review (especially knives and axes, which weigh a ton!). It has been durable and looks pretty cool in the green color I got. Which is not available anymore (What a shame!). Not made in the USA is a huge downside, add $20 and make it in America please!