Gregory Baltoro Backpack
The award-winning Gregory Baltoro 65 is an extremely useful backpack for weekends or multi-day trips. The latest version seems to be even better, as it has become lighter in weight. Although the difference is not much and has included many new features. With a wealth of access points, an innovative custom-fit suspension system, and an array of trail-worthy features, it is clear why it is one of the top-scoring packs around.
- Adjustable shoulder straps are convenient to use and offer exceptional lumbar support
- Suspension system is strong and loads extremely well
- Hip belt is quite secure and allows for easy hip movement
- Organization is easy with so many side pockets, including a mesh bottle pocket
- A bit on the heavier side but compensates with its strongly built suspension
- Hip belt pockets could have been a bit larger to accommodate larger phones
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We liked this feature but it might not be that suitable for someone with narrower shoulders. The thing is that the foam is relatively stiffer, so those who like to wear light clothing or explore the world shirtless may not find it that comfortable.
Moreover, the comfort factor may seem to be compromised a little when you talk about the daypack. The feature in itself is a nice addition to the pack, but the truth is that you do not feel comfortable at all when you wear it as a summit pack. The primary reason for discomfort is its thin shoulder straps – a bit uncomfortable, of course, but certainly not a deal-breaker!
The Baltoro feels sturdy and moves with you. None of this potentially dangerous swinging from side to side as you push yourself on a hike or climb. It sticks with you, adding security. For all its sturdiness it is surprisingly light when empty, a little over 5lbs, which is the average for most backpacks.
It feels heavy because of its robust suspension and array of pockets, features, and access points but these features make it a frontrunner. Our real concern was regarding the back ventilation, which was quite disappointing. The cutaways in the padding really do nothing to encourage good airflow, and that is one area where other competitors perform better than the Gregory Baltoro 65.
It comes equipped with waist and metal buckled shoulder straps that pivot to the best position to distribute the load, which makes wearing the Baltoro just about as comfortable as you are going to get when you are lugging huge loads up and down mountain trails.
It is removable, but for the more challenging hikes and climbs, it works so well to minimize the ‘day after’ aches and pains on the lower back, why wouldn’t you leave it in and take advantage of it? Even so, this pack is multi-purpose and there will be times when you want to use it when just out and about like an ordinary guy so the having the option to take it out is a bonus adding to its wide range appeal.
Even with rough use it keeps its shape and with impressive tear resistance will continue to perform well even after numerous boulder scrambles. Easily comparable with top end packs like the REI Traverse and Osprey Aether AG, the Gregory Baltoro 65 makes excellent use of a 210/300 denier nylon mix that forces it to stand out.
With 630-denier fabric even the bottom of this pack holds up to tough use. In fact, you can drag it on rough, damp surfaces without having to worry about anything because it comes with a dual-layer, wear-resistant floor.
The Baltoro 65 has two differently designed side pockets for fast access to your water bottles and snacks. With a total of eight exterior pockets and the front pocket is stylishly designed and zipped, the Baltoro offers more than ample space for maps, compasses, first aid kits, wet gear or anything else you might need in a hurry.
Access to the pack itself is easy through a large U-shaped zip at the front with the truly innovative feature of being see-through allowing you to locate anything in the middle or at the bottom of the pack’s interior, totally eliminating the frustration of ‘finding by feel’.
There are also zipped pockets along the top of the Baltoro and they work reasonably well but could benefit from having longer zip pulls when you are reaching over your head to get at the pack. There are more zipped pockets at the front, large enough to carry a 1litre Nalgene bottle, and a stretch mesh beaver-tail pocket suitable to store a rain shell, flip-flops or even to use as somewhere to dry off your socks.
Ease of Use
There is an additional pocket, which makes it perfect for storing technology such as sat navs, phones or cameras. Our only complaint was regarding the size of that pocket. It has to be noted, some of the modern larger screen phones or point and shoot cameras may not fit.
Another feature we really liked was how easy it was to open the front panel of the Gregory Baltoro, which makes it work like a duffel bag or a suitcase. The feature provides easy access to the inner pockets. The pack also comes with a detachable rain cover and hydration backpack that also serves as a water bladder holster.
If you are on a 2-5 days trip, the 65-liter model is likely to serve you well. But at the end of the day, it depends on your packing tendencies. Though the recommended weight range is low, the pack finds it easy to manage 50+ pounds, thanks to its burly suspension.
You may only want to go for the AR63 when you want something relatively more adjustable and weather resistant. If you buy a larger Baltoro, you pay almost the same as you pay for the Osprey Xenith 105 or Osprey Xenith 75. But, even with a similar price tag, the Baltoro is a better bet because of its exceptional suspension and comfort. At this price tag, the Baltoro also provides you with rain fly and an additional small pack that serves a hydration bladder holder too.
Comparison with Other Brands
The new Osprey Atmos AG is a direct competitor and is $40 cheaper. As far as the back breathability is concerned, the Baltoro cannot match the Atmos, but there is no competition between the two when you talk about the hauling ability of the Baltoro. Moreover, the hip belt on the Atmos has mesh paneling that makes it a little less comfortable, especially when the miles add up and you are hauling 40+ pounds.
The Aether AG is another established player in the market and is a bit affordable than the Baltoro. Moreover, the Aether AG has a much better built-in daypack, but the Baltoro's durability, padding, build quality, and pocket organization stands out. What it implies is that the Baltoro is now a highly desirable backpack with the company constantly updating the model and lowering its overall weight. The price has also come down a bit, which helps it stand tall in front of other top performers in the market.