Gregory Baltoro 65 Overview
Backpacks can be as personal as your underwear: you know what works for you and you may think twice before letting someone borrow it. The Gregory Baltoro 65 is a classic trekking backpack that’s proved itself season after season, update after update, as a top-of-the-line model. With luxurious fittings and organization for pocket-hounds, the Baltoro 65 will feel as custom as your bespoke boxers, and you probably won’t want to share.
Due to its adjustability, durable materials, organization, and trail-proven track record, we’ve awarded the Baltoro 65 our Premium Pick for the Wilderness Backpacker. The Gregory Deva 60 is the women’s version of this pack, and equal in comfort and features.
Gregory Baltoro 65 Star Rating
The Gregory Baltoro 65 backpacking backpack is a beast. Full of ingenious organization, a robust hipbelt and harness that molds to you the more you wear it, burly materials that will last a lifetime, and an included hydration sleeve that acts as a daypack, it’s hard to find a backpack that provides more. That said, it’s quite heavy, so anyone concerned with weight should steer clear.
This is a contentious category — the “best” backpacking backpack — and while we stand by our recommendation we also acknowledge that, like underwear, Gregory and the Baltoro 65 may not be for everyone. The most comparable quality packs to the Baltoro 65 are the Osprey Aether AG 70 and Ariel AG 65 series and the Arc’teryx Bora AR 63 and Bora AR 61. All of these are excellent, fit differently, and have their own merits and downfalls.
Living out of your backpack is a big deal! Checkout our comprehensive guide to backpacks, and read the full Gregory Baltoro 65 review below to find your next favorite travel companion.
Update: Gregory released an updated version of the Baltoro 65 in Spring 2018. The update was pretty solid, so there are new features and changes in material from the version we tested, which is now a season old. After looking at the new version, we feel the Baltoro 65 has been improved, and think it’s better overall. The changes include: a stretch mesh pocket on the exterior instead of the zip closure, the raincover is now in the top lid pocket rather than the front pocket, there is a new 210D Honeycomb Cryptorip HD Nylon fabric, two dual barrel front zippered pockets instead of side pockets, Matrix Ventilation on the back panel (used to be more standard foam), roughly 4 ounces lighter, upgraded hip belt and harness components, and larger hip belt pockets. The rest is the same, and the primary function of the Baltoro and Deva remain the same.
Gregory Baltoro 65 Specifications
|Feature Type||Feature Specs||What This Means|
|Weight||5 lbs 8 oz. (2.5 kg)||Heavy for a backpack. Beefy padding and extra durable materials means extra weight.|
|Capacity||65L||This is still the standard size for backpacking backpacks. Enough room to fit what you need, and a little extra in case you want to bring some luxuries. Learn more about backpack capacity in our Guide.|
|Frame||Internal, Response A3 suspension, removable lumbar insert||The Baltoro is an internal frame backpack with incredible suspension. It’s heavy, but can haul a large load with surprising comfort. It also has an adjustable and removable lumbar insert for those who need it.|
|Frame Material||7075 aluminum/HDPE||Heavy duty frame for large load capacities.|
|Hip Belt Fit||28-48 in. (71-122 cm)||You can purchase a separate hip belt size than your pack size, which allows for excellent customization. Learn more about backpack hip belts and how to measure in our Guide.|
|Torso Fit||16-22 in. (41-56), Semi Adjustable||The Baltoro 65 is offered in three sizes, which have about a three inch range for your torso. It’s adjustable by about one inch. To learn more about backpack torso measurement and adjustable torsos see our Guide.|
|Number of Exterior Pockets||10 + main compartment||There are tons of pockets. Highlights include hip belt pockets, two slash pockets in the top lid, and a large U-Zip pocket.|
|Sleeping Bag Compartment||Yes||A separate zippered area at the bottom can fit a sleeping bag easily.|
|Hydration Sleeve||Yes, with a removable daypack||The hydration sleeve doubles as a day pack. Great for drinking, also great for hiking from base camp.|
|Main Pack Access||Top and U-Zip||Classic drawstring top access, but there’s also a large U-Zip that gives access to the main pack’s content.|
|Top Lid||Yes, Not Detachable||The top lid (or brain) in this pack is excellent. Two slash pockets allow for easy entry. Not detachable.|
|Trekking Pole/Ice Axe Loops||Yes||Specific loops for trekking poles and ice axes make carrying these items easy.|
|Materials||210D Nylon, 420 HD Nylon||Highly durable materials. Not the lightest out there, but won’t break on you.|
|Load Range||Up to 50 lbs. (22.6 kg)||The Baltoro 65 has a heavy load capacity. It can handle up to 50 pounds easily, and a bit more than that if necessary.|
|Warranty||Lifetime Guarantee||Lifetime warranty for the original purchaser against defects in materials or workmanship issues. Doesn’t include normal wear and tear, but Gregory will repair basic issues for a fee.|
|Retail Price||$299||A high price for a comfortable, premium backpack with tons of features.|
Gear Review of Gregory Baltoro 65
Origins: Easing You In
I was lucky enough to spend some time volunteering with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation (BMWF) in northwest Montana this summer. As part of a program with my employer, I was able to provide my labor and skills to this nonprofit group working to protect and preserve one of the wildest, most beautiful tracts of land in the lower 48 states.
After three weeks of hiking, pulling weeds, mapping infestations of invasive plants, and generally basking in the glory of nature, the Gregory Baltoro 65 showed up at the forest service ranger station. Unboxing the Baltoro, I was instantly stricken with its beefy, padded build and bonanza of pockets. I got excited to hit the trail in Glacier National Park during one of my stretches of days off from the foundation.
I was finally feeling comfortable in Montana after three weeks of hiking and working in the field. The air was hazy from the growing number of wildfires in the area, but I wasn’t going to be stopped from exploring this jewel of a place. I walked humbly into the ranger station at Two Medicine in Glacier National Park and the ranger set me up with a one-way permit to walk from Two Medicine to St. Mary’s 35 miles north. I was stoked.
I left my car at the Two Medicine campground and set off into the mountains. Soaring views of the park’s remaining namesake glaciers were stunning, and families of mountain goats and bighorn sheep topped off the truly wild feeling of this ancient landscape.
On day two of three, however, things got real.
Coming down the north side of Triple Divide Pass, I could feel the landscape change from the bare, rocky alpine zone to the krumholtz pines and bushes. For some reason, I knew I’d find company here.
Right on cue a grizzly bear came around the corner, walking towards me on the trail only 15 yards ahead. Rhythmic clapping and yelling — as the rangers advised — still didn’t give this bear enough alert to avoid my path. The animal proceeded towards me. I reached for my bear spray to remove the safety.
“Stay back bear! Back!” He continued to advance. “STAY BACK!” I said forcefully. Unfazed. I began to step backwards, coming to terms with the reality that I may need to deter this bear by any means possible. He proceeded up the trail and my pulse began to race.
He then made a slow right turn and disappeared in the brush, leaving only the sounds of his paws and body pushing aside the branches. He never sounded very far away, but I took the opportunity to move ahead on the trail and hoofed it down the path.
When moving downhill extremely quickly on rocky terrain, most packs would bounce and shift, creating imbalance and discomfort. Not the Baltoro 65. The generous padding and highly-adjustable harness made for a comfortable, lightning-fast descent into my campground. When I landed at a campsite, the Baltoro 65’s intuitive pocket design made finding my headlamp and a snack super-easy before hanging my bear bag and setting up my tent.
Having avoided soiling myself and making it safely to camp, this was the moment I knew the Baltoro 65 was up for even the grizzliest of trips. See what I did there?
The Gregory Baltoro 65 is built with convenience, comfort, and customization in mind. Pockets are the name of the game here. Some people like simple tube-style top-loaders with no pockets to allow for stuff sacks and lighter weights. The Baltoro is not that pack, and will be sure to please the compartment-hungry organizer.
There are three pockets on the brain (the lid of the pack), a large vertical slash pocket on the back, two water bottle pockets, and two hip-belt pockets. This is a huge selection, and makes organizing and finding your gear a snap. Durable zippers and glove-friendly zipper pulls on most of these pockets are great for full loads in all varieties of weather. Because the pockets are well segregated, arranging items at the car and finding them quickly on the windy pass was a huge reassurance. I’m definitely one to check five times before mile one to make sure I have my Danielle Steel novel and an extra packet of peanut butter at hand.
Did someone say compression? Four sets of adjustable compression straps adorn the outside of the pack, and one internal belt keeps the pack bag and contents from sagging backward. Compression is a must when carrying heavy loads over long distances, which is what the Baltoro was really made for. Even when carrying below the max capacity, I and my hips appreciated the the stable carry provided by the system of compression straps.
But, what really makes the Baltoro capable of taking you to extreme comfort is the harness. Pre-curved hip and shoulder straps contour to the body for an ergonomic fit and generous padding keeps even heavy loads from digging in.
The pack has a grippy lumbar pad and adjustable LumbarTune padding, which can be removed if you want. These offer stability and support where the weight really meets your skeletal structure. Finally, a mesh-vented back panel helps reduce sweating while cushioning your shoulder blades and hip bones. It’s a deluxe harness, and one of the features Gregory is most well-known for. It doesn’t breath as well as some of the suspended mesh panels found in lighter packs like the Opsrey Atmos series, but you do sacrifice some weight capacity with such a back panel.
Small features that pack a punch include the ultralight SideKick day pack that doubles as a hanging reservoir holder inside the pack. Just unclip it, fill it with summit essentials, and bag peaks along your journey. I found the SideKick critical for hauling water filtered at streams and lakes a short distance from camp and it was perfect for minimalist day hikes while backpacking or at basecamp. Note that this is most useful for backpackers who spend a few days in one main location, rather than hike daily.
Another little winner is the best hydration tube holder I’ve encountered yet. A simple clip holds the hose securely to avoid bounce and leaking and is positioned conveniently within reach on the right-hand shoulder strap. The clip is universal and fits any standard hose, and kept me from fumbling with finding a resting place and I never had a wet shirt from leaks.
The 3D hip-belt pockets are easy to open and keep your compass and ProBar close at hand. I never needed the included raincover, but the peace of mind and easy-to-find location in the outside slash pocket were reassuring in the ever-changing weather of the mountain zone.
So, yeah, features galore.
The Baltoro 65 uses seriously luxe LifeSpan foam in the back panel, hip belt, and shoulder straps to provide comfort with big loads on difficult terrain. Foam in the hip-belt started out stiff and did dig in a bit causing some discomfort. After a few days of trekking, though, the foam contoured to my hip bones and felt custom-made.
The LumbarTone pad made a big difference when I found the sweet spot, and the loadlifter straps functioned better than most packs I’ve used, keeping weight off of my shoulders without digging into my clavicle.
The Baltoro 65 features some seriously beefy fabrics, foams, and trims. After 50 trail miles, the pack still looks brand new, and I expect it to last for years of adventures.
Organization is the Baltoro’s strong suit. Copious pockets and three access points for the main compartment make getting your gear organized and utilized quick and easy. I particularly love the design of the pack’s lid. Vertical slash pockets are used instead of the typical curved zippers — these are easy to open and make frequent use much more realistic. Larger sizes of the Baltoro have additional side pockets for keeping small essentials at hand.
Fit and Adjustability
The fit of the Baltoro 65 is great and really customizable. Buyers have the option of requesting a custom hip-belt, which is sized differently from the torso length. This gives tall, slim folk and short, stout folk alike the best fit for them with all the same features. Adjustable shoulder straps also give users about an inch of play when finding the best torso length.
The hip belt and shoulder straps also pivot quite well, so the Baltoro moves with you as you navigate technical terrain and long miles.
Although the Baltoro 65 is comfortable with moderate to heavy loads, I did find there is a break-in time for the hipbelt. The hipbelt is pre-curved, but I experienced some discomfort and marks on my hips from the hipbelt on the first three-day trip with the Baltoro. On an overnight in the mountains near my home in California, I experienced no discomfort, so the foam did react to my shape quickly.
My other concern is weight. The Baltoro is heavy! You come to the Baltoro for comfort and convenience, and you pay a price for it. I have difficulty faulting a product for its weight when its feature set is so rich, but I wonder where Gregory could find efficiencies within the materials to achieve the same comfort and amenities at a lower weight.
Finally, a small gripe: the water bottle pocket. I love the design of the water bottle pocket. It’s easy to deploy or stow while walking, but a full one liter bottle throws off the balance of the pack. It does require another bottle or comparably-weighted item on the opposite side to keep balance. It took me a while to figure this out and I ended up with some discomfort in my shoulders as a result.
The Gregory Baltoro 65 is beefy, comfy, and organizey. That’s a word now. From overnight trips in your local mountains to multi-day excursions anywhere your feet can take you, the Baltoro has the features and comfort to take you there.
Where to Buy Gregory Baltoro 65
We tested the men’s Gregory Baltoro 65 in a medium with a medium hipbelt. This is the classic pack from Gregory, but the Baltoro is also offered in larger 75 and 85 liter capacities. The larger versions have more pockets and heavier weight capacities.
The women’s version of this pack is the Gregory Deva 60. It is engineered specifically for women, including the hip belt, shoulder straps, and method of carry. The Deva also has larger sizes in the 70 and 80 versions.
We find the 65 and 60 liter versions of these packs to be the best for most people.
Compare Gregory Baltoro 65 and Deva 60 prices below.]