Gregory Baltoro 75
Weight: 4 lbs. 15.4 oz. (size medium)
Fabric: Nylon (210D)
Capacities: 65, 75, 85, 95L
What we like: A comfortable and nicely appointed pack for shuttling serious weight.
What we don’t: Heavy at nearly 5 pounds.
See the Men's Gregory Baltoro 75 See the Women's Gregory Deva 70
Gregory’s flagship men’s Baltoro and women’s Deva packs are long-time favorites for those carrying serious weight. We took the 75-liter version on the demanding Huemul Circuit in Patagonia and were pleased with its stable feel and premium construction. At nearly 5 pounds, it’s overbuilt for those who want to travel fast and light, but if you value the extra cushioning and support, it’s one of the best packs on the market. Below we outline our experiences with the Baltoro 75. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best backpacking packs.
Table of Contents
- Carrying Comfort
- Weather Protection
- Build Quality and Durability
- Fit and Sizing
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
Heavy-hauling comfort has always been a defining characteristic of the Gregory Baltoro, and the current model continues the tradition. With my 75-liter pack loaded down with all of my normal backpacking gear plus extras like a harness, carabiners, and plenty of layers for the fickle Patagonian “summer,” I immediately was impressed with how well the pack supported and distributed the load. The full-length metal frame and compression straps provide a sturdy structure, and the padding along the hipbelt and shoulder harness is noticeably high-quality, balancing softness with enough support for long days on the trail. Further, the sculpted backpanel includes a removable lumbar pad for added customization (I left it in and appreciated the snug fit it provided).
In addition to the premium cushioning and strong build, the Baltoro’s innovative pivoting shoulder straps and hipbelt play an important role in carrying comfort. Each piece shifts independently, so the pack remains level and close against your body while the shoulder straps and hipbelt move up and down. This is especially noticeable on extended climbs, where I could feel one side drop while the other raised up as I took each step. Gregory isn’t the only manufacturer to experiment with this type of functionality—Arc’teryx’s Bora AR has a more radical design which allows the hipbelt to move up and down on a track—but I’m sold on the benefits of the pack’s freedom of movement while moving quickly over technical terrain.
Gregory has made incremental progress with the weight of the last couple Baltoro designs, but it remains a fairly heavy pack. My medium size 75-liter model tips the scales at 4 pounds 15.4 ounces, which is just over 3 ounces lighter than the previous model. Stacked up to its direct competitors, this is about average: Osprey’s Aether 65 weighs 4 pounds 15 ounces, their Atmos AG 65 is 4 pounds 6 ounces, and Mystery Ranch’s Glacier is heavier at 6 pounds 6.4 ounces. Depending on your needs for a specific trip, you can save some weight by leaving a few of the Baltoro’s features at home: removing the Sidekick hydration sleeve/daypack, lower compression straps, interior sleeping bag divider, and rain cover saved me 9.2 ounces. It’s still a long way from a lightweight design, but the adaptability is a nice option to keep unused weight in check.
One of the benefits of a feature-rich and heavy pack is excellent organization, and the Baltoro does not disappoint in this regard. You get a total of 10 well-sized exterior pockets: three zippered pockets in the top lid for small items, two tall zippered pockets and a large mesh shove-it pocket along the front, two mesh water bottle holders, and two enclosed hipbelt pockets. The zippered space on the underside of the lid houses the rain cover, but also includes a key clip and enough space for a few bars. I also found that the water bottle holster on the right side was perfectly angled for quick and easy access to my Nalgene while wearing the pack. The only disappointment is that the water-resistant hipbelt pocket is too small to fit a larger smartphone (we could fit our smaller iPhone SE into the pocket, but were unable to get a larger iPhone X with a low-profile case inside, which also rules out the Plus versions).
U-Shaped Main Compartment Access
Perhaps my favorite organizational feature of the Baltoro is the U-shaped zipper along the front that gives you complete access to the main compartment. Unzipping and opening the large flap makes it incredibly easy to find and grab just about anything inside the pack (there’s also a separate zippered access for the sleeping bag compartment at the bottom). For a trip like the Huemul Circuit where I needed to put on and take off jackets and grab gear like a harness and carabiners for a Tyrolean traverse, the quick access saved a lot of time rummaging around or unloading the pack (something one of my hiking partners had to do multiple times a day with her top-loading Granite Gear Crown2 60).
As with the previous Baltoro, Gregory includes an ultralight daypack on the inside of the main compartment. Called the Sidekick, the point of this pack is twofold: it functions as a hydration sleeve, storing up to a 3-liter reservoir inside the main pack, and can be removed when you arrive at camp for day hikes. As a standalone daypack, the Sidekick isn’t very impressive: the narrow shape and modest 12-liter capacity is both smaller and less comfortable to carry than a bag like the REI Co-op Flash 18. That said, the light padding on the shoulder straps and optional hipbelt straps (the lower compression straps on the main bag convert into the Sidekick’s hipbelt) make it completely functional for carrying a few hours’ worth of water, food, and an extra layer or two. Finally, if you don’t want to use the Sidekick, leaving it behind saves you 4.2 ounces.
Back and hip ventilation was one area where we felt the old Baltoro fell noticeably short. The padding was covered in fabric that soaked up sweat but didn’t dry quickly, and the small mesh cutout in the center of the backpanel did very little to encourage airflow. Gregory has now addressed this issue pretty well with a sculpted backpanel that is mostly mesh and includes plenty of openings in the foam. Even though our backpacking trip technically was in the middle of the Austral Summer, it wasn’t warm for extended stretches, but I am confident in saying that Gregory has made strides with the design. Truthfully, very few internal frame packs excel at ventilation—Osprey’s Atmos AG is one notable exception—but the redone backpanel and more breathable fabric along the hipbelt and shoulder straps bring the Baltoro in-line with many of its competitors.
A squall that moved in midway through the third day of our trek gave me an opportunity to test the Baltoro’s weather protection. As mentioned above, the pack comes with a rain cover that stores on the underside of the top lid. I was able to quickly deploy the cover and use the attached clip to secure it across the backpanel, which kept the entire pack body dry until the storm passed. One of the hipbelt pockets also is water-resistant, and I left my phone in it for about 10 minutes in sideways rain until I got too nervous and took it out. When I opened the “Weather Shield” coated pocket, the phone was completely dry, so I have a good amount of confidence in the design (it’s still a good idea to store it under the fully waterproof rain cover in a downpour).
The Huemul Circuit was very demanding on gear: my Baltoro was strapped to and carried across two Tyrolean traverses, laid down on rough trails and rock-covered glaciers, and squeezed between (and sometimes pulled through) dense brush and trees. Through it all, the bag came out in nearly perfect condition. The pack body balances weight and durability with high-quality zippers and a mix of light 210-denier (D) honeycomb nylon and tough 420D high-density nylon. Moreover, the reinforced base still looks new (after a little scrubbing with soap and water) thanks to thick 630D nylon and a layer of foam cushioning. Even the mesh pockets feel substantial—a notable upgrade from the thin and open mesh on Gregory’s lighter Paragon—and haven’t picked up any snags or tears. All told, durability is one of the big selling points of this pack, especially for those that get out a lot and aren’t easy on their gear.
With my 18-inch torso and 31-inch waist, I opted for a medium size in the Gregory Baltoro 75 and had no issues in getting an excellent fit. For reference, the pack also is available in small (which fits 16-18 in. torso lengths and 27-47 in. waists) and large (20-22 in. torso length and 30-50 in. waist) sizes. The pivoting shoulder strap design does mean that there are only two pre-determined heights to adjust for your torso length, but this didn’t have a negative impact for me. Overall, most people should be able to get a good fit with the Baltoro.
Women's-Specific Gregory Deva
We tested the men’s 75-liter Baltoro for this review, but Gregory also makes a women’s-specific version called the Deva. The packs are nearly identical in design, although the Deva comes in slightly smaller capacities (60, 70, and 80L compared with the Baltoro’s 65, 75, and 85L), and different shoulder strap and hipbelt shapes. Importantly, the Deva includes all the features that we love in the Baltoro, including the U-shaped access to the main compartment, supportive cushioning, and sturdy construction.
Other Capacities of the Gregory Baltoro
We tested the 75-liter version of the Baltoro, which was a great match for our multi-day trip along Patagonia’s demanding Huemul Circuit. Those packing lighter or going on shorter trips should consider the Gregory Baltoro 65, which costs less at $300 and shaves around 2 ounces in weight, but otherwise retains an identical feature set and overall build. Other capacities in the lineup include a larger 85-liter model ($350 and 5 lbs. 2.4 oz.) and 95-liter “Pro” version ($380 and 6 lbs. 7.5 oz.), which is purpose-built for extended outings in the backcountry.
- The Baltoro is as comfortable as ever. The strong suspension and pivoting shoulder straps and hipbelt carry heavy loads extremely well.
- Fantastic organization: the pack has tons of exterior pockets to distribute gear and the U-shaped access to the main compartment makes grabbing items that are stuffed away very easy.
- Despite dropping a few ounces in weight from the previous model, the Baltoro still is plenty tough and hasn’t shown any signs of wear.
What We Don’t
- Heavy at nearly 5 pounds and overkill if you pack light or only head out on short summer trips.
- The dual-use Sidekick daypack/hydration sleeve isn’t very comfortable (but you can leave it at home).
- The water-resistant hipbelt pocket doesn’t fit larger smartphones.
|Gregory Baltoro 75||$330||4 lb. 15.4 oz.||Nylon (210D)||65, 75, 85L||Top, front||10 exterior|
|Gregory Paragon 68||$250||3 lb. 11.4 oz.||Nylon (100D & 210D)||48, 58, 68L||Top, side||6 exterior|
|Osprey Aether Plus 70||$360||6 lb. 2.7 oz.||Nylon (210D)||60, 70, 85, 100L||Top, front||9 exterior|
|Mystery Ranch Glacier||$350||6 lb. 6.4 oz.||Cordura (500D)||71L||Top, side||4 exterior|
|Deuter Aircontact Pro||$350||6 lb. 14.4 oz.||Nylon & polyester (330D & 600D)||75, 85L||Top, front||7 exterior|
|Osprey Atmos AG 65||$270||4 lb. 9 oz.||Nylon (100D x 630D)||50, 65L||Top||8 exterior|
Even with the trend toward lighter backpacking gear, there’s a strong market for heavy-hauling, mega-comfortable backpacking packs, and the Baltoro remains one of the best. For a slightly smaller but still supportive and feature-rich option from Gregory, we like their Paragon 68. At 3 pounds 11.4 ounces for the medium/large size and a more reasonable $250, the Paragon is a nice alternative for those looking to shave weight and save some cash. However, the Baltoro wins out in space (by 7 liters), exterior storage (the Paragon has six external pockets), and comfort with a more heavily padded hipbelt and shoulder straps. In the end, the two fill different niches: the Baltoro is our favorite heavy hauler for long and gear-intensive outings, but the Paragon is all most backpackers need.
One of the Baltoro’s long-time rivals is Osprey’s Aether, which was recently updated. Stacked up against the Baltoro, the Aether Plus 70 costs an additional $30 and weighs around a pound more at 6 pounds 2.7 ounces (for the L/XL size) but uses more robust high-tenacity nylon (also 210D), comes with tons of storage and attachment points (including ice axe loops and trekking pole carriers), and allows for generous fine-tuning along the hipbelt, shoulder straps, and torso. Like the Baltoro, the Aether comes with a removable top lid that converts to a daypack (which is more functional than the Gregory’s Sidekick), as well as an integrated rain cover and sleeping bag divider. However, while there’s a lot to like with the latest Aether, it’s hard to justify spending more for less capacity (and the 6-lb. weight will feel fairly hefty on the trail). For a lighter and cheaper option in the series, the Aether 65 checks in at a more palatable 4 pounds 15 ounces and $280, although in this weight class we still prefer the larger Baltoro.
Another heavy hauler to have on your radar is Mystery Ranch’s Glacier 71L. While not a household name, the brand has already built a solid reputation for carrying comfort. The Glacier is similar in total capacity and price with the Baltoro but differs in a few key areas. For one, the pack uses a super burly 500-denier Cordura fabric throughout that’s built to last but is overkill for most backpacking trips. Along with a sturdy frame and buckles and zippers that prioritize quality over weight, and the Glacier comes in at a very hefty 6 pounds 6.4 ounces. If you’ll be hauling a ton of gear for a winter expedition, you might be able to justify the extra poundage, but most will be far better off with the more versatile Baltoro.
Deuter is another leader in the backpacking market, and their Aircontact Pro 70 + 15 is an intriguing alternative to the Baltoro. Right off the bat, we’ll note that the Aircontact is the heaviest of the competitors listed here at 6 pounds 14.4 ounces, but you do get a solid number of upgrades. Specifically, the Deuter is very robust with a mix of 330- and 600-denier fabrics, and the “+ 10” in the name refers to the expandable top portion of the main compartment, which allows you to extend or compress the load depending on how much gear you’re carrying. You also get ample adjustability, a smaller included daypack for short trips from camp, and generous padding along the shoulders, back, and hipbelt. Not everyone needs the space or features, but for only $20 more than the Baltoro, the Aircontact Pro is a competitive and fully featured heavy hauler.
Last but not least, the Osprey Atmos AG 65 is our top overall backpacking pack of the year. As its name suggests, the Atmos offers 10 liters less in terms of capacity, although with the streamlined backpacking gear options available in 2021 (small tents, sleeping bags, and pads), 65 liters is ample for many multi-day trips. In addition, the Osprey lacks zippered access to the main compartment, which is a nice feature on the Baltoro. But we appreciate the weight and cost savings: at 4 pounds 9 ounces and $270, the Osprey is lighter and cheaper while managing to be nearly as comfortable as the Baltoro—and a better breather. For a more streamlined alternative without many sacrifices, the Atmos 65 is a great choice.
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