Ask Me: What Do You Recommend For a Versatile, All-Purpose Backpack?

Hello Michael,

I saw your gear reviews on your blog and I want to ask which backpack you’d recommend for long trails for a man: Osprey Xenith 75 (or 88) or Gregory Baltoro 75? Normally I take from 15 to 25 kg (30 to 50 lbs.). And I need this backpack for trips up to approximately 12 days—from short weekend trips with tent to 14-day trips. It would be nice if the backpack has a lot of pockets. For speed and technical routes I have a 35-liter Deuter Guide without any extra pockets, but for long treks I need more space for my wallet, phone, headlight, etc.

Best regards,
Lodz, Poland

Hi Emil,

Osprey Atmos AG 65
Osprey Atmos AG 65

Sounds like you’re looking for an all-around backpack. My first suggestion is a pack that I love and reviewed—a review that has been read more than any other gear review at my blog since I posted it last April 1: the Osprey Atmos AG 65. (The lead photo, above, shows the women’s version, the Aura AG 65. These packs also earned an Editors Choice Award in 2015 from my colleagues at Backpacker magazine, where I was a primary gear reviewer and the magazine’s Northwest Editor for many years.)

If you were planning to consistently carry loads of 20 to 25kg/40 to 50 pounds or more, I’d suggest looking at either the Gregory Baltoro 65 or 75 or one of the Osprey Xenith packs. But they may be heavier than you want as an all-around pack for the range of trips you’re planning.

I also like The North Face Banchee 65, which is a bit lighter than the packs mentioned above, so you’ll appreciate it most when you’re carrying a lighter load, but it handles heavier loads respectably well, too. And one more suggestion: Check out the Arc’teryx Altra 65, which is significantly more expensive than the others but really is a super, all-around backpack.

Gregory Baltoro 75
Gregory Baltoro 75

If you’d like a good-quality pack that’s a little more affordable, check out Gregory’s new Stout series. I’ve tested and reviewed the smaller Stout 45, but the Stout comes in 65L and 75L versions, too.

The best advice I can give you is to narrow your choices down to a few good contenders, then go try on each of them and see how they feel on you. Packs fit everyone differently, but the better companies do offer multiple options for customizing fit.

See all of my reviews of backpacks and my reviews of backpacking gear that I like and my stories:

5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack

The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun

Buying Gear? Read This First

“Why and When to Spend More on Gear: Part 1, Packs and Tents and Part 2, Rain Jackets, Boots, and Sleeping Bags

My 10 Most-Read Gear Reviews

Best New Gear of the Year: My Top 10 Favorites

5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?

You might also be interested in this Ask Me post where I offer a reader advice about choosing pack size (volume).

Thanks for writing, good luck, let me know what you decide on.


This blog and website is my full-time job and I rely on the support of readers. If you like what you see here, please help me continue producing The Big Outside by making a donation using the Support button at the top of the left sidebar or below. Thank you for your support.

Hi Michael!

I’m very thankful for your answer—especially for such a big answer, which gives me a lot of useful information. I live in Poland and in my country not every backpack from Osprey is available (like your tip) so I have a smaller choice. Anyway, I will try on two or three backpacks just to see which fits me better.

Once again, thanks a lot for your advice, I will tell you for sure about my future choice.

Best regards,

In Ask Me, I share my response to a reader question. Got a question about hiking, backpacking, gear, or any topic or trip I write about at The Big Outside? Send it to me at, message me at, or tweet it to @MichaelALanza. I will answer the ones I can in a blog post, using only your first name and city, with your permission. I now receive more questions than I can answer, so I ask that readers sending me a question be willing to make a $25 donation to this website (sometimes less, when appropriate) through my Support button (top left of sidebar), for the time and expertise I put into a response. I will also provide a telephone consult for a $45 donation. Write to me first and I will tell you whether I can answer your question (I usually can); I will respond as quickly as I can. First scroll through my Ask Me page and All Trips pagesskills stories, and gear reviews for answers to your questions before writing to me.

I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza

Wind4-016Did you enjoy this story? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, and I appreciate connecting with my readers. I invite you to subscribe to this blog by entering your email address in the box at the top of the left sidebar or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

The Big Outside is proud to partner with Osprey Packs. Please help support my blog by liking and following my sponsors on Facebook and other social media and telling them you appreciate their support for The Big Outside.







Review: Winter Jackets, Pants, Gloves & Mittens For Kids

Facing the Biggest Challenge: Friendship and Climbing in Joshua Tree


Leave a Comment