Ask Me: What Do You Recommend For a Versatile, All-Purpose Backpack?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, message me at facebook.com/TheBigOutside, 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 pages, skills 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.
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