See my newer review of the updated-for-2018 Gregory Baltoro 65 and Deva 60.
Whether backpacking with my young kids or heading out on a multi-day climbing trip in the backcountry, I’ve carried 50 pounds or more on my back enough times with a mediocre pack to know that I don’t yearn to do that again. For a big load, I want a pack that’s supportive, comfortable, and more tricked out than I prefer for much lighter trips—and I know that means it will also be heavier. I carried the Baltoro 75 with, at times, more than 50 pounds inside on a five-day, family backpacking trip down Paria Canyon, in Utah and Arizona. Without question, it remains one of the very few packs in this category that I’d want for backpacking with loads that heavy, and arguably the best in its class.
In every respect, from the suspension to the feature set, the men’s Baltoro and women’s Deva packs—updated and a pound lighter for 2018—fill the big-pack role extremely well. Comfort is superior, with the new Response A3 suspension’s high-strength aluminum perimeter frame, and pre-curved hipbelt and harness components that are sturdy and yet feel soft, thanks to EVA foam. The independently pivoting shoulder harness and hipbelt allow the pack to move with your body instead of feeling like it’s working against you. The ventilated, moisture-wicking mesh back panel and foam lumbar pad aren’t some wimpy afterthought—they deliver real cushioning without getting crushed by a heavy load, and the grippy lumbar pad surface prevents the pack from slipping, while the hipbelt maintains its shape under any weight.
I’m not sure what more organizational features you could put in a backpack without getting overly redundant. New features include a weatherproof hipbelt pocket that holds a smartphone (the other, zippered hipbelt pocket is mesh, for snacks) and a removable, Sidekick internal hydration bladder compartment that doubles as an ultralight daypack for short outings from camp. The dual-pocket lid has a flexible center divider for larger items. The top-loading main compartment has a wide mouth for easy loading and unloading, plus a U-shaped panel zipper that opens up the entire main compartment.
Features include top attachment points for a solar panel and a quick attachment for sunglasses on a shoulder strap, widely adjustable compression straps that cross over the pack bag, and a rain cover.
Construction and durability are true to Gregory’s usual high standards: The nylon fabric shrugged off repeated abrasion against coarse sandstone, and zippers are coated for water resistance.
While I would choose a less-featured, lighter, and smaller pack for carrying loads of 40 to 45 pounds or less, for hauling 45 to 50 pounds—or more—for a significant distance, the Baltoro and Deva are hands-down among the few outstanding packs out there.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to buy a Gregory Baltoro 75 or other sizes at moosejaw.com, ems.com, or rei.com, or a Deva 70 or other sizes at moosejaw.com, ems.com, or rei.com.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.