Review: Gregory Baltoro 65 and Deva 60 Backpacks

Backpack
Gregory Baltoro 65 and Deva 60
$320, 65L/3,966 c.i., 4 lbs. 14 oz./2.2kg (men’s medium Baltoro)
Sizes: three adjustable men’s and women’s sizes
Baltoro 65: backcountry.com
Deva 60: backcountry.com

If you tend to fill up a backpack with lots of stuff (read: beaucoup weight) on your backpacking trips, trying to do that with a pack that’s inadequate to the task will strike you as a fool’s errand before you get far up the trail. In reality, very few packs handle heavy loads well. From the Teton Crest Trail to the Sawtooths, the men’s Gregory Baltoro 65 once again demonstrated that it belongs in that elite stable of backpacking packs.

I asked two experienced backpackers I know to test out the men’s large Baltoro 65 (the women’s model is the Deva 60) on separate trips of three days and 27 miles in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains and two days of 10 and 12 miles on the Teton Crest Trail (the latter trip cut in half by torrential rain). Both guys are around five feet 10 inches and 200 pounds.


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Gregory Baltoro 65 harness and back panel.
Gregory Baltoro 65 harness and back panel.

Made with recycled fabrics—with a carbon footprint reduced by 31 percent, 25 percent less energy use, 23 percent less water pollution, and one-third less plastic than the previous generation of these packs, and a PFC-free DWR (durable, water-resistant treatment) on the pack fabric—the 2022 editions of the Baltoro 65 and Deva 60 also cost just 20 bucks more than when I reviewed these packs four years ago.

Classic fully featured, top-loaders built for hauling heavy loads into the backcountry, the Baltoro and Deva series packs have an internal alloy perimeter wire frame with a fiberglass cross stay plus an HDPE (high-density polyethylene) framesheet that give the packs abundant support and rigidity with just a bit of flex and direct most of the pack weight onto the hips as effectively as the two or three best big packs on the market.

Those critical components explain how the Deva and Baltoro carry loads of 50 pounds/22.7kg comfortably, which is Gregory’s rating for the Baltoro 65 and Deva 60, what my testers estimated, and consistent with my personal experience with a few generations of the Baltoro. Strong backpackers could handle more weight in them. Gregory rates the larger Baltoro and Deva packs for 55 to 75 pounds/25 to 34kg.

Testers reported that Gregory’s new, foamless FreeFloat suspension system with 3D mesh delivered excellent air flow across their backs. The suspension creates a wide air channel even as the AirCushion back panel wraps the torso closely, distributing the pack’s weight more evenly and eliminating pressure points.

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Gregory Baltoro 65 backpack.
Gregory Baltoro 65 backpack.

The suspension-harness features a well-padded, pre-curved, dynamic hipbelt with flex panels that allow the belt to rotate side to side as you walk, and dual-density shoulder straps that auto-rotate individually at the top of each. One tester with very wide shoulders found those straps dug into his shoulders; the other tester said hipbelt rubbed his hips raw—both of which could be explained by fitting the pack poorly (read my tips on fitting a pack—just as important as with boots).

That dynamic nature to the suspension eliminates much of the side-to-side rocking a pack can do as you hike—and the cumulative body fatigue that can result. Hipbelt and shoulder straps are made with cushioned mesh that ventilates well, too. Plus, the hipbelt wings are extendable to fit larger waists and hips.

Testers also loved Gregory’s signature, supportive lumbar pad, which has a non-slip surface to prevent lower-back blisters—another feature that becomes more important in a pack built for big loads. All harness components are treated with odor-controlling polygiene to inhibit bacterial growth.

The men’s Baltoro and women’s Deva both come in three sizes, now with an expanded adjustability range of about three inches and overlap between the sizes, enabling more flexibility in fit: Even the small (fits torsos 16 to 19 inches/40.6 to 48.3cm) and large Baltoro (fits torsos 18 to 21 inches/45.7 to 53.3cm) share a one-inch overlap in fit while the women’s Deva has two inches of overlap between the XS (14 to 17 inches/35.6 to 43.2cm) and medium (16 to 19 inches/40.6 to 48.3cm).

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Gregory Baltoro 65 hipbelt.
Gregory Baltoro 65 hipbelt.

All three men’s and women’s sizes also sport 22 inches (about 56cm) of fit range in all three adjustable hipbelt sizes—which spotlights one complaint I’ve long had about these packs: The belts are much too long for many users. I don’t pretend to know what consumer sizing demand Gregory sees but it’s hard to imagine many purchasers of the men’s small Baltoro 65 requiring a belt that accommodates a 48-inch/122cm waist.

The voluminous main compartment, with a wide mouth, has abundant capacity for long, gear-intensive trips and carrying extra food and gear for companions (like young kids); it easily fits a bear canister laid in horizontally (often not possible with smaller packs). Access is matched by very few backpacking packs, beginning with the huge, U-shaped front zipper into the entire main compartment and zipper access to the sleeping bag compartment, which has a removable divider.

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Gregory Baltoro 65 with U-shaped front panel open.
Gregory Baltoro 65 with U-shaped front panel open.

Gregory kept many useful features that have long populated the Deva and Baltoro series. That includes the supreme organization created by nine external pockets:

  • A large, stretch-mesh front pocket that can swallow a wet rainfly and maybe a jacket on top of that.
  • Dual front zippered pockets with a floating divider separating them, meaning that you can overfill one because it borrows volume from the other.
  • One side stretch-mesh pocket large enough for a liter bottle, gloves, snacks, etc.
  • On the other side, a retractable bottle holder canted at an angle to easily grab or replace a bottle in it while wearing the pack.
  • Two pockets atop the floating, removable lid (and a large, zippered pocket on its underside).
  • Two oversized hipbelt pockets bigger than any I’ve seen on a backpack, holding multiple bars in addition to a smartphone. (I stuffed a pair of warm ski gloves with long gauntlets inside one of the pockets.) They are, arguably, bigger than needed. Testers said filling them up sometimes meant their hands constantly brushing against the pockets—although that was not a problem when they used trekking poles.

Other nice details on the Baltoro and Deva include:

  • Molded zipper pulls that are easy to grab with warm gloves on.
  • Top, side, and bottom compression, the side straps long enough to wrap around the pack’s front to attach large gear or maximize load compression, the bottom long enough to attach a foam pad.
  • Sunglasses stow on the left shoulder strap.
  • An accessory attachment for keeping items like Gregory’s bear spray holster (sold separately) within easy reach.
  • The internal hydration sleeve features Gregory’s SpeedClip hanger for easily and securely clipping the brand’s 3D Hydro Trek reservoir (not included, but see it in my review of top backpacking accessories); it will hold other bladders, too.
  • Adjustable straps and shock cords for ice axes and trekking poles.
  • A safety whistle in the sternum strap.

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Durability alone validates the price (and weight), with a combination of 210-denier and 420-denier, high-density nylon in the pack body, 40 to 45 percent of it recycled, and a dual-layer bottom panel of 630-denier, high-density nylon.

While it’s more than twice the weight of top ultralight packs, of course, the Baltoro, at four pounds, 14 ounces/2.2kg (for the medium Baltoro), and Deva weigh virtually the same as the Mystery Ranch Sphinx 60 and Osprey men’s Aether 65 and women’s Ariel 65 and just three ounces more than the men’s Osprey Atmos AG 65 and women’s Aura AG 65—packs that perhaps most closely compete with the Baltoro 65 and Deva 60 for comfort, fit, and features.

Other packs in these lines include the Gregory Baltoro 75 and Deva 70 ($350), Baltoro 85 Pro and Deva 80 Pro ($380), and Baltoro 100 Pro ($400).

Gregory Baltoro 65 and Deva 60

Comfort/Support
Fit
Access
Features
Weight-to-Performance
Durability

The Verdict

For backpackers planning to carry loads of 40 to 50 pounds or more and like the access and organization provided by a huge zipper opening up the main compartment and numerous external pockets, the Gregory Baltoro 65 and Deva 60 rank among the two or three very best packs for that job.

4.8

BUY IT NOW

You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to buy a Gregory Baltoro 65 at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or gregorypacks.com; a Gregory Deva 60 at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or gregorypacks.com; or larger versions of the Baltoro at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or gregorypacks.com or the Deva at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or gregorypacks.com.

See “The 10 Best Backpacking Packs” and “The Best Ultralight Backpacks,” 5 Expert Tips For Buying the Right Backpacking Pack,” and all reviews of backpacks, backpacking gear, ultralight backpacks, and ultralight backpacking gear at The Big Outside.

And don’t miss my popular reviews of “25 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories” and “The Best Backpacking Gear” of the year.

Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “How to Plan a Backpacking Trip—12 Expert Tips,” A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking,” and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of those three stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “How to Plan a Backpacking Trip—12 Expert Tips,” the lightweight and ultralight backpacking guide, and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.”

See all stories with expert backpacking tips at The Big Outside.

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 The Big Outside’s Gear Reviews page for categorized menus of all gear reviews and expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza

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