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Gregory 2005 G Pack Backpack REVIEW

Comfortable, light (but it should lose half a pound), and compact backpack with enough capacity and load control to support multi-day outings.

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by Rick Dreher | 2006-03-21 03:00:00-07

Gregory 2005 G Pack Backpack REVIEW

Introduction

A compact, top-loading, internal frame backpack, the Gregory G Pack incorporates lightweight materials and numerous features while hitting the stores at a competitive price. The G Pack elbows its way into a very crowded market segment where it might get lost in the mob if it weren’t for its effective load control and comfort - characteristics often missing in this group.

What's Good

  • Frame and suspension are effective and comfortable without stays
  • Compression scheme manages diminishing loads
  • Six external pockets, four accessible while wearing the pack
  • Floating, removable top pocket
  • Light and effective axe/trekking pole carriers
  • Three sizes to fit more hikers

What's Not So Good

  • Considering the reduced-weight fabrics, it should weigh 8 ounces less
  • Won’t accommodate most bear canisters
  • Lower compression straps interfere with side pockets
  • Too-short sternum strap also lacks an elastic damper
  • Dark fabrics make it hard to see pack contents
  • Fabric top-pocket zipper wicks water inside
  • Test pack suffered seam failures

Specifications

  Manufacturer

Gregory

  Year/Model

2005 G Pack

  Style

Internal frame, top-loading, drawstring closure, detachable top pocket

  Volume

Size medium tested: 2700 ci (48 L)

  Weight

2 lb 15.4 oz (1340 g) as measured; manufacturer specification 2 lb 12 oz (1245 g)

  Fabrics

G 70 silicone-nylon and 210d coated ripstop nylon body and top pocket; nylon mesh pockets; breathable foam shoulder straps, backpads and hipbelt

  Features

Floating top pocket lid with single zip compartment and key keeper, 7-inch extension collar, mesh pockets on sides, back, and hipbelt wings (five total), internal hydration pocket and one hose port, front-center daisy chain, two carry loops and straps for poles or tools, thermoplastic Exo-Frame, load lifter straps, Wraptor stabilizers, sternum strap

  Volume To Weight Ratio

57 ci/oz size medium (based on 2700 ci and a measured weight of 47.4 oz)

  Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

25 lb (11.4 kg) estimated comfortable load carrying capacity for an average person carrying the pack all day

  Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

8.3 (based on 25 lb and a measured weight of 2.96 lb)

  MSRP

$149

Performance

The top-loading G Pack - 2700 cubic inches (48 L) in size medium - is part of Gregory’s Anti-Gravity series (large and small G Packs are also available). It sports an interior hydration reservoir pocket, one hose port, a removable lid pocket, two mesh side pockets, a mesh center front pocket with daisy chain, two mesh hipbelt pockets and an HDPE “Exo-Frame.” The chimney-style backpanel separates two breathable backpads and a lumbar pad to create an air channel. This review evaluates the G Pack’s ability to carry the recommended load, its packing flexibility, and life with it in the field.

Capacity and Loading Schemes

The G Pack is smaller than the average short-haul, three-season backpack but certainly adequate for weekends and a bit longer. While the G Pack fills quickly, it manages to hold my typical solo kit and up to about four days of food. Obviously, more compact gear ekes out more days, especially the sleeping bag, shelter, and carried clothing. A three-season synthetic bag for example, gobbles up a big chunk of the pack’s interior while a 2-pound or smaller down bag is a lot less greedy. Copious external pockets actually make the G Pack a lot more spacious than the volume specification suggests.

Gregory G Pack Backpack REVIEW - 1
Because of its several spacious pockets (left), the G Pack holds more than its capacity specification suggests. A comfortable suspension (right) works to minimize the day’s aches and pains.

Sample Gear List

  • Shelter: GoLite Hex 2 and groundcloth
  • Sleeping Bag: Western Mountaineering Ultralight
  • Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest Prolite 4 Short
  • Kitchen: Primus Ti Alpine stove, 220 g cartridge, MSR Ti kettle, MSR Ti mug, etc.
  • Food, hangsack, and cord
  • Water and Treatment: 1-liter AquaStar and bottle in one side pocket, 750 milliliter bottle in the other, 3-quart Nalgene canteen (carried empty)
  • Clothing: Typical three-season kit
  • Other Necessities: Toiletries, first aid kit, glasses, headlamp, map & compass, etc
  • Extras: Camera (carried outside), film, GPS

The top-loading G Pack requires no unusual packing tricks; it responds well to the typical light, medium, heavy, medium progression from bottom to top. Excess clothing, along with rain and wind gear can go in the front pocket (when it’s not being used for wet gear) and the sleeping pad gets strapped either to the daisy chain (which is stabilized from above by a strap) or crosswise, beneath the top pocket. I use the inner hydration pocket when day hiking, but not for overnights because I usually need the interior space. The side pockets hold as much as a liter of water each or a host of small gear and snacks. Angled elasticized pocket tops ease access while wearing the pack, but the lower compression straps run diagonally across them and limit access when cinched tight. Two mesh pockets adorning the hipbelt wings host snacks, sunblock, lip balm, a small camera and the like. These are larger than typical belt pockets, covering each belt wing entirely.

No fewer than five straps anchor the floating, removable top pocket, helping to keep it centered. The pocket has a single zipped compartment with a key-keeper inside. Two ice axe loops and corresponding toggled elastic straps on the main packbag work well for carrying trekking poles, and are acceptable for heavier ice axes. They can handle a light monopod but not a hefty tripod.

Gregory G Pack Backpack REVIEW - 2
Elastic cords and toggles (left) are used for the axe/pole keepers. The floating top pocket (right) can be centered with changing load volumes.

With considerable wrestling, a Bearikade Weekender (9 inches wide x 10.5 inches high) fits vertically but it leaves little useful space once there. This probably isn’t a pack for touring in aggressive bear country.

Fit

The tested medium G Pack is specified to fit 17.5 to19.5-inch torsos. My torso measures 19.5 inches using Gregory’s fit kit, putting me on the cusp betwixt medium and large. After trying both sizes, I felt the medium fit me somewhat better in length and girth, although the shorter pack limited load lifter strap effectiveness. Because the pack has no back length adjustment, fitting is important before purchase. In sum, while the test pack fit me very well I urge anyone on the long end of the fit range to test a loaded one before purchase.

Gregory G Pack Backpack REVIEW - 3
Wraptor Stabilizers (left) tie into the shoulder straps. They effectively rein in the pack load (right) as an alternative to the more typical hipbelt stabilizer strap.

Once I’ve hoisted the G Pack and sequentially adjusted the various straps (waist belt, shoulder straps, sternum strap, top load control straps), it molds nicely to my hips and back. The Wraptor Stabilizer scheme integrates bottom load control with the shoulder straps, eliminating more-typical hipbelt load control straps. Looking at this system it’s not clear to me why it works, but it does. The semi-rigid Exo-Frame backpanel dispenses with a stay through molded U-section channels and doesn’t sag or collapse under load. Compared to the original G Pack, the new version has an impressive improvement in comfort and load control.

In Use

I can be a lazy packer and the G Pack is pretty forgiving. If I’m not careful loading the main compartment, the pockets can swallow an amazing amount of overage. So long as the front pocket isn’t loaded down with heavy items, its use doesn’t seem to affect load balance or control.

Keeping within Gregory’s suggested maximum 25-pound load limit, I found the G Pack effectively maintains control and comfort. Approaching 30 pounds, the pack sags and pulls away from my back, so the maker’s recommendation is right-on.

Gregory G Pack Backpack REVIEW - 4
Generous hipbelt wing pockets (left) keep snacks, supplies and tools handy. The extra-large front pocket (center) is daisy-chain reinforced and supported from above by an adjustable strap. Access to large side pockets (right) is hampered by load control straps.

On terrain both level and steep the G Pack performs very well, providing excellent balance and load control and not interfering with pole use. I didn’t experience any sore spots, and adjusting the shoulder straps during the day helped reduce fatigue. The sternum strap is too short and lacks elastic damping. I got so tired of it I swapped in the elastic one from the original G Pack, something Gregory ought to do too.

Partial loads are well controlled via the load compressor straps (absent on the original model), the bottom load control straps do interfere with side pocket access though. The several top pocket straps help keep it centered as pack volume drops.

Wear and Tear

My technical travel with the G Pack occurred mostly while cross-country snowshoeing, offering plenty of bushwhacking, face-plants and general backcountry mishaps. No matter, the pack’s condition is fine with only minor fabric abrasion and padding distortion. The various light and heavier weight fabrics are strategically well placed and no snags appeared in the mesh. However, a seam unraveling in two places atop the packbag indicated sewing or thread defects. Although not in critical spots, their presence raises the question of whether there will be more seam failures (key stitching is bias-taped).

Gregory G Pack Backpack REVIEW - 5
A seam failure exposes the extension collar drawstring.

Tracking the Changes

Comparison with the original G Pack shows considerable evolution. Capacity is down, weight is slightly up and new features abound. The biggest changes are to the suspension, which now includes Gregory’s Wraptor Stabilizer system and Gullwing hipbelt.

The original’s flat thermoplastic framesheet with oval-section aluminum stay is gone, replaced with a fairly complex Exo-Frame framesheet. The new framesheet, no longer removable, has stiffening channels molded into it where stays might once have resided.

The original’s huge wrap-around bucket pocket has been divided into three pockets (side and center), a more useful arrangement, and the top pocket is better controlled by an additional anchor strap.

There’s the welcome addition of a drinking hose port and the odd replacement of the waterproof top pocket zipper with a plain one that wicks water. The sternum strap lost its elastic damper. G 30 fabric has been replaced by stronger, heavier G 70 cloth and last but definitely not least, are four new compression straps not present on the original (the first G Pack had poor load control when less than full).

The differences in load control and comfort are dramatic, with the new pack better in every way. The only potential downside is the lower capacity, but more capacity is available by going to Gregory’s Z Pack.

Assessment

Our sample medium pack weighs 47.6 ounces, 3.6 more than specified (+7.7%), and has a suggested (and realistic) 25-pound load limit (22 pounds, net). The G Pack is suitable for lightweight hikers who prefer a frame and who keep their load volumes small. It also makes a capacious day pack that’s especially useful in winter, although it has no specific provision for carrying snowshoes or skis.

The G Pack is a comfortable and compact backpack for weekend and somewhat longer trips. It’s not especially wide and keeps mass close to the body, which helps load control and maneuverability. The angled pack bottom makes steep downhill travel safer at the cost of reduced pack volume. A host of external pockets provide quick-access versatility and overload capacity.

What's Unique

Gregory’s Wraptor Stabilizer system and Exo-Frame framesheet provide comfort and load control while eschewing metal stays or perimeter frames.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Cut the weight by half a pound and keep its comfort and feature set
  • Lengthen the sternum strap and add an elastic damper
  • Use a lighter color fabric to improve interior visibility
  • Add a shoulder strap drinking hose clip
  • Use a water-repellent zipper on the top pocket
  • Mind the stitching

Citation

"Gregory 2005 G Pack Backpack REVIEW," by Rick Dreher. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/gregory_2005_g_pack_backpack_review.html, 2006-03-21 03:00:00-07.

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