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Gregory 2004 G Pack Backpack Review

Performance review of a lightweight frameless pack that focuses on utility and comfort.

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by Jay Ham | 2004-08-24 03:00:00-06

Overview

G Pack in the field
Photo 1: Gregory G Pack.

The Gregory G Pack is the result of Gregory's experience making comfortable packs applied to lighter fabrics and materials. The hollow core single aluminum stay and well fitting harness combine to create a very comfortable pack suspension without being overly stiff. Weights at or around 30 pounds (14 kg, Gregory's suggested weight) carried very comfortably in the G Pack. However, Gregory's G fabric (1.3 oz/yd2, 44 g/m2 silnylon) is rather thin and will not handle a lot of abuse. We also found the lack of accessible pockets, limited exterior attachment options, and the omission of hydration compatibility disappointing.

Specifications

• Backpack Style

Top loading internal frame with top lid pocket closure.

• Fabric Description

Silicone impregnated 30d, 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) "G fabric" for the main body and 210d, 4.8 oz/yd2 (163 g/m2) HT ripstop nylon for high wear areas and reinforcements.

• Sizes (Size M tested)

Sizes Torso Length (in) Torso Length (cm)
S 15.5-17.5 39-44
M 17.5-19.5 44-50
L 19.5-21.5 50-55

• Volume (Size M tested)

Sizes Volume (ci) Volume (L)
S 2,650 43
M 2,900 48
L 3,100 51

• Weight (Size M tested)

Sizes Backpacking Light Measured oz(g) Manufacturer Specification oz(g)
S Not measured 41 (1,162)
M 43.6 (1,236) 44 (1,247)
L Not measured 46 (1,304)

• Volume to Weight Ratio

67 ci/oz, size M (based on 2,900 ci and Backpacking Light measured weight of 43.6 oz)

• Load Carrying Capacity

30 lbs (14 kg) as estimated by Backpacking Light

• Carry Load to Pack Weight Performance Ratio

11 (based on 30 lbs and Backpacking Light measured weight of 43.6 oz)

• MSRP

$149

• Manufacturer's Contact Information

Gregory
(800) 477-3420
http://www.gregorypacks.com

Features

Ratings follow subtitles on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, and are relative to other Backpacking Light tested framed packs.

Frame and Suspension - 4.5

frame stay
Photo 2: The Gregory G Pack has a single hollow core aluminum stay and a plastic HDPE framesheet, both shown here removed from the pack.

Gregory lightened the G Pack by reducing fabric weight while retaining a fairly substantial frame and harness for a pack designed to carry 30 pounds (14 kg). The frame consists of a single hollow core 7075 series aluminum internal frame stay and a supportive HDPE plastic framesheet (Photo 2). Although Gregory describes the frame sheet and stay as removable, removal is very difficult and not a task that one would repeat often. The one time I accomplished the task, it took me 15 minutes, and I broke out in a sweat. Nevertheless, once removed, the stay can be bent to make minor adjustments to better match spinal curvature.

The Gregory G Pack has padded shoulder straps and hipbelt, both cushioned sufficiently for the load carrying capacity of this pack. There are no means to adjust the harness to accommodate varying torso lengths. However, the G Pack is offered in three sizes (small, medium, and large) to fit torso sizes from 15.5 to 21.5 inches (39 to 55 cm). The shoulder straps are contour cut and fit very well. The harness is completed with waist belt and shoulder strap stabilizers and a sternum strap. The padded back panel only makes contact at the lumbar and shoulder blades creating channels in between that allow air movement between the pack and wearer.

 

Usable Features and Ease of Use - 2.5

 

The G Pack has an unusual pocket configuration that is both uniquely functional and cumbersome to use. Rather than having two side water bottle pockets and one large back pocket, as many lightweight packs do, the G Pack has one large pocket that covers both side panels and the back, named the "bucket pouch" by Gregory. It can accept lots of small gear, or take on enormous items, as needed. This pocket is secured along its top edge by three side-release buckles that connect the pocket to each side panel and to the top compression strap. These also act as the pack's primary compression system. The deep side panel pockets are unreachable with the pack on. For that matter, none of the pockets are accessible while wearing this pack. What makes this pocket cumbersome to use is the top or center compression strap. A single strap compresses the top of the pack, underneath the top pocket, and also attaches and compresses the center panel of the back pocket. Since one webbing strap does it all, this arrangement necessitates the adjustment of both the top compression of the pack and back pocket at the same time, a task that requires removal of the top lid pocket. We would prefer the increased weight (a weight only measurable in grams) of an additional piece of nylon webbing that would allow independent adjustment of the top and pocket compression.

The top lid pocket is standard enough. It attaches cleanly with four adjustable side release buckles, one at each corner, and compresses the pack well. A #5 YKK weather resistant coil zipper closes this pocket. Although the top pocket can be removed, doing so leaves four long sections of nylon webbing dangling from the pack. Diehards, wanting to loose the top pocket permanently, can do so by cutting these nylon straps.

The main pack bag closes like a stuff sack, with a draw cord and cord lock. As mentioned previously, a single nylon strap with a side release buckle goes over the top of this opening (underneath the top pocket) for vertical compression. Gregory added an extra bit of reinforcement material where the draw cord enters the pack to protect the silnylon from ripping.

The G Pack further misses the mark by not providing a hydration system friendly pocket and tube port. It is difficult to stay hydrated while wearing this pack. This pack also lacks the ability to carry ice axes or long items as there are no tool loops or upper side panel attachment points. The pocket and compression strap configuration limits sleeping pad storage to the inside.

Load Volume Flexibility (Compression) - 3.0

With a total of eight compression straps, the G Pack excels at compressing loads. Oddly, all of these compression straps compress in a mostly vertical direction. The exceptions are the compression straps connecting the sides of the main large pocket to the upper side panels, which angle at an upward diagonal, towards the backpanel. Nevertheless, the G Pack compresses well enough. Smaller loads are easily swallowed within the pack. Larger loads are a little more problematic. The G Pack lacks a daisy chain and only the two front compression straps connected to the top pocket can be used to lash on extra gear.

Field Performance

Pack Load Carrying - 4.5

Gregory claims a carrying capacity of 30 pounds (14 kg), which was unequivocally confirmed in our testing of the G Pack. We tested the G Pack with loads as high as 40 pounds (18 kg) reducing down below 20 pounds (9 kg). At the heavier weights, the lighter hip belt and single stay were unable to completely transfer weight comfortably to the hips. The single, centered aluminum stay could not transfer this weight to the shoulder strap stabilizers' upper attachment which caused some torso collapse. This required adjusting more weight onto the shoulder straps, which were not up for the task and quickly became uncomfortable. At, or around 30 pounds (14 kg), the G Pack's frame and suspension was comfortable, with minimal frame collapse and sufficient padding for those loads. The single stay and framesheet are vertically supportive and able to transfer weight to the hips and provide enough pack flexibility for the hips and shoulders to twist independently of each other. For a pack designed to carry 30 pounds, the G Pack does so in comfort without unnecessary rigidity.

Durability - 2.5

Although the main body of the pack uses 30 denier, 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silnylon "G fabric" to reduce weight, most high wear areas are covered by 210 denier double ripstop nylon. The 210 denier ripstop was used for the bottom, up the middle of the back pocket, and across the top of the top pocket. The nylon mesh used in the sides of the large back pocket protects the G fabric side panels. The silnylon is exposed in two narrow strips down the back pocket and quite extensively above that pocket.

We tested the G Pack down a narrow, trail-less canyon in northern Arizona which included numerous encounters with dense vegetation. In our testing, the 210 denier double ripstop held up well to conscientious use, but not at all to abuse. The silnylon was hidden well enough behind tougher fabric to resist most encounters with abrasion and snags, which generally occurred on the lower portion of the pack. The exposed silnylon on the back pocket was susceptible to wear, particularly when dropping the pack on the ground or leaning against brush. Care must also be taken when passing low overhanging branches so they do not find their way through the exposed G fabric on the upper portion of the pack. It was suitable to omit climbing attachment options on this pack, as its fabric will not tolerate encounters with abrasive surfaces.

Value - 2.5

At $149, the G Pack is priced on the low end compared to other lightweight internal frame packs. However, the exposed areas of G fabric greatly reduce its durability. It also lacks accessible pockets and options for hydration.

Recommendations for Improvement

The comfortable-to-carry Gregory G Pack could be optimized with improved pocket accessibility. In order to keep the current pocket configuration, we recommend adding two water bottle sized pockets, one on each lower side panel. Attaching them with side release buckles, such that they can be attached low and are removable allowing the bucket pocket to remain, might be the best option for this pack.

We would really like to see Gregory add an additional nylon webbing strap for the back pocket's center adjustment strap, thus allowing separate adjustability for the back pocket and pack's top compression. This would only add a nominal amount of weight, if any at all, as the current single strap is much longer than necessary.

More options for attaching gear externally would be an improvement that could extend the load volume carrying capacity. Even a single daisy chain running up the middle of the back pocket, with an ice axe loop at the bottom, would make a significant improvement in this regard. The benefits of these changes would outweigh the minimal weight increase. Although this is not a climbing pack, the additional attachment options would be suitable for attaching trekking poles or a jacket that does not fit inside the pack.


Citation

"Gregory 2004 G Pack Backpack Review," by Jay Ham. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/gregory_g_pack_review.html, 2004-08-24 03:00:00-06.

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