Extreme backpack reveiw

Product
Gregory Baltoro 75 men’s backpack

In January 2018 I set out on an expedition to walk solo, unsupported on the coast. A 6000km journey around the coasts of South Africa and Mozambique. I have completed 3000km so far through some of the harshest conditions to subject any equipment. This pack is continually subject to sea air, sand, rough coastline, cliff climbing and river crossings where the pack is subject to salt water. As the journey is solo and unsupported, and also goes through some vary remote areas it means that the pack is often overloaded. Let me stress, this pack is rated to carry 25 kilograms. I have continually lugged between 30 and 34 kilograms for 3000km for over one year daily. This probably constitutes abuse.

Specifications
Pack dimensions: 71.1cm x 35.6cm x 34.2cm Pack volume: 75 L
Max carry weight: 25 kg Weight: 2.19 kg
Belt suspension system: Response A3 Internal frame
External pockets: 9

Comfort
This pack is very comfortable to carry. The belt and straps are selected to measure and the belt contours to the shape of your hips. There is also adequate padding on the hip belt. The back padding does allow a certain amount of airflow allowing for cooling. Once set correctly the pack moves semi independent of the belt allowing you to swing your hips when you walk without the pack responding, This allows you to conserve energy and reduce fatigue.

Access
The pack has been clearly thought out and allows easy access from the top, the main load compartment and the sleeping-bag compartment. The belt pouches and water bottle pouch are easily accessed and in the right spot. With a separate pouch on either side and a dual pouch on top it has plenty of space to pack items that need quick access. All the zips have cold weather pull tabs.

Carry
I found the pack sits well and if packed correctly the load sits close to the spine which is where you want it. Close to the spine and as high as you can get it. There are two compression straps on each side that help you to snug the load.

Toughness
The pack is tough, I have dragged it up and down cliffs and am impressed with its abrasion resistance, it is also reasonably water proof with the rain cover on.

I have had a few issues but none of these can be attributed to build quality or design issues. Mostly the issues are due to overloading.

Issues
• The carry handle at the top of the pack eventually pulled through the stitching. Overloading I
suspect.
• The sleeping matt straps under the sleeping bag compartment pulled out from the stitching on one
side. On inspection it seems that it was not stitched deep enough and the end pulled through. A
small issue in assembly.
• The adjustable sliding clip on the chest strap snapped. Possibly after a year in the sun the
plastic clip had gone a little brittle. It should be noted that the temperatures and UV radiation
on our coasts or high.
• My belt eventually collapsed. The plastic band that the belt attaches to cracked along the pack
stitching, This resulted in a rather involved and difficult repair on the trail. Reason,
overloading
• All my zips are starting to seize up, this would not be an issue normally. Salt air and water have
started to corrode the zips
• The draw string toggle that closes the main load compartment snapped. To be fair this is rather a
small flimsy clip.
• The stitching on the padded shoulder strap has split on both sides of both straps. Overloading
• The high density foam has started to collapse on the shoulder straps. Overloading and normal wear
and tear.

Nearly all the failures have occurred after about 8 months of hard work. My pack as spent most of its time covered in fine beach sand. It gets into all the clips and every nook and cranny, It even gets into the stitching which accelerates wear on the stitching. I have dragged it up cliffs, across rivers and through incredibly dense scrub and thorn scrub. In many cases bulldozing my way through. As stated previously I have severely overloaded it. In this I had little choice as I could not find a back pack that could carry a higher load.

Suggestions

Wish list
• With a slightly stiffer internal frame, heavier padding on the straps and belts and a tougher
plastic strip that forms the belt, this pack could easily carry heavier loads. I do understand
that extreme expeditions are a very narrow market.
• Possibly a different method of attaching the plastic belt suspension to the pack instead of
stitching to make field repairs easier.

Practical changes
• Corrosive resistant zips with a courser tooth structure would help in keeping the zips working
smoothly. The fine tooth mesh can make the zips difficult when filled with fine sand.
• 3 Compression straps across the width of the pack. I found the straps on the side were not
adequate when the pack was not full but still heavy. On long sections if there is no bulk in the
pack its not possible to keep the weight high up in the pack and close to your spine. It sags
making it pull backwards which is tiring.

To some up, this is an exceptional pack that would meet 99% of most users requirements. No pack is really comfortable over 25kg and very few types of outdoor activity require it. It is certainly a pack I would recommend and with a life time guarantee (not against abuse), well worth the investment.

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