The Gregory Baltoro has long been the Rolls Royce of expedition-sized backpacks, combining superb load-carrying comfort with a highly functional set of pockets, access points, and external attachment options for wilderness backpacking and international trekking (available in 65L and 75L models). While the appearance and storage options on the new 2022 Baltoro 65 are quite similar to the previous model, the new model has a new frame and adjustable fit system that accommodates different torso lengths, hip belt lengths, and body shapes to dial in a custom fit. Available in multiple overlapping sizes (S,M,L), the backpack is also slightly lighter weight, bringing it under 5 lbs in weight. We still think the Baltoro 65 is a winner and that the new fit system makes it much easier to size properly while eliminating the need to special order replacement components.
Specs at a Glance
- Type: Internal frame
- Weight: 4 lbs 14.4 oz in size, medium (includes 0.7 oz of optional components)
- Frame: Adjustable torso length and adjustable hip belt length
- Volume: 65L + extension collar and open pockets (approx 10L more)
- Gender: Men’s (the women’s model is called the Gregory Deva 60)
- Pockets: 8 closed, 3 open
- Access: Top, front panel, sleeping bag compartment
- Hydration compatible: Yes
- Load lifters: Yes
- Rain Cover: No
- Bear canister compatibility: BV500 fits vertically and horizontally (wow!)
- Materials: 210d (body) and 425d (base) high tenacity nylon, (135d lining) polyester
- Maximum recommended load: 50 lbs
Backpack Storage and Organization
The 65L Baltoro can hold an enormous amount of gear, far more than you’d expect in a 65L backpack. Gregory doesn’t include the extension collar volume or open pockets in their pack volume computations, which explains why the Baltoro can swallow so much gear (about 10-12 liters more than spec). In addition to the main compartment, the Baltoro also has 8 external closed pockets for storing gear: the main compartment, 3 pockets in the top lid, 2 on the hip belt, and 2 on either side of the front stretch pocket, along with 3 external open pockets: a front stretch mesh pocket, a tall side mesh pocket, and a collapsible water bottle sleeve sized to hold a 1L Nalgene bottle. The main compartment includes a hydration sleeve with two side hydrations ports. Gone is the removable hydration pocket present on the previous generation Baltoro, which could be used as a day pack.
While the Baltoro is configured as a top-loading backpack with a floating lid pocket, there are several different ways you can access gear stored in the pack without having to pop the lid and grope around blindly inside to find it. These extra openings can be a real convenience on high-volume packs, so you can access gear without having to unpack it all.
The front of the pack can be opened with a large U-shaped zipper, panel-style, so you can pull out gear buried deep inside. There’s also a sleeping bag hatch that opens the bottom of the pack. There’s an optional fabric “shelf” that you can attach to toggles inside the pack to create a separate sleeping bag compartment, but you get better space utilization if you remove it. A bear canister, in this case, a BV500, can fit in the main compartment both vertically or horizontally, with room to spare, or lashed under the floating top lid pocket.
If you plan to take advantage of the front panel and sleeping bag pocket zippers, you’ll probably want to use waterproof stuff sacks to pack the gear stored in the main compartment since these access points are not compatible with a pack liner.
Floating Top Lid
The top lid is floating, so you can scrunch bulky gear underneath it, like rope, snowshoes, a tent body, or a sleeping pad if you need extra carrying capacity. The lid has three pockets, one small pocket on top and one large one, and a pocket in the underside of the lid. I like to put essentials in the small top pocket, like a headlamp, compass, map, and SmartPhone, while using the large pocket for gloves, hats, and snacks. The underside pocket is good for stashing my wallet, keys (on the provided key fob), and toiletry articles so they’re easily accessible but out of the way. This pocket can also be used to store the rain cover and still has lots of room left over.
Front Panel Pockets
The front panel flap has three pockets built into it, an open mesh stuff-it pocket, and two long side pockets underneath it. The mesh pocket is good for storing wet gear like a water filter, rain layers, or snacks for fast access. The mesh is very durable, with small holes that resist snagging or tearing. The side pockets under the mesh pocket are long and tall, with enough capacity to hold a jacket, extra pair of shoes, or sandals, one on each side. You can also easily fit a small tent body or a hammock and tarp in these pockets, so you can set them up in the rain without having to open your pack up and expose the contents. All of the coil zippers on these pockets have burly #5 or #8 YKK sliders and are covered with rain flaps to reduce leaking.
The Baltoro is a bit unusual because it doesn’t have symmetric side pockets. While there is a side mesh pocket on the left side of the pack, it’s not large enough to store a water bottle and is best used to capture the bottom of long skinny objects, like tent poles, glacier wants, or a collapsible fishing rod.
You can, however, store a water bottle on the right side of the pack in a water bottle holster, sized for a 1 liter Nalgene bottle, making it easy to reach back and grab or replace the water bottle while wearing the Baltoro. If you don’t want to use the holster, it folds away under a protective flap on the side of the pack. I have found that the bottle will fall out of this pocket whenever you put the pack down on the ground and it tips over, so you’ll probably want to attach a leash to it if you use it. If you prefer carrying more water than that 1 liter, you have to use a hydration reservoir w/hose or pack extra bottles elsewhere on the pack.
Hip belt pockets
The hip belt comes with two very large pockets, both zippered, with solid external faces for durability. The zippers have large toggles on the slides and are easy to pull open when wearing gloves. The previous version of the Baltoro has a single specialized waterproof pocket on the hipbelt, but it has been replaced and is no longer included.
Backpack Compression and External Attachment System
The Baltoro comes with two tiers of side compression (webbing) straps that close with side-release buckles, making it easier to attach gear, including snowshoes to the sides of the pack. The bottom tier of compression straps is extra-long, so they can be looped and connected around the front of the backpack (either horizontally or crisscrossed on a diagonal), for example, if you want to attach snowshoes or a snowboard over the rear mesh pocket. It’s a clever capability you only find on the best backpacks.
Sleeping Pad Straps
The Baltoro also comes with sleeping pad straps that can be used to attach a foam sleeping pad or tent body to the underside of the backpack. There are permanently attached to the Baltoro and not removable as on the previous model.
Ice/Axe and Trekking Pole Holders
Webbing loops at the front corners make it easy to attach dual ice axes or trekking poles in transit, with separate elastic shaft holders or tip holders, a detail that is left off many backpacks. While the elastic cord on the shaft holders isn’t long enough to stretch over a very long walking axe over 65cm, the cord is easily replaceable if you want to lengthen it.
Extra Gear Loops
There are 14 gear loops sewn into the seams and distributed around key areas of the Baltoro for attaching additional gear to the outside of the pack. In addition to the 4 gear loops for routing the sleeping pad straps at the base of the pack, there are 2 gear loops on the top lid which can be used for attaching a solar recharging panel, and 8 loops surrounding the front mesh pocket, including 2 recessed daisy chains under the ice axe shaft holders. You can really load up the exterior of this pack if you have to go heavy or haul extra gear to a base camp.
Backpack Frame and Suspension
If the storage, organizational, compression, and external attachment features on the Baltoro haven’t wowed you, the backpack frame and suspension system surely will. This is an internal-frame backpack designed for comfortably carrying heavy loads and dynamically adapting to a wide range of different body shapes.
The Baltoro frame is a 360-degree aluminum hoop with an additional horizontal stay to prevent barrelling when the main compartment is overstuffed or carrying a rounded bear canister. That hoop creates an air cavity behind the back panel to help ventilate perspiration, although not as much as a fully ventilated trampoline frame like the one on the new Gregory Focal or Facet backpacks. The Baltoro like many of Gregory’s recent models includes a Polygiene anti-odor treatment, also commonly used on hunting backpacks, to prevent sweat from making the backpack smell.
New on this model is a rip-and-stick style adjustable torso length feature that lets you reposition the height of the shoulder straps in order to lengthen or shrink the distance between the shoulder straps and hip belt. Available in 3 torso lengths: S (16-19″), M (17-20″), and L (18-21″), each size has three inches of torso length adjustability, with two inches of overlap between the sizes so you can dial in a great fit. The previous version of this pack also had an adjustable torso capability but only had a 2 cm range. This new frame has one that is three inches big making it almost four times larger.
The shoulder pads are S-shaped, not J-shaped, so they can be used by women and men, including men with “well-developed” or broad chests, while the sternum strap height is easy to adjust on a rail system. The pads are heavily padded with wicking mesh covers to provide added comfort and keep you drier.
The top of the shoulder straps are designed to dynamically pivot on hidden hinges as your torso angle changes, so the pack moves with you for scrambling or climbing and you don’t have to fight against its inertia. The pivot mechanism also provides an important fit benefit, even when you’re not moving, since the shoulder straps adapt to your body shape and curves. It’s an innovative way to address individual fit differences across a wide range of different body shapes.
The new hipbelt is seamless and also adjustable in length using a rip-and-stick system, with different hip belt sizes S (26-48″), M (28-50″), L (30-52″) corresponding to the pack’s torso lengths. The hip belt is well padded and also covered with wicking mesh. It closes with a push-forward buckle system for mechanical advantage. Like the shoulder straps, the hip belt has been re-engineered on this new model to adapt to changes in your body position, so that the pack moves with you, enhancing your stability when scrambling or hiking over uneven terrain. The base of the hip belt is still anchored on the frame for load transfer, but there’s a little more freedom of movement in the hip belt wings to adapt to the angle of your hips and gait.
New on this model is an unobtrusive sticky lumbar pad (see above) designed to prevent the hip belt from slipping down the back of your pants. It works great and we think it’s an especially clever addition to a backpack that’s intended to carry heavier loads. The previous model had a similar capability in addition to a removable lumbar pad, but we like this new system better because it is so unobtrusive and simple for a novice user to benefit from.
What’s the Baltoro feel like when it’s bursting with gear? Surprisingly lightweight. The hip belt, frame, and load lifters do such a great job of transferring the load to your hips and keeping the center of gravity close to your spine/core muscles, that heavy loads really feel lighter. If you have to carry heavier loads, upwards of 40 lbs, it really does pay to have a beefier hip belt and frame to reduce fatigue and increase your comfort.
|Make and Model||Weight||Access|
|Gregory Baltoro 65||4 lbs 14.4. oz||Top, front, bottom|
|Gregory Baltoro 75||4 lbs 15.7 oz||Top, front, bottom|
|Gregory Katmai 65||4 lbs 11.8 oz||Top, bottom, side|
|Gregory Paragon 68||3 lbs 11 oz||Top, bottom, side|
|Mountain Hardwear AMG 75||4 lbs 15.4 oz||Top|
|Osprey Aether 65||4 lbs 14.7 oz||Top, front, bottom|
|Osprey Aether Plus 70||5 lbs 8 oz||Top, front, bottom|
|Osprey Aether Pro 70||3 lbs 15 oz||Top|
|Osprey Atmos AG 65||4 lb. 9 oz||Top, bottom, 2 sides|
|REI Trailbreak 60||3 lbs 13 oz||Top, bottom|
The Gregory Baltoro 65 is a highly configurable, high-volume backpack designed for carrying heavy or high volume loads, north of 40 lbs. It’s loaded with features that make it easy to pack and organize your gear, with an innovative frame and suspension system that lets you dial in a custom fit. While the storage and organization of this new Baltoro is quite similar to the previous model, the frame and suspension system were redesigned to fit a broader range of sizes and body shapes, out of the box. The previous model often required the purchase of replacement shoulder straps or a hipbelt if you needed to alter the pack’s fit. That made it much more difficult for retailers and consumers to support or configure. The new adjustable torso and hip belt provide a level of adjustment that is used by many brands, including Gregory’s other backpacks, and is much more familiar for consumers to use.
Who is this pack designed for? It’s intended for backpackers who need to carry higher volume, heavier loads when hiking with a family group (where dad carries more), for couples, or for extended backpacking trips with infrequent resupply. When you carry a high-volume backpack, you quickly discover the value of having multiple access points (top, bottom, panel) to extract gear without having to unpack the entire load to get gear at the bottom of the pack. The same goes for having more closed external pockets, like the three in the Baltoro top lid and the two long pockets sandwiched in between the front mesh pocket and the main compartment. The Baltoro is pretty unique and highly functional, in this respect, when compared to other backpacks in its volume class.
If you own the previous model of the Baltoro, I don’t think you need to upgrade to the new version unless you’ve struggled with fit issues, because the way the pack carries under load is remarkably similar to that of the previous model. There are a few minor changes to the pack’s storage and organization layout that are different. For example, the pockets on the top lid are now stacked instead of side by side, the removable hydration pocket/day pack has been eliminated, as well as the waterproof accessory pocket on the hip belt.
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