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Gregory Paragon 58 Backpack Review

Gregory Paragon 58 Backpack Review-2019 model

The Gregory Paragon 58 Backpack (updated for 2019-2020) is a lightweight multi-day backpack weighing just 3.5 lbs with an adjustable length torso and an adjustable length hip belt. It’s a top-loading backpack with a floating lid, a separate sleeping bag hatch, sleeping pad straps, and side zipper access. The new 2019 model also features an upgraded suspension system with a seamless hip belt and better back ventilation, making it much more competitive with Osprey’s Anti-Gravity style backpacks. I thought the previous Paragon 58 was a great backpack, but this new model is more streamlined and even more comfortable.

Specs at a Glance

  • Gender: Men’s (The women’s model is the Maven 55)
  • Weight: 3 lbs 8 oz
  • Volume: 58 liters
  • Pockets: 7, plus main
  • Frame: Internal
  • Adjustable torso: Yes
  • Adjustable length hip belt: Yes
  • Ventilated: Sort of
  • Load lifters: Yes
  • Torso lengths: S/M: 16-20″; M/L; 18-22″
  • Hip belt lengths: S/M: 27-46″; M/L: 29-51″

Backpack Pockets and Organization

The Paragon 58 is a top loading backpack with two pockets in the floating top lid.
The Paragon 58 is a top-loading backpack with two pockets in the floating top lid.

The Paragon 58 is a top-loading backpack that also has side zipper access and a sleeping bag hatch, giving you three different ways to access your packed gear. There are two side mesh pockets, two zippered hip belt pockets, two pockets in the top lid, and a front stretch mesh pocket that can be used to store layers or damp gear.

Side zipper access makes it easy to pull out a warm jacket
Side zipper access makes it easy to pull out a warm jacket or insulated water bottle when you want it.

While a rain cover is still included with the new model, it’s been moved to the pocket on the underside of the top lid. The combination daypack and hydration pocket in the previous model has been eliminated and replaced with a permanent hydration pocket inside the main compartment, although the pack weight remains the same.

The Paragon 58 has a sleeping bag hatch which provides additional access.

The Paragon 58 also has a sleeping bag hatch so you can access gear at the bottom of the pack with an optional sleeping bag shelf in the interior, held in place with dowels, that you can remove if you want to pack the interior as one large main compartment. Rather than a sleeping bag, I like to pack my tent at the bottom of the pack, so I can pull it out first when I want to set it up without having to unpack my pack and risk getting the rest of my gear wet if it’s raining.

The side mesh pockets are sized for 1 liter bottles
The side mesh pockets are sized for 1 liter bottles

While the Paragon’s side pockets are mesh and sized for 1L Nalgene bottles, it’s much easier to use the Paragon 58 with a water reservoir/hose for drinking on the go than water bottles. The right-hand side pocket has a side cut so you can easily reach in and pull out a bottle through the side of the pocket rather than the top. The pocket is deep enough that a bottle is not going to fall out of the side cut and there is a security loop where you can anchor it down with a ‘biner if you’re worried about losing it. The pocket on the left side of the pack does not have this side cut however and you really need to take the pack off to reach its content. While you can route the side compression straps over or through these two side pockets, I’d have to say they’re my least favorite elements on the pack because I like to carry tall skinny Smartwater bottles that don’t really work with this pocket layout.

The hipbelt pockets are hardfaced and more suitable for carrying electronics than ones with mesh fronts
The hipbelt pockets are hard-faced and more suitable for carrying electronics than ones with mesh fronts

The Paragon 58 has two large hip belt pockets. Both are hard-faced (not mesh) for better durability and weatherproofing with large zipper pulls that make them easy to open and close. There’s also a large front stretch mesh pocket where you can store layers, snacks, or other items you want to carry on the exterior of the pack.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Paragon 58 has an adjustable torso length and an adjustable hip belt that you can make longer or shorter for a better fit. There are very few backpacks that provide this level of flexibility when it comes to fine-tuning your fit and it’s a real perk of the backpack. The shoulder straps are anchored to a velcro back panel that can be raised or lowered to match your torso length. Raising it increases the torso length while lowering it decreases it. Once adjusted, the velcro locks into place and won’t slip no matter how heavily you load up the pack.

The Paragon has an adjustable length torso and a new seamless hip belt
The Paragon has an adjustable length torso and a new seamless hip belt

The length of the hip belt can also be adjusted by extending two sliding tabs which extend forward from the buckle ends of the belt, much like Osprey’s fit-on-the-fly hip belt adjustment system. The tabs are also velcro-based, so you’d unstick them, pull them forward so they wrap over the front of your hip bones, and then refasten them. This is more intuitive than the hip belt adjustment system used on the previous model but does not permit repositioning of the hip belt pockets which could be moved forward. That can be suboptimal depending on how well the pack fits you because you can end up with hip belt pockets that are too far back and awkward to reach.

While the Paragon 58 does not have a trampoline frame with a huge air gap behind the shoulder straps, the new frame does permit more air to flow behind your back than the previous model. It also has a lot more flex, especially in the hip belt wings, giving the pack a very dynamic feel that moves with you when you need to scramble. The hip belt wings are also highly pre-curved so they grip your sides well and are less prone to slippage. They feel really secure when worn, even over a slippery nylon shell.

The frame has a gentle back-hugging curve which does not interfere with packing
The frame has a gentle back-hugging curve which does not interfere with packing

The Paragon 58 has a wire perimeter frame which gives it a springy feel. While it has a distinct curve, it’s not as deep as those found on true trampoline frames like the Gregory Optic, which has a deep and visible air cavity behind your back. The frame also has a mid-back cross-brace to prevent load barreling which is a plus if you have to carry a rigid object like a bear canister on the inside of your backpack.

Backpack Compression and External Attachments

The Paragon 58 has two tiers of compression straps, including straps that can be routed through or above the side water bottle pockets. The compressions straps are angled, so the load is pulled up and towards your core providing better hip belt load transfer when used. It’s a small detail but makes the pack’s carry more efficient in a subtle way.

The Paragon 58 includes sleeping bag straps, which are usful for strapping a foam pad to the back of the pack
The Paragon 58 includes sleeping bag straps, which are useful for strapping a foam pad to the back of the pack

The Paragon also comes with a pair of sleeping pad straps which are handy to carry a bulky foam pad. Unfortunately, they’re not optional and can’t be removed, like they were on the previous Paragon 58. That’s not a show-stopper, but it’s too bad that Gregory removed the option to take them off in a non-destructive way.

Finally, there’s also a rope strap, located under the floating top lid and above the drawstring closure, which is useful for securing items underneath like coats, extra stuff sacks, and of course, rope.

Comparable Mid-Size Backpacks

Make / ModelWeightAdj. TorsoAdj. Hip BeltPrice
Granite Gear Blaze 603 lbsYY$270
Osprey Atmos 654 lbs 9 ozYY$270
Gregory Baltoro 654 bs 13.4 oz--$300
Osprey Aether AG 605 lbs 3.2 ozY-$290
Deuter Aircontact Lite 50+103 lbs 14 ozY-$200
Gregory Paragon 583 lbs 8 ozYY$230
Gregory Zulu 653 lbs 11 ozY-$230
Deuter Futura 50+104 lbs 9 ozY-$230
Some retailers are still selling the previous model Paragon 58 (right) so don't confuse them if you want the newer model.
Some retailers are still selling the previous model Paragon 58 (right) so don’t confuse them if you want the newer model.

Recommendation

The new Gregory Paragon 58 (updated for 2019/2020) is a multi-day backpack with an adjustable length torso and adjustable length hipbelt which can be tailor-fit for people with different physiques. It’s loaded with features including three different means of access: from the top, through a side zipper, and from the bottom through a sleeping bag hatch. Featuring a lightweight, but dynamic wire perimeter frame, the Paragon carries loads up to 40 pounds in great comfort. But the thing that impresses me the most about this backpack is how much gear you can carry inside or strapped to the exterior. It feels a lot larger than a 58-liter backpack, which can be good if you need a load-hauler but aren’t willing to compromise on features or comfort.

Disclosure: Gregory provided the author with a backpack for this review.

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One comment

  1. The previous version has a toggle to mate to the loop on the right side water bottle pocket. Problem is that it kind of hides out in the back panel.

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