There are few packs, if any, we'd rather carry a heavy load with. With its rock-solid suspension and plush padding, this pack makes potentially oppressive loads feel manageable. Even beyond this pack's load hauling prowess, our testers loved its well-designed feature set, complete with wonderful pockets and a top-notch access zipper, ensuring all of your gear is easily accessible and as organized as possible.
This pack is easily one of the most comfortable packs in our review and is comparable to our other top performers, such as the Osprey Xenith 75
, Arc'teryx Bora AR 63
, and the Osprey Atmos 65 AG
. This model utilizes extremely well-designed and nicely articulated shoulder straps that use high-quality foam, while the face fabric is among the best in the review and performed above average, even if the user was wearing light clothing (or was shirtless).
One of the biggest reasons that folks love this pack (and really, Gregory
packs in general) is the impressive lower back support it offers; the lumbar support is the most substantial in the review and most of our testers loved it. However, one in seven of our testers thought the lumbar support was a little much; fortunately, the lumbar support is removable, which makes the pack fit a broader range of consumers. When we used the lumbar pad, it felt like a classic Gregory; once we took it out, the level of lumbar support felt like most of the other packs out there.
The Baltoro 65 features an adjustable amount of lumbar support depending on user preference. To adjust the amount of support, simply insert this foam pad into the back panel.
At 5 lbs 3 ozs, this pack is about a half a pound lighter than the previous model, which used to weigh 5 lbs 10 ozs. This new weight brought the pack from being on the heavier side of comparable packs, to being pretty average (if only slightly on the heavier side of average). For the weight, this contender has a host of usable features and a top-notch suspension system that is close in weight packs with similarly robust suspensions like the Arc'terxy Bora AR 63
(5 lbs) and the Osprey Xenith 75
(5 lbs 2 oz). This model is heavier than the Osprey Atmos 65 AG
(4 lbs 6 oz) and the Osprey Aether AG 60
(5 lbs 2 oz) but handles heavier loads far better and remains lighter than the Deuter Air Contact 65 + 10
(6 lbs 3 oz). We'd choose the Baltoro over either of these two packs for more heavily laden adventures.
This pack has one of the burliest suspension systems currently available and while close, it is likely even slightly more robust than the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63
or the Osprey Xenith 75
. While all of the aforementioned packs handle loads extremely well, if pure weight hauling comfort is what you're after, then this contender is the pack you should consider.
One of the sweetest features of the suspension system is both the shoulder straps and the waist belt can automatically pivot into the ideal angle to maximize load distribution and increase comfort; the benefit of this subtle feature is even more noticeable while negotiating rough terrain with heavier loads.
Our testers loved the dual zippered lid pockets on the Baltoro 65. It was easily our review teams' favorite lid design of any model in our review. These pockets not only helped users to stay more organized, but because of their upward orientation, they were both easy to access and search through.
Features and Ease of Use
This competitor stands out for its pockets and features. After using it on several trips, one of the features our testers enjoyed the most was the two zippered pockets featured on the top of the lid. Not only did this pocket set up allow us to stay more organized, but because there was two smaller pocket and zippers on top of the pack, we were able to see inside with ease. As a result, we were able to find items more quickly than compared to a more traditional full-length pocket.
This competitor features one additional traditional mesh water bottle holder on one side of the pack, while the other side is a stowable
forward-facing bottle pocket; the forward facing bottles were (fairly) easy to remove and return without having to take off your pack. The straps underneath the pack and around the sleeping bag compartment were functional in length and long enough to fit over a closed cell foam pad or something of similar size. Another nice feature is the dual waist belt pockets that were big enough to fit a small camera, chapstick, and a bar at most, but not all smartphones. A cool feature is the wearer's left side, which includes a mesh pocket, while the right pocket is all nylon and features a weather-resistant zipper.
The Baltoro 65 features one zippered waist belt pocket on either side, one weather-resistant pocket (shown here) for an item like a smartphone, GPS, or camera, and a zippered mesh pocket for other items like snacks or sunscreen.
Other features that are standard on this pack is a completely removable pack cover (that you could use on any of your packs) and a completely detachable "side-kick" hydration backpack that doubles as a water bladder holster. This is actually a pretty functional little pack on its own that weighs very little; we ended up taking it on short day hikes or even just to the grocery store. For folks that like a lot of access in their pack or might use this model for traveling, there is a large upside-down U-shaped opening that allows access to nearly all of the pack's contents.
The Baltoro 65 features a large "U" shaped opening that allows users to access nearly every point in their back. This feature is obviously nice for backpackers searching for items tucked away in the main compartment but also makes the Baltoro an excellent pack for travel.
Fit and Adjustability
This competitor is available in three torso lengths and offers interchangeable hip belts and shoulder straps that are in between sizes. Certain users will surely appreciate the ability to mix and match
torso lengths, with waist belt and shoulder straps to help provide the best fit. The only other adjustability this pack offers is two places where the shoulder straps can be attached to provide some vertical adjustments.
The Baltoro's shoulder straps are connected to the pack via a metal buckle sliding through a plastic hole. This is an extremely secure design that allows the shoulder straps to be attached in positions giving some horizontal adjustment. What really makes this feature stand out is that the plastic attachment point automatically pivots to the optimum position for the wearer.
While it's not an adjustment in the classic sense, the shoulder strap attachment points pivot and automatically adjust to the best fit for the wearer. We found this design to be pretty effective and only added to the pack's overall comfort, particularly with heavily laden loads and long days.
This pack is most at home on trekking and backpacking trips or for the occasional mountaineering adventure. The 65-liter model is great for the average person on most 2-5 day trips, depending on your packing tendencies. This model does have the suspension to handle 50+ pounds, so long as you do. This is the ultimate pack for heinous 70+ pound loads.
The pack cover (AKA rain cover) included with the Baltoro 65. While small, we really appreciated that it came with this feature which only added to this pack's value and could be left behind when the weather allowed.
At $300, this contender is more expensive than average among comparable options in our review. Despite this, it remains $250 less than the $549 Arc'teryx Bora AR 63
, which is lighter, but with less overall features (it also can not handle the monster loads quite as nicely). It's $30 less than the $330 Osprey Xenith 75
and at least when it comes to comfort and suspension doesn't give up anything.
is a little more expensive than some of our other Top Picks, like the Osprey Atmos 65 AG
($260) or The North Face Banchee
($240). However, it also features a more robust suspension. This particular pack could be worth it for anyone whose adventures include extended trips where a lot of equipment is needed, or if you are the designated porter for the group. Further increasing the value
of the Baltoro
is its included rain fly and a separate small pack that doubled as a hydration bladder holder. Both of these extras sweeten the deal.
The Baltoro 65 comes with a fairly functional hydration pack that doubled as the bladder sleeve/holder when used inside the pack. Here we show a shell jacket and 70-ounce Platypus bladder for size reference. This separate pack is designed to be taken on a summit push or day-hike from camp but is just good enough to use around town or going to the gym.
This model might not be the lightest pack, but the latest iteration is noticeably lighter than previous models and is not quite respectable in weight. The Baltoro
still certainly has all the features that backpackers want (plus a few extras). Most importantly, this beast is a load-hauling machine; anyone looking for a super comfortable pack with a few bells and whistles can appreciate the robust suspension and comfortable design that was among the very best in our review.