The Gregory Baltoro 75 earned our trusted as a valid choice for long trail missions thanks to good comfort, quality construction, and thoughtful design. It sank a bit in our ratings due to the weight that comes along with its burly construction.
The Baltoro has the best on-back performance, thanks mostly to its ability to integrate some ventilation into the back padding. It would have the top score in this category and move up a rung or two in overall scoring if not for its weight – it was the heaviest pack we tested this round at 5.9 pounds. The TNF Prophet is nearly as heavy, but with that pack, you get more volume and a lot more mountain performance for that weight. The Gregory’s flat back padding fits a variety of backs, and the harness proved to be comfortable over 12 miles of trekking a day for 21 days.
We rated the Baltoro as the ‘Best for Thru-Hikes’ in large part because its wide top opening makes it easy to get everything packed away, while the solid construction installed confidence that the pack will survive the rigors of a long trek. This pack has four sock driers, or solar panel tether loops, on the top pocket. The top pocket doesn’t detach from the rest of the pack. The main compartment does sport a removable divider as well as an access zipper on the bottom of the compartment. There is also U- zipper providing panel-access to the main compartment. In addition to a long sleeve pocket on the back of the pack, there are two vertical zippered pockets on the back.
The Gregory Baltoro 75 design can lead to a bottom-heavy balance, particularly when under-packed — the broad base of the main compartment can let gear settle down low unless properly loaded and cinched. The pack’s waist belt features a decent amount of pivot, which added to the comfort of the pack when we were hopping over downed trees or crossing unstable talus on our test trips. The tent straps make it possible to position the tent either on the bottom of the pack or on the back of the pack, at the base of the back sleeve. A single buckled strap on the side allowed for some compression of loads for stability. The frame is a box design, which gives some flexibility but can also handle loads up to 50 pounds with enough movement for the demands of a long trail.
The back sleeve has been beefed up since previous iterations of this pack, although repeated use for crampon carrying eventually resulted in a front-point puncture. The zippers are about average for this test group, although the buckles are plastic and are looking a bit underweight next to their more mountain-ready competition. One worry we had about the pack’s durability focused on the joint where the shoulder straps connect to the top of the main body. This connection point is adjustable, with two different settings. The pivot of this joint adds to the pack’s stability and comfort, but it’s not hard to imagine the whole thing ripping out.
The Baltoro sports two gear loops that can accommodate trekking poles or a mountaineering axe. There are also buckled straps on the bottom for getting a tent on, but that can impact the bag’s balance. The top pocket includes and two zippered pockets, which open and close vertically – towards or away from the head. One of the two water bottle sleeves on the pack retracts into a little hiding space and hangs low enough that you don’t need to take the bag off to get it. The other accommodates bottles of all sizes, although it’ll take a friend to get at it with the bag on. The hydration sleeve is removable and converts into a lightweight daypack. The waist strap has a pouch on either side; one is mesh, and the other is waterproof and big enough for a phone or small camera.
Scott Morris guides backpacking expeditions and hiking trips for Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. He is a writer, traveler, and runner. Scott tests backpacking equipment.