How We Tested the Gregory Octal 45
I tested this pack on multiple excursions in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, including several day-long, 15-22 mile treks and a weekend backpacking trip. Most of these trips required crampons, an ice axe, and many layers of clothing.
I found this pack easily accommodated my snow gear, making it a good option for winter peak-bagging. My ice axe and trekking poles stayed put on the exterior of the pack, while the interior provided ample space for multiple layers of clothing for temperatures ranging from 80 degrees at the trailhead to 30 degrees at higher altitudes. Importantly, it was easy to access these items from the central portion of the pack.
When used for backpacking, the 45 L of space was well-suited for a 2 night trip. The pack stored all the food and supplies necessary for an enjoyable weekend in the mountains.
This pack has quickly become one of my favorite pieces of equipment. I think what surprised me the most was how little fatigue I felt at the end of the day compared to other packs I’ve used. Despite packing the usual assortment of layers and ice equipment, my shoulders and back were not as tired as they usually are at the end of a long trek. I’m the type of backpacker who packs everything — literally everything — and my body hates me for it later. With this pack, I feel like I can load it up as usual but not suffer as many of the consequences the next day.
Comfort and Fit
The pack has a solid, light aluminum frame. The back panel provided lumbar support and excellent ventilation. The shoulder straps and hip belt had sufficient padding to allow for comfort, even when the pack was full. The hip belt, in particular, seemed to be designed with comfort in mind and really helped to unload my shoulders.
The weight is just under 2.5 pounds, lighter than many 30-35L packs. The light weight of this pack is one of its greatest assets.
Storage and Accessibility
Easy-to-access side pockets store water bottles so you don’t have to take off the pack. An interior pouch holds a water reservoir as well. (I used a 3 L Osprey reservoir. The pack does not come with a hydration reservoir).
The exterior has multiple attachment sites for ice axes, trekking poles and carabiners. The shoulder straps have sites to attach sunglasses or a satellite communicator.
The large zippered pockets on the hip belt are one of the best features of this pack, allowing for convenient storage of a phone, snacks, etc. with room to spare. I find most packs don’t have very large pockets here, making them impractical for storing more than chapstick. I take many pictures with my phone during hikes and usually I get frustrated with the small hip belt pockets and just end up holding the phone or putting it in my pants’ pocket. With this pack, I was able to safely store the phone and quickly access it whenever I needed it.
The top pouch can be removed if you’re looking to save weight. It contains a raincover in the interior zippered pocket, as well as a lightweight weather flap to cover the main storage area of the pack if you do choose to remove it.
Overall, I highly recommend this pack as a light weight, reliable option for a weekend adventure or a more arduous day hike requiring more equipment.