Sometimes we cringe when a company announces a complete overhaul of a product we already love. We’ve seen some “redesigns” go in the wrong direction. But Gregory managed a tricky feat: preserving the essential DNA of the original, while improving every detail. The Baltoro’s organization makes it easy to live out of on weeklong trips, and it has some features we’d like to see on every pack—like a waterproof hipbelt pocket that fits a smartphone and a clever hydration sleeve that converts into a daypack. “No need to think about it, you always have a summit pack with the capacity and comfort for shoulder-season, full-day hikes,” says one tester. It’s easy to get bottles in and out of the angled water bottle pocket without awkward contortions or enlisting a friend (though bottles can fall out if you bend all the way over; cinch the drawstring to secure them).
Since 2008, we’ve loved the Baltoro’s carry-anything dynamic suspension, which subdues big loads with uncommon comfort. “The well-padded hipbelt wraps wide around my hips,” says a tester. “Hiking into the John Muir Wilderness in November, I loaded this guy with 48 pounds of cold-weather gear and group food, and felt good the whole hike in—my hips weren’t even sore the next day.”
Bottom line: At more than 5 pounds it’s a Cadillac, not a Ferrari, but for hikers who want a big-trip, big-comfort pack that’ll last for years, the extra ounces are worth it. The Baltoro is available in 65-, 75-, and 85-liter models. Deva, the women’s version, comes in 60, 70, and 80.