Our take Gregory is legendary when it comes to big-load comfort and organization. In the Paragon (Maven is the women’s), that expertise is used to create a lightweight pack with big-pack features. It has enough pockets to satisfy even our most obsessive packers. And while the 210-denier ripstop nylon packbag is not as robust as some of the other materials in the test, it doesn’t need to be coddled. “I don’t baby packs,” says one tester. “I throw them on the ground, sit on them, overstuff them. After trips in the Rockies and Colombia, the Paragon looks like it will handle many more seasons of this kind of treatment. The only weakness is the mesh on the side and kangaroo pockets, which is pretty common.” Ding: One side pocket has an extra opening for grabbing water bottles without taking off the pack, but stuff can also fall out.
The details The foam backpanel and lumbar pad mold to your back. It’s not as padded as we’ve found on some other big packs, but it’s sufficient for 40 pounds. The super-size, plastic-covered drawstring pull for the top opening is glove-friendly. You can strip off the lid, hydration sleeve, rain cover, and accessory straps to save 10 ounces. Smart: The hydration sleeve converts to a minimalist daypack.
Trail cred “For my taste, the perfect balance between features and simplicity,” said a tester after a five-day trek in Colombia. “With a weeklong load aboard, the lumbar pad stuck to my back and the load never sagged.”