Gregory Baltoro 70 vs Osprey Aether 70

10:46 p.m. on August 10, 2010 (EDT)
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OK, after using (aside from various day packs) only my old Kelty D4 external frame pack since ... well, "a long time ago":), I'm probably going to take the plunge and try the world of internal frame packs. I understand the pros and cons of each. And, frankly, an external frame pack is pretty convenient with its various pockets and frame-mounting of items. But, geeze, the one I have is just so danged uncomfortable! At best, it's "tolerable". Eventually, on almost any significant hike, it's "I hate to end my hike, but how soon can I get this thing off me".

Interestingly, this decision comes at a point where I've been taking big steps to reduce my pack weight. The D4 weighs about 4.5 lbs. I haven't found a single internal frame pack out there that meets my criteria that comes close to that weight.

Here are my criteria:

- I'm 6'0, with just 32" inseam, so I've got short legs and tall torso. And my waist is about 32-33", so I most likely need a large pack with a medium belt. So any pack needs to be able to accommodate this. (I bet if i were starting over, and buying pack the way I am now, instead of my Dad in 1978 saying "the Kelty is sturdy, buy that one", I'd find the D4 doesn't fit me).

- I abhor top-loading-only packs, especially some of the very tall-skinny internal frame packs. The pack MUST have front-access at a minimum. This rules out every "ultra light" pack I've seen.

- I strongly prefer to have lots of external pockets for "little stuff". This rules out the majority of the internal-frame packs I've seen.

- A true wrap-around waste belt, nicely padded, is a firm requirement. Likewise with Nicely padded and contoured shoulder straps.

- I carry a camera tripod with me, so a convenient and quick-access method of storing it outside the pack is a requirement. Carrying it in loops at the pack bottom is not feasible, as setting the loaded pack down on top of my "light-weight" (by non-ultralight standards) carbon fiber tripod & precision ball head, in the dirt and gravel, is not an option. So the pack needs to have a way to fasten the tripod, preferably vertically, to the side or back of the pack. The back would be better, to avoid uneven weighting.

- I strongly prefer to keep the weight as light as possible. I've managed to get my current loaded pack weight (including food for 3 days, 3L water, and camera gear (8lbs now) down to 45 lbs ... from over 70. I hate to start adding back on. At the same time, looking at what I carry now, and short of giving up my tent, food, water, and bear canister, I can't imagine I can do much to make it lighter. Well, and i typically carry the camera outside the pack, so the 45 lbs is "total carry", excluding clothes & boots I'm wearing. The pack, at least in summer, would be around 40 lbs, but heavier in colder weather.

- my usage will be typically weekends (e.g. 2 days, 1, possibly 2 night), with occasional 3-day weekends, and even less frequently, longer trips on vacation. However, aside from food/water, I'm not seeing how trip length significantly changes what I'll carry. Weather, however, does...

- my backpacking will typically be "3 season Sierra" ... hot, dry summer days, cool nights, and in the off seasons, cool days, cold nights, with rain, or even some snow, possible. The off season could also mean hiking in damp humid weather.

So....

Based on these criteria I've narrowed my selection down to the Gregory Baltoro 70 and the Osprey Aether 70. I'm leaning strongly towards the Gregory, based on reading many reviews, for a few reasons:

- it's consistently reviewed as being super comfortable

- it has a fully opening front as opposed to the Osprey "J access" zip

- it has better external pockets

- it has a better padded and contoured waist belt

- it's apparently better at carrying the kind of weight I carry

BUT ... it's 12 oz heavier than the Osprey, and 1.25 lbs heavier than the D4...

The proponents claim a much more comfortable pack, even if a bit heavier, is better. I'm inclined to agree. But it flies in the face of all I've done to reduce my overall pack weight.

What do you all think? Have I overlooked anything? (yep I realize I need to actually try them on, loaded with my gear :) ... that's the final step before the cash register, so I haven't gone there yet :).

If you read this far, thanks! :)

... feedback 'preciated...

2:02 a.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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207 forum posts

Like everyone says the best thing to do is try them on and see what works for you.

I have a friend that has a Baloro and he was just telling me tonight that he is thinking about buying a different pack because he just can't seem to get confortable with it. He bought it because of all the great reviews he had read also about how comfortable they were. As I'm sure you read in some of the reviews it is also somewhat noisy. It has a little bit of a sqeek when you walk but not so bad that you can't get used to it but it is fairly constant. Almost like some external packs but not as loud, you are probably already used to hearing it.

I just recently bought an Aether 85 and was really worried about the lack of exterior pockets also. All of the salesman at 2 different REI's had so much praise for them that I bought one despite the lack of pockets. So far I have not really missed the pockets. On my recent 8 day trip in the Sierra I was beginning to get a little frustrated with my Aether because I just couldn't get to ride quite right. Being hard to get adjusted right is something that I had read in the reviews so I kept at it and I'm glad I did. After 3 days of constantly re-adjusting it I got it dialed in and it started carrying like a dream. The Aether carries very cool with an arc to it that seems to keep contact with my back to a minimum. I do worry about the mess covering over the back panel because it seems rather fragil but with the Osprey unconditional lifetime warranty I figure they will fix it if something ever happens.

I'm not sure if this helps any but it just limited observations of mine.

7:28 a.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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148 forum posts

Another option you might consider.

I had a lot of the "things wanted" on my list for an internal frame pack. I ended up going with the Kelty Coyote 4750. It has a number of outside pockets and back access to the main compartment. I strap my tripod or monopod vertically to the back of it.

I'm pleased with it as a winter pack when I want to carry a few more cloths. I'm about to get a North Face Terra 45 for a warm weather pack. I got the keyhole camera harness the other day which lowers my need for a lot of outside pockets. My camera is now mounted to my chest and that frees up more space on and in the bag.

10:35 a.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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311 forum posts

There are sooooo many opinions on packs,and all gear,that it comes down to what works for you.The aether 70 is what i use for extended trips and I just love it.Just like shoes you need to find what "fits" you.As for more weight in a pack carrying better this only is true with big and heavy loads.If you are keeping your weight way down then this may not apply.My base weight for up to 3 or 4 days is 14.7lbs and i will use the Osprey Kestrel 38.This pack is about 3lbs 7oz so i bit out of the ultra lite group but rides wonderful on my back.For weights hitting the 35lb range it is not so great and i move into the Aether 70.So the long and short of it is the Ospreys fit me well and after owning a few Gregorys,wich are built well but do not fit me well and are on the heavy side,i chose the Ospreys.Try on many brands with "your" gear loaded in them and find what works for you.ymmv

1:34 a.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks for all the feedback! This gives me more to think about :). I guess my next step will have to be to pack up my gear for a trip to the store and go try the packs ...

July 22, 2014
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