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What's not to like?! A reputable solar charger, conveniently…
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Price Paid: $200
What's not to like?! A reputable solar charger, conveniently built-in to the top lid of an already proven trail-worthy backpack!
Separately, both Gregory and Goal Zero are reliable, durable, and functional. Together, they are a distance hiker's match made in heaven. No muss, no fuss...drop the pull-down lid of the neatly integrated Goal Zero and the solar panels convert the sun's rays to stored or usable energy.
- Well thought out design
- Integrated solar panels, so nothing gets lost along the trail
- Bombproof pack materials
- Comfortable shoulder, lumbar, and hip pads
- Cavernous storage
- Included rain cover
- Attached, pull-out waterbottle holder
- Hip belt pockets dimensions too small for current iphones
- No quick-disconnect Goal Zero lid from pack
- Diminutive Flip 10
I already own and enjoy Gregory backpacks, so when I learned of the Baltoro GZ 75 collaborative...I knew I wanted one...and being able to purchase one on a pro deal was a bonus. I'll touch on the integrated Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus, then move to the Gregory Baltoro 75.
The Gregory Baltoro GZ 75 is built like my Baltoro 85...stout and sturdy...simply with the addition of an integrated Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus solar panel in the lid...and a sleeve containing the Goal Zero Flip 10 (and minus 10 liters of storage).
While I will state my disappointment of the inclusion of the diminutive Flip 10 over...lets say, the Flip 20, 30 or the preferable Venture 30...I'll confirm that it functions properly, is small in stature (3.6x.75x.75) and a featherweight (2.5 oz).
The integrated Goal Zero bi-fold Nomad 7 Plus solar panel is built into the lid of the pack. A simple tug on the outer flap pulls it away from the inner that is held by magnets. I was a bit concerned that the magnet would not have the necessary strength to hold up under rigorous situations, but it has not been an issue. Even unplanned bushwhacking through conifers did not snag and open the solar panel inadvertently.
Overall durability and functionality of Goal Zero products is legendary. For Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus specifications, see their website: http://www.goalzero.com/nomad7-plus/
I appreciated that I could not lose or misplace the GZ solar panels. Though, there were times I wish I could remove the panels to catch a proper angle of the sun, without having to expose my entire pack. While hiking, the panels are at a great angle when walking away from the sun and noon-day sun...but walking toward the sun, your noggin' and the pack hide it from direct rays.
I did not directly hook the solar panels to my iPhone 7, so I cannot comment on how quickly it charges by that means. However, it took me a good 5 hours for the Flip 10, and another larger storage cell took a full 8 hours of direct sun to fully charge. Which was expected. The Flip 10 will charge your phone, but realize not quickly like a 120v outlet.
It's comforting to know that you can be off-grid and still charge phones, small cameras, and gps with this offering.
Can you remove the integrated Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus off the pack?...yes, but not easily. Obviously, the front buckles snap off quickly...but the rear two straps are woven through adjustment buckles, folded double and sewn. I didn't feel brave enough to cut them to remove it.
If your pack isn't loaded full, the lid has a tendency to sag, so the solar panels are more vertical than horizontal. On extended trips with a plethora of gear, this should not be an issue. Note: Bring all proper charging cords necessary to connect the solar panels or storage cell to your device.
We were not gentle with the Gregory Baltoro GZ 75 and experienced no issues with the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus system.
The Gregory Baltoro GZ 75 pack weighs in at 5.1 lbs. So it is not ultra-light, but what you get in exchange is all-day comfort hauling heavy loads from the A3 Suspension, with no fear of equipment failure. Like other Gregory A3 Suspension packs, the hip belt is heavily padded and moves with you. Rubber stiction panels (looking more like a spider web design) on the lumbar pad assist in keeping the hipbelt in place. There is also an additional lumbar pad that is removeable.
While wearing the pack, you can pull the hidden waterbottle holder out of its sleeve for your choice of hydration bottle...pushbutton cord lock snugs up for different size bottles. The pocket is canted slightly to allow smoother water bottle removal.
I was hoping they would put the larger sized pockets on the Baltoro GZ 75 hipbelt, as they redesigned for the Paragon...but they did not. Big ding there, in my mind. While a smartphone may fit, not when housed in a protective or armored case. I realize we are not all the same, but my job required everything on my belt, immediate access, within reach...so, I prefer that in a pack. Perhaps it is purely a personal preference. One hipbelt pocket is see-thru mesh, while the other is weather resistant.
Chest strap, trimming straps and contoured Hipbelt and pre-curved shoulder straps...are all incredibly adjustable. The internal wishbone aluminum frame keeps weight down and adds stability. For example: I have a Medium Baltoro GZ 75. I am 6/185/32x32 and the pack fits like a glove.
On the last backcountry trip, my youngest daughter used this same pack as the shoulder straps fit her better throught the neck and chestline than the Paragon. She is 5'9"/130/thin. If she will use this pack in the future, I will purchase the Deva belt and straps for this pack for a more contoured fit...but the wide adjustability of it worked well.
Storage is plentiful and easily accessed. Side pockets are long and yet still offer usable width. The outside front pocket is big...but if you are going to pack it tight...you might remove the rain cover from its assigned pocket and place it easier at hand (which I did with the excessive rain we encountered).
The main compartment is cavernous, fitting five days of gear with room to spare...and can be accessed through the drawstring top opening, the huge U-Zip opening in the front or from the bottom. Even with the integrated Goal Zero solar panels in the lid, there is still ample storage space in the lid pockets. Down below zips open for your sleeping bag compartment and also has exterior lashing points and strapping for additional items.
The SideKick hydration sleeve not only protects the hydration bladder from unintentional pokes inside the pack...it can be removed and transforms into a lightweight day or summit pack. Very practical design.
Approach backpack fitment like you would hiking boots...go try them on...pack them with weighted items and walk around the store. All reputable backpack/outfitter stores will encourage you to do so. These same stores will also have trained and experienced personnel that can properly measure and fit you for a pack. This expertise is invaluable...and can save you some heartache and regret...both monetarily and on the trail.
In the wake of recent hurricane Irma, the destruction and loss of power had me unexpectedly using the Gregory Baltoro GZ 75 to charge my phone allowing me to communicate with inquiring family and friends. Yet another added benefit!
Overall, I'd highly recommend you take a serious look at the Gregory Baltoro GZ 75, if you are heading out for extended forays in the wild!