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Gregory Reality

rated 4.5 of 5 stars

The Reality has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best weekend packs for 2022.

photo: Gregory Reality weekend pack (50-69l)


Price Historic Range: $129.93-$229.00
Reviewers Paid: $140.00-$250.00
Weight 4 lb 13 oz


13 reviews
5-star:   9
4-star:   4
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

Best pack ever! Great for week-long backpacking treks in the wilderness or train tours through Europe. The load rides very comfortably and the harness is easy to adjust. It feels like a daypack when 40 lbs is stuffed in it. You can really move freely with the Reality.

I love the panel-load feature because I no longer need to unpack everything to reach something lower down in the compartment. Or I can keep the pack on while my trekking partner finds what is needed. And the zipper will not is beefy! I can move my head and look straight up without bumping my head against the top pack, which was a big selling point for me.

The only complaint I have is that the compression straps run on the outside of the mesh side pockets. Whoever thought of that design really blew it. I plan to cut some holes in the side pockets and route the compression straps through these so that the straps won't have to be loosened every time I want to take out and put back in a water bottle.

This thing is bombproof, too. A bit on the heavy side, but I have no worries about it falling apart on the trail. A lighter pack might not carry a load as well and therefore make it feel more cumbersome to carry overall.

Buy a ten-year-old one used on Ebay...I saw one today for under $20!! I bought mine in 1999.

Design: top/panel loading internal
Size: 4300 cubic inches / 70 liters
Number of Pockets: two - one back and one top (lid)
Max. Load Carried: 40 pounds, but it is rated to 50.
Height of Owner: 5' 8"
Price Paid: can't remember

Over 20 years of use from -20 to 110 temps. It’s durable, able to handle heavy loads, and adjustable to different size users. Comfortable and adjustable, I have gained 65lbs since I got it and it still fits.


  • It can carry a load securely and is adjustable to fit your frame.
  • I started using it when I was in my 20’s and somewhat fit. My teenage sons are now using it and it’s still doing its job. I am 50 and 65lbs heavier and I can still wear it comfortably.


  • Get a rain cover.

It’s a beast. Had it over 20 years. It’s been in -20 and 110 degree temps. It hauled 70 lbs with my 17-year old 6'2" 265-lb son while elk hunting in Colorado for a week, survived eight weeks of basic training at ALERT in Texas. Was broke in while in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, been out for weeks in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Minnesota.

It’s had times of intense use and years of quietly hanging in the closet. It’s latest was the Colorado trip and I was worried after we weighed it and it was 70lbs and I knew my 17-year-old wasn’t going to be thinking about taking care of his gear, but rather counting on it to take care of him. It did really well and doesn’t seem any worse for the trip.

Truly an investment that keeps on giving back. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $200 plus


Sounds like it's been a good investment, David! Thanks for the review.

3 years ago

This is my best all-around bag. Anywhere from 2 to 7 days - granted longer trips will require more thought (leaving some non-essentials) behind.

I have a short torso. large waist and Gregory packs are the best I have tried. You can adjust the pack easily in a virtual unlimited number of position - kind of like a lumbar and seat adjustment on a car. No pack is going to feel good 100% of the time - if you feel uncomfortable, shift a couple straps and you're good to go.

I also like having the mesh pockets. Ability to access the pack from the top and back - the adjustable cap. This is an awesome pack.

Update: July 27, 2010

I own two of these.... one in large and another in red. I think certain backpack brands fit one person better than another. Frankly, I tried them all and none come close to Gregory for me. While the trend is to lighter weight and more intricate harnesses, I'll take built like a Sherman tank and overengineered any day of the week.

This pack has been across Spain. The Smokey's and many other places. I also like the fact I can wear large belts with a medium torso for a great fit. There are multiple access points (top and back)... along with bottle holders.

Now, I have to pack a battery and a cpap. Wow... This pack handles the weight without the hint of failure or use. Looks as good as the day I got it. I also own a Wind River. I will never forget the time I used a Eureka, and had one of the shoulders rip out half way through the trip.

I am going to worry about taking 20 pounds off of my belly before I worry about a pack that weighs a pound more.

Size: 4600
Max. Load Carried: 45
Price Paid: $120

I love this pack. Typical use is 3-4 night solo trips into backcountry in Oregon. Comfortably balanced load includes tent, pad, bag, stove, cook gear, food, water, clothes, book to read, camera and creature comforts. All but water bottle and sleeping pad are inside. This pack wears like a comfy old jacket. Easy to take on and off; easy to access essentials in top pocket/lid or outside back pocket. I had it fitted with women's shoulder harness and hipbelt and it's perfect.

Love the waterproof bottom. Pack is very "strappy." I tuck and tie all the extra length. I have used the top pocket as a funky fanny pack--pretty marginal. It's easier to empty the pack and just carry it with a light load, or pack in a little fanny pack. Excellent value. If you find a used one, buy it.

Design: top and front loading internal
Size: small
Number of Pockets: 4, top, front and two mesh sides
Max. Load Carried: 38
Height of Owner: 5' 3"
Price Paid: $229?

LOVE this pack. Fits and wears like a glove. I really like the waterproof bottom, extra handles and flexible pack area. It's just right for my needs which are mainly 2-3 day hikes, 4 wheeler hunting camp gear. It is capable for a 5-day hike, 2-man tent, food, bag and all! Wears solid and secure.

Design: top loading
Size: 3400
Number of Pockets: 4
Max. Load Carried: 45lbs
Height of Owner: 5'11
Price Paid: $230

I guess I am a gear freak. I own eight tents and seven backpacks! Out of ALL the backpacks I have worn, NONE can even compare to the comfort and fit of my Gregory Reality. I am totally convinced you will not find a finer fitting backpack anywhere, when compared to backpacks in its same class. Gregory is at the top along with a very few others when it comes to fit and comfort. As the other reviews state, the pack is tough as nails. I have many miles with my Gregory. If you are looking for the most comfortable back and this size of pack, then this is THE one. I use this pack in the spring in fall for overnight weekend trips. If you camp in winter, leave this pack behind. It is simply not big enough to carry all the excess clothes and such.

And now for the cons. I am an organizer freak. I love pockets on backpacks to tuck certain things in certain places so you will find them easily. The Gregory is NOT that kind of pack. I laugh and tell my friends that it is basically a giant expensive duffel bag. I find myself on every camping trip, turning the pack upside down and emptying the contents out when I am establishing camp. I eventually had to start putting things in stuff sacks and then pack those in the Gregory Reality. It has very few pockets. I purchased the $25.00 add on Gregory pocket and that has helped a lot. If you desire a separate compartment for your sleeping bag, then look at some of Gregory's other models. Also, do not exceed 45 pound loads on this pack or it will not fit or ride good. It is designed for 40 pounds or less. If you stay within that, you will dearly love it's fit. And now back for a few more good points. The top load compartment has a clear bottom. That is wonderful. No more guessing what you stashed in the top compartment. Just fold back the top compartment, and the clear bottom reveals everything. The zippers have reflective material. That is nice at night trying to find your pack. Bottom line...If you are use light loads, do not care if you have lots of pockets for organizing your stuff, and want a pack that fits like a dream, then the Reality is the pack for you. If you like pockets, I suggest paying the additional $25.00 for a side pocket or look to other brands.

Design: Internal Frame Day and a Half Pack
Number of Pockets: 1
Max. Load Carried: 50 pounds
Height of Owner: 5 foot 6 inches
Price Paid: $185

Have owned for three years or so. Done eight overnight trips. Use it a lot as well for a travel pack. My sleeping bag won't fit in compartments, so that's why I bought this pack--it just has a big front opening. The pack is very tough--I've poked small holes in the mesh pockets, but that's it. Is the perfect size for 1-3 nights. Usually is extremely comfortable, but on one trip it was a bit stiff--probably just me. Needs a hydration sleeve, but otherwise, it approaches perfection. You really will not regret the purchase of this.

Design: front/top loading internal
Size: 4650 cubic inches (large size)
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 35 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'9''
Price Paid: $230

I use as a work pack for trail maintenance. I carry chain saws, Polaski's, mattocks, McCleod's ect plus 1st aid supplies 5 days a week year round. This pack holds up and is comfortable after 3 years constant use as when it was new. I've had Dana Design, Yak, Kelty and many others, no other pack rides as well or holds up better.

Design: front and top loading
Size: 4000+
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 50lbs
Height of Owner: 6.0
Price Paid: $220

Great comfort. hugs back. simple suspension system is extremely effective. mesh pockets on sides are useful, but not very large. i can access nalgene 1qt bottles w/o removing pack. downside? the lid compartment is poorly designed. the access zipper is on the wrong side (next to your neck when wearing the pack) and the straps that connect the lid to the pack are way too long. they extend all the way to the bottom of the pack and tend to get in the way, although these long straps allow the lid to be used as a small day/fanny pack.

overall: exceptional comfort makes up for any downsides; highly recommended.

Design: internal
Size: 3800 medium
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 50 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: $215

This backpack is a superb choice for its price range. I used it for travelling around Costa Rica and for several short camping trips. Planning to use it for an upcoming 7-month trip to SE Asia including trekking with it in Nepal.

Pros: Very comfortable; one of few packs with panel loading; two large, convenient mesh pockets; can be made smaller or larger than actual size; Gregory has great customer service and reputation

Cons: No sleeping bag compartment; can't be completely secured with locks (no way to secure the top-load)

Also, the panel-load lets you easily use a hydro-bladder while hiking!

Design: internal
Size: around 4200
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 30 pounds
Height of Owner: 6 feet
Price Paid: $220

I bought this pack for a four week expedition through Central America. The organizers of the trip claimed my Dana Astraplane, though great for NOLS and Outward Bound, was overkill for this trip. I was forced to leave "the beast" behind. After some time with a 40 lb load over moderate terrain, I hit the volcanos with heavier reserves in the green beauty. Simply put, this pack rivals my Dana in comfort for the load I took. It rides extrememly well as long as you keep your supplies under 55 lbs. At that point the suspensions starts to buckle, and you're left with aching shoulders.

My reasons for buying this specific pack are not numerous. I respect Gregory as a company, they stand behind their product, and this specific pack has a hybrid load, making access more than simple. The only thing that bothers me about the pack is that the zippers added to make the pack panel loadable provide yet another thing to go wrong in the outback. Compression on it works great. just be prepared with a rain cover since it doesn't have a sleeping bag compartment. strap it to the outside and bring a plastic bag or 2.

anyway, that's my two cents. E-mail if you have any questions. Happy Trails

Design: Internal Frame
Size: 4200 + side pockets
Number of Pockets: 3 + strap-ons
Max. Load Carried: 55-60 lbs.
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: $200

I've become permanently connected to this beauty. Most comfortable pack I've ever used. Excellent size for most applications. I've used it for six day trips (need a few compression sacks to be able to stuff it all in), but usually use it for four day, three night hikes on steep, rocky mountain trails. Very good in brush and tight places. Secures very well to the back and hips. Shoulder straps especially well designed. Side netting is all but useless. An outstanding pack, may be the best designed pack out there.

Design: Internal
Size: 4000
Number of Pockets: 1
Max. Load Carried: 40-45 lb
Height of Owner: 6'
Price Paid: $250

The Reality is the most comfortable pack I've used in about 35 years of toting packs around in the woods. I like minimalist backpacking, but with max comfort. I will sacrifice weight only for very important (to me) comfort gains. I refuse to carry more than 32 lbs (exclusive of water) on my back for any trip of four days or less. My criteria for buying a three day pack then, are: 4000 cu in max, less than 5 lb., and excellent fit/comfort.

What I like about the Reality:

1. The molded back conforms very nicely to my back.

2. There is a very large front cargo pocket that will hold a rain shell, a water bladder, etc. When you open this cargo pocket you can see most of what's inside the main compartment because the two are separated by a heavy, wide-mesh divider that zips open giving you access to the main compartment. This is a god send.

3. The waistbelt is very comfortable as are the shoulder straps.

What I think could be improved:

1. Where the shoulder straps return to the lower part of the pack, they are too tight to my ribs. It doesn't cause a significant problem, but it is a little annoying.

2. The lid pocket opens only from the front of the pack (nearest your head).

3. The net pockets on either side of the pack are obstructed by adjustment straps that make these pockets unusable.

Overall: When shopping for a pack in the 4000 cu in category I compared the three packs I determined were most comfortable and servicable: the Reality, the Dana Bridger, and the Osprey Impala. In the store the Gregory won out for practical design, apparent comfort, and utility. Since using it, I find it to have been an excellent purchase.

One caution: keep the load under 40 lb; one time I was carrying a couple of full water bladders in addition to my normal 32 lb and I felt that I had exceeded the ability of the suspension system to give comfort.

Design: Internal
Size: 4050 cu in
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 40 lb
Height of Owner: 6' 1"
Price Paid: $200

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