Gre­gory Op­tic ruck­sack

We see how the lat­est in light­weight car­riage stands-up

Trail (UK) - - Contents -

S ince Wayne Gre­gory started de­sign­ing ruck­sacks back in 1977, his brand has been ob­sessed with qual­ity, com­fort and dura­bil­ity. Gre­gory packs have al­ways shoul­dered heavy loads supremely well, but with all that qual­ity, com­fort and dura­bil­ity comes the draw­back of their heav­ier than av­er­age de­sign. While many ruck­sack man­u­fac­tur­ers have been shed­ding pounds from their packs, Gre­gory has re­mained the re­li­ably strong and sta­ble per­former for car­ry­ing heav­ier loads. How­ever, the com­pany has now re­leased a range of four light­weight packs that will test the brand’s rep­u­ta­tion, while po­ten­tially pro­vid­ing the hill­walker with last­ing per­for­mance.

The Gre­gory Op­tic for men and Oc­tal for women are avail­able in two ca­pac­i­ties, with each hav­ing three back lengths so there is some­thing for ev­ery­one. The Op­tic 48 (tested here) and Oc­tal 45 are £185 each, while the men’s Op­tic 58 and women’s Oc­tal 55 are £200. The Op­tic 48 weighs in at 1221g, mak­ing it lighter than some op­tions by a cou­ple of hun­dred grams. But there are lighter packs out there at this ca­pac­ity, so this is clearly not all about weight.

As is typ­i­cal of Gre­gory, while re­duc­ing weight it has not stripped out all the per­for­mance ben­e­fits it is known for. It has in­tro­duced the Aerospan back sys­tem, which al­lows more air­flow across the back by in­cor­po­rat­ing a mesh tram­po­line that holds the body of the sack away from the wearer. The pad­ding is per­fo­rated to al­low more air­flow in body con­tact ar­eas, too. The re­sult of all this air­flow is that this pack is less sweaty than some other light­weight de­signs.

Where many light­weight packs fail is in their abil­ity to carry heavy loads with­out fold­ing and bend­ing on your back. Gre­gory gets around this prob­lem by in­cor­po­rat­ing a tubu­lar frame in­side the pack that makes the back sys­tem very stiff and ideal for heav­ier loads. The hip­belt is also a lit­tle stiffer than some lighter packs to al­low good weight transfer to the hips, so your shoul­ders are not hav­ing to take all the load.

Load­ing gear is pretty easy as you get a sin­gle main com­part­ment with a top open­ing and a float­ing lid for over­pack­ing. The lid has in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal pock­ets that are nice and large. Then there are two side stretch pock­ets and a front stretch pocket, and these all work well. Com­pres­sions straps, us­ing nar­row tap­ing, are pro­vided. The only slight nig­gle here is that if you are stash­ing items on the sides you have to thread them be­hind the com­pres­sion straps as you don’t get quick-re­lease buck­les, which is a small grum­ble but not a deal-breaker. If weight is very im­por­tant then you can shave a few grams by ditch­ing the 88g rain­cover. You can also re­move the 86g stan­dard lid and use the pack lid­less, or fit the supplied,

more ba­sic, 36g lid that cov­ers the top open­ing of the main com­part­ment to pre­vent rain en­ter­ing.

I used this pack in the Lake Dis­trict and found it to be re­ally com­fort­able and sta­ble; it cer­tainly com­petes well with other light­weight packs. Gre­gory rec­om­mend the max­i­mum weight car­ried is 14kg, which is up to 2kg more than some other lighter packs, so here Gre­gory is main­tain­ing its tra­di­tion of be­ing slightly bet­ter for heav­ier loads.

My main whinge is the ex­act same one I have with most packs with float­ing lids, in that you need to take care to en­sure the lid doesn’t drop for­ward when it is packed only half full. If you re­move your wa­ter­proofs, for ex­am­ple, the re­sult can be that the lid drops for­ward, or side­ways, and may let wa­ter creep into the main com­part­ment un­less you are care­ful about ad­just­ing the lid buck­les.

The price tag of £185 does place this at the top of the league for ruck­sacks of this ca­pac­ity, though, with sacks such as the pop­u­lar and sim­i­larly de­signed Osprey Exos 48 weigh­ing just 1190g and car­ry­ing a lower price tag of £130.

Or you could get a Gre­gory Stout 45 (See Trail Septem­ber 2017) for £115 that weighs 1337g and is de­signed for loads up to 18kg, although it’s made of polyester rather than the more durable ny­lon used on the Op­tic or Osprey Exos. It also doesn’t have the air­flow across the back of more ex­pen­sive, lighter de­signs.

So, over­all the Op­tic is an ex­cel­lent light­weight pack with all the com­fort and per­for­mance that Gre­gory is known for. Yes, the float­ing lid does ir­ri­tate me a tad, and the price tag is chal­leng­ing when com­pared to other op­tions out there. So if you can live with­out its ben­e­fits you can save cash pretty eas­ily.

All in all, if you want the strong and sta­ble per­for­mance that Gre­gory are known for in a lighter de­sign then this won’t dis­ap­point.

CAN GRE­GORY’S NEW RANGE OF LIGHT­WEIGHT RUCK­SACKS MAIN­TAIN THE BRAND’S REP­U­TA­TION FOR STRONG AND STA­BLE PER­FOR­MANCE? TRAIL FINDS OUT...

Stretch side pock­ets are ideal for wa­ter bot­tles. A front stretch pocket is ideal for stash­ing a wa­ter­proof be­tween show­ers. The lum­bar sec­tion is well­padded and per­fo­ra­tions al­low good air­flow. The float­ing lid can be re­moved to save weight and...

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