- Buyer's Guide
Gregory Denali 75 Backpack :: Drive By Review
Gregory was kind enough to send over a Denali 75L for my winter escapades. Now that it’s officially Spring, I’m retiring this bad boy and shedding my winter kit for some of that PNW fast and light. Here are my thoughts after a solid season of use.
Who It Suits
If you are hauling heavy loads to base camp this bag works. Think like Mountain dog with a three-pint barrel under its chin works. Seriously, this thing holds weight.
“If you are hauling heavy loads to base camp this bag works.”
Who It Doesn’t
Backpackers and hikers looking for large-volume bags. If you aren’t blasting up a mountain with cold weather kit and a four-season tent, I’d spring for Gregory’s Baltoro over the Denali.
The lid is huge. It’s got three pockets! Speaking about pockets, those elastic mesh pockets on the side are dope for the likes of Nalgenes, tent poles, or a tripod. In terms of organization, there’s the right amount of pockets for this bag, namely three in the lid, the two side pockets, and a map pocket. The pack also offers versatile access options. In addition to top access, the main compartment can be accessed via a side zip.
“there’s the right amount of pockets for this bag…”
The compression system is versatile, well thought out, and works well with and without the brain – and with or without a full load. The compression system, the daisy chain and the side pockets of this bag let me carry a whole array of equipment on the outside. With the inclusion of an extra set of straps and an awesome removable lid, this bag can do a lot more than a base camp trek.
“The compression system is versatile, well thought out, and works well with and without the brain – and with or without a full load.”
Aesthetically the bag is very clean. It’s got good geometry and the finish is top-notch. I wish they had a bright color option, though for an expedition bag, capabilities equals sex appeal. The layout, pocket access, and features on this bag are all on point.
The Gregory Denali 75 boasts a quality build, and I had no worries about any of the components at all. I would like to see a fully waterproof fabric in the future, though I wasn’t concerned about it. The nylon and PU coating took a real dousing and held up; it’s surprisingly water-resistant. A couple weekends at the PNW coast without a rain cover proved the material can hang in the worst conditions.
That silicon impregnated lumbar panel. Oooohhhhh. In addition, the adjustability of the shoulder straps and hip belt is simple and sturdy. Considering how bad a 50-pound bag can suck, this rides great.
“The nylon and PU coating took a real dousing and held up; it’s surprisingly water-resistant.”
In terms of value, for the volume and features I think this bag is right in the middle of the market. I do like Gregory’s support team and their warranty, and I feel like this bag could end up lasting 10+ years of repeated use.
The Not So Good
I wasn’t digging the Velcro poles and tool attachment. It makes it easier for ice tools when you don’t want to get rid of your gloves and Velcro is probably going to last longer than bungee cord in freezing temperatures, but the tools get pulled to the side when tension is applied to the compression straps and it just kind of pinches the tools in place.
“I wasn’t digging the Velcro poles and tool attachment.”
I had issues with the fit. I’m 6’1’’ at 180 lbs and I have a 21’’ torso. I got the large and felt like the bag rode a little lower than I wanted it to. The “large” torso bag comes with a “large” belt, which was too long for my 32’’ waist. Gregory does offer different-sized belts, so make sure to bring it up with customer service.
“I got the large and felt like the bag rode a little lower than I wanted it to.”
The fit of the bag is crucial for comfort when moving through backcountry – especially when you’re going to be moving 50+ pounds over some crazy terrain. There are only two adjustment options for fitting the shoulder harness and the hip belt and while torso lengths are provided with the sizing options, I’d like to see a little more adjustability. The option to order a different size of waist belt off their website would be nice too.
“There are only two adjustment options for fitting the shoulder harness and the hip belt…”
Outside of the fit, I liked everything about this pack. For winter camping and expedition-size loads at altitude, this bag is awesome. It’s a real workhorse and I never worried once about the integrity of the bag: it carried everything I needed and then some extra down layers for hanging outside a little longer. I’ll be picking up a smaller hip belt and using this again next season. Great work to the RD&D team over at Gregory – how about some expedition red or yellow for next Fall, eh?
“For winter camping and expedition-size loads at altitude, this bag is awesome.”