The Baltoro Pro 85 from Gregory Mountain Products is an 85-litre backpack with perimeter alloy frame and dynamic hip belt, writes Mike Gormley.
A good rucksack is, I think, a bit like an old friend: it travels with you through thick and thin; it is your home from home; it accompanies you on those quick nights out ‘on the hill’ as well as those more memorable trips on long distance treks; it keeps safe all your personal kit and possessions, as well as all you need to sustain life and stay warm and dry; it provides you a back rest as you take a break to admire some stunning view; and it is your pillow as you take a power nap.
Then, as you take on greater adventures and expeditions, it goes with you. At times you keep it in sight … always! Its good to see it at baggage reclaim after a long flight, rail or sea trip. It is part of you and contains your life for the trip. So your choice of rucksack is all important. I recall well when I was tasked to go out to the Middle East at the start of Gulf War One, as a civvy trainer on Supacat vehicles, that MoD had run out of bergens, so I went to the local kit shop and asked for the largest rucksack they had. The assistant tried hard to talk me out of such a large one. He said I would never need it. Little did he know! I still have it. Just because we went through a lot together and it probably still has some desert sand in the seams. It would be like telling an old mate you don’t need him any more.
¤ Straps on the sides of the Baltoro allow for the likes of a kip mat to be securely carried [©MG]
Sadly I have not had the opportunities to take this Baltoro on any major trips so far but sure wish I had it when I was doing my long distance coast path walks. This one is a whole lot more comfortable to carry and more user-friendly than the ones I had on my trips. For this initial review I had to be content with weather-beaten nights on Dartmoor.
The Baltoro is, as you might say ‘feature rich’. Clearly the designers had some experience. As you look round it and get to use it you keep discovering some new features. Of great importance, it is comfortable to wear. There are a lot of adjustments from the back length to the hip belt. Access is good via the top cover and one feature I really like is that the back can be opened up as well to get to those items in the bottom or to make life easier when cooped up in a small tent.
¤ The side hip belt pockets are both spacious and handy to use [©MG]
The base area can be subdivided if you prefer to keep it separate. This too has its own separate zip for access, to perhaps get to your sleeping bag. The base of the rucksack is fortified as clearly is the area that gets a bit hammered when you drop off your heavy load.
There is a risk of there being too many ‘places’ to put things, so you have to get organised and have good memory. Mind you, it is sometimes rather good to find that surprise munchie bar when you don’t expect it, tucked away in a pocket from a previous trip away. There are also facilities for a hydration bladder.
¤ There are attachment points on both shoulder straps for the likes of hydration tubes and other items that you need handy and secure ~ note also fully adjustable ‘sternum strap’ with included whistle [©MG]
This is an 85 litre capacity rucksack so has a good amount of space. There are also 80 and 100 litre versions if you prefer. Personally, I like larger, as it means you should be able to get most things inside, and so safer and less likely to be lost and easier to pack when up early in the dark and stuff is damp. The list of features on the Baltoro is far too long to list here, but I have noted many of the features in captions to the accompanying photos.
A great deal of thought has gone into this rucksack to make your life out there easier in many ways. I look forward to some better weather and time to get out and make more use of it.
[images © Jean or Mike Gormley]