Gregory has done it again
The new Savant 38 by Gregory is by far one of the best packs I've encountered. It's cleverly designed, and you can tell a lot of thought went into it.
I needed an upgrade from my Gregory Z30 pack; I needed more capacity and something that could handle an overnighter or weekend trip. The Z30 is a great pack, but I needed more.
I did my shopping with a couple things in mind: a pack that was durable, comfortable, large enough to fit me (6'5" gigantor), voluminous enough for a day hike/long day hikes/overnighters/weekenders, and had enough features to satiate my appetite for options. This pack, so far, seems to fit every one of these.
This pack is marketed as a 38 liter, since they advertise it off of the medium size. WIth a larger pack comes larger volume. I needed a large, which holds 42 (maybe 41) liters.
I have owned a few other packs of this size (the Gregory Z40 and the Deuter Futura Pro 42). Neither of these packs even came close to the versatility, convenience, and space the Savant provides. The bottom straps are perfect for attaching a tent (which I know is a bit taboo since the heavy weight of a tent is pulling down on you). There is a separate compartment for the water bladder behind the main compartment which solved a huge problem I was having with the Z30 (once you dropped the water bladder into the elastic pouch in the main compartment you would lose 80% of the space in the bag). This feature allowed me to cram a down jacket, long-length sleeping bag, first aid kit, hats, gloves, with room near the top for more.
Behind the waist belt is a clever hidden pocket for lose-ables or valuables (keys, phone, wallet), or for small things like a headlamp.
As always, Gregory included the hip belt pockets, which are also ideal for things like a phone, keys, GPS, camera, or granola bars. Or dog treats.
The suspension for this model has moved away from the 'trampoline' style suspension found on the Z models (Z30, Z40, etc) and has been replaced with a grooved back panel with a plastic sheet inside, supported by two aluminum stays that flank the outsides of the back panel. I found it to be a bit more comfortable with heavy loads seeing that it keeps the weight of the pack closer to your body.
Gregory also threw in some daisy chain loops on the outside of the pack for attaching carabiners, bandanas, or whatever.
On the outside of the pack is an elastic, sort-of gusseted stretchy pocket that is ideal for quick access items: rain jacket, trail map, guidebook, etc.
THey also gave you a velcro loop on the outside to attach your hiking poles or climbing shoes.
The shoulder straps are very well padded and have a comfortable, cushy hip belt and a rail-esque design for the sternum strap so you can slide it up and down. A feature that many manufacturers overlook.
It has a top loading lid as well as front panel access via a horseshoe zipper, also convenient.
Setbacks: I think it would be convenient to have an optional zipper compartment near the bottom of the main compartment, so you can stuff your sleeping bag and keep it separate from the contents in the top compartment.
I could go on about this pack. I am a Gregory fan boy when it comes to packs, seeing that I have had trouble fitting other packs such as Osprey, Deuter, and GoLite.
Like the other reviewer has mentioned, this is a great middle-of-the-road pack. I think that's what I like about it. You can use it for pretty much anything. It can cinch down to a very slim profile if you are going for a short hike, or it can inflate to the size of a Buick if you plan on going out for a longer stay.
Highly recommended bag.
if u only wanted to own one pack
This is a do-it-all pack for travel, an overnighter, a weekender, a weeker, or an out-of-countrier.
Although it exceeds the carry-on-dimesions of airliners, I've been able to carry this pack onto a plane with no questions asked. I think once you get past 40L, it becomes kinda questionable.
If you have ultralight or lightweight gear (namely: sleeping bag, pad, tent), you can comfortably muster up to 5 days with this pack (food included).
A couple of points I liked:
Not ultralightweight. But lightweight. Durable materials. Nice compression. Breathes fairly well.
Great suspension. Really brought the weight onto my waist and hips. The 38L and 48L Savant have the same cushioning in the waist belt and shoulder straps. So although one has 10L more capacity, they both have the same max weight capacity. Something to keep in mind.
Love the folding top lid (more waterproofness) because it reminds me of the extra step to secure my pack as I seem to overlook zipping up that top lid pocket sometimes. Plus you can really fit quite a bit of stuff in interior top lid pocket (which is my favorite pocket) without sacrificing neccessary space in the exterior top lid pocket.
Nice separation for your water bladder. You don't have to remove things from your pack to access your water bladder. And it's still part of the main compartment of the pack, not separate like some other brands.
Spacious pockets on the waist belt. And a clever pocket on the lower side of the pack. Main exterior compartment expands well. On a recent trip, I was able to fit both my fleece jacket and a beach towel into this compartment.
Plenty of attachment points, but yet the pack is pretty understated and doesn't look too technical.
Gotta love the included rain cover.
Nice side-access to the main compartment. Too bad it's a not a full horeshoe access, but the side-access is more convenient than the bottom access of the Osprey Kestrel 38, which is probably one of this bag's main competitors.
Two things that can be improved:
The side pockets do not expand, so you can't fit in two 1L water bottles into the side pockets if the pack is fully loaded.
The straps on the bottom of the pack do not expand enough to attach a compression sack for your sleeping bag. But they're sufficient for strapping in camp shoes or water shoes.
Overall, after a couple of adventures with this pack, I don't really see myself using my 32L (can't hold 25 lbs comfortably) or 52L pack (too much capacity) anymore. If you just want to buy one pack for multiple types of excursions, check this one out.
With my gf using a multi-day gregory pack and me with this, I find that their bags tend to have many zippers and pockets. Maybe I'm tainted by how comfortable it is, but the sheer number of pockets doesn't detract from the overall functionality. A great pocket on the "front" to stuff a light rainproof jacket. An unzipped pouch along your back for water bladders or another layer of soft warm clothing, some mesh pockets on your hips and sides for water and/or snacks. The pocket on top has a water-proof seal on the zip with key clip, and an internal pocket for one extra layer of water-resistance for your phone or matches.
Side access to the main section is good, though I don't use it much.
What I would say is a down side is that the mesh all seems "wirey", really tough and not very stretchy, i worry that hard pokey bits might rip it easily (though haven't yet). The tops/openings of the two side pockets, also, aren't stretchy so you need a hole in your gear packing inside the pack to be able to fit a nalgene or similar wide-body bottle into the pocket.
The back padding/support can just be bent into a comfortable S shape to suit you with the help of your knee and the multitude of straps here and there (and around your waist) help keeps everything in check and the bag comfortably sitting on your hips even with a larger load.
A great bag, if this is how all gregory bags are made I'll be making more of them mine.
I'm literally in love with this pack...
I usually go on 2-4 day hiking trips and this pack is perfect for what I need. On a recent two day hike in Pecos, NM I packed about 40 lbs. of equipment in 38 liters of available space. This pack might be small but it's more than capable of carrying everything you need! No space in this pack goes to waste and even when it was loaded to the brim I had no problem closing the top.
As far comfort goes, I give this pack an A+! The hike I took in Pecos was 12 miles and I have had any discomfort in my back or shoulders. On this same hike, it also rained almost the entire time which gave me the opportunity to try out the rain cover. While it wasn't spectacular, it was great having a rain cover at all! If you are taking this pack to extremely wet conditions I wouldn't count on this rain cover to keep your things 100% dry, but it is good enough for the NM Mountains. Lastly, my only critique is that the side mesh pockets are too small. I couldn't fit a pair of socks after the pack was all loaded up much less my Nalgene bottle. Nevertheless, this is the best pack I have ever used in my life and I would highly recommend it to any and everyone.
This has become my goto pack
I bought this pack to replace the 30L packs I had been using for back country hiking. I like to carry a little extra gear. Stove, pot, emergency food/bag/clothes/first-aid etc. I found that all this was extremely tight in a 30L pack, to the point of stretching the zippers. This pack has just that extra space, and the top flap which allows for increased expansion.
The 'front' pocket is large enough to contain a snow shovel and probe for winter use and the straps and attachment points are sufficient for snow shoes.
I find the side pockets too restrictive and would prefer to be able to load a Nalgene a little easier when the pack is loaded. Honestly, I would prefer it if one of the pockets was replaced by the zip out bottle pocket found on the Gregory Baltoro which so easy to use on the move.
With angled shoulders like mine, finding a pack to conform is not easy, but this pack fits beautifully as the straps are free to rotate at the shoulder point.
The top pocket is useful but only shower proof. I had water in the pocket after a downpour. Not a problem as I was testing the pack for this.
I would also like a whistle built into the chest strap for convenience.
Spacious bag that serves multipurpose
Like a previous reviewer I also had the Gregory Z30 pack and was disappointed in the actual usable space. I exchanged it for this Savant 38 and haven't looked back. Unlike the Z30, I can load up tent poles inside the pack, carry a drinking bladder and have plenty of space available for sleeping bag, cook kit, and food for an over nighter. The top compartment is also water resistant so I don't have to pull out the built in rain flay every time it starts to sprinkle a bit to protect the wallets and phones I usually put up there for easy access.
I do wish there was a side access compartment but the bag is small enough that it's not as big of an issue to just reach down from the top.
I got this backpack for a few reasons:
1) It has a pull string system for the main compartment, so no zippers to worry about.
2) Great support on waist. I'm a small guy with a 30 inch waist, so I do synch the straps nearly all the way to get the snug fit. The support is very well placed on the hips and really keeps the stress off the shoulders (which is great).
I use the backpack to travel, which can still entail many miles of walking, but I haven't taken it backpacking into the mountains and I haven't tried to load all of those necessary supplies in it.
I've been a comfort camper with a mind for minimalism for some time. This pack helped push me over the edge to minimalist though. I loaded a 23 lb pack to take to Nordrum Lake and despite the cold/rain I was still comfortable once I got to camp (I'd do a better job of waterproofing my bag though - oops). This allowed me to bring everything I needed, lash pole on outside, ridgerest (replacing that) and it was quite a comfortable ride - adjustable - secure. I was worried it would be too small (bought the medium...am 6' @ 182 lbs) but it was perfect and helped me pack smarter.