God's gift to packs
I bought this pack back in the summer of 2007 after I did a leadership training course where one of my instructors had one. I got this pack for three major reasons: 1) I do mostly expedition style trips from 1 week to 6 weeks, so I needed something big 2) I have really broad shoulders and not many packs could accommodate my shoulders without pinch my neck and giving me circulation problems in my neck (lightheaded while Backpacking is not cool) and 3) I needed something that could handle extreme loads. I got a small because my torso measures just shy of the medium, but because of my build I needed a medium waste belt and medium to large shoulder straps.
I ran all of the rock climbing trips at my college at the time so I would carry up enough gear to setup 4 top rope climbs in this bad boy and never had any problems. I took it on a 42 day mountaineering course in the Wind River Range in Wyoming in the summer of 2008 and I beat the tar our of this thing and abused it way more than I should have. It took everything I threw at it like a champ. I averaged about 100lbs loaded up in this thing the entire trip because of gear and food and the style of the course. I topped out at 125lbs (70% of my body weight at the time) - about double the recommended weight limit. I around 100-150 miles on that trip with that kind of weight and I was comfortable the entire time. The pack showed very little wear at the end of the trip and it had no signs or symptoms of any kind of structural failure. I realize this is more weight than anyone should be loading in a pack, but this thing can handle it as long as you can - you will fail before this pack does. The only breaks I've had in the last 4 years are the rivets connecting the shoulder load lifters to the plastic on the inside of the pack had the backs break off, but that will be fixed when I send it into Gregory, plus they don't really effect how it holds weight at all, so I never noticed until thoroughly inspecting it.
This is my go to pack whenever I need to haul any kind of weight that doesn't fly in my Osprey Atmos 65.
Bottom line: This is the best pack you're going to find to do it all. It's durable, looks awesome, can carry 70+ lbs with ease, and it is incredibly easy to compress and balance.
The only improvements that could be made are more effective hip load lifters (although they don't make a huge difference with this pack because of how well it is designed) and shoulder harness could use better velcro to secure the harness to the padding on the shoulders and to hold the sternum strap in place while the pack isn't on. I have trouble with the shoulder strap occasionally sliding off most of the padding around my armpit (never totally off) when the sternum strap is tight. The Pros way out weigh the cons so 5 outta 5.
Note - Get a good pack cover, this sucker gets really heavy when it is wet.
I love this pack
I love this pack! I did tons of research before choosing a pack that best suited my needs. I hike with my wife and sometimes with two full size dogs. We generally do no more than 3 nights when we hike, but still the gear adds up. I generally take the bulk of the gear, including both sleeping bags, and sometimes two bear canisters filled with food. I needed a pack that wouldn't stretch the seams and get over-loaded when doing these trips. My old REI pack just didn't fit these new gear requirements even though it lasted for years of abuse. The Denali Pro holds all the gear and still has room to put in more. It seems like the bag just keep expanding when you loosen all the straps.
When we hiked the Kalalau Trail, Kauai, I just removed the top lid, cinched the storm flap and tightened all the side straps. This made it like having a smaller day pack, but with the suspension of a large pack. The pack took a days worth of gear on the long, technical trail. The pack's weight felt heavy for a simple overnighter, but it never rides wrong or feels painful on your back. (Seems like a pack that you could carry your partner out with if need be. Just kidding, but I have had to hike a 50 lb dog out before.)We logged 22 miles in 2 days on that Kauai hike and my back was not sore and had no hot spots during or after the hike.
The pack is heavy (I think 10lbs) which really adds up, but I tell you from experience, a overloaded pack feels much heavier than a huge pack, under-loaded, plus makes it less stable which causes you more energy expenditure just trying to balance the thing on your back. With the Denali Pro you feel stable jumping and bouldering across creeks despite heavy loads.
I like the skid proof rubbery bottom fabric. Feels good to set your pack on sharp rocks or skid it along and not feel as bad. The side mesh pouches hold nalgene width bottles which is nice. I havent really had to use all the daisy chain loops or strap things on because everything fits inside (2 sleeping bags, 2 bear canisters with food, 1 three person tent, stove and pots and pans and all the clothes. No problem....). The fabric and seams feel super durable. Also the shoulder straps are on a pivot system which allow them to sway as you hike, probably helps with why this pack rides so nice.
I went to he local backpacking store and they helped me fit it better than I had done myself. I used the packs instructions but it definatley felt better and rode better after the pack store adjusted it for me.
This pack is going to last me for years to come, and will see many adventures with my wife and I. I recommend it and and enjoy using it.
One Big Red Brick
The first thing to know about this bag is to ensure that you have it properly fitted. I had two completely different fittings. And, if you are a medium, don't get a "large" for more space, it will cause you no end of grief, later.The bag has mesh pockets on the side for water bottles, etc. Plan on your buddy having to get those for you. These should have been moved MUCH closer to the actual wearer, and nearly impossible to use unless you take your gloves off or set the bag down.The bottom of the bag is nice and tough. There is no real good way to clip a lightweight pair of wheels on for shuffling around airports, ferries, etc. The side of my bag tore, (not a rip, just a line of small halls, (< 1 cm). This is probably the biggest downer for me. The straps are intended to keep the stress off the red fabric walls of the bag, but because the straps are so skinny, there are parts that are left unsupported. Hopefully this will be updated in their next version of this bag.The outside zippered pocket is large enough to hold maps, and what not, but in practice, when you tighten the straps this pocket gets incredibly distorted so just use this outside pocket for a trail bag or something squishy.The worst thing about this bag is the lack of info from Gregory. There are no videos on how to fit the bag, and how to determine what angle to set the belt at. They have a little instruction sheet that comes with it, but a few actual bag video demonstrations would be immensely helpful.There is no good way to handle on a water bladder with this bag. When I called Gregory, they said it is because this is intended to be a "Mountaineering" bag. ...Overall, this bag is in serious need of being brought up to date. The Gregory Palisade is definitely more modern, and until this bag is brought up to date, I would highly recommend going with the Osprey Argon 110.The bag cover is a joke. There is a way for the top to clip down, but the bottom will always slide up.The straps could be better engineered, with more ways to fasten gear, (like to hang bear cans, etc). I usually hang my bear cans from the bottom loops of the bag, (which isn't all that accessible.
This is Da Bomb!
After a 20 yr hiatus from getting out I geared up and went on a 5 day trip with a Gregory Whitney and a stupid-heavy load. The Whitney started to fail (see the reviews.) Disappointed and not wanting a repeat (stupid-heavy load or not), I returned it for this pack. I actually preferred the carry of the Whitney, but this pack has so far carried a heavier load than the load that seperated seams in the Whitney, and has done so with no hint of failure. I am very VERY pleased with this pack simply because it is a modern interpretation of the expedition packs of what is now a bygone era of long approaches carrying lots of gear into remote places. As such it represents the pinnacle of weight hauling, capacity, durability, and overall carry. And it is one of the last, if not the last, large Gregory pack still made in the US. Light-and-fast this thing is NOT, but if you want a do-all pack that can carry any load over any terrain (reasonable or not) in any conditions (reasonable or not) and not have to have a closet full of packs based on what you might be taking on your next adventure, then this thing is for you. Oh, and another thing... The day is coming for most of us in most parts of the US wherein bear cans will be a requirement and not just a suggestion or good idea. That is already the case in a fair number of areas, and the fraction of areas requiring bear cans is increashing constantly. Point is, bear cans are HUGE relative to most modern packs, more so relative to ultra-light or light-and-fast gear. But this thing (and the Whitney) swallow bear cans whole! Again, make no mistake that this is an expedition pack in the old-school sense, but if you want one pack that will carry anything over any terrain in any conditions, this is it. If you can load it inside or strap it on this pack and get it up onto your back, this thing will carry it!
Rugged and Comfortable Load Hauler
As a retired professional guide, I find this pack to be ruggedly constructed and designed for comfort. The zippers, seams, loops, fabric, all the essential materials, are designed to function well and take abuse without failing. The zippers flow easily and do not jam. The pack is designed for versatility with access from numerous locations. The top telescopes to a considerable height to accommodate increased volume. Smaller loads are easily cinched down by compression straps. The downside to all this is the seemingly endless number of straps hanging everywhere, resembling Medusa's head. I miss the big side pockets that used to be almost standard on all backpacks. Fortunately, one Osprey Crampon Pocket straps perfectly to each side of this pack, with the pair adding an extra 400 cubic inches of volume. The yoke system of this pack is superb. Weight is distributed to the top of the sacrum and the hip points by the well designed and very large padding in the waist system. Some believe the weight of the pack to be a disadvantage. This pack plus the Osprey pockets come in at around 9 pounds. I have put 40 pounds of gear into this pack for a 49 lb. total. I have put the same 40 pounds in a 5 lb pack (45 lb. total) and into a 4 lb. pack (44 lb. total) and the 49 lb. total of this pack is immensely more comfortable and easy to carry than the others. I am now close to 60 y.o. and the most I have put in this pack is about 70 lb. In my 20s, I carried as much as 120 lb in my old Synergy Works pack and I can tell that this pack would easily carry that much and in far more comfort. There are other great load haulers such as McHale and Mystery Ranch, but the M.R. weighs even more and both are extremely more expensive than the Denali Pro. For serious backpackers and Sherpa duties on up to medium rated rated world class mountaineering expeditions, this pack is as good as it gets.
Best Heavy Pack in the World
I generally carry a Granite Gear Vapor Trail for weekend trips. But when I go camping with my family or taker a multi-day hike into the desert with 20 liters of water, the Denali is the pack I take.
The Denali carries quite comfortably for its weight. This past weekend, I carried 75 pounds (those 20 liters of water plus a weekend's worth of stuff) over 12 miles of rough terrain. I am not in terrific shape, middle-aged, and there were a number of places where my balance had to be pretty good. Today I am a little tired, but nothing is pulled and the pack did not rub me or my clothes raw anywhere.
The Denali Pro is pretty versatile. I cached some of my water, and the load was easy to shift around among the two major gear compartments, and to pull close to my back, for continued good balance. The straps are sufficiently strong that they only needed adjusting every 1/3 mile or so with the 75 pound load, usually after a jump, or after bending down to fix up a cairn. It would be nice if they just stayed set, but I don't mind tugging on the straps every 8-10 minutes.
For less dense loads, the Denali Pro is infinitely expandable. I have carried 2 tents, three sleeping pads, two sleeping bags and 5 days food for 5 into the Grand Canyon on a family hike - also about a 75-pound load, but one that protruded up over my head. Again, the weight could be arranged so that it didn't mess too much with my center of gravity or basic balance.
I am really a fan of this pack. For the rare times when I can't go out within the 30-pound load limit for my Granite Gear, this is a great choice.
Load It Up
I have had this pack since 1998. Over the last decade, I have used this pack for multi day backcountry skiing and snowboarding outings, getting to our mountaineering basecamps, 10 day backpacking trips, weekend trips, and now overnight trips with my wife and child.
My number one commment on the Denali Pro is load it up. This pack can carry the weight. I am tall and thin, so the custom measurements were key for me. I have a large back panel with a medium waist belt, giving me the fit I always looked for. There is room for all kinds of gear on top of your overnight needs. Now that I'm a father, this pack has made the transition to my new "sherpa dad" role, allowing me to carry everything we need.
The only negative on this pack is its weight. But, in order to be able to manage bigger loads, you will want the extras that allow this pack to handle the big loads. It is also adjustable enough to handle smaller overnight loads (I put everything inside).
This pack has led me to only buy Gregory Packs for any serious pack needs. I just bought the Gregory Adze daypack, which has also proven itself as the perfect pack for its size.
I lead backcountry trips for a living, and I would never use another pack for my job, or another brand of backpack for any of my backcountry needs.
GO GREGORY! BEST PACKS EVER!
The reason I purchased this pack was because I wanted something that could carry an immense amount of weight, and not have to worry about the collateral damage. What I mean by collateral damage is no broken straps, clips, tears, and the unforgiving back pain that any of these things could cause mid-trip.I recently took the Gregory Denali Pro with me on a trip to The Zions in Utah. It was a 5 day | 50 mile journey from the West to East Rim. My pack totaled in at 78 pounds, but fluctuated due to the amount of water I was carrying with me at any given time. (This included everything from camping tools, clothing, food, padding, sleeping bag, survival accessories, tent, water filter, water, and the ridiculous amount of Camera equipment I wanted to document the trip with)And as expected, the pack performed optimally like any review you'll read on here. Not only was this the most amazing, comfortable, robust pack of its kind, but the complements I got from it on the trail amazed me. It appears that Gregory has built a luxurious brand for itself, and most importantly: reliable.My next trip is Mt. Mount Whitney - this July - and I intend on packing the same amount of gear. It'll be a 8 Day adventure in the Sierras, and with this pack--I can't wait.To anyone who is skeptical like I was about spending [$] on a pack...Believe me...Its worth ever penny and you won't be disappointed.
The Best Backpack EVER!!!
I absolutely love this pack!!!
I have had many backpacks over the last 20 years and this is by far the most comfortable pack I have had. I read that Ed Viesturs uses this pack for his Everest climbs and figured it had to be pretty good so I got it two months ago in preparation for a mountaineering trip. It exceeded my expectations!
My backpacking adventures are usually climbing mountains or winter backpacking so I usually am carrying a lot of stuff (65-90 pounds). The Denali carried 75 pounds for my recent trip quite comfortably with plenty of room to spare.
My last Dana Designs pack kept sliding down my back and would never stay on my hips very well. The Denali stayed on my hips without ever sliding or becoming uncomfortable.
In addition, the deep ridges in the back pad keep air flowing on my back and prevented the soaked with sweat experience so common with other packs.
Also, the convenient front opening makes it easy to access your stuff and to stow your water bag.
The hip belt and shoulder straps are very solid and very comfortable.
I highly recommend this pack to anyone in need of a big pack for carrying heavy loads!
(I bought my girlfriend the woman's version and she loves it as well.)
Do not get this if you want to be a minimalist. That would be the only time I would not recommend this pack. I'm 5'7 and 140 lbs. Carrying 60 lbs with the Denali is no problem at all. It holds sleping bag and fleece REI liner, a 2-person tent, a few changes of clothes, and a bear cannister all inside the main compartment. The top, removable cover perfectly fits my MSR 10 liter dromedary. The smaller compartment holds my valuables and toiletries. There are straps and pockets on the outside, I strap my rolled up sleeping pad there. On the bottom there are even more straps, I use these for my first aid kit- for easy access. There are more straps on the outside for exra gear such as snowshoes and there are places especially for skis on either side.
It took me a couple of time to get the weight distributed right, but once it is correct, the weight seems to be drastically reduced. All of the adjustments are made very easy.
I have nothing bad to say about this pack at all. The only thing was that I asked about it in the store, and they did not carry it. The salesman actually tried to talk me out of it. Just make sure you read the measurements if it is an online order.