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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Gregory Navarino Pack > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto
Women's Navarino Day Pack
Reviewed by Jamie DeBenedetto
Reviewer's Information Back to contents
Product Information Back to contents
The Gregory Navarino is a women's specific day pack. Although on the small end and lightweight it has gobs of features. Starting from the outside I've listed them here.
Arrival Condition and Informational Material Back to contents
The Gregory Navarino arrived in what appears to be perfect condition. I inspected all pockets, mesh, straps, seams, etc. and did not find any issues of concern. Zippers zip and unzip and buckles open and close so I'm happy with its arrival condition.
No informational tags were attached, I did however, find some decent details about the pack on the Gregory website. I was impressed with Gregory's commitment to customer satisfaction and their lifetime warranty stance. It's always a plus in my book when a company is willing to stand behind their work. One missing tidbit that is of particular interest to me is the country in which the item is made. I personally like to know this up front before I buy anything and in many cases if that detail is unknown I won't make a purchase. The only other unclear information on the website was the max load capacity the pack is designed to carry comfortably. The scale Gregory uses on the website is a white line that begins at 20 lbs (9 kg) and ends at 70 lbs (32 kg). Until I checked a larger capacity backpack I didn't realize there was a yellow bar that moved along the middle of that scale indicating the load rating for that specific pack. The yellow bar is absent from the "Comfort Zone" scale on the Navarino page, leading me to wonder how much weight the pack could handle. Perhaps a different chart could be used for the daypacks so this info would be more clearly shown.
Expectations and First Impressions
The Woman's Navarino Pack was only shown from the front on the manufacturer's website so it was impossible to have a very good idea of what I would be getting when it arrived, internally speaking of course. I will say it certainly has more features than I thought it would. The thing is loaded with pockets, reflective strips, adjustment points, stretchy suspension, the works. I don't think I have ever seen a day pack with so many organizational compartments.
It's been a few years since I broke in a new daypack so I'm looking forward to finding out how the Navarino handles the gear I carry and the terrain I hike in (very dusty, prickly and sweaty). There are several parts of this pack that have caught my eye but probably the most interesting is this BioSync™ Suspension System. I'm not a runner but I will plan to do some light jogging and fast downhill in an effort to jostle the suspension and see if it truly "mimics" my body as Gregory claims. The on-the-fly compression system is also a rather unique element I have not encountered on other packs. With winter on the march I expect a fleece will soon be added to my regular daily item list meaning I'll most likely need this feature relatively quickly.
Having only given it the eye/touch inspection so far I certainly can't say how well the pack will perform once it's actually loaded with gear and I'm hiking. If I'm perfectly honest, I'm a bit concerned I wont have enough space to fit all of the things I usually carry AND a light jacket, which I will need sooner or later I'm sure. With that said, there are two other things I saw that stirred some "hmmm" activity in my head. First is the semi-rigid tube on the inner part of each shoulder strap. As mentioned before, this is designed to allow me, the user, to adjust the sternum strap up or down by sliding the end of each side of the strap along this track. The mystery for me comes because the tube is covered in nylon material and the strap ends are plastic. I am wondering how long it will take before that layer of nylon wears through.
The second "hmmm" thing is the mesh side pockets. I normally carry 24 oz (710 ml) water bottles in side pockets in the pack I'm currently using. First, what size bottle will these compartments hold? Second, on occasion when I bend over or carelessly toss my pack into my vehicle one of the bottles will slip out; will this happen with the Navarino? The pockets look nice and secure in my initial home pack loading using a 24 oz (710 ml) bottle but only real field use will tell.
Field Tests October through January Back to contents
Since October when the Gregory Navarino daypack arrived I have worn it on forty-one hikes. Most have been shorter morning treks lasting no more than three hours, six were Geocaching trips with my sons, one was a fishing and shoreline wandering day to Lake Pleasant northwest of Phoenix, and one was a longer day hike lasting about six hours. The elevations for all these trips ranged from 1,500 ft (450 m) on the lower end up to 2,100 ft (640 m). Temperatures varied between 80 F (26 C) in the early part of October down to 40 F (5 C) once winter finally arrived in December. Weather the majority of the time was clear and sunny, which is typical of Phoenix, with a few cloudy, windy days and two brief periods of light drizzle.
My job always involves hike leading in some capacity which means I carry more than I would if I were hiking alone. This daypack is almost half the size of the one I was wearing prior to beginning this test so to be fair to the Navarino I pared down my kit somewhat. Basically what I carry other than water is a first-aid kit, a 10 essentials kit, a wind shirt, my GPS (I clipped the case for this unit to the right shoulder strap) and a small baggie of toiletries. All of this fit but I did have to take my 10 essentials kit apart (which was all in one small stuff sack) and place the items into the various internal organizer pockets. There were so many options I found room for everything with the help of a little creative packing. I left the outside expandable pocket empty assuming I would be using that for quick grab stuff, like a fleece, at some point. The rest of my little "must haves" like lip balm and tissues went into the pockets on the waist belt. Wheew!
Looking the pack over it became quite clear to me that not a whole lot more was going to fit inside this baby. "Fits everything you need for a day hike or bike ride" the words describing the pack on the Gregory website jumped into my head and I thought, hmmm, what about lunch? Well food and water are vital so I attempted to load those next. Rearranging a few things I was able to make enough room to squish a sandwich, an apple and a baggie of beef jerky in the top of the main compartment. That left water, which for now has only been bottles posted outside the pack in the side mesh pockets. I discovered it was a little more difficult than I had expected to cram two 32 oz (1 L) water bottles into their spots. The items inside were taking up too much space so the bottles just wouldn't slide in. I had to once again readjust the pack's contents. After extending every strap and buckle to its fullest length I eventually found a working solution, still leaving the front expandable pocket empty.
I have used three sizes of bottles in the side mesh pockets; 20 fl oz (0.5 L), 24 fl oz (710 ml), and a 32 fl oz (1 L). The height of these compartments is just right. They are tall enough to keep the bottles snug against the pack body even during bending and off track walking or if the bottles are full or empty. They are also short enough so I can reach back and pull a water bottle out (and put it back in) without needing to take my pack off. This does become more difficult when the pack is brimming full, however.
The overall fit and subsequent comfort of the Navarino changes depending on how full it is. On the Geocaching and longer day hikes I carried more gear and more water because my kids were with me. On these treks I felt the pack was far less comfortable in the shoulder area and back panel. The back panel instead of riding flush with my back took on a more rounded shape and regardless of where I set the sternum strap, I felt like the weight and shape of the pack was pulling the shoulder straps apart and ultimately under my armpits. I know the max weight should be less than 20 lbs (9 kg) and I'm sure I did not exceed this with 96 fl oz (2.8 L) of water and those other items.
On solo or shorter treks, with less gear, the pack feels better but not perfect. I discovered my comfort problems stem from the torso length. It just doesn't feel like the pack is long enough. I found myself routinely readjusting it by pulling it and my shirt downward. Maybe it's because I'm at the taller end of the torso range or maybe because I'm used to a slightly longer pack, either way, it just wasn't working for me. I decided to try wearing it with the waist belt unfastened. This positively addressed the problems I was having with the pack riding up but pushed more of the weight onto my shoulders. Not ideal but workable.
I was split on the decision to stop using the waist belt. On one hand it helped distribute some of the weight to my hips and stabilized the pack. On the other hand it contributed to the less comfortable fit and I found the design annoying. Instead of buckling in the middle of the belt, with two semi-equal straps on either side, Gregory's buckle is long on the right side and very short on the left, leaving the buckle attachment point very close to the left belt pocket which doesn't leave a lot of room to grip it. I had a particularly tricky time trying to fasten the belt when wearing gloves.
On a more positive note I found the two hip belt pockets quite useful, although difficult to zip/unzip one handed, they are super convenient and have so far been roomy enough for all the little items I like to keep within reach. The mesh underside has not posed any problems. I also like the expandable front pocket. This has come in handy on several occasions holding a variety of more bulky things there just wasn't enough room for inside the bag. Kudos to Gregory for including the middle compression band and two different attachment points, one lower and one higher along the front of the pack. I can easily see how the Navarino could quickly transform into a much slimmer version.
Pros and Cons Thus Far Back to contents
Things I find useful...
Things I'm not super impressed with…
Collective Use and Field Conditions Back to contents
During the last two months of this test series I used the Gregory Navarino Women's Daypack on an additional thirty-three dayhikes bringing my total field use up to seventy-four treks. Trip locations and weather conditions were similar to those recorded in my Field Report; outings lasting between 1.5 and 3 hours in elevations as low as 1,500 ft (450 m) up to as high as 2,100 ft (640 m), all in desert mountain parks located in or near Phoenix, AZ. Temperatures fell between 78 F (26 C) and 40 F (5 C).
Long Term Conclusions Back to contents
Having logged many hours in this pack, I'm somewhat sad to say, it's just not for me. Comfort and volume, or more to the point, not enough of either were the standout negatives in my experience.
The problems I've had with comfort have nothing to do with items inside the pack poking me or with anything rubbing me the wrong way. In fact, the padding on the back panel and on the shoulder straps feels adequate and is still in good shape. The stretchy straps on the shoulder pads have faded in stretch so they are not much of a factor either. I think the overarching issue is simply the torso length. Since day one it has always felt too short. As such, other areas did no ride as well as they must in order to create a comfortable fit. As I mentioned in the Field Report I stopped using the hip belt as a way to alleviate the "ride-up" factor, which helped a little but left the unwanted consequence of a less stable pack and all weight being transferred to my shoulders. Another strike against overall comfort and somewhat of a catch-twenty-two really.
As for my qualms with the Navarino's load capacity, I'm apparently not the type of hiker to just zoom off with a bottle of water and a granola bar, even when I am hiking without my kids or dogs. Despite dropping or rearranging some of my standard gear I felt the pack was always operating at near capacity. This brought on situations in which I either transferred gear to my pockets, a front pack or dog backpack or I didn't carry as much water (a no no in the desert). When the water need could not be overlooked and I was forced to add a hydration reservoir the already overcrowded main compartment became even less capacious. This just doesn't work for me. I like flexibility in a pack and I felt I was always making compromises with the Navarino.
Additionally, even though the "internal, on-the-fly compression system" is a main feature of this pack, I rarely had the need for it because decreasing the size of the bag would have been counterproductive.
I don't want my whole report to sound negative, however. There are several excellent features on this pack. Firstly, it has held up well to my several times per week use. Even the fabric on the slider to which the sternum strap attaches has lasted. I was sure plastic rubbing on nylon would be a problem but thus far, it has not been. The areas of mesh have also performed better than expected in the desert environment through which I routinely traipse. There were several occasions where the mesh picked up branches or caught on something spiky but no serious entanglements or damage occurred.
Secondly, the exterior compartments all worked really well. These include the pockets on the waist belt, the side compartments and the extendable front pocket. I liked them all. Although hard to open one-handed the waist pouches were roomy enough for everything I needed to store. The side pockets performed beautifully with every water bottle I carried. They were just the right height to keep the bottles stable but still allow access. The only time they failed was when the inside of the main pack body was extra full. This made it much harder to get the bottle in and out without assistance. The extendable front pocket was super handy for quick grab stuff like my fleece or rain jacket. I only wish it was bigger.
Final Thoughts Back to contents
The Gregory Navarino Women's Daypack has some well thought-out concepts but it didn't work for my style of day hiking. I need a pack with a bit more storage capacity and one that works more effectively for my torso size. Unfortunately, the Navarino missed the mark on both these needs. It did meet my expectations regarding the quality and durability of its materials which held up well and didn't retain any noticeable odors over the four month testing period.
My thanks to Gregory and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity
to be involved with this test series. It's been interesting and I hope my experiences
and comments prove useful.
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