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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Gregory Wasatch Pack > Test Report by Patrick McNeilly

GREGORY WASATCH PACK
TEST SERIES BY PATRICK MCNEILLY
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - October 07, 2009
FIELD REPORT - January 02, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - March 01, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Patrick McNeilly
EMAIL: mcne4752 AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 155 lb (70.30 kg)
TORSO SIZE 18.5 in (47 cm)

I have been hiking for over 20 years but backpacking only since about 2002. Most of my backpacking is done as overnight trips and occasional weekend and weeklong trips. My typical packweight is approximately 18 to 20 lb (8 to 9 kg) before food or water. Most of my backpacking is the three season variety in the mountains of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. In addition to backpacking, I also fish, hunt, and enjoy orienteering. As a result, some of my backpacking equipment gets used in a number of different venues.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Gregory
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.gregorypacks.com/
MSRP: $ 79.00 USD
Listed Weight: 1 lb 5 oz (600 g)
Measured Weight: 1 lb 5 oz (600 g)
Pack Volume: 720 cu in (12 L)
Torso sizes: 16 - 22 in (41 - 56 cm)
Color: Cayenne (also available in Tungsten or Moonstone)

The Gregory Wasatch Pack (i.e., the pack) is constructed of a coated nylon fabric with mesh outer pockets. The pack has three large pockets and a variety of smaller ones. The large main pocket includes a hydration sleeve and a small interior mesh zippered pocket which measures 5 x 7 in (13 x 18 cm). Another large zippered pocket (smaller than the first) has two interior mesh organizer pockets and a 4 in (10 cm) nylon ribbon with a mitten hook. Lastly, there is a large expandable outside pocket pocket constructed of nylon mesh on the outside of the pack. This large mesh pocket secures with a bungee using a hook located in the center of the pack.

Large Main CompartmentSmaller Gear Pocket

The pack also has two additional exterior mesh pockets on the body of the pack located on either side of the lareg mesh pocket I noted above. There are two zippered mesh pockets on the hipbelt. Inside each of these pockets is a band of elastic which appears to be designed to secure the items in the pocket.

The back panel and shoulder straps are constructed of a thin flexible foam covered with a nylon mesh material. The shoulder straps and the hipbelt attach to the pack in such a way that they can stretch with the movement of the body. The shoulder straps also have channels to feed the tubing of a hydration bladder. There is also a bungee loop on the left shoulder strap which has a small patch of nylon webbing and hook and loop fastener sewn to it allowing it to secure to the shoulder strap. There is also an adjustable sternum strap attached the shoulder straps.

Suspension



The Wasatch Pack has a compression system which consists of two compression straps on the outside of the pack. There are also two small cords with plastic loops and small black toggles on either side of the pack near where the hipbelt attaches. These two cords are an internal compression system to secure the lower portion of the pack.

Should Strap BungeeInternal Compression System

A few other small items to note are that there is a small haul loop made of thin nylon cord. Inside the largest compartment are three nylon loops. Two of these loops have hook and loop fasteners and appear to be for securing a hydration bladder, while the third loops appears to be for positioning bladder tubing. I also noted that there is a small triangular hole in the bottom panel of the pack.

Gregory has a lifetime warrantee on materials and workmanship. Defective products will be repaired or replaced at Gregory's expense. However, the warrantee information on the Gregory website specificly states "Sorry, no free repairs if you have been using your pack as a feed bag for bears or cleaning it with white gas." Seems reasonable.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My first impression of the Gregory Wasatch Pack is that it looks very complicated. There are many pockets and straps of various sizes. I also thought to myself that this is an organizers dream. There seems to be a place for everything I might take on a hike. One thing that I think might be helpful would be some type of description of the features. No literature or hang tags came with the pack and there are some features which I simply do not understand, such as the bungee cord with the hook and loop fasteners on the left shoulder strap. My guess is that it is to assist in feeding hydration tubing, if not, I figure someone on the trail will laugh and tell me what it is really for.

The construction appears to be very good. The materials seem to be of excellent quality and there aren't loose threads. There appears to be reinforced stitching on some high stress areas such as where the compression straps and haul loop attach.

The largest pocket has a two liter hydration bladder and still has additional room for other items. I was able to put a full bladder in and easily feed the tubing through the opening in the pack and along the left shoulder strap, without removing the mouthpiece. This pocket also has two small loops that have hook and loop fasteners which are in the right place for securing a bladder. The small zippered pocket inside the large main pocket is about the right size for holding keys or a cell phone.

There is a large mesh pocket on the outside of the pack which will hold a fleece. This pocket has a bungee and is connected to the two compression straps to help stabilize items stored in the pocket. There are also two mesh pockets on the outside which have elastic openings. These pockets will hold a one liter water bottle but I found that it was difficult to get the bottles in the pockets.

The padding on the back, hipbelt, and shoulder straps is fairly thin but soft and very flexible. The shoulder straps and hipbelt attach to the pack with a stretch fabric. This makes the pack move with my torso while moving. The sternum strap is adjustable but when I put the pack on, the vertical adjustment seemed fine but the strap fits tight across my 40 in (102 cm) chest.

The hipbelt feels comfortable and I was a little surprised to find that the buckle clips on the left side and there is only one strap to adjust the belt. The pockets on the hipbelt are large enough to hold snacks or a small camera and the elastic straps inside the pockets look as though they may help prevent items from falling out.

The pack compresses to a fairly small size. I put a two liter filled bladder in the pack and compressed it as much as possible, as if I were going for a trail run. The main compression straps do a good job on the upper portion of the pack while the inner compression system did compress the lower section of the pack. The problem with the internal compression is that the pull cords seem too long when the pack is compressed. They extend as much as 9 in (23 cm) on either side and dangle there. The bungee on the outer mesh pocket can be disconnected and attached to another hook closer to the top of the pack which really seems to create a small package.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Over the past couple months, I have used the Wasatch pack on six day hikes. All these hikes were in various state or regional parks in central Maryland. The hikes ranged from 4 to 8 miles (6 to 13 km) and two of the hikes were on very rocky trails while the other four were on relatively smooth tread, no off-trail hiking during this testing period.

Weather conditions have varied pretty wildly over the past two months here. The temperatures I encountered on the hikes ranged from 25 to 60 F (-4 to 16 C). I also encountered light rain and snowy conditions on a couple of hikes. No major downpours or snow, just light varieties of both.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The one thing I really like about the Wasatch pack is that it seems to hold a lot of stuff. I have for the most part been carrying a water bottle in the outside pocket and my other gear and food in the main pockets; with this arrangement, I feel it holds all the equipment I typically need for a day hike. The large mesh pocket on the outside is great for storing an extra layer or rain jacket. I am fairly minimalistic on day hikes and am not usually carrying excessive amounts of clothing or anything like climbing gear.

Wasatch pack in useWasatch front straps

As I thought, the pockets are great for organizing. I can stow larger items like an insulating layer in the largest compartment and have my smaller items in the second zippered pocket, so they don't get lost. The pockets on the hipbelt also allow me to have a camera, snack, or my sunglasses easily at hand. One other nice feature on the hipbelt pockets is the elastic strap on the inside which keeps items from falling out if the pocket is left open. This has come in handy a couple times, preventing damage to my camera.

Hipbelt Pocket



The compression straps allow the pack to compress very well. I initially had some concerns that the lower internal compression system wasn't really doing very much but after a few uses I think that it really does keep items in the bottom of the pack from flopping around. The only problem with the lower straps and loops is that they tend to hang down below the pack and can be annoying when walking. I was able to take the loops and tuck them in a slot under the hipbelt pockets which seemed to help.

I noted that the pack tends to fit very close to the body I can feel the flex of the hipbelt and shoulder straps when I go to bend over or move in an awkward way. I would say this is a plus for the Wasatch pack.

I haven't used a hydration bladder much with the pack. I did use the pack a couple times with about 2 L in a bladder. I found that feeding the tubing was relatively easy. The bladder took up quite a bit of interior space when I wanted to carry a few more items. My feeling is that this is fine in warmer conditions but when the temperatures turned colder, I was looking for the additional space.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Over the last couple months I have used the Wasatch Pack on four day hikes in the central Maryland area. The hikes ranged from 4 to 8 miles (6 to 13 km) in length. All these hikes were on well maintained but often rocky trails in Seneca Creek State Park or in the C & O Canal National Historic Park. The temperatures ranged from 20 to 45 F (-7 to 7 C) and usually clear or overcast skies. I did take one of these hikes during a light snowfall with approximately six inches of snow already on the ground.

I also used the pack during one orienteering event in Greenbelt Park. This race was 3 miles (5 km) in length and was definitely off-trail. I also used the pack for three regular street runs. These were typically 2 to 3 miles (3 to 5 km) on the streets near where I work. The temperatures during these events were about 28 to 37 F (-2 to 3 C) and all during clear weather.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I still love how much this small pack seems to hold. I can usually get all that I need stuffed into the various compartments. On my hike in the snow, I wanted to see how much I could really bring along. I usually try to carry a minimal amount of stuff but was able to fit a water bottle, a quart (1L)sized bag with various survival items, an extra layer of clothing, a closed cell foam sit pad, a silnylon poncho tarp and some snacks into the pack. Certainly this was heavier than normal but I felt that it rode pretty well on my back and do not have any complaints.

IMAGE 1

I have also been focusing a little more using the pack with a hydration bladder. I typically would fill a bladder with about 2 L of water for a run or an orienteering race just to see how the pack performed. I find that threading the hose through the openings in the pack is pretty easy. When running or orienteering I'm not normally carrying much else and have tried to compress the pack as much as possible. I can get it to a small shape but I have noticed that even if I cinch down the lower internal compression loops that the bladder seems to flop around more than I would like. Also if I did use these internal compression straps the loops tended to dangle quite a bit I needed to tuck them into spaces on the hip belt to keep them from snagging on branches and such.

The pack has really shown little wear other than a couple of scuff marks on the bottom from setting it down on rocks. While using the pack in the snow, I did notice that the items inside the main pack were pretty dry. The items in the mesh pockets, not so much, which is to be expected. This wasn't one of our recent monster snowstorms but I was pleased to see that most of my equipment stayed dry.


SUMMARY

The Gregory Wasatch pack is a day pack which is large enough to hold a two liter hydration bladder and also has lots of pockets to organize gear. When not used as a hydration pack, the Wasatch Pack has plenty of space for carrying gear for a day hike. The pack fits close to the body but the shoulder and hip belts stretch during movement. One drawback is that the sternum strap needs to be carefully adjusted for a comfortable fit.

Things I like:

1. Lots of space
2. Hipbelt pockets
3. Pockets great for organizing

Things I don't like:

1. Sternum strap
2. Small haul loop
3. Hydration bladders flop around when running

This concludes my testing of the Gregory Wasatch Pack. I would like to thank Gregory and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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