GREGORY CONTOUR 60 BACKPACK
TEST SERIES BY MARK THOMPSON
January 12, 2014
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markthompson 242 at gmail dot com
Parker, Colorado, USA
6' 0" (2.10 m)
170 lb (77.10 kg)
Outdoor adventures started for me at an early age, my passions have grown to include backpacking, rock climbing, hiking, hunting, fishing, canoeing, cycling, skiing and snowshoeing. Most of my adventures presently take place in Colorado's amazing Rocky Mountains. For trail hikes, my pack typically weighs 15 lbs/7 kg (summer/fall), 25 lbs/11 kg (winter/spring) and trail speed ranges from 2.5 - 4 mph (4 - 6 km/h) depending on elevation gain. For backpack trips, my pack weighs 40 - 45 lbs (18 - 20 kg) and my trail speed drops to 1.5 - 3.0 mph (2 - 5 km/h).
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Gregory Mountain Products
Year of Manufacture: unknown (assume 2013)
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.gregorypacks.com
Capacity: 62 Liters (3,783 cu in)
MSRP: US $ not listed on manufacturer's site
Listed Weight: 4 lb 2 oz (1.87 kg)
Measured Weight: 4 lb 2 oz (1.87 kg)
Colors: available in Thunder Cloud Reflex blue, Graphite gray, Electric yellow
Color of unit being tested: Graphite gray
Additional information from manufacturer's website:
- The Contour 60 is listed in Gregory's "Backpacking" pack line
- Equipped with the Response TM LT Suspension system and a Wishbone Wire frame
- A new Trail Smart TM Packing System designed to allow easier access to trail items while packing heavier camp items closer to your back
- The top pocket is water-resistant
- Easy external hydration access
- Two top pockets, large front pocket, twin oversized side pockets, dual waistbelt pockets and a side stash security pocket
- Includes a color-matched rain cover
- Designed for loads to 45 lbs (20 kg)
My initial impression is that this is a specific purpose built backpack loaded with great features. In my "normal" backpacking adventures, I have often been challenged with keeping everything organized, especially the stuff that I want to reach easily. With many backpacks, the design requires that most items be placed in the large main compartment so I am left to stuff my trail food, first aid kit, map, compass, hat, gloves, etc., into the one top pocket.
The Contour 60 addresses this with several pockets and features, from the bottom up:
- two waistbelt pockets, one I plan to use for my camera and the other for easy access trail food.
- A rain cover with it's own zippered pocket and leash (to prevent loss)
- Two tool loops are ingeniously sewn into compression straps
- A deep enclosure that is sewn on three sides and having a quick connect strap to close the top
- Underneath the quick connect enclosure is a medium sized zippered pocket which contains two more internal pockets
- The main compartment is accessible from the top via a draw type enclosure or from the side via a long zipper
- There are two side compartments designed to carry trekking/tent poles or long cylindrical items
- A hydration sleeve (a feature that is vital for me as I drink a considerable amount of water on the trail) that is externally accessible
- The top of the pack is fitted with a water resistant cover that contains two additional pockets
Gregory Mountain Products have long boasted of their dedication to superior suspension systems. The Contour appears to be keeping with this long-standing tradition.
This looks like another awesome product from Gregory! I am especially enthusiastic about Gregory Mountain Products design team's focus on usability while keeping the pack's weight in check!
- lots of usable compartments
- design focus on usability
- low weight
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have had the pleasure of testing Gregory's Contour 60 Backpack throughout Colorado's Rocky Mountains. My adventures with this pack covered 9 days and 4 nights, specifically:
- Backpack trip, July 2013
Location: Near Crestone, CO
Trip, pack in, camp overnight, summit Kit Carson and Challenger Point, then pack out
Total distance: 12.4 miles (20 km)
Total elevation gain: 6,323 feet (1,927 m)
Temperature range: 45 - 85 deg F (7 - 30 deg C)
- Car camping trip, August 2013
Location: Near Lake City, CO
Day trips to Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre Peaks
Total distance: 15.5 miles (25 km)
Total elevation gain: 6,259 (1,908 m)
Temperature range: 50 - 80 deg F (10 - 27 deg C)
- Rock climbing, September 2013
Location: Staunton State Park, CO
Scout out rock climbing areas and get in a pitch or two
Total distance: approx. 4 miles (6.4 km)
Temperature range: 40 - 75 deg F (4 - 24 deg C)
- Rock Climbing, October 2013
Location: Castlewood Canyon State Park, CO
Short hike to one of my favorite top rope rock climbing venues
Temperature range: 50 - 75 deg F (10 - 24 deg C)
Protected from winds
- Backpacking, October 2013
Location: Near Minturn, CO
Pack in to East Lake, camp, attempt to summit Mount of the Holy Cross, the descend and pack out
Total distance: 10.4 miles (17 km)
Total elevation gain: 5,000 feet (1,524 m)
Temperature range: 24 - 62 deg F (-4 to 17 deg C)
On the summit of Kit Carson
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
So far I have enjoyed this pack very much. The varied and numerous pockets and storage options have caused me to rethink how to best utilize the space while keeping the pack balanced and the load properly distributed. Clearly, the hydration bladder has a designated place and I have used this feature consistently throughout the test.
I have found that I prefer to store quick access items in the upper most pocket of the hood and primarily store food in the lower zippered hood compartment. The bottom of the main compartment (of internal frame packs) tends to get my sleeping bag (in a compression stuff sack), then, going up from there, are extra clothes, tent (or bivy) sleeping pad and stove. Within the next layered pocket (on the outside of the main compartment) I tend to store my first aid kit, ready need clothes and other 10 essentials that I don't typically think of as "quick access" items.
On one side of the pack, using one of the water bottle pockets, I pack my tent (or bivy) poles. There are two gear loops for attaching items to the outside of the pack, but I wish there were a couple more. I did use the lower exterior straps for a closed cell foam pad on one occasion, but I tend to prefer my inflatable pad for 3-season trips.
As I do enjoy taking pictures, I make frequent use of waistband pockets. The Contour has two pockets, but the size and shape are not as accommodating as other waistband pockets I have experienced. I found that I could not fully close the pocket I use for my camera (a point and shoot digital). I also miss having gear loops on the waistband that are featured on other Gregory packs.
Of the many things I enjoy about this pack, one of my favorites has to be how well the pack accommodates different sizes of loads. On an overnight trip, carrying a tent, stove, food etc., the pack stores all my items with ease. What makes this pack different though, is how well it compresses when I am going on a day hike and leave the heavier and bulkier items behind.
After carrying this pack for over 40 miles (64 km) I have been very pleased with how comfortable it has been. My specific comments include:
well designed and skillful execution
great weight to feature ratio
great pocket location
wonderful compression design
waist pockets lost some functionality due to stylish shape
I would like a gear loop on the waistband for hanging small items
A couple more gear loops on the pack would be nice
Overall, a great pack!
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I was able to get in a few more overnight and day trips before being sidelined with a rotator cuff injury, and since, have been able to get in a few light day hikes. In total, my adventures with this pack have covered 15 days and 5 nights, all within the State of Colorado. Adventures have included:
- Backpack trip, November, 2013
Location: Colorado Trail, near Bailey Co
Total Distance: 13.4 miles (21.5 km)
Total Elevation Gain: 1,450 feet (442 m)
Weather: Mostly sunny, mild winds (especially calm below treeline)
Temperatures: 20 to 50 deg F (-7 to 10 deg C)
- Ice Climbing Trip, November, 2013
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, Loch Valle Falls
Total Distance: 6 miles (9.7 km)
Total Elevation Gain: 800 feet (244 m)
Weather: Sunny with clear skies
Temperatures: 12 to 36 deg F (-11 to 2 deg C)
- Snowshoe, December, 2013
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, Old Fall RIver Road
Total Distance: 5 miles (8 km)
Total Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet (305 m)
Weather: Overcast with winds at 15 mph (24 kmph)
Temperatures: 18 deg F (-8 deg C)
- Recovery Hike,December, 2013
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, Loch Valle Falls
Total Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Total Elevation Gain: 600 feet (183 m)
Weather: Overcast with winds 25 to 40 mph (40 to 64 kmph)
Temperatures: 12 to 14 deg F (-11 to -10 deg C)
- Hike, December, 2013
Location: Mt St Vrain, Allenspark, CO
Total Distance: 5.5 miles (8.7 km)
Total Elevation Gain: 950 feet (290 m)
Weather: Sunny with mild winds below treeline
Temperatures: 24 to 28 def F (-4 to -2 deg C)
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
This pack has been very impressive, despite the abuses, unintended uses and challenges that I have subjected upon this fine piece of equipment. The pack is clearly designed for backpacking and encourages the user to limit the volume and weight of their gear to, what I consider, moderate levels. The manufacturer's website shows the "comfort zone" of this pack to be up to 45 lbs (20 kg). Clearly, I wouldn't attempt Mt Rainier with this pack, Gregory makes plenty of other packs that would be better suited for such an expedition.
On my trip to Mount of the Holy Cross (field report), I struggled to find a really solid means for attaching my snowshoes. I used a some straps and accessory cord and it all worked out, but the limited number of tie downs prevented this arrangement from being ideal. During my ice climbing trip, I experienced similar issues. As a matter of habit, I prefer not to put my crampons inside my packs (as they have sharp points which tend to poke holes in things) and, when I am done using them, they are typically wet and possibly muddy.
I had similar carrying issues with my ice tools. The straps provided are great for a lot of things, but, ice tools or ice axes are not one of them. They did actually work and hold on to the tools without dropping, I don't mean this all as a negative, just that I was using the pack in ways that the designers had not intended. Should Gregory be so inclined, minor design changes could be made to accommodate these other sports, but again, this is pack is designed for backpacking, not technical ice climbing etc.
On my various hikes, I was quite pleased with the very high level of comfort afforded by the pack regardless of the weight or volume, a true testament to the quality of design and construction. The materials selected were superbly complimented by the wishbone design and met every challenge and despite the varying terrain, sport or weather. The pack easily exceeded my expectations.
I have really been impressed with this pack! It did take me a while to become familiar with and accustomed to the many pockets and how to best utilize them and to ensure how to keep the weight close to my back and as high a possible. The time spent learning how to best pack gear was well worth the effort! Overall:
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
- Great design
- Superb fit ensures optimal comfort
- Compression system functions flawlessly
- Pocket location, size and design (on back of pack) are wonderful
- Waist pockets are too small
My comments remain the same from my field report:
- Gear loops on the waist belt would be great
- Additional tie down points for carrying external items on pack would add functionality
A sincere thank you to Gregory Mountain Products and BackpackGearTest.org for providing for and facilitating this test series.
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Read more gear reviews by Mark Thompson