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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Gregory Sage 55 or Savant 58 pack > Test Report by Brett Haydin
Gregory Mountain Products Savant 58 Backpack
Test Series by Brett Haydin
Initial Report - April 4, 2012
Field Report - June 12, 2012
Long Term Report - August 14, 2012
I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.
Product Information & Specifications
Manufacturer: Gregory Mountain Products
Manufacturer's Website: www.gregorypacks.com
Listed Weight: 3 lb 14 oz (1.76 kg)
Measured Weight: 3 lb 13 oz (1.73 kg)
Torso Length: fits 20 - 22 in (51 - 56 cm)
Volume: 62 L (3,783 cu in)
Color Tested: Indigo Blue (also available in Thundercloud Black and Cinder Cone Red)
Size Tested: Large (also available in medium and small)
Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty for the original owner. Registration available on the website.
Product DescriptionThe Gregory Savant 58L Backpack is an overnight pack that is part of the manufacturer's "All Mountain" line of packs. This pack has a number of features that I have never used with a backpack and is large enough in volume for multi-day hikes. The Savant is an internal frame backpack that does not have torso adjustments. The frame is a "wishbone" frame made of 4 mm (0.16 in) gauge wire, well in the shape of a wishbone. It is flexible and I should be able to bend it if I need to shape the contours for my back, but the pack fits well so I may just leave it alone. The back of the pack is padded with cross-ridged foam covered in a moisture-wicking mesh. This suspension system is Gregory's "Intuition 3D" system and there is a good description of the technical components on the manufacturer's website.
The Savant has a single compartment for the interior; there is no separate sleeping bag compartment with this bag. The main compartment can be accessed by the top or from the front thanks to a zippered access panel in a horseshoe design. The exterior is constructed from a sturdy nylon that seems especially durable. This is great since I will be on a lot of mountains during this testing period. The top of the pack is fitted with a unique cover that includes a roll-top zipper to help keep water out of the already water-resistant fabric. Like many other packs I have owned, this one has a zippered compartment on the bottom of the cover; I usually keep my maps and notebooks in there. The Gregory logo is attractively printed on the exterior of the hood.
The top entry is secured with a nifty pull-cord cinch strap. There is a loop of nylon webbing on the back side of the opening that I can hold onto while pulling the cord. One nice thing is that the pull-cord can be released by tugging on the spring lock thanks to another loop of nylon webbing. There is also a compression strap that extends over the top of the opening and is secured with a quick release buckle. With the cover pulled back, I can see there is a separate access to the hydration pouch, pictured above. I had a heck of a time finding the opening at first, since the hydration pouch is clearly visible from the inside. The pouch is large enough to fit my 3L (100 fl oz) reservoir. The hydration hose comes right out the same opening and can be strung through a nylon loop on either shoulder strap.
There are mesh pockets on both sides of the pack for water bottles or other items. The mesh fabric is pleated with an elastic hem at the top. The mesh fabric feels very durable; way more than other packs I have owned. On my right side (as I wear the pack) there is a nifty zippered pocket tucked away behind the mesh pocket. Ingenious! Also notable are the two gear loops at the bottom of the pack for my ice axe and poles. There are also hook and loop tabs near the top of the pack to secure the poles and axe when I need them. I also see there are compression straps on the bottom of the pack that connect to quick release buckles on the bottom of the horseshoe shaped front panel. These straps have adjustable plastic slides.
There are also straps that secure the top pocket by quick-release buckles. These straps extend from the bottom 1/4 of the pack to the lid. On the side of the pack there are even more compression straps that zig zag down the sides. Oh, before I forget, there are also attachment points on the side of the horseshoe shaped front access panel. In case my humor is lost, let me point out that there are a lot of straps, attachment points and loops. I haven't even mentioned the load lifters on the shoulder straps yet! Before I get there, let me talk about the front access panel. There is a hook and loop closure on the bottom that stores the included rain cover. The rain cover is perfectly pitted and held in place by an elastic hem. There is also a pouch built into the entire panel so I can shove a wet jacket in there after the rain dies down. When I shove my hand into the pouch, I can feel that there is a mesh opening for water to drain out of. Nice touch Gregory!
The shoulder straps (harness) are constructed of a 12 mm (0.47 in) EVA foam fitted with moisture wicking mesh. The sternum strap slides easily up and down a tongue and groove slider. I mentioned there are load lifters on the back and I can easily reach them even with the rain cover on. The waist belt uses a 10 mm (0.39 in) EVA foam also fitted with moisture-wicking mesh and has mesh zippered pockets on both sides! These pockets are nice and large and I can shove my whole fist in them. The waist strap is made of 1.5 in (3.8 cm) nylon webbing secured by a plastic quick-release buckle.
Initial ImpressionsThe Gregory Savant 58 is exactly what I expected. There are a lot of features and it may take some experimentation to find how to best use them all, like the almost-hidden zippered pocket. I like the idea of a reach around pocket, but with two front pockets on the waist belt it may not be needed. What I can say is that the pack is exceptionally well crafted. There are no obvious manufacturing flaws and the quality of material is excellent. I don't like the feel of the mesh; it feels almost too hard and stiff for mesh. However, it may soften up over time or I may find that it really doesn't bother me in the end.
It has been a while since I used a backpack with a single main compartment. I'm looking forward to it again frankly. The idea of the external (sort of) hydration pouch is pretty nifty. Not that I fill up a lot while on the trail, it may be really great to be able to take the reservoir out without having to unpack my pack. All of the components of this pack seem to function as intended, so I suppose it is time to try it out!
Trying it outAnd try it out I did! I took the pack along with me backcountry snowboarding this past weekend and even my friends commented on how many straps there were. For some it was a little confusing. Nonetheless, the pack fits like a glove on my frame and had enough space for the backcountry equipment we needed. I did find that there are a couple of features I may need to play around with. For example, the gear loops are overlapped by the bottom compression straps. I'm not sure how this will play out with an ice axe and poles attached to them. The hook and loop tabs that secure these seem a little short, but the equipment I had on hand seemed to work just fine. As I play around with the pack more, I should be able to test the limits.
My second backpacking trip in Colorado was a 2 night backpack into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to Lake Como, which serves as a base camp area for several 14,000+ ft (4,270 m) peaks. The hike in was 4 mi (6.4 km) with an additional 6 mi (9.7 km) of hiking in the basin to Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point. We camped along the shore of Lake Como at 11,740 ft (3,578 m) in a grassy area. The terrain ran from crushed gravel to subalpine forests to tundra and a lot of talus slopes. We did encounter a bit of class III scrambling (intentionally) as well. We had relatively great weather, but the second night was cut short by graupel (snow pellets) and subfreezing temperatures. I did not have the opportunity to test the rain cover under these conditions since I had the pack in the vestibule of my tent. Rather than risk a dicey summit hike on day three, we considered ourselves fortunate and left early.
My other trips were intended to be backpacking trips, but my partners for these hikes were not so inclined to hike into the woods so I slept at the trailheads. The camping spots were snow free at an elevation of roughly 10,500 ft ( 3,200 m). The overnight temperatures fell to 40 F (4 C). The first hike involved backcountry snowboarding and I attached my snowboard to the Savant. This trip was a summit of Handies Peak, near Lake City, Colorado. The other trip was a summit hike of North Maroon Peak near Aspen, Colorado.
The roll top lid is a bit useless to me. I've thought about this and I generally keep my dry rain gear in the lid for easy access plus if it was raining, the rain cover would keep the lid protected as best as I can tell. It isn't hard to use, it just seems redundant to me. I am also not a big fan of the placement of the pouch for the hydration reservoir. The opening is wide enough, but like any fully packed pack, replacing a full reservoir is almost impossible with everything still packed inside. This pouch is awkward to use.
The placement of the attachment points is just about perfect. I have put my snowboard, crampons, helmet, and other odds and ends with clips, straps and bendable ties. All have worked well so far and best of all they don't interfere with any other straps! The lower compression straps are a bit more challenging. With the way they are set up it can be tricky to fully secure items on the bottom of the pack. In the image to the left (or above depending on your screen), I strapped my tent in this place. The tent did fall out once, but I could also say it was user error. Another issue with the compression straps is they lie directly over the ice axe/trekking pole loops.
I love that there are two zippered pouches, one on either side of the waist belt. Both of them are mesh pockets, but I wish one was not. I put my camera there for easy access, and the other I generally have a snack, but the mesh provides no protection from foul weather.
The pack is very comfortable to wear. So far, I have had no issues with the straps slipping which is a big plus in my book. I can reach around and get access to the mesh side pockets when I need to. The elastic straps on the openings are not very stretchy, so getting items back in usually requires some assistance from my partners. I have not seen any signs of wear to date, so durability is excellent.
Field ConditionsOver the final two months of this series, I have been on two additional overnight backpacking trips. This brings my total to 5 nights backpacking as well as 7 other day hikes throughout the testing period. My pack weight was 35-45 lbs (16-20 kg)
My first trip was a solo hike to Blue Lakes near Ouray, CO. This 9 mi (14.5 km) out-and-back hike to high alpine lakes at 11,720 ft (3,570 m) sports excellent views of Mt Sneffels. The terrain was along a good trail through subalpine forests with temperatures between 40 and 75 F (4 and 24 C). The weather was overcast at times, but the rain missed me.
My final overnight backpacking trip was to the Gunnison National Forest near Crested Butte, Colorado for an overnight with my family. Because of our young son, the hike was short at 1 mi (1.6 km) with little elevation gain. We camped at approximately 9,000 ft (2,700 m) along a creek in typical mountain terrain; rocky and in the shade of pine trees! My pack was a little heavier with additional items for my kids and weighed about 50 lb (23 kg)
My day hikes included several family hikes with my kids in the San Isabel National Forest. The distance of these hikes ranged from 1 - 9.5 mi (1.6 - 15 km). The hikes were in generally mild weather with no significant precipitation and temperatures comparable to my backpacking trips, although at times a bit warmer up to 90 F (32 C).
What I like about this pack is that the load carries very well. The waist straps are comfortable and when trudging down the mountain after a full day, the pack isn't swaying back and forth like a pendulum. The load lifters are easy to grab and pull as well.
This pack is pretty light considering the features. With the additional sleeve for the hydration reservoir and the daisy chain straps on the sides, I would have expected a bit more weight to it. I don't know how they did it, but I appreciate that it doesn't weigh in at an obnoxious level. The durability has not suffered either. The bottom of the pack shows a few signs of sitting on rocks and dirt, but no tearing or fraying of the fabric so far The seams are holding up well and the zippers all work as I would expect.
I haven't used the rain cover much while hiking, only because of fair weather during the day. I do use it at night, which is a plus. I have experimented with it a few times and it does have the ability to accommodate items strapped on the outside. I don't have tips for my ice axe so I will need to be careful. There are other ways to store an ice axe than with the gear loops, or I could just by rubber tips!
The Gregory Savant 58 has been a versatile and comfortable pack for me. Here are my highlights:
Pros: Spacious, light, versatile, comfortable to wear and durable. Carries a load very well, hydration compatible and great attachment points.
Cons: Some features seem to be poorly executed (placement of lower compression strap and the side mesh pockets have little stretch in the elastic), rear entry hydration sleeve is difficult to access.
I do like this pack and I am sure I will keep it in my gear closet for the time being. I don't know that it will be my "go to" overnight pack, but the features I like do not exist on other packs and so I'll likely use it sooner than later!
This concludes my test series. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Gregory Mountain Products for their generosity as well as BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this series.
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