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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Gregory Sage 55 or Savant 58 pack > Test Report by Mark Thompson

GREGORY SAVANT 58
TEST SERIES BY MARK THOMPSON
LONG-TERM REPORT
August 10, 2012

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mark Thompson
EMAIL: markthompson 242 at gmail dot com
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Parker, Colorado, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 0" (2.10 m)
WEIGHT: 190 lb (86.20 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).


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Gregory Mountain Products
Year of Manufacture: unknown (assume 2012)
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.gregorypacks.com
Size: Large
Capacity: 58 Liters (3,539 cu in)
MSRP: US $ not listed on manufacturer's site
Listed Weight: 3 lb 14 oz (1.76 kg)
Measured Weight: 3 lb 13 oz (1.73 kg)
Colors: available in Thunder Cloud Black, Cinder Cone Red, Indigo Blue
Color of unit being tested: Cinder Cone Red

Additional information from manufacturer's website:
- The Savant 58 is the largest pack in Gregory's "All Mountain" pack line
- Equipped with the Intuition 3D Suspension
- The top pocket is water-resistant
- Easy external hydration access
- Two axe/tool attachment points
- Includes a color-matched rain cover

IMAGE 1
Photo courtesy of Gregory Packs

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My initial impression is that this is a feature packed product ready to play hard! I have been seriously considering a mid-range capacity pack (the one size I didn't have in my collection) and when this test came up, I had to jump on it! The pack appears to be very well designed and constructed with a variety of outdoor pursuits in mind. My outdoor interests include: tackling Colorado's "14ers," rock climbing, snow climbing and backpacking. The various interests usually require multiple pieces of gear and several packs, but with the Savant 58, I am hopeful that this pack will meet the needs of each.

Starting from the bottom of the pack and working up:
- The bottom layer of the pack utilizes a material that appears to be extremely strong and durable, ballistic even.
- The waist-belt is nicely padded and contains two zippered pouches (I like this as my current day pack only has one which I use for my camera but I would prefer to have another for a GPS).
- Two loops for tools such as an ice axe, with corresponding hook and loop tape straps to keep the tools in place.
- Mesh pockets line each side of the pack.
- Compression straps - yes this pack has them! Seven in all.
- The outer portion of the back of the pack has a hook and loop tape secured compartment which holds the rain cover and is equipped with 8 gear attachment points on the back of the pack.
- Under this outer compartment is a large horseshoe shaped zipper which provides easy access to the large main compartment of the pack.
- The top of the pack is fitted with a water resistant cover/dual compartment that also serves as the upper portion of the compression system.
- Gregory's suspension system is well known as one of the best in the industry and the Savant 58 carries on the tradition with their Intuition 3D system.
- The pack is hydration compatible and includes external access - simply unclasp three fasteners and the bladder is readily accessible - much easier than most packs I have seen!

IMAGE 2
Here the Savant 58 and its corresponding rain cover are shown side by side.

IMAGE 3
This picture shows the bottom of the pack and the hook and loop tape enclosure which contains the rain cover and a restraining leash (cool feature to keep from losing the rain cover!).

IMAGE 4
I stuffed the largest pillow I own in the main compartment in an effort to "puff out" the pack (there was still lots of room left!). The horseshoe zipper is opened to show the fantastic access into the main compartment, as well as the tool loops and waist pockets.

IMAGE 5
Having been in the military, one of the things I found really useful was the MOdular Light weight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) system on flak-jackets. Essentially, the MOLLE system is a cross patterned webbing system that provides a superb system for attaching gear. Gregory has done a neat job of incorporating this design into the pack. So often I find that I can't fit all of my gear inside the pack (snowshoes etc.) and I have longed to find a pack that incorporated a MOLLE type system for attaching gear.

IMAGE 6
I have found that my other packs did not make it easy to secure the other end of my tools to the pack. Some designs have elastic cords which require additional effort or manipulation to keep everything secure. Gregory's inclusion of the hook and loop tape straps should correct this problem.

IMAGE 7
So many of the packs I have owned require multiple zippers to insert/remove the bladder - why? The Savant 58 merely requires unclasping three quick connect fasteners and easy access is obtained, well done!


This pack really appears to have a lot of the features I want and need. I consume a lot of water so a hydration compatible pack is essential. I have been using my 36 liter (2,197 cu in) pack for most of my day hikes, but found that it lacked a good place to tie items on the outside (ex: snowshoes) nor did it provide a good place to affix a climbing rope or climbing protection (aka: "pro"). Certainly, the 36 liter (2,197 cu in) pack was too small for my style of backpacking to take it on any type of planned overnight adventure. One of my smaller hydration packs has an integrated rain cover which I really liked but is missing from the 36 liter (2,197 cu in) pack. The Savant 58 has all of these features and more!

TRYING IT OUT

When selecting the size for the pack, I altered my normal approach of finding a local retailer and trying it on first and opted to follow the online steps for size selection. With some assistance, I measured my torso at 19" (48.3 cm) which fell right in the middle of the chart for a "Medium." The pack arrived in the size requested, however, the fit didn't seem right. I then visited a local retailer and confirmed my fears that I did in fact, need the next size up. Regardless of who is to blame, the superb customer service at Gregory readily exchanged the product and I am off and running!

SUMMARY

I am really looking forward to testing this pack. It has so many of the features that I have wanted in a pack that, if I didn't know better, Gregory was reading my mind!
Pros:
- Tons of features!
- Superior suspension system
- Great places to tie external gear
- Hydration compatible
- Tool loops with corresponding hook and loop tape tie downs
- Easy access to main compartment (both from top and horseshoe zipper)!

Cons:
- none!


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have certainly enjoyed testing this pack in a variety of conditions around the wonderful State of Colorado. Although, too many to list, here are some of the great places I have visited:

Location: Boulder County, Colorado
Date: 21 Apr 2012
Test time: 9 hours
Load: 40 lbs (18.2 kg)
Conditions: sunny and warm, hiked on a well established trail for a little over one hour, then went off trail exploring

Location:Boulder County, Colorado
Date: 28 Apr 2012
Test time: 8 hours
Load: 35 lbs (16 kg)
Conditions: cool, windy, clear, hiked in to our training location on a steep but well established trail and proceeded to spend much of the day conducting training on technical rock climbing (with packs). We returned via the same route.

Location: St Mary's Glacier, Colorado
Date: 5 May 2012
Test time: 8 hours
Load: 30 lbs (13.6 kg)
Conditions: beautiful sunny day, hiked in on a rough trail, then spent most of the day on the hard snow pack of the glacier

Location: Wild Basin Area, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Date: 19 - 20 May 2012
Test time: 9 hours inclusive
Load: 35 lbs (16 kg)
Conditions: the weather was less than cooperative on this adventure. Temperatures hovered around freezing with wind, snow, rain and no sun. The trail was well established for much of the day. We did do some off trail exploring, all of which was below treeline.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have really tried to put this pack through its paces and I have been very happy with most of features and capabilities this pack has to offer! The features that set this pack apart:

- Gregory has certainly done well to keep up with and even remain ahead of the "pack" with regards to product size and weight. The Savant 58 weighs in at a lean 3 lb 14 oz (1.76 kg), yet retains the features I want and need in a pack of this size.
- although, almost an industry standard now, the integrated hydration support is crucial.
- outside tool storage is superb - I truly love the loops with corresponding "hook and loop tape" design as this makes it so easy to attach and retrieve an ice axe or ice tool
- dual zippered pockets on the waist band are superb! The size and location work extremely well and I am thankful that they went the extra distance to put one on each side of the waist band!
- the "MOLLE" system I described in the IR works great! So often I struggle with attaching crampons and snow shoes. I really dislike having to put my crampons inside the pack as they will inevitably puncture something (hopefully not my bladder) or, at the end of a climb, get everything wet and muddy.

IMAGE 1
Although, not my desire, I did test the rain cover (did I mention that I hate rain?) It was certainly great to have an integrated rain cover as I could quickly protect my gear (down sweaters and the like) from the elements.

IMAGE 2
However, I must admit that the location and mounting of my ice axe kept the rain cover from being fully effective. I am not sure how to overcome this obstacle, but certainly the rain cover was less effective with an axe/tool attached to the pack (as intended) than it was without.


As with almost every product, I find there are a few items I would like to alter or modify and the Savant 58 is no exception. Here are some improvement opportunities from my humble perspective:
- in the interest of weight savings, the suspension system is not as robust as other products in Gregory's line up. I specifically noticed that the portion of the system between my shoulder blades would flex under heavy loads (i.e. class III scrambling with 35 or more pounds [16 or more kg]). I understand that this is at the upper limit (or above) the recommend weight carrying capacity suggested by Gregory.
- I also noticed that the pack wasn't as comfortable as other Gregory products after a long day of hiking with the pack loaded at full capacity. I attribute this to a lighter suspension system. I really struggle with this as the pack is very light so I am able to carry more gear weight (instead of pack weight) but, assume that with every positive point, there is a cost.
- last (and a very minor one at that) I would love to have gear loops on the waist belt like the ones on the Gregory Tarne 36. I find these so useful for clipping minor things to (I specifically have a watch/altimeter device that I like to keep within easy reach).

SUMMARY

This is a great pack. Most of my testing usage so far has been more specific to mountaineering rather than backpacking, so my pros and cons are geared towards mountaineering:

Pros:
- great size pack for rock climbing and mountaineering
- easy storage for rock protection (aka "rock pro")
- good comfort to about 30 pounds (13.6 kilos)
- integrated rain cover which works exceptionally well when everything is stowed inside the pack

Cons:
- suspension system flexes at and above carrying capacity (although I can't fault it for flexing above)
- rain cover doesn't accommodate ice axe/tool well

I am being super particular with the "cons" and recognize that I am pushing the pack to its limits and sometimes beyond. I am not sure how to accommodate a 65 cm (25.5 in) ice tool with three sharp points inside or outside the rain cover other than to just deal with it (maybe a challenge to a young engineering intern).


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have tested this pack on almost every adventure I have taken during the four month test cycle. Although I haven't been out of Colorado during these adventures, I have certainly put the pack through a rigorous series of tests.

Location: Humboldt Peak, Colorado
Date: 2 - 3 June 2012
Test time: 8 hours
Load: 35 lbs (16 kg)
Conditions: The trail to South Colony Lakes had been a forest service road so it was nice, wide and presented an easy hike. The hike from South Colony Lakes to the summit of Humboldt Peak was in good shape and presented no major difficulties. The trail is rated as "Class 2."

Location: Boulder County, Colorado
Date: 16 June 2012
Test time: 9 hours
Load: 30 lbs (14 kg)
Conditions: warm and sunny, short trail hike up steep terrain to rock climbing area

Location: Boulder County, Colorado
Date: 23 June 2012
Test time: 9 hours
Load: 30 lbs (14 kg)
Conditions: warm and sunny, short trail hike with class 3 scrambling up to rock climbing area

Location: Boulder County, Colorado
Date: 30 June 2012
Test time: 9 hours
Load: 30 lbs (14 kg)
Conditions: warm and sunny, short trail hike with class 3 scrambling up to rock climbing area

Location: Chaffee County, Colorado
Date: 2 - 4 July 2012
Test time: 12 hours
Load: 20 - 35 lbs (9 - 16 kg)
Conditions: This was a two and a half day, peak bagging trip with goals of gaining the summits of Mt Antero and Mt Princeton. The weather conditions ranged from rain at night to bluebird days. The trail conditions ranged from forest service roads to scrambling on loose rock.


Location: Maroon Peak, near Aspen, Colorado
Date: 9 - 10 July 2012
Test time: 16 hours
Load: 20 to 35 lbs (9 to 16 kg)
Conditions: warm and sunny during the day, hiked up well established trail from trail head to campsite (approx 3.5 miles [6 km]). Pack load on this portion was 35 lbs (15.9 kg). The following morning, we hiked up a steep mountaineers trail followed by class 3 scrambling to summit and return. Pack load on the climbing portion was 20 lbs (9 kg).

IMAGE 1

Location: Boulder County, Colorado
Date: 14 July 2012
Test time: 7 hours
Load: 20 lbs (9 kg)
Conditions: easy hike to base of rock climb

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Throughout the entire test period, I have loaded the pack within and above the manufacturer's stated capacity, yet, the pack performed exceptionally well. It certainly required a fair amount of adjustment for me to change from my old external frame pack to this new, sleek, high tech model, but I seem to have made the adjustment.

During my trips to Humboldt Peak and Maroon Peak, it took a concentrated effort for me to reduce my load to 35 lbs (16 kg) as my standard load has been 40 - 45 lbs (18 - 20 kg) for years. I was also concerned about how I could possibly fit my sleeping bag and tent inside this pack. Fortunately, with some careful consideration, a compression sack and a few tricks, I was able to fit in everything I needed and more.

At the time, I didn't have access to a bivy sack or a single person tent, and with rain in the forecast, I had to take my trusty two person tent. The extra room afforded by a larger tent was nice, but it certainly added to the overall weight and took a fair amount of room in the pack. I did take the tent out of its stuff sack, packed the tent poles on the side of the pack and folded the tent and rain fly neatly as the next layer in the pack.

As I get older, I find that my back is less tolerant of sleeping on the rocks, so I carry a manually filled air mattress as part of my sleep system, this too adds weight and takes up room inside the pack. I found, however, that the air mattress fit nicely alongside my stove and water filter. I then added my clothes and rain gear, amazingly, it all fit with some room to spare.

In the top portion of the pack, I packed most of my 10 essentials and food. During the hike in, I utilized a water bottle in lieu of the bladder to conserve on weight and room.

After reaching camp and setting up, I repacked my pack for the following day's adventure. I kept only the 10 essentials, food and clothing but filled my bladder with 3 liters of water. This obviously reduced the weight of the pack significantly, but I was very impressed with how the compression system on the pack adapted to the significant changes in load and made a tight and compact unit without having loose material flapping in the wind.

SUMMARY

The Gregory Savant 58 has proven its mettle as a lightweight backpacking pack and the manufacturer clearly and accurately defined its capabilities. I have been very impressed with the features and comfort of this pack and its ability to shift from use as backpack to that of a day pack and a mountaineering pack.

IMAGE 2

During the Long Term Reporting period I was able to get in more backpacking specific testing. I do not consider my backpacking style "ultralight" and I tend to carry more gear in favor of safety than speed. My experiences have shown that when things are going bad, Mother Nature is going to come in and make them worse! Unfortunately, this creates a situation where I am having to be extra careful in gear selection (maybe I should anyway) but the load limits of the pack prevent me from being able to throw it in "just in case." All around, this is a great pack and certainly up to the task! I personally would find it difficult to use during winter trips due to the added gear requirements of cold temperatures.

Pros:
- great size pack for rock climbing, mountaineering and light backpacking
- easy storage for rock protection (aka "rock pro")
- super easy to attach gear to the outside of the pack
- hydration compatible
- good comfort to about 30 pounds (13.6 kg)
- integrated rain cover which works exceptionally well when everything is stowed inside the pack

Cons:
- suspension system flexes at and above carrying capacity (although I can't fault it for flexing above)
- rain cover doesn't accommodate ice axe/tool well
- the bladder pocket is snug and the opening for the tube is tight. Both work well, just requires a little more effort than other packs I have used.

Honestly, this is a great pack! I am being super particular with the "cons" and recognize that I am pushing the pack to its limits and sometimes beyond.

A special thank you to Gregory and BackpackGearTest.org for affording me the opportunity to test this great pack!

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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