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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Gregory Targhee 45 pack > Test Report by Edwin Morse

GREGORY TARGEE 45
TEST SERIES BY EDWIN MORSE
LONG-TERM REPORT
July 16, 2014

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

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Edwin Morse
EMAIL: ed dot morse at charter dot net
AGE: 76
LOCATION: Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lb (32 kg) with food but no water. Since then I have made one-to-two week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida. Now my pack weighs between 22 and 32 lb (10 and 15 kg). I'm slowly learning what lighter gear works.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Gregory Mountain Products
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://gregorypacks.com/
MSRP: US$199
Listed Weight: 78 oz (2211 g)
Conflicting information: the website lists 4 lb 14 oz while the hang tag on the pack indicates 3 lb 14 oz, or 62 oz (1758 g)
Measured Weight: 63 oz (1786 g)
Other details: The following size information was copied from the website.
The Gregory Targee 45 is available in three sizes. The Small, volume of 42 L, Wt 1.64 kg (3 lb 10 oz, Torso 41-46 cm / 16-18 in.
The Medium, volume of 45 L, Wt 1.81 kg /4 lb 14 oz, Torso 46-51 cm / 18-20 in.
The Large, volume of 48 L, Wt 1.87 kg / 4 lb 2 oz, Torso 51-56 cm / 20-22 in.

I'm testing the size Medium. It appears to me that there is a mis-print for the weight of the size Medium.

full front view
full front view

Here is a full front view. The straps near the bottom left and right are part of the snowshoe carry system.
The Targee 45 is available in two colors; Radiant Orange and Obsidian Black.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Gregory Targee 45 appears to be a heavy duty pack that is loaded with features for winter use. There are more features than I will ever use, perhaps more than I will ever learn, or need, to use. I will start at the top to describe all the features I can both see and understand. Here is a picture showing the top lid and pocket.
top pocket
top pocket from back

This pocket opens from either side, The zipper pulls are visible on both left and right.
Here is a picture of the top lid from below with another, smaller, pocket.
top pocket bottom view
underside of top pocket

I will use this pocket to carry my billfold and keys. A snap hook is just visible below the zipper pull on the right side.
Below is a picture of the back side of the pack showing the shoulder straps.
back overall view
back view

Several things are visible in this picture. Near the top, just below the top pocket zipper, is a heavy duty carry handle. The color blends in too well but there are load lifters on each shoulder strap. A zipper runs the full length of the shoulder strap on the left, with the zipper half open and the zipper pull visible at about the center of the strap. This is the insulated hydration sleeve and the only place the tube from a hydration bladder can exit the pack. Very nice idea in a pack intended for winter use. I am curious to see if this will keep the hose and bite valve from freezing in colder weather. My practice has been to blow water back into the bladder and keep the bite valve and as much hose as possible inside my jacket as possible.

Below is a closer low view.
right shoulder strap
right shoulder strap 2

The zipper is again visible on the right shoulder strap, there is enough room for the bite valve at the bottom. A loop is visible on the right side of the hip belt. The way the loop is sewn suggests that any force should be down. I do not, yet, understand the purpose of this loop. In the picture below I have my camera tripod and a water bottle pocket on the loop.

left side hip belt pocket
left side hip belt 2

The above image shows the pocket in the left side of the hip belt. This pocket will easily hold either my camera or my GPS.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

No instructions came with the pack. There is a video on the website that reviews some features. There is a quick view of fastening skiis on the pack. Since I'm not an experienced mountain hiker and skier I would find good instructions helpful.

TRYING IT OUT

I prefer to start with basics. Whether I'm hiking, skiing or snowshoeing I need to carry water. I filled a two liter Platypus bladder and put it in the hydration sleeve. Then I worked the bite valve through the small hole and down inside the right shoulder strap. Below is a picture with the back panel unzipped.
inside back panel
back panel unzipped

The bladder is in the hydration sleeve with the hose up and through into the shoulder strap. On the left the bite valve is visible.
Here is a picture showing the hydration system in use.
hydration system in use
hydration hose

Since I had the hydration bladder and hose in place I thought I should get outside. I added a first aid kit, extra mittens and a jacket. Then I took the pack and my snowshoes to a nearby state forest ski trail. It was 5 F (-15 C) when I started snowshoeing. I went about 4.5 miles (7.3 km) which included two stretches of about one half mile (0.8 km) each on forest roads. When I got to the roads I took off the snowshoes and strapped them to the pack.

I was a bit surprised that, with the hose and bite valve zipped in the pack strap, the bite valve did not freeze. By the time I finished my short hike the temperature was up to 20 F (-7 C). I thought the pack was comfortable and carried very well, both with and without the snowshoes strapped on. The buckles are easy to use while wearing heavy gloves. The straps I used to fasten on the snowshoes were hard to get out of the little pockets

SUMMARY

The Gregory Targee 45 pack is a heavy duty day pack with many features specifically for winter activities. I really do not expect to ever use some of the features, such as the avalanche tool pockets or the ability to carry an ice ax. I expect I will carry skis on the pack at different times during the remainder of our winter weather. I have often carried skis by hand in past winters when trails got bad in late spring. Now I can carry the skis on the pack.

Likes:
The bright orange color.
The hydration sleeve and shoulder strap pocket.
Comfortable to carry.

Not so good:
Heavy weight for a day pack.



FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

March 6, 2014 I went back to Lake Dubonnet for my second outing with the Gregory Targee pack. This is a rolling and slightly hilly area in the Pere Marquette State Forest. This time I used skis to do all three loops for a total of 6.5 miles (10.5 km). The 4.5 miles (7.3 km) of the back two loops was slow going because there was about a half a foot (152 mm) of new snow on the ski tracks. The pack carried well with no problems. It was mostly cloudy and about 15 F (-9 C) with a cold wind.

March 8, 2014 I went to Dubonnet State Forest Camp Ground (SFCG) Lost Lakes trails with snowshoes and Targee pack. I hiked using the snowshoes 4.3 miles (6.9 km). I got to a road, then strapped snowshoes to pack and walked on a road/snowmobile trail, about another half mile (.8 km), back to the Jeep. Here is a picture of my snowshoes on the pack.
snowshoes on the pack
carrying snowshoes


The snowshoeing was good but tiring. Walking the hard-packed snowmobile trail back to the parking lot was much easier. It was sunny and 8 F (-13 C) when I started and went up to 14 F (-10 C) by the time I finished. I still expect my hydration bite valve to freeze but the insulated sleeve works. I kept the hose and bite valve zipped in the right shoulder strap except when I was getting a drink. I was still careful to blow the water back into the bladder each time.

March 13, 2014 I started just south of the village of Fife Lake at the Spring Lake SFCG using snowshoes. I followed a snowmobile trail to the south, since the trail was well packed I soon took off the snowshoes and strapped them to the Gregory Targee 45 pack. I followed the hard packed snowmobile trail about three miles then found the recently blazed North Country Trail (NCT). I found snowshoe tracks, which were frozen hard. I turned around and started back. This time I followed the NCT back to the Spring Lake SFCG for a total distance of about six miles (10 km).
The packed and frozen trail was good walking. The Northern Light Elite snowshoes carried easily on the Gregory Targee pack.

March 20, 2014 I parked at the corner of a paved road and an unplowed forest road in the Pere Marquette State Forest about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Traverse City, Michigan. It was cloudy and 26 F (-3 C) when I left the Jeep. We had about 2 in (51 mm) of new snow overnight. I used wide backcountry skis to ski south to the NCT. Then I followed the North Country Trail east until skiing got difficult in deep soft snow. Now the weather had changed to sunny and 42 F (6 C). I turned back and soon after getting back on 19 Rd it started getting slushy with water on ice in some places. I took off the skis and carried them on the pack. I found a place where I could mount my camera and tripod on a ski pole and get a few pictures of the skis on the pack.
easy way to carry skis
skis on pack


April 6, 2014 I met a friend at the hiker bridge over the Manistee River in the Manistee National Forest, south of the village of Mesick, Michigan. I had snowshoes on the Gregory Targee pack but I noted that Terry did not bring his snowshoes. With the temperature at 28 F (-2 C) the snow in the trail was hard enough for easy walking. We hiked south on the Manistee River Trail, stopping at 12:30 for lunch by a small creek. We had hiked 3.2 miles (5 km) and it was now a sunny 42 F (6 C).
After a long break we hiked on south, stopping often for pictures. When we finally turned back the snow was getting very soft. After climbing up a long, steep and bare hill I put on my snowshoes, which made hiking in the deep and soft snow easier but still work. Terry was having a very hard time in deep snow. I took the snowshoes off three times on the way back when we got to long stretches of bare ground, then soon put them back on when the snow got deep again.
We hiked about 12 miles (19 km) total. The return hike was more tiring than fun.

April 14, 2014 I hiked 10 miles (16 km), southwest of the village of Mesick, from Marilla Trail Head (TH) out & back on the North Country Trail. I was checking trail conditions with the snow finally mostly gone. I moved branches & located downed trees. The Marilla TH is about seven miles (11 km) southwest of the village of Mesick.

April 15, 2014 I hiked 7 miles (11 km) in the Manistee National Forest.

April 17, 2014 I hiked 4 miles (6 km) in the Pere Marquette State Forest, south of the village of Fife Lake, Michigan.

April 26, 2014 Hiked 6.5 miles (10.5 km) in the Manistee National Forest with a large group of 24 hikers.

April 27, 2014 I hiked 16.4 miles (26.4 km) with light clouds and temperature rising from 38 F (3 C) to 44 F (7 C). This section of trail, southeast of Traverse City, is very hilly with a few steep climbs. With the longer and more difficult hike there were only five in our group. I use the hydration system every time I go out hiking.

May 3, 2014 I hiked 6.5 miles (10.5 km) with a group of 9 people and two dogs. The temperature held at about 52 F (11 C) and the rain quit just before we finished the hike. Here is a picture of the whole group.
hike with a group
group hike


I carry my camera in the hip belt pocket while my small Gorilla Pod tripod and a weather watch hangs on the strap on the right side of the hip belt. I've carried these three items on several other packs but none were as accessible without taking off the pack.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I found the Gregory Targee 45 day pack to be an easy carry on all my hikes, whether snowshoeing, skiing or hiking. I've carried snowshoes on other day packs but using a pack designed for winter day hikes makes many things easier. It was easy to strap my snowshoes on the pack. The snow shedding back panel was a pleasant surprise. In past winters I've tried to hang whatever daypack I was using on a tree branch while I put the snowshoes on the pack. With the Targee winter pack I can lay the pack down to strap on the snowshoes or skis and the snow falls right off the back panel. Even late season wet snow was easy to brush off the back panel.

I have often carried skis by hand in past winters which quickly becomes tiresome. It is much easier to carry the skis on a pack designed for the task. Here is another picture with skis on the pack.
full back view skis on pack
ski carry

It appears that the back of my legs would hit the ski tails with every step but that did not happen. I had hiked easily for an hour with no problems.

The pack does seem big but there is room for rain gear as well as shirts and jackets in our changeable spring weather.

SUMMARY

It has been interesting using a pack designed for winter needs and conditions. The insulated hydration sleeve kept the bite valve from freezing on cold outings. I still find it a good practice to blow the water back into the bladder. One time when I forgot I had water all over the shoulder strap when I pushed the bite valve and hose back into the shoulder strap sleeve.

The snowshoe and especially the ski carry system made late winter hikes easier to enjoy. I can really appreciate the ease of hiking with skis on the pack after so many years of carrying both skis and poles in my hands.

Please check back in about two months for more and different use and information in the Long Term Report.




LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I was only out with the pack three times in the last two months. The first time was a seven mile (11 km) group hike. The rain stopped after we had hiked the first mile (1.6 km). The terrain was mostly flat after the hilly first two miles (3 km) since we were hiking along the backwaters of the Hodenpyl Dam. The forest was primarily oak, maple and poplar.

The second time out was also a group hike of nine miles (14 km). The was in some ways the reverse of the first hike. The first two miles (3 km) was flat and the remainder was a series of hills. The forest was primarily pine with some small maple on the edges. This time out the rain quit just as we finished the hike.

The third time out was a club work day. The hike was only about two miles (3 km) each way. We had built a new section of trail down close to the Manistee River last year. When the river flooded this spring a 40 foot (12 m) long bridge was moved about eight feet (2 m). It rained the whole time we were out getting the bridge back in place. I've hiked more times in the rain this year than any year I can remember.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During the two rainy group hikes I was able to set the pack down on leaves or on down logs when we stopped for breaks. The pack just got wet on the outside.

The situation was different when we were working to get the bridge back in place. The only place I could leave the pack was on muddy ground out of our way. The pack was very wet and muddy by the time we finished. The one good thing was that the hydration bite valve stayed clean inside the shoulder strap. This has been a constant problem for me when doing trail work. When I got home after the work day I had to use a hose and scrub brush to get the mud off the pack.

SUMMARY

The Gregory Targee 45 is the best pack I've seen for my winter use which is day long outings with skis or snowshoes. As it is now configured I do not find the pack very useful for my summer activities. The bright orange color is good on group hikes. It also makes the pack easier to find when I leave it beside the trail and walk away. The hydration hose inside the shoulder strap is protected from dirt when I drop the pack on the ground.

A few small changes would, in my opinion, make the pack as useful in summer as in winter. The top lid is permanently and firmly attached. If it was attached with straps that could be lengthened and/or detached I could use the pack for overnight hikes with the increased volume. An open top expandable front pocket might make it possible to carry my hard hat when required for trail work.

On the other hand, why change a pack that is very good for one third of the year?

I would like to thank Gregory Mountain Products and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to use and evaluate this pack.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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