Review: Gregory Denali 75

Originally posted on Carryology 

So you’re heading to high-camp in search of some perfect backcountry turns?  You’ll need to carry a 4-season tent, 0-degree bag, a full touring kit, and a pound of butter for you and the gang. Gregory’s got just the pack to get you there.The Denali 75 is an excellent hauler for all your expedition needs.  These are my thoughts after a season’s use winter camping in The Enchantments and backpacking the Washington coast.


Specifications from Gregory:
Name: Denali 75
Brand: Gregory
Capacity: 75L // 4577 in^3
Weight: 6 lbs. 2 oz. // 2.78 KG
Price: $359.00
 

Who it suits: If you are hauling heavy loads to base camp this bag works. Think like Mountain dog with a three-pint barrel under its chin works.  Seriously, this thing holds weight.

Who it doesn’t: Backpackers and hikers looking for large volume bags.  If you aren’t blasting up a mountain with cold weather kit and a 4 season tent, I’d spring for Gregory’s Baltoro over the Denali.

Here’s the skinny:

Space and Access:  75L and 100L variants, side zip, ample space, solid floating lid, those side pockets.

Organization: It’s the right amount of pockets for this bag.  3 pockets in the lid, 2 side pockets, 1 map pocket.

Comfort: Considering how bad a 50-pound bag can suck, this rides great.

Look and Feel: Ascetically it’s very clean.  It’s got good geometry and the finish is top notch.  I wish they had a bright color option, though for an expedition bag, capabilities equals sex appeal.  The layout, pocket access, features, on this bag are all on point.

Build, Materials, and Hardware: Quality build. No worries about any of the components at all.  Would like to see a fully waterproof fabric in the future, though I wasn’t concerned about it.

Features:
Sled // drag bag capable
Floating lid // the lid is so good
Compression system // very versatile and well thought out
Big enough to sleep in // about hip deep for me on really cold nights
Tool attachment options // multiple options for attaching poles, axes, snowshoes, skis, etc.
Burly front panel with daisy chain // attach whatever you want in confidence

Warranty and Support: Lifetime Guarantee and Limited Warranty.  If the bag fails, Gregory will make it right. That’s about as much as you can ask for.

Brand Experience:  this bag comes from a long lineage of bad asses and when you sling it on your shoulders you know you’re carrying something special that’s survived decades of trail and error.

Value: for the volume and features, I think this bag is right in the middle of the market.  I do like Gregory’s support team and their warranty, and I feel like this bag could end up lasting a 10+ years of repeated use.

X-Factor: Versatility. The compression system and the daisy chain and the side pockets of this bag let me carry a whole array of equipment on the outside.  With the inclusion of an extra set of straps and an awesome removable lid, this bag can do a lot more than a basecamp trek.

The good:

-The lid is huge.  Its got three pockets!
-The compression system works well with and without the brain—and with or without a full load.
-Those elastic mesh pockets on the side are dope for Nalgenes. Tent poles. Tripod. Boom.
-Main compartment access via side zip
-That silicon impregnated lumbar panel.  Oooohhhhh.
-The adjustability of the shoulder straps and hip belt is simple and sturdy.
-The nylon and PU coating took a real dousing and held up, it’s surprisingly water-resistant.  A couple weekends at the PNW coast without a rain cover proved the material can hang in the worst conditions.

The not so good:

I wasn’t digging the Velcro poles & tool attachment.  It makes it easier for ice tools when you don’t want to get ride of your gloves and Velcro is probably going to last longer than bungee cord in freezing temps, but the tools get pulled to the side when tension is applied to compression straps and just kind of pinches the tools in place.

I had issues with the fit.  I’m 6’1’’ at 180# and I have a 21’’ torso.  I got the large and felt like the bag rode a little lower than I wanted it too.  The “large” torso bag comes with a “large” belt, which was too long for my 32’’ waist.  Gregory does offer different sized belts, so make sure to bring it up with customer service.

How does this effect my experience?

The fit of the bag is crucial for comfort when moving through backcountry—especially when you’re going to be moving 50+ pounds over some crazy terrain.  There are only two adjustment options for fitting the shoulder harness and the hip belt and while torso lengths are provided with the sizing options, I’d like to see a little more adjustability.  The option to order a different size waist belt off their web site would be nice too.

Outside of the fit, I liked everything about this pack.  For winter camping and expedition size loads at altitude, this bag is awesome.  It’s a real workhorse and I never worried once about the integrity of the bag: it carried everything I needed and then some extra down layers for hanging outside a little longer. I’ll be picking up a smaller hip belt and using this again next season.  Great work to the RD&D team over at Gregory—how about some expedition red or yellow for next fall, eh?

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