The first backpacking pack I bought was Gregory’s Baltoro 65. Like so many do and have done, I was heading across the Atlantic to travel through Europe. My journey would be mostly through cities instead of mountains, and I’d be staying in 14-bunk hostel dorms, not a tent. But I knew that after the trip I’d want to use the backpack for those things, and I informed the store clerk of exactly that.

We chatted about my backpacking tendencies while he measured my torso to get a size and then he pulled three bags off the wall, removed their stuffing and replaced it with weighted bags that simulate a fully-packed backpack. I threw each one on and hiked around between the store’s racks and displays, attempting to get an idea in three minutes of what three months of travel might be like.

I landed on Gregory’s Baltoro backpack in the 65-liter volume. It was, to my consternation, the most expensive pack of the three the clerk had selected and slightly heavier too. But it was also the most comfortable — this fact is subjective, and what works for me may not for you — and the most feature-laden.

The list of those distinctive attributes is exhaustive. The ones that I’ve discovered to be most practical in the years since making that purchase — and trading the bag in for the bigger 75-liter model before an excursion to Ecuador — are its multiple points of access, a segmented and removable lid and a water bottle holster that’s actually accessible while hiking.

It was only until after many trips with the Baltoro that I learned it’s Gregory’s flagship backpack, and I can see why. It’s rightfully worth its full sticker price, but right now you can snag one for over $100 off at Mountain Steals.

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