Big trips need big bags to handle big loads.
When you’re going on a big trip and you need to carry a big load, go for this big (yet still reasonably sized) bag.
The Baltoro 75 is your typical backpacking/expedition pack in many ways. It has separate internal sections, multiple pockets, tie-downs and lashpoints. All of which, are very well thought out by Gregory and equally well-executed.
Starting with the bottom – it has your typical bottom-access hatch that lets you stow a sleeping bag and mattress pad. There’s a small little patch of webbing that lets you keep the items in this bottom compartment separate from the main section. The shape of this area is typical. It’s functional and it works.
The next section is the main compartment. This is where I feel the baltoro75 both wins and loses. In the main section, you have a mini daypack – perfect for a hydration bladder and couple items, should you have the desire to go off on a side trip. Under this daypack, is the frame – it’s a simple keyhole hoop that doesn’t impede much on the storage.
As mentioned before, the bottom of the compartment has that divider. I feel that the execution here is a major fail for the pack. The webbing of the divider is not complete and smaller items can easily slide down and into the bottom section. Because the main section can be accessed by either top or front, this makes the divider somewhat of a concern. If you don’t care where stuff is, so long as it stays in the pack, then you can disregard what I’ve said here.
The front access has three pockets on it – two zipped and one kangaroo. This is great as it lets you organize the gear you don’t need to necessarily protect. In my case, it was my tent and poles. But also the zips are well placed for a hiking partner to get at, should you be carrying something that they need to get out for you.
And lastly, the top-lid. It’s designed very well, with corner lashings for anything you might need/want to attach. The lid itself has three compartments. On the top, you have two, equally split down the middle. Great for stuffing quick access items like a rain coat or first aid. The fact that it is split, allows for these sort of quick access items to be separated period. Underneath, is another pocket that serves as the rain-cover stow.
Seeing as how amazing this bag is, it’s hard to find anything on it to criticize, but the rain-cover storage is that one thing. I cannot emphasize enough how poorly this was thought out. It feels like an afterthought. Like “Oops! We forgot to put a raincover in this bag!”. Cause that’s exactly how it feels.
For me, this one factor is enough for me to look elsewhere, except that the next closest equivalent in a backpack that I’ve tried, doesn’t even come with a raincover.
Nevertheless, Baltoro 75 is a recipient of a few awards for its design and capability. You cannot go wrong buying this bag. Unless you’re extremely unlucky and get hit by freak storms all the time when you’re out.
For my american friends – you can get this bag at REI. For my Canadian friends – MEC.