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Brand Spotlight: Gregory Packs

Gregory Packs

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From a Boy Scout project to an elite pack-making company

Since 1977, Gregory packs have carried gear to the top of the tallest peaks in the world, deep into the backcountry to find fresh powder lines, over thousands and thousands of miles of trails around the world, and into the wilderness for innumerable adventures. Gregory has established a reputation as one of the finest pack manufacturers in the world, with a consistent focus on innovative design, quality construction, and superb functionality. The genesis for this attention to detail and hands-on innovative style can be traced back to the simplest and most classically nostalgic of origins: a Boy Scout project. Wayne Gregory designed his first backpack at the young age of 14. His curiosity and interest in designing packs grew. He soon met the owner of a San Diego based outdoor gear company and spent his days around the shop, buying materials to build packs, tinkering with new ideas and absorbing information on production and technical design. Hours of hanging around the shop paid off for Wayne, as he became one of the first employees of that small company.

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Wayne and Suzy Gregory at the Grand Canyon

 In 1970, Wayne started his own company producing external frame packs, which were the standard at the time. He became increasingly dissatisfied with the technical limitations of external frame pack design, so he dissolved the company in 1973 and began working as a freelance designer for other outdoor brands. As his skills and knowledge grew, the technical standard in pack design advanced. Internal frame packs and soft packs began to appear on the market and Wayne knew that the tech had caught up to his own vision and ambitions for the outdoor pack industry. In 1977, Wayne Gregory founded Gregory Mountain Products in San Diego.

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A Devotion to Fit, Function and Innovation

 From the start, Gregory Mountain Products designed packs based on the idea that a pack should be worn, not carried. A pack should be as comfortable and feature as nuanced of a fit as a hiking boot or jacket. Finding the perfect size, taking the time to properly fit a pack, and determining the best pack for a  have always been an essential part of the Gregory philosophy. When a pack fits properly and moves with the wearer’s body, it is much more comfortable. Gregory has always and continue to focus on creating a more comfortable pack through optimization of fit and form.

 

Since Wayne knew that the key to both comfort and performance is the fit of a pack, Gregory Mountain Products took an approach to materials and design that was unique within the industry. They were the first pack maker to produce packs in multiple frame, harness and waist belt sizes to accommodate a variety of torso lengths, body shapes and heights. Gregory was also the first to design a waist belt system that can adjust to different hip angles —a feature especially important to fitting women properly for packs. Gregory has also consistently been at the forefront of pack material innovation, from creating a new bar-tack stitch for stronger bonded webbing to lightweight ergonomic foam back panels and padding.

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 The original Gregory Cassin pack

 In 1977, Gregory Mountain Products produced the Cassin, an expedition style top-loader with a revolutionary contoured profile, ergonomic hip belt, side zippers, taped seams and an adjustable suspension. In 1984, Colin Fletcher lauded the functionality and performance of the Cassin pack in his influential book The Complete Walker III, which heavily increases sales of the Cassin and other Gregory packs.

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Gregory continued to grow and expand during the late 1970s and early 1980s, which allowed the company to explore innovations in pack design while producing industry leading gear. In 1983, the company introduced a 22 layer composite graphite frame that they claimed was 50% lighter than the market standard aluminum stays. Utilizing this revolutionary technology, Gregory released the Superlight line of packs that are nearly a pound lighter than the industry standard. In 1999, Gregory won a contract to supply the United States Special Forces with 120 lb capacity packs. In a span of a few decades, Wayne Gregory’s simple, yet ambitious Boy Scout project had evolved into an elite, high-performance technical outdoor brand that supplied packs to the US military.

Through the 2000s, Gregory continued to achieve success by creating durable, reliable products with an industry leading fit. They received accolades including Backpacker Magazine’s Reader’s Choice and Editor’s Choice awards in 2005 and Outside Magazine’s Gear of the Year award in 2009/2010. 

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Gregory Packs Today 

Today, Gregory’s commitment to quality, comfort, durability and fit continues to drive pack design and production. Gregory makes specifically designed packs to meet user needs as well. Currently, Gregory makes packs suitable for Alpine Climbing, Backcountry Skiing/Snowboarding, Backpacking, Hiking, Trail Running, and Everyday use.  They continue to innovate and create some of the most trusted packs on the market across all categories.

For Alpine, rock and ice climbing, Gregory has the Alpinisto series of packs. With a climbing-specific, unobtrusive fit that allows for a great range of motion, as well as a lightweight, strippable design, the Alpinisto is an elite climbing pack for the most arduous ascents. Additionally, Gregory makes the Denali 105, a technical expedition pack, which has been trusted by mountaineers and guides worldwide to carry gear to the summit of Mount Everest and beyond. 

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 The Gregory Alpinisto Pack

For backpacking, the Gregory Baltoro for men and Deva for women have a reputation as some of the best large capacity backpacking packs on the market. These packs are fully-featured, with accessible compartmentalization that facilitates efficient packing, a technical suspension system that distributes large pack loads effectively across structural points on your body, as well as a custom fit that stays comfortable over many miles. 

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The Gregory Baltoro

Two other noteworthy lines of packs that have been a staple of the Gregory catalog for some time are the Z series for men and the J series (formerly Jade) for women. These packs are durable, reliable lightweight and comfortable packs for day hiking and light overnights. The Z and J series packs also have a unique suspension system that allows air to flow between the body of the pack and the wearer’s back. These are some of the best day and light hiking packs on the market, as they combine superb fit with great functionality for a variety of outdoor pursuits. 

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 The Gregory Z series and J series packs

From a proud, homegrown pack making heritage into a bright, lasting future as an industry leader, Gregory has established a path of innovation and practical design that has driven and advanced outdoor packs for years. With an uncompromising commitment to quality construction, personalized fit, cutting-edge innovation, as well as efficient, sport specific features, Gregory packs are and will continue to be a favorite choice of mountaineers, trail runners, hikers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts around the world for years to come. 

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Published:July 25, 2014

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