Gear Review: Gregory Deva 60 Pack
Gear Review: Gregory Deva 60 Pack
I´ll be honest, when my mother first proposed that I take her Gregory Deva 60 pack with me to South America, I was not so keen on the idea. I took the pack home with me, promising to give it a test run on my next backpacking trip, but even carrying it to the car felt like a burden. The pack was just so darn HEAVY. After years of working at Next Adventure and proudly touting the many benefits of ¨ultralight¨ gear, I felt like a traitor when I loaded up the Deva and headed out on an overnight trip. However when I came home from that first trip, one thing stood out most clearly, and surprisingly it wasn´t the weight of my bag. Instead it was the fact that my back didn´t ache, I didn´t have bruises on my hips or shoulders, and the pack still looked brand-spanking new. I was still a little peeved by the bulkiness of the pack even after I had completely emptied it, but there was no denying that Gregory had gotten something right when it came to comfort and durability, two of the most important factors when choosing a pack for international travel.
You simply cannot ignore the fact that the Gregory Deva 60 weighs in at a whopping 5 lbs 8 oz in the size small, so I´ll address this issue first. Most of the really popular backpack manufacturers carry at least one line of packs that practically neglects the issue of weight for the sake of comfort and durability. These packs serve a very important purpose. Many people have had a nightmarish time finding a pack that fits them comfortably. A lot of women, especially women with more bony hips and shoulders, will end even a short backpacking trip with miserable bruises and sores that can often deter them from the whole sport in general. If this sounds like you, then it may be time to sacrifice a little weight for the sake of comfort. It may sound a little paradoxical...after all, doesn´t more weight cause more pain? But really, we´re talking a couple extra pounds for a LOT more padding. The hipbelt and shoulder straps on the Deva are like a tempur-pedic solution for hiking. There is so much foam that it seems almost bulky, but it carries weight so well, and relieves so much pressure, that you really won´t notice those few extra pounds. The Gregory Deva is designed around comfort. It comes in 3 different sizes so you can get your correct fit, and in addition to the comfy hipbelt and shoulder straps, the back of the pack is thermo-molded. Gregory calls the whole system ¨Response AFS¨...but I call it ¨a friendly hug¨. It´s almost like carrying a child on your back, the way it seems to always be adjusting and adapting as you move.
Of course, not all of the weight comes from the extra padding. The Gregory Deva is chock full of features. Again, as a minimalist myself, I had a hard time accepting features such as a built-in separater for my sleeping bag, a hanging pocket for a water bladder, and a zip-away water-bottle holder on one side of the pack. But as it turns out, every bell and whistle has come in handy during my time traveling. I have used the extra loops on top of the brain to hang damp clothes, the keychain on the inside of the brain to attach hotel-room keys and my whistle, and the front snap-closure pocket has been the perfect home for my rain gear. Even the two spacious side pockets (with separate mesh pockets within) have helped keep me organized. I am still not convinced that all of these features are necessary on every backpacking trip, but for people who tend to carry a lot, or for those who will be living out of their backpack, they definitely come in handy.
One more reason for this pack´s extra weight is its impressive durability. Everyone who has converted to the unltralight scene knows that they are always sacrificing a bit of durability. We do this willingly, and allow for the occasional repair and the extra-special care we give our gear. But on a 10-month trip through South America, durability is key. My pack is often out of my hands...being thrown in and out of buses, carried on top of vans through pouring rain, tossed into storage rooms while I explore cities, and it is with my utmost appreciation that it always comes back to me in full working order. This is not a pack that I have to set down lightly, or fear its being ripped when I rub up against a wire fence or between two cement walls (which happens more often than you might think). After 3 months my pack still looks like new, which can´t be said for anything else that has joined me on this journey.
So who is this pack for? Well, at a price of $330, it certainly isn´t the cheapest bag on the market. This pack is a worthy investment for three groups of people in particular. Those who love features and refuse to leave the kitchen sink at home, those who are tired of the aches and pains and just want to focus on wildlife and sunsets instead of hips and shoulders, and those who need a pack for international travel. It should be noted that the Deva comes in a 70L and 85L size as well, but in my opinion the 60L strikes just the right balance between weight and comfort. More space equals more weight (you will find yourself filling it up), so in my opinion, unless you are carrying another person´s gear (such as a child´s) or find yourself guiding others, there shouldn´t be any reason to get a bigger bag. Comfort, organization, and durability...the Gregory Deva 60 may just offer the trifecta you´ve been looking for all along.