It’s time to make sure you’re ready for backpacking season, and so I had my adult son try out the new Gregory Paragon men’s pack. This pack comes in three sizes: 48L, 58L, and 68L. We personally feel that the 58L option is the sweet spot for anyone who is not an ultralight backpacker and also not bringing everything but the kitchen sink.
The Paragon 58 features Gregory’s adjustable FreeFloat suspension system, which allows this lightweight pack to move with your body. Personally, when I’m backpacking I’m moving pretty steadily along an established trail, which is why I had my son check it out, who likes to venture cross-country and add some bouldering and scrambling to his hike. The Paragon’s suspension system allowed him to reach, climb, and jump while staying balanced with his pack full.
I like a pack that seems designed by people who actually use them in the field, and in this category, the Paragon delivers. You get a full-length side zipper to easily access your stuff when taking a quick hiking break, and a sunglasses quick-stow system. The side water bottle pockets are roomy enough to fit multiple-sized bottles in several configurations, perfect for those of us who like to load them flat (horizontally) for easy access while still wearing the pack.
You can fully adjust the torso length and hip belt, which means that my teen son can wear this pack too, when my adult son doesn’t need it. The back panel is 3D foam, which keeps the pack lofted from your (sweaty) back. You do get a custom-fit rain cover that stashes in its own pocket, and there is an internal hydration sleeve with Gregory’s SpeedClip hydration hanger if you prefer a bladder to a water bottle.
There are six external pockets, including my favorite, the front oversized stretch mesh pocket with a secure buckle closure. I use this type of pocket to stash outer layers I need to easily grab while on the trail.
The Paragon 58 retails for $229 and comes in two colors: olive or blue. The compatible women’s version, the Maven, is at a similar price point.