Expert Review: Gregory Paragon 58 Backpack- Men'sPublished on 02/27/2023 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the backpack, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2018.
All photos courtesy of Tesia L.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the backpack, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2018.
The Gregory Paragon 58 is an amazing pack for a beginner or experienced backpacker. It got me through an entire six-week trip abroad, two of which were thru-hiking circuits in Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia, withstanding wind, rain, sleet, snow, and mice (not always guaranteed). I highly recommend it for light to moderate backpacking or travel.
About the gear
- Model: 2018 Gregory Paragon 58
- Gender: Unisex
- Size: Small
- Pack capacity: 58L
- Height: 5’3”
- Weight: 132lbs
- Experience: ~8 years of hiking/backpacking
- When I bought it: January 2018
- Length of trips: 6 weeks, 2 thru-backpacking
- What I carried:
- Sleeping pad: 2018 Sea to Summit Women’s Extra Light Insulated Sleeping Pad
- Sleeping bag: 2018 Rei Magma 15 Women’s fit
- Tent: 2015 Marmot Limelight 2P Tent
- Other: Jetboil and fuel, two pairs of hiking pants, baselayers, four pairs of shirts, underwear, four pairs of socks, four pairs of liners, food (restock on day 4 and 7 of backpacking), headlamp, spare batteries, 3L water, daypack, GoPro, water purification tablets
- Total pack weight: ~40-45lbs
- Used for: Backpacking and thru-hiking
- Where I’ve used it: Nualolo Trail, Hawai`i; Torres del Paine, Chilean Patagonia; and Fitz Roy, Argentinian Patagonia.
- Terrain: Rocky, muddy, sandy, river crossings, pebble, dirt
- Seasons I’ve used it in: Spring, summer, fall, and winter. Patagonia has it all.
How it performs
What I was looking for
I’m a really lightweight traveler and backpacker, so sometimes I sacrifice the gear I can bring. But I wasn’t making that mistake backpacking somewhere like Patagonia, so I upgraded to this Gregory. I knew I would have to be comfortable carrying a heavier load across intense terrain, sometimes traveling upwards of 12 miles a day. Additionally, I was looking for something roomier than my old backpack, durable without giving me the lower-back pain that Ospreys sometimes do. This definitely did the trick (I mean, just look at the pictures!).
Why I chose this gear
I won’t lie. I bought this because of the price. Also, I can acknowledge that Osprey is an amazing brand, but it didn’t fit me right. Not the same way the Gregory fit me; it literally felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders when I tried it on, so I got it. I also chose it because it has side zippers, so I won’t have to reach into a bottomless pit of gear or take things out to reach the bottom of the bag. It also had a separate sleeping bag compartment, many customizable straps for strapping down the bag tightly, and a super water-repellent rainfly.
What I love about it
- Durability: The mesh compartment on the front ripped; however, the pack was definitely put through some serious branch and stick battles. It’s not a huge issue, though.
- Comfort: This fits my broader shoulders well and slims toward the waist, making it a great fit for more feminine figures. There is also a firmer lower-back support system which gives my back and hips a significant amount of relief on long, windy treks.
- Breathability: It’s just as breathable as any other backpack, but the slightly firmer lower frame pulls the ventilation away from my back a bit more. It provides more comfort and “breeziness” on my back. However, it’s not so breathable as to compromise waterproofness.
- Design: Gregory is designed for people with broader shoulders and seems to taper down in the back. With the lower back support, this is great for my body frame. It takes into serious consideration the ease, accessibility, and practicality of the user on long trips, and it pretty much covers any mucky situation I can get into. It has a great design.
- Adjustability: Each shoulder strap has its own load-bearing adjustment strap and an easily adjustable frame to make the entire backpack more customizable. None of the straps get stuck when adjusting with a heavier load, which is helpful. All the straps glide smoothly, even the frame.
- Capacity: I can easily carry everything I need for a 10-day circuit without restocking until the 11th day.
- Weather Resistance: In a torrential downpour for almost nine days straight, I never once had an issue with water getting into my pack. The rainfly (I pre-treated it with extra Nikwax) has enough room to wrap around the pack.
- Features: It includes an adjustable hip belt, lower back support, load lifters, side zippers, rainfly, pole holders, a removable brain, a separate hydration bladder pocket, and a separate sleeping bag compartment. These are typical features in most backpacks, but I just like that there were a few extra straps to strap down a heavy load.
- Pack Access: Top access and side zippers. (Think unzipping like a suitcase a little.) The side zippers are the MOST helpful because I don’t have to take everything out of the top to reach something on the bottom. Packing, storing, and accessing items are so much easier.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Weight: This maybe isn’t the most lightweight backpack I own, but the way it can sustain 45lbs of my gear and is super adjustable (shoulder straps, loading straps, hip straps) allows me to center my weight as I see fit.
Favorite moment with this gear I had been hiking for about 18 miles because one of the campsites on the W trek in Patagonia was closed, and it had been raining on and off until it poured torrentially and was windy—so windy that the rain was coming down sideways. I finally made it to the site, and my pack saved me from flying away (because it was so heavy), and everything was DRY. My rainfly never came off, and I had a much easier time enjoying the trek than others. Also, I’d say 58-60L for a pack for this trip was just the perfect size of roominess.
Value for the money vs. other options
For the durability and ease of it on my back (stiffer “lumbar support” section of the frame), this is so worth the money because it is customizable and versatile. And, coming in at 58L, it’s perfect for both a weekend or week-long trip without extra weight. I used to have a 40L Osprey, and while it’s still an incredible backpack, a large portion of the storage was external on that pack, which meant it wasn’t useful against some of the weather conditions I faced in Patagonia. The Paragon is a well-made, functional, practical backpacking bag that is easy to use. It fits my frame PERFECTLY, making all the difference when trudging along endless miles carrying up to 45lbs a day, and it is weatherproof.
I had a lot of trouble with packs that fit my small frame but broad shoulders, often resulting in cramped neck muscles or sore trap muscles. So I was a little nervous about this trip. But I would say the Gregory Paragon 58 pack made all the difference. I was speeding past others, and any soreness was more due to the length of my trip than the misfit of my bag. I later upgraded to the Deva as a gift to myself. I never believed in brand loyalty, but I am personally loyal to this backpack.