There are few items you don’t want to go cheap on when choosing backpacking gear. A good pack is one of those items.
First thing I will say is that a pack is something you need to be fitted for. You need to try it on and make sure it feels good for your body type. Also most packs come in different sizes and you’ll want to find the one that fits you best. The pack I use is the Gregory Deva 70 liter pack, and I love it.
I have to tell you here that Gregory has made some improvements to the pack since I bought mine. The pockets are slightly different, and it now comes with a rain cover, which is really nice. To read about the backpack on Gregory’s website, click here.
Gregory Deva 70 comfort level
There are several reasons I love the Gregory Deva backpack, but the main reason is it is just comfortable.
While hiking with friends we take what we call “pack-off breaks.” My friends say they need to take their packs off and give their shoulders a break. However, with the Gregory Deva 70, I often leave mine on because it does not bother my shoulders much. The energy and effort it takes to heave the pack back onto my shoulders is more than the effort of simply taking a standing break with the pack on.
It has nice padded shoulder straps that pivot with my body as it moves. I love this feature because it doesn’t put extra pressure anywhere against my body when I adjust positions. The hip belt also pivots. Because the should straps and hip belts move with my body, it is like the pack is just an extension of my back.
Pockets and organization
I love to keep things organized and in their places. Another aspect of the Gregory Deva 70 is it has lots of pockets perfect for organizing this-and-thats. There are two side pockets. I keep my first aid, duct tape, and other items in one side pocket. On the other side I keep my toiletries. It has a nice wide front pocket, perfect for guide books, maps, headlamps, and the like.
This pocket is great for when I want to check the map, but don’t want to take my pack off. It is easy for my hiking partner to reach in and grab it.
The hip belts have pockets, which are great for keeping snacks and other small items. However on mine, my iPhone 6 does not fit in it. On the newer Gregory Deva 70 the pockets are bigger.
On the side there is a water bottle holster, for easy access while hiking. However, I don’t really use it anymore because I drink from my CamelBak. But it will make a good pocket for snacks.
The Gregory Deva 70 holds a three-liter CamelBak, and has an opening for the tube on either side. That way you can pick which side is more comfortable.
It also comes with trekking pole holders on the outside. I use these almost every time I hike. Sometimes you want your poles, sometimes you don’t.
The top part of the pack comes off for a smaller hip pack. I have never used this feature. The only time I left my backcountry camp for a peak-bagging hike, I hiked 14 miles, so I took the whole pack to carry more water.
On the updated version of this pack, the hydration sleeve comes out to use as a day pack. This is definitely a better peak-bagging feature than the older one that I have.
You can also access the inside from the front of the pack. I love this feature. It makes it so much easier when I don’t want to unpack everything to dig something out.
The sleeping bag compartment, which can be accessed from the bottom of the pack, is large enough to fit a down-filled, zero-degree winter bag. In the summer it can fit my 50-degree sleeping bag, Therm-a-rest, and pillow.
The Down Fall
One of the mistakes I made when selecting this pack is I got it too large. I have never filled it to capacity, and I’m not sure I could carry it if I did.
Gregory does make a small version, the Gregory Deva 60. If I were buying a new pack, this would be the one I choose.
One thing to remember when choosing a pack, is the more stuff you can carry, the heavier it is! I wanted to carry more stuff, and didn’t think about the weight.
The Gregory Deva 70 is a little heavy compared to other packs. It weighs in at about 5 pounds, but I think the extra weight is totally worth it.
And it is more expensive than other packs. The price is around $320, but like with the weight, I think it is totally worth it.