ProView- Gregory Optic 58
Montana’s Yellowstone National Park is a land of extremes. In winter, the pristine snowy landscape is dotted with boiling hot thermal features nestled amongst epic mountains. Combine this beautiful landscape with some of the deepest snow Montana has to offer and you have the perfect place to put the new Gregory Optic 58 pack to the test.
I decided to fill the Optic to the brim and take it out for a few days of overnight skiing to see how it fared in the elements. The weather ranged from about 35 degrees Fahrenheit to about 5 degrees. Lots of snow (yay!) and lots of wind. I wanted to know if the fully loaded Optic would carry well on skis. The climb up to our camp was quite steep right from the beginning. I was amazed at how well the Optic carried on steep sidehills when fully loaded. The rain cover really came in handy on this trip, and fits the Optic like a glove. A bonus of having the rain cover is that you can use it as a snow-free place to unpack your bag when you need something near the bottom.
I was a little concerned that the Optic would not be as sturdy as the backpacks I typically use since it weighs only 2.5 LBS, but my worries were misplaced. Gregory has made an ultralight pack without sacrificing any comfort or performance. When I shouldered the pack for the first time at the trailhead, I could not believe that it weighed 40 lbs! With the padded weight belt and well-placed load lifters, it felt more like 20.
When I backpack, I like to have easy access to any of my gear at a moment’s notice. The Optic has a handy place for everything. The lid has both a top and bottom compartment and two waist-belt pockets, so I can thoroughly organize my most important gear. I appreciate the stretch mesh pocket on the very back; it’s a perfect place for a shovel blade when you’re touring and might need to use it in a hurry. The side pockets were also a great feature and worked perfectly for carrying a water bottle or a probe.
One of my favorite features of the Optic is Gregory’s new Aerospan suspension system. It is integrated into the lightweight aluminum tubular frame, which helps it provide an easy carry. A huge bonus of this system is that without all the excess padding most backpacks have, I was able to move fast without my back getting soaked.
I have skied with big packs before, but this did not feel like one. It hugged my back perfectly while allowing complete freedom of movement and deep powder turns. I absolutely love the cinch system for the main compartment, which can be operated with only one hand, and really came in handy. It works much better than other cinch closures I have encountered. I also utilized the Optic’s hydration pack compatibility, leaving my water bottle at home to save even more space.
The Final Word
Overall the Optic performed beautifully. It lives up to the ultralight claim while maintaining all the features I have come to love in a good overnight pack. I give it a 4/5 only because I have not had time to see if it can hold up over a few seasons of hard use. But to be fair, with such a reasonable price tag, I know I will get my money’s worth even if it does not last forever.
Dirtbag Dreamer, Trevor Hawks, has been an outdoor guide with the Wilderness Treatment Center in Montana where he specialized in 16 to 21-day backpacking trips during all of the seasons in Montana’s Glacier and Yellowstone National Park areas. He currently works with Cornerstone’s Adventure Learning Programs Youth Division providing 18-day backpacking trips to teach youth about the values of wilderness travel. With this organization, he has traveled all over the Western United States. His passion is to kindle the spirit of adventure in the younger generation. When not guiding trips, you can find Trevor ski-touring, traveling, rock climbing, or scuba diving – wherever adventure guides him! Find him on Instagram!