2013 Gregory Sage 35 Pack Review

Last winter I was doing some day hiking and my typical day pack just didn’t have enough volume or features to fit all the necessary winter gear. I had also been on the search for a minimalist overnight pack for 3-season backpacking. I went directly to one of my preferred pack manufacturers, Gregory, to see what latest models they were offering. I was looking for something between 30 and 40L and the Gregory Sage 35 was perfect for the job.

Fit

I love Gregory packs, primarily because they are very well designed and they offer many of their packs in the XS torso length option. Having a short torso length between 15″ to 15.5″ makes finding the right fitting pack very difficult however Gregory always has something to offer in XS versions.

Preferring a pack that has a lot of contact with my entire back I immediately liked how the molded foam back panel felt on my back. The pack uses the Gregory Intuition 3D Suspension system which keeps the internal frame self-supported and has a women’s specific fit  making this pack extremely comfortable.

Gregory Sage 35 (2)

Design

Like most of the Gregory packs, the strap adjustment system compresses the volume of the pack down properly while also  transferring the load on your back to your hips correctly to avoid shoulder and upper back strain on the trail.The shoulder straps and waist belt had just the right amount of padding to offer support while carrying a 18 lb load, yet aren’t too stiff to conform well and stay in place while on the move. The hip belt also contains two zippered mesh pockets which are perfect for easy access to snacks, a point and shoot camera and other small items while on the go.

This pack has a plethora of compartments, pockets and features. The main compartments include the top lid, the dedicated external hydration compartment located behind the back panel, the front compartment and the primary central compartment. Unlike many packs of similar volume, the central compartment is accessible from both the top and front via a cinch and zipper respectively. This feature is great when needed to access the main compartment on the go without having to remove the lid, un-cinch the top of the pack and dig down to the bottom to reach gear.

Gregory Sage 35 (4)

The primary compartment has enough volume to fit a small sleeping bag and more than enough items for an overnight backpacking trip if you are a minimalist to moderate packer and additional items such as sleeping pad and tent can be strapped to the outside of the pack. The top lid is a zippered roll top design to prevent water from entering. It has  zippered pockets both on the top and underneath when it is flipped over. The only major complaint I have about this pack is the removable top lid design. In light rain the lid is angled such that water drips down the to of the pack and down your back however once the rain cover is put on, this becomes less of a problem.

I had trouble finding the hydration compartment at first, however there is a dedicated external compartment located right behind the back panel to put a reservoir. This feature is extremely nice, keeping the main and reservoir compartments separate so you don’t have to worry about the primary contents of your pack becoming wet from either leakage or condensation from the reservoir. The front compartment is perfect for keeping an extra layer, rainjacket, helmet or a variety of other readily accessible items and is closed via the main adjustable clip that runs over the top of the pack. The only drawback to this is that the top lid must be unclipped and folded back to open up this section entirely.

Features

The pack has two mesh water bottle side pockets. They are not stretchy like most packs which I would prefer, however they get the job done and readily fit water bottles, camera, hiking poles or other items. Right behind the right hand side (when looking from the front) water bottle pocket is a small zippered security pocket which is great for holding a wallet, cell phone or other personal items. The pack also has many attachment points, two ice axe loops, and two velcro loops on the front for securing gear such as hiking poles and ice axes.

Gregory Sage 35

Performance

Overall, this Gregory Sage 35 is one of the most comfortable packs I’ve ever owned. Its wide array of pockets, attachment points and features make it an outstanding performer as well. The only notable drawback is the weight at 2lbs 14 oz. There are other packs of similar size on the market today almost a pound lighter, however they are not nearly as comfortable or contain as many features. I’ve used this pack for long day hikes in the summer, winter trekking and mountaineering, winter ice climbing and snowshoesing and have loved how great it feels on my back, how durable it is, and all the neat features and pockets.

Gregory Sage 35 1

Overall Recommendation

I would highly recommend this pack for anyone seeking a 35L pack and for those who like to pack a little more gear, the Sage is also offered in  45L and 55L versions as well.

Check out this video from Gregory on the Sage Series of packs:

 

Basic Information
Manufacturer Model Gregory Sage 35
Model # 2013 Sage 35
Size XS / 14″ – 16″Torso Length
Cost $179
Pros Comfortable, many pockets and attachment points, lots of features, integrated raincover, top and front access, hidden security pocket
Cons Weight, water bottle pockets not very stretchy
Best Uses Hiking, Minimalist Backpacking, Traveling, Climbing, Winter hiking
Pack Specifications
Weight 2 lb 14 oz
Volume 31 L
Pack Access Top cinch and front zipper
Back Construction Breathable, molded foam backpanel, Intuition 3D Suspension, Woman specific fit
Hipbelt Molded foam hipbelt with two mesh waistbelt pockets.
Hydration Yes – Separate external compartment behind back panel
Pack Compartments 1 primary, 1 front, 1 removable zippered top lid with top and hidden bottom separate zippered compartments, separate hydration compartment
Pockets Two water bottle side pockets with pass-through compression, dual pocket/compartment lid, two zippered hipbelt pockets, 1 zippered hidden security pocket behind side water bottle pocket
Materials 3 mm gauge wire used for the wishbone internal frame suspension, 7 mm EVA foam for waistbelt, 10 mm EVA foam for harness, Ripstop nylon/polyester
Additional Features Two velcro gear loops on front of pack, ice axe loops, attached rain cover, multiple small gear loops in front of pack
   

 

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