Best known for their heavy-hauling Baltoro, the Paragon backpack from Gregory cuts weight to appeal to the core overnight and weekend crowd. We really liked the original, and they recently updated the design with a mesh-heavy suspension system and side zippered access to the main compartment. After testing the pack on multiple backpacking trips in Patagonia, we think the revamp was a success: the Paragon still isn’t a standout in any one particular category, but its competitive price, adjustable fit, and good mix of weight and features make it a well-rounded option. Below we break down the Paragon’s overall performance. To see how it stacks up, see our article on the best backpacking packs.
Gregory established its brand’s reputation by the comfort of its bags which is why its Paragon is 58 has the torch carried in a slimmer form. The more robust Baltoro is the best choice for those who carry 40+ pounds however the Paragon is the better choice for lighter loads that fall within the 25 -40-pound weight range (despite its maximum carrying capacity of 50 pounds weight). The hip belt padding is quite thin, but it’s solid and supportive, while the shoulder straps, as well as the back panel, are padded enough to last for long day hikes. Furthermore, you’ll receive more sturdy frames than what you’d expect for a pack weighing less than 4 pounds: The frame is made of thin metal that runs the entire length of the frame, as well as a further metal cross-stay, is inserted into in the center of the back panel. This improves the carrying capacity and overall support significantly (many lightweight models compromise on this by using smaller amounts of metal in their flexible designs).
When I went on a multi-day hike during a trip to Parque Patagonia, I started out with approximately 40 pounds. It seemed like I was in the middle of my weight. The frame is built strong enough to support greater weight, however the hipbelt’s padding was thin and sunk little into my hips, and caused a minor annoyance. The thing is, I carried just a bit less water the remainder of the trip and when the weight of the pack dropped due to less food, it was good. In addition, the modern mesh construction and the easy-to-adjustability that the shoulders straps as well as hipbelts did a great job of keeping the pack tight towards my body, and this limits the amount of movement I experienced and provided me with a great deal of comfort when crossing rivers as well as on more challenging terrain. Overall the Paragon will not be able to take the place that of Gregory Baltoro as our preferred heavy hauler, but its style is an ideal match to the vast majority of the 3-season and overnight multiday trips.
It is possible to go lighter in the popular 55-to 65-liter range however, Paragon’s 3-pound-9.3-ounce weight isn’t anything to be taken lightly. It’s a great deal cheaper than many well-known backpacking models such as that of the Osprey Atmos AG 65 (4 pounds. 9 oz.) as well as Gregory’s personal Baltoro 65 (4 4 lbs. 13.4 oz. ) It’s also close to matching the Osprey Rook 65 (3 3lbs. 8.3 oz.) and 8.3 oz.) and North Face Banchee 65 (3 3 pounds. 5 oz.). You can cut down on weight by using this REI Co-op Flash 55 (2 2 lbs. 10 oz.) in addition to Osprey Exos 58 (2 lbs. 10.4 oz. ) However, both are ultralight-focused and shouldn’t exceed 30to 35 lbs loads. When you add in the usual features found in heavier, premium bags like the Paragon’s rain cover, full frame made of metal as well as access via zippers to the side of its main compartment the weight is quite reasonable.
For a lightweight pack For such a light pack, it’s a great choice. Gregory Paragon 58 comes with a wide array of organization features. The most notable feature of the latest model was the opening the compartment with a zipper. Contrary to many models which open in the front as the duffel bag, Gregory went for simpler–and likely lighter side access. The large opening spans all the way around the bag, and provides an easy access. I frequently used the zipper throughout the day, taking things like food, utensils and the extra layers required to deal with the changing weather in Patagonia. The side zip isn’t quite as handy as the opening on the front however I quickly adjusted and began putting items I’d probably need in the course of the day on that side. It’s an incredible benefit to have access to such a convenient feature in the weight of a bag like this.
Additionally, there is a web-like “shove-it” pocket that runs along at the top of the Paragon It is flexible and an ideal location to keep things that you’ll need in your hand, while also keeping your gear dry and smelly. The water bottle pockets along the side are well-designed and the right size to accommodate a large selection of bottles. And the one on the shoulder on your right has an opening that is at the elbow for quick access without having to remove the pack. There are two pockets that are zippered to the hip belt that are of a decent size, but too small to fit phones that are large such as iPhone 11. iPhone 11 (I’ve found this is not a rare issue with phones of average size, so most will be able to fit). There is also a separate access to the lower part of the bag by way of a large zipper. I typically put my sleeping bag in this area and do not need an access point until close of the day However, the zipper will save a bit of time in packing up camp and setting it up at the beginning of the day.
To complete the storage on the top, there’s one huge, U-shaped pocket on the exterior for things like such as a lamp or a map as well as a an underside zippered area of the lid to store the cover for rain. The key clip is also included that has enough room even with the rain cover in to store items that you don’t require immediate access to (I utilized it to store my passport, as well as the small first aid kit). A final thought on storage: the primary compartment features a large opening and is large enough to fit the majority of bear canisters.
Along with better access into the compartment itself, Gregory also addressed one of the concerns in the original Paragon that was ventilation. The new pack has more mesh, especially on the lower part of the hipbelt and backpanel and hipbelt, which made a notable effect on keeping us cool. We didn’t experience temperatures that were truly hot but we did trek through unprotected sun with temperatures reaching the 70s-80s Fahrenheit. In the conditions I experienced, I found it did a great job of wicking off humidity and allowing airflow to flow in my rear. It’s definitely not an eye-catching piece similar to the Osprey Atmos AG (which features an elongated back panel with a suspended mesh design) however, the Paragon can be used in this respect. Additionally, the cutouts on the foam made it easier to dry up quickly in breaks along the trail.
For the price it is affordable and the price of its other accessories, one surprising feature to this Gregory Paragon 58 pack is the rain cover built-in. Hidden on the underside of the lid’s top surface and the water-resistant blue layer swift and simple to put on and can be easily tucked away inside the packed-down backpack. I have used the cover quite a amount during the trip, as there were several days of little or no rain. It was also handy when setting the pack down in campsite to keep it and items inside secure while we set up our tents. It also stayed it in place despite the force of winds, but I wouldn’t be able to trust its grip during a particularly stormy day. In this scenario, I’d advise lining the interior of the bag with the bag’s dry and garbage bags to make sure that the contents are kept dry. For those who do not require the cover, you could leave it in place and use the zippered pockets to store your items.
High Quality of Construction and Durability
In many ways in all aspects, the Paragon is a durable choice when compared to lighter packs. The body’s fabric is able to balance weight and durability by using offset panels composed of 100 denier (D) and the 210D ripstop nylon which has stood up well during our journeys thus far. The top of the pack has an incredibly strong nylon that is 420D. We drilled holes into the water bottle pockets made of mesh that were in the earlier model however, the latest model feels more robust and isn’t frayed yet. Actually, the whole construction feels like a step up in construction quality from the previous. The mesh backpanel of the new model isn’t as brittle as the original model, and the buckles along with the webbing and zippers have held up so far. It’s definitely not bombproof, so we’d recommend using caution when setting it down on particularly difficult terrain. We’ve drilled holes into backpacks like that of the Osprey Exos that depend on 100D fabrics, but all in all, the Paragon is well-constructed and robust enough for backpacking trips of all kinds.
Sizing and Fit
The Paragon’s main feature to efficiently carry weight is its highly adjustable fitting. The hipbelt and shoulder straps are easily adjusted with an easy-to-use Velcro that is rip-and-stick. This was a fantastic feature when we swapped between the testers with different size torsos of 18- and 21-inches and it’s also an extremely practical option to dial in the perfect the fit. With a specialized back panel with a significant back support for lumbar, it gives your body more than you’d think at this cost. It’s also worth noting that Paragon comes in two sizes. Paragon is available as two size options (SM/MD or MD/LG) and MD/LG, which is quite typical in this price range (some higher-end options also come with an additional). In light of how well it fitted our two test subjects on opposite sides of the range, this shouldn’t be an issue. In addition, Gregory makes the pack available in an women’s version known as the Maven that is almost exactly the same as the men’s version (more on this later).
Other capacities from the Gregory Paragon
In our review we used for a trip with Paragon 58 trekking in Patagonia as well as Gregory produces the same backpack in 68 and 48-liter capacities. The 58 is likely to hit an ideal spot for the majority of backpackers, however for those who carry heavier equipment it’s the one with a capacity of 68 liters may be the more suitable choice. Be aware that both models share suspension designs which means it won’t be able to carry a larger maximum weight. For those who don’t require the extra space The Paragon 48 is more appealing to people who want to be lighter on their backpacks for shorter excursions ($200 or 3 pounds. 8.5 oz. ).
women’s specific Gregory Maven 55
It is a resemblance to the Paragon. Paragon is a male-only pack however, Gregory has a female-specific version known as the Maven that is available in similar capacitiesof 45, 55 65, and 55 liters. Comparatively to Paragon 58 it is Maven 55 is a bit more expensive. Gregory Maven costs the same $230, but is a couple of ounces less in weight at just 3 pounds 6.6 pounds for a medium/small. The two packs have a similar structure, which includes plenty of organization, a modern mesh-heavy front panel, and great overall durability. The biggest distinctions are in the pack’s size and fit, with different waist and torso measurement, as well as distinct colorways (although both packs come as blue).
What We Love
- At around $230 and 3.5 pounds It weighs around 3.5 pounds. Paragon is reasonable and lightweight, yet still well-equipped and robust.
- The mesh-heavy design and the adjustable hipbelts and shoulder straps help keep the backpack close to the body. This helps to limit movement and increases confidence in difficult terrain.
- Mesh-heavy rearpanel is a significant improvement in breathability when compared to the original Paragon.
- The built-in rain cover and the access via zippers to the side of inside the main compartment make excellent options for a pack at this weight and price range.
“What We Never Do”
- It’s not a big hauler. For loads that exceed 25-40lbs, we would recommend upgrading to a model such as Gregory’s Baltoro, a big and powerful model.
- You can get lighter in the 55-to 65-liter range.
|Gregory Paragon 58||$230||3 lbs. 9 oz.||Nylon (100D and Nylon (100D &)||48, 58, 68L||Top Side||6 exterior|
|Osprey Atmos AG 65||$270||4 lbs. 9 oz.||Nylon (100D x 700D)||50, 65L||Top||8 exterior|
|Gregory Zulu 65||$230||3 lb. 11.4 oz.||Nylon (210D)||30, 35, 40, 55, 65L||Front, top||6 exterior|
|Granite Gear Blaze 60||$270||3 lbs. 0 oz.||Nylon (100D and Nylon (100D &)||60L||Front, top||6 exterior|
|TNF Banchee 65||$250||3 lbs. 5 oz.||Nylon (70D and Nylon (70D and)||50, 65L||Top||8 exterior|
|REI Co-op Flash 55||$199||2 lbs. 10 oz.||Nylon (100D and Nylon (100D &)||45, 55L||Top||9 exterior|
A majority of backpacking bags we’ve tested stack with a view to Osprey’s highly rated Atmos AG65. For starters it off, the Osprey certainly is the most luxurious choice as it is able to carry more weight (we’ve had a great experience with the Atmos that can carry up to 45 pounds) and has more exterior storage space and a noticeable improvement in airflow, and the materials are more expensive and have a more robust feel (it utilizes a blend of 630D nylon and 100 for the exterior). The only area that the Paragon has an edge is its weight (it’s just a tad lighter) and a zippered access into the compartment and a price that is $40 lower. Backpackers who travel often and sometimes require a large load will likely prefer the Atmos as the best all-around backpack, however the Paragon is a great choice for weekend use with a lighter weight and at a lower cost.
Within the Gregory’s range We also love its Zulu 65 that costs exactly the same as that of the Paragon priced at $130. While testing the Zulu it was particularly enjoyable to test the air-conditioned back panel and access in the shape of a U to the primary compartment which made locating and taking out equipment quick and simple. The weight is also reasonable in the 3lbs 11.4 grams (for an M/L capacity) and this is especially true considering that the Zulu provides seven liters of capacity when compared with the Paragon. However, we found it to be Zulu to be quite unsatisfactory in terms of carrying ease, especially when carrying heavier items (this is largely due to its design that is quite long and wide). The end result is that however, in Gregory’s lineup , we would prefer the more comfortable and well-rounded Paragon.
Another item to put on your list could be Granite Gear’s Blaze 60. As you stack it to the Paragon it’s Blaze is lighter , at just 3 pounds, and is similarly robust with a blend of 210D and 100D nylon. It is also highly adjustable thanks to the shoulder straps that can be moved (these can be adjusted in a downward or upward direction to suit the length of your torso) and a hip belt that can be removed. Additionally, we’ve found that this Granite Gear to be a bit more comfortable to wear when you’re loaded down (we carried 35-40 pounds through the Grand Canyon without issue). However that we’d recommend the Paragon is the best breather with more mesh on the back panel, and the Blaze is $40 more expensive at $270. The Paragon is a good option for transferring heavier loads, however Granite Gear is the better choice. Granite Gear wins out as the most comprehensive choice.
One of the closest competitors close to Paragon is the North Face’s Banchee. Its Banchee 65 is a combination of a 3 pound 5 ounce weight and features with enough features and comfort to satisfy the majority of backpackers who go on weekends. The two packs have similar designs with a top-loader design however, the Banchee comes with two additional pockets that are zippered along the front. It doesn’t come with an additional access point for the main compartment, or rain cover. The Paragon can also be used to customize the fit, especially by adjusting the hipbelt. We like the mesh pockets to be more useful to store items in. Both are great bags, but the fine work of the Paragon at the same weight provides it with an edge against the Banchee.
The last but not least one of the most affordable alternatives for that of the Paragon offers REI’s Co-op’s Fast 55. The pack is nearly one pound lighter, at just 2 pounds and 10 ounces , and can be weighed as high as 30 pounds, placing it right in the light-and-fast segment (although it was able to carry 35 pounds during an excursion into the Grand Canyon and it did well). In terms of features, both packs are organized and have strengths The Flash can be removed from its upper lid as well as other accessories to reduce weight, while the Gregory has rain covers and an option to adjust the hipbelt and torso. In addition the Paragon is more durable thanks to its nylon panels made of 210D (the Flash has 100D in all areas, with the exception of the bottom, which is 420D). Both are good choices for most backpackers who travel for weekends and overnights The final choice will depend on the quality and durability as well as how much you’ll need to carry.
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