Written by Cyril Jay-Rayon Created Date: Tuesday, 13 October 2009 16:28
Gregory's Active Trail packs were made for the rigors of trail running, mountain biking, and all those looking to move fast through the backcountry. In essence, the Active Trail line was made for adventure racing.
Five years ago, I was looking for a backpack sponsor for our team. After a lot of research and testing, we concluded that Gregory not only made superb packs but also was committed to innovating in the lightweight and fast moving pack category. Luckily for us, Gregory agreed to support us through our good friend David Egan, owner of Egan & Associates LLC , who distributes Gregory products in the Northwest and Alaska (David also distributes product from 3 other amazing sponsors: Teko, Ibex, and Atlas). Sponsoring a team like ours should only be undertaken by the most confident of companies because we don't treat our gear well when we take it through extreme conditions for days on end, So their commitment to innovation is expressed not only through their sponsorship of a team like ours (where we provide a constant feedback loop), but also through the actions they take every year when coming out with new designs. Some offer improvements on existing proven designs while others are quantum leaps in innovation. 2009 is one of those quantum leap year with the introduction of the Active Trail line.
In 2009, we've used the entire line of Active Trail packs. Which pack we use depends mostly on how much gear we have to carry. With the 4 different sizes from the Diablo (or women's Dipsea) 6 L to the Miwok 18 L (or women's Maya at 17 L), you have a lot to work with. My favorite is the Rufus. It's an ideal day pack when you want to move fast and have easy access to gear while still having enough room for the essentials like a rain jacket and plenty of food. I love the mesh bottle holders in the front of the pack. I can put my favorite magic potion in a bottle and access it on the fly while keeping my hydration bladder with only water and nuun. I like the flexiblity of having both a bladder and bottles since I can separate my liquid nutrition better. I also often use one of the front pockets as a garbage holder for things like wrappers. Although I use the Rufus the most, all the packs in the line offer their own benefits. For example, the Miwok comes with an expandable front helmet compartment (you can put anything else there for quick access) which is really convenient. The Miwok also comes with a fleece lined media pocket. Now, that's luxury which we use all the time.
Although each pack in the line offers something a little different, what truly makes the Gregory Active Trail packs standout comes standard with all packs. We've tested all these key features not only during typical trail runs and mountain bike adventures, but also tested in all sorts of varied terrain and conditions found in adventure racing including bushwhacking endless hours in search of elusive checkpoints, coasteering menacing coastlines, canyoneering down intriguing canyons, paddling/riverboarding/rafting open waters, lakes, and rivers, negociating intricate rope courses, and navigating through labyrinth cave systems. And, we've done all this in races that last up to 8 days non-stop from the Australia Outback to the rainforests of Brazil. As we punished our minds and bodies during these adventures, our packs were with us every step of the way. Gregory had our backs covered!
Here are the key features that come standard with all the packs and that matter to us most:
Comfort and Fit
It's not surprising that comfort and fit are paramount to us. The new Active Trail line really shines in this area and really offers what I consider a quantum leap in innovation. With their BioSync™ Technology system, they've really set the bar for form fitting packs. The BioSync™ system allows the pack to conform more closely to your body and move with you. This reduces the bouncing effect found in typical packs while running. This feature alone exhances our comfort level over long hauls in the backcountry. Here's how Gregory explains this revolutionary system:
"The BioSync™ ATS system is inspired by the bio-dynamics of the human body in motion, these packs follow your every move out on the trail. The shoulder harness and pack body are joined together by a set of artificial tendons that allow the harness to stretch into the ideal fit—allowing the suspension to move with the body while in motion. The waistbelt uses the same BioSync™ system, giving you superior range of motion and exceptional fit while the moisture-wicking harnesses and waistbelt ensure you stay dry during your most rigorous trail activities."
In addition to the BioSync™ system here are a few other features that add to the overall comfort and fit:
- Aero-Mesh backpanel (this helps keep us cool out there)
- Adjustable sternum strap (the strap slides along a mini rail so it's easy to adjust on the fly)
- Internal, on-the-fly compression system (another feature that's "on the fly". You can pull on the compression elastic cords to adjust to the size of the cargo you're carrying. Very cool since your cargo space changes as your hydration bladder empties.)
Ease and Speed of Access
As you can imagine, ease of access is paramount to us while racing. The less we have to stop to find stuff, the better. All the packs in the line have big stretch-mesh waistbelt pockets where we put all our essentials we need frequently like bars and supplements. On the bigger packs, the side mesh pockets provide additional storage space without having to open the pack or stop.. The ability to separate our food and other essentials in outer pockets ensures we keep pace during our races. Another time saving feature is the hydration port and sleeve with back fill access. This makes refilling a breeze. Also, their new tube management system connects to your hydration system tube mouth piece and retracts back to the shoulder strap when you've finished drinking. Say goodbye to a bouncing tube!
Given their lightweight design, these packs are almost indestructible. Althought the fabric is extremely light, it is very durable and handles the elements with ease. Small holes can even reseal themselves with a little rubbing of the fabric. Very cool stuff! Fabric durability is important to us since we frequently rub up against rocks and branches.
Women Specific Fit
Since our sport is coed, it's important that all members of the team are comfortable using their gear. Gregory makes sure that the packs also come in women specific fits which our women genuinely appreciate. Oh, and the women specific colors certainly help them keep their individuality.
The above key features are the reasons we keep trusting Gregory to carry our essential gear and keep us moving fast. I hope you've found this review helpful. If you have any questions, drop us a line. Here
If you like what you've read, check out their line on the Gregory website.