John Manning tests large backpacks
Plenty of thought has gone into Gregory’s Contour 60. Quality of construction is excellent and, laden with 12kg (the test load for all the packs tested) I found it provided a relatively comfortable carry, with the bulk of the weight efficiently distributed around the waist. While it handled the load well enough, however, the effectiveness was marred somewhat by the length of the shoulder straps which were so short as to be virtually non-adjustable.
The pack sat pretty much flat against my back, generating a small area of sweat as you might expect. That was restricted to a relatively narrow band down my spine and so caused very little discomfort. Had I been able to adjust the shoulder straps, I would have been able to slacken the pack off a tad when necessary and allow some air to circulate; as it was the straps were so short – and therefore tight – that that wasn’t possible. Slackening the top tension straps instead meant the pack pivoted away from my centre of gravity, pulling uncomfortably at my shoulders. Likewise, loosening the sternum strap (easily repositioned using hook attachments to the shoulder straps) helped a little but meant the pack bounced around a tad too much.
A lightweight, easily accessed rain cover is cunningly anchored within a small base pocket by a clip which ensures that, even when stretched over the pack, it shouldn’t be blown away if torn off by a strong gust. When I yanked it out in earnest one day, however, the flimsy clip (easily replaced, fortunately) snapped.
The removable lid has a huge outer pocket and features taped seams along with a water-resistant zip and near-dry bag-style closure. That seems belt and braces given that a rain cover is provided and, anyway, I’d rather use dry bags and choose what to protect myself. Hip belt pockets were easily opened and closed when on the move.
Gregory reckons the Contour 60 would manage up to 20kg comfortably; I have my doubts, though cramming in 12kg left little room for anything else anyway.
First published: Sept 2013