Chris Townsend tests a stable and comfortable pack

This review is part of our backpack gear guide

Comfortable and roomy, Gregory’s new Optic 48 is a good compromise between weight, load-carrying comfort, and features. The stated 48 litres capacity is conservative as the stretch pockets will hold a surprising amount. The 14kg recommended load is conservative too. I reckon 16kg is fine.

The Optic 48 has a sprung back with an air gap but this doesn’t impinge on stability as it only has a maximum width of 2cm. This is just enough to reduce dampness whilst stopping the wind whistling through. The frame is quite stiff and transmits the weight to the hipbelt well. The padded lumbar pad is comfortable too. The hipbelt has double straps running from each side to the central buckle. These help pull in the belt evenly round the hips, distributing the weight. The back isn’t adjustable but three back lengths are available.

Whilst the Optic 48 isn’t heavy the weight can be reduced by removing the lid – an ultralight cover is provided – and the rain cover. As I prefer waterproof stuffsacks to rain covers I’d certainly leave the latter behind, saving 90 grams and freeing up space in the inside lid pocket. I’d keep the lid though as I like the pockets for small items. The big rear pocket is great for waterproofs and other clothing that might be needed during the day. It’s also good for wet gear like a tent or tarp. The side pockets will easily hold litre-size water bottles. It is possible to extract one whilst wearing the pack but it’s not that easy and putting it back is harder still.

I’ve found the Optic 48 comfortable and stable with useful features. It is quite expensive but the quality is excellent and it should last well. If you want more room there’s a 58-litre version. There are women specific versions too – the Octal 45 and 55.