Gregory Optic 48 Backpack | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Gregory Optic 48 Backpack | Review

A new lightweight offering for multi-day walking from the American pack maker

Lightweight backpacks are the thing now. It’s taken a while, but we’ve all finally come to realise that if you want to get your pack weight down it’s best to start with the pack itself.

For a number of years, small cottage-type makers like Z Packs, Mountain Laurel Designs, and Hyperlite Mountain Gear were the only ones meeting the demands of lightweight hikers. Now the big brands have belatedly cottoned on. Osprey released the Levity; Lowe Alpine came with the Ascent, Vango have something on the way; and now we have this from Gregory, the Optic 48 (Octal 45 for women)

I’ve tried this out a fair bit recently. First I took it on a 50-mile hike along the Epynt Way in Mid Wales where I got to really test out its ventilation performance. Then I was in Scotland, using it for a hike to Kearvaig bothy and on a day trip up the incredible mountain that is Suilven.

Gregory Optic 48: Weight

The Optic weighs 1,221g. That’s light if you look at other similar backpacks within the category. For instance, Fjällräven’s Keb 52 weighs 2,260g, Lowe Alpine’s new Altus weighs 1700g while the Osprey Kestrel, one of their bestsellers, is 1760g. The Optic also has a trick up its sleeve, because by stripping off and removing bits and bobs, you can lower the weight down to an impressive 1080g.

Related: Best Hiking Backpacks

That said, there are lighter packs out there; the Osprey Levity (Lumina for women) for instance, which weighs just 830g. You can go even lighter than that but that’s when you’re entering into frameless, minimal-to-no back system territory.

Carrying Comfort

The Optic features a brilliant back system called Aerospan. This involves a trampoline mesh that is spread right across the back, a padded lumbar support, EVA foam hipbelt fins, 3D mesh shoulder straps and then a lightweight tubular frame and solid panel. The back system is fixed so you need to make sure you pick the right sized pack (S, M or L). I’m 5 foot 10 and chose the medium length.

I found the whole thing worked very, very well. Throughout my time using the Optic it’s handled varying weights, sat comfortably and provided good weight distribution. I’ve never felt any discomfort, even with loads of over 13kg (though the pack’s limit is supposedly 14kg), and the mesh and trampoline system gives a very smooth, contour hugging feel.

“The Gregory Optic, in my opinion, has all the features you’d want as a backpacker.”

As for ventilation, top marks in that regard as well. During my two-day hike along the Epynt Way in 26 degree weather, my back never felt too soggy and itchy.

Using the flap cover instead of the floating top lid.

Gregory Optic: Features

The Gregory Optic, in my opinion, has all the features you’d want as a backpacker. The hipbelt, for instance, has big pockets on either side for stashing your Jelly Babies. The overlid and underlid pockets are also large, with a handy key clip tucked away. Then there are the stretch mesh pockets: one huge one on the front of the pack and two side ones which have holes cut into them so that you can stuff away or grab your kit with ease while on the go.

Other details include a trekking pole attachment on the front, a handy bungee on the lefthand shoulder strap to hold your sunglasses, a forward pull hipbelt and glove-friendly zip pulls. Stowed away in the base is a waterproof cover – one that I found to fit easily and securely even when the pack is stuffed full.

A flap cover is also supplied. This can replace the top lid when you want a lighter, smaller pack. It’s a little fiddly getting this on as you have to thread the webbing straps through the adjustment buckles, but that’s not too much of an issue as you’re not exactly going to be changing it that often. With that flap cover and all of the side straps cinched in, the Optic essentially transforms into a large day hiking pack. I used it in that form on my hike up Suilven and it was perfect.


The Gregory Optic is on the higher end of the scale price-wise at £185 (Osprey Kestrel 48: £140, Lowe Alpine Altus 42:47: £112, Deuter Futura Pro: £150) so it is a bit of an investment, but it is at least a very good bag. I really like it: it has all the right features, but doesn’t seem overloaded or overcomplicated by fiddly bits; it fits comfortably; the back system’s ventilation is effective; and finally, the design and fabrics give it a good, light weight without any compromises on stability, comfort and load bearing capacity. For any weekend wild camps, or even big multi-dayers, this is ideal.

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