The majority of my recent backpack purchases have been to haul gear for the family, but this time I was in search of one just for me. Because of that, I wanted something lightweight, well built, and with superb versatility. After some research, I decided the Gregory Paragon 48 fit my needs on paper, so it was time to put it to the test along the Front Range.
Gregory Paragon 48 Features:
- Fully-adjustable fit
- Separate sleeping bag compartment
- 6 exterior pockets
- Aerolon Suspension features aluminum frame and Matrix foam ventilation
- Hydration sleeve compatible
- Top/bottom style pack access
- Includes rain cover
- Gear Capacity M/L: 48L, S/M: 45L
- Weight: M/L: 3 lbs. 3 oz, S/M: 2 lbs. 15 oz.
- Fits Torso: M/L: 18 – 22 inches, S/M: 15 – 18 inches
- Fits Waist/Hips: M/L: 29 – 53 inches, S/M: 27 – 48 inches
- Dimensions: M/L: 29 x 13 x 10 inches, S/M: 27 x 13 x 10 inches
- Price: $179.95
Achieving the Proper Fit
I’ll tell you my biggest gripe about packs: I have a hard time finding packs that fit me well. I’ve been measured and I’ve bought packs with a lot of adjustments. Still, I’ve had a lot of packs that don’t fit me or don’t ride well on the trail.
The crazy thing is that with the Gregory Paragon 48 the sizing was spot-on and the adjustments were easy. I got the fit dialed in very quickly. The Paragon 48 has unlocked the comfort badge in my book with its EVA foam shoulder straps and wide waist belt that makes carrying a loaded pack a breeze.
There’s a lot of versatility built into the organization of the Paragon 48. The main body of the pack is wide open with only a hydration bladder sleeve. The zippered sleeping back compartment is an added bonus in the classic location at the bottom of the pack, which also opens up into the main body so you can access your gear from either end of the pack.
At 48L, the volume is large enough that you can go for a well stocked weekend, or a lighter multi-day trip. So far I’ve kept things on the light end with the Paragon packing for only overnighters sleeping under the stars. In that mode, I was able to go lightweight and simple and I had unused space in the main compartment.
The detachable lid features two pockets. One slimmer pocket which is perfect for providing quick access to those things you use more frequently (snacks, map, or pocket water filter). The larger pocket is great for items like your headlamp, beanie, multi-tool, etc. And, since the lid is also removable, you can ditch it to shed a few ounces and simplify the pack.
The front of the pack features a large, mesh pocket. You know how versatile these can be. Contents are secure with a single buckle at the top of the pocket. My favorite use has been for stowing my rainjacket or an insulating layer that I put on during stops.
Two large, mesh water bottle pockets round out the sides of the pack. They are big enough to fit a standard Nalgene. Compression straps can help keep your contents in. Just don’t count on them to keep small items in place during demanding maneuvers on the trail. As an aside, the larger Paragon models feature bottle pockets that are accessed from the front — allowing easier access while wearing the pack. Unfortunately, you won’t find these on the 48 (it’s on my wishlist).
This pack also includes a few smaller stow options as well. You’ll find ice axe/trekking pole straps on the front of the pack and the hipbelt features two pockets, one mesh, one not. These are big enough for snacks or a small point-and-shoot camera. Smaller smartphones will also fit. Unfortunately, my Nexus 6P wouldn’t fit. The shoulder strap includes what they call “sunglass quickstow system.” This works great to keep your sunglasses ready and out of the way. All of these features add up to a lot for this small and light of a package.
As mentioned, the EVA foam shoulder straps and waist belt provide quality cushioning under load. The back panel is cut-out foam with mesh, similar to the shoulder straps, with the goal of increasing airflow and prevent sweaty back. It does a decent job of promoting airflow, though I did still get hot and sticky under it. I’ll add that the aluminum frame kept things steady to boot.
- Packed with a lot of features for a lighter-weight pack
- Rides well and carries weight nicely
- Good performance for the weight
- Wish it had the front facing water bottle pockets like the larger Paragon packs
- If you are highly organized, you might wish for a few more organization options
The Bottom line: Gregory Paragon 48
At sub-four pounds, the Paragon 48 is a great pack. It’s feature-rich, rides well, and is well made. This size and feature-set is great for overnight trips or multi-day adventures alike.
Buy Now: Available at REI