Gregory’s flashy golden Alpinisto backpack has become an increasingly popular site around Bozeman, Ouray and ranges mountains all over the place. I’ve used mine for everything from canyoneering in Utah to climbing the classic West Ridge of Forbidden Peak in the Cascades. It’s a good pack that tries to do a lot of things – some of those things it excels at, others it comes up slightly short. The overall result, though, is a comfortable heavy-hauler that can party hard in the alpine.
Gregory Alpinisto 50L Features:
- Stowable crampon pocket with puncture-resistant TPU panel
- Stowable, adjustable ice axe attachments
- Removable HDPE framesheet, aluminum frame stay, bivy pad, and hipbelt padding
- Top-loading design with side zip access to main compartment
- Fixed lid pocket with occipital cutout and security pocket on underside
- Single wand pocket
- Side compression straps with integrated ice axe retention
- Hydration sleeve with locking zip hose port
- Rope strap and emergency haul loops
- Expedition hipbelt with dual gear loops and ice clipper slots
- High-visibility exterior and interior liner
- Dual-layer HD nylon bottom panel
- Claimed weight: 3.4lbs
- MSRP: $239
Bring everything you need, anywhere you need it
There are quite a few alpine packs out there, and all of them are trying to do more or less the same two things: carry things and stay out of your way. You want something that will haul a pretty wide variety of loads comfortably (after all, mountaineering is a gear-intensive activity) but it can’t be so cumbersome that it impedes your ability to move elegantly and efficiently in the alpine. That’s the balancing act that the Alpinisto is trying to work through, and it’s how I’ll frame my discussion of its performance.
On one hand, the Alpinisto carries things well. With a higher capacity than we see on many alpine packs (which are often 35-45L) the Alpinisto can stretch anywhere from day trips to multiday expeditions. I would be confident with the suspension design well into the low 40-pound range, although ideally you’d be well below that on most trips. This is made possible by Gregory’s tremendous experience at making comfy packs – the Alpinisto has Gregory’s signature lumbar support and a comfortable yet minimalist harness featuring a pre-curved waist belt. Even here, you can see that Gregory had the mountain in mind with the design – the suspension design is all a tightly knit face fabric which sheds snow and crud easily.
50L sounds like a lot, but the Alpinisto is tricky to pack well. The widens at your hips, narrows at your waist and then opens up a bit again at the top. The result is, honestly, a little weird to pack. That extra space at the hips is hard to fit gear into since it basically flairs into little corner pockets. If it’s firm gear, it’ll affect the waist band’s fit. So, I don’t know, maybe save it for your dirty socks? What’s more, as the pack narrows as it comes up, it’s very easy to run out of space in the prime real estate in the middle of the pack, leaving you with either an excessively top- or bottom-heavy backpack. It’s not the end of the world, but it takes some time and thought (and perhaps a try or two) to pack really well. I like the fact that Gregory included a full-length side zipper which makes it easy to access random gear (like gloves that you didn’t think you’d need) without yardsailing on a cold and windy ridge.
There are a few other features that aid organization, too. The lid of the pack has two pockets, the outer one being very generously sized and easy to get into. The inner one has a key ring to help you make sure you can make your getaway from the trailhead once the climb is done. If you pop the lid, backsheet and bivvy pad out of the pack, you can shed something like 1.5lbs, turning the Alpinisto into a sub-2lb summit crusher. Woohoo. Otherwise, the only other pocket is a tiny wand pocket which works well with my homemade bamboo wands.
The outside of the Alpinisto is decked out in features. For one, the crampon pocket design is absolutely excellent. I much prefer having a crampon pocket to carrying a case, since the case (even if it’s just an old gaiter) adds unnecessary weight. The pocket is absolutely bomber and, what’s more, basically disappears when it’s not in use. The compression strap design is helpful, too. The clips are reversed on each side of the pack, so you can strap across the pack if you’re carrying unusual or awkward loads. I do wish that the clips were more specifically designed with gloves in mind, but I was always able to get to my gear with light/medium gloves on when needed. The straps are more than sufficient to pack a pair of keys, which makes me wonder why Gregory felt the need to include a pair of straps for an A-frame ski carry.
There are also conventional ice axe attachment loops which are very secure. The odd thing, though, is the ice tool attachment toggles. They are too fat to fit my friend’s Petzl Nomic tools, but they’ll fit my Black Diamond Vipers just fine. The Nomics, however, are a very popular tool and it’s baffling as to why Gregory wouldn’t ensure a huge range of compatibility with the tool attachments. If you’re feeling crafty it would not be hard to do a little cutting and stitching and modify them to fit your own tools, but don’t expect wider-headed tools to work with the Alpinisto. Bummer.
Finally, let’s talk a little about how well the pack moves. Frankly, it climbs very very well indeed. The contouring cut of the pack certainly helps here, as does the articulated hip belt and minimalist (though supportive!) harness design. You can easily remove the hip belt and the webbing band will stay in place to help secure loads. That said, keeping the hip belt on works well, too – it’s designed to sit high, above a harness, and has generous gear loops on either side.
The pack itself is made out of a mix of fabrics, the lightest being 210D nylon on the sides of the packs. The bottom of the pack is reinforced with a second layer of fabric for durability. I’ve spent plenty of time scraping this pack up against all sorts of rock, especially the brutal Cascades granite on Forbidden Peak. It wore holes through my shell, but the Alpinisto was totally unfazed.
- Extensive range of features, most of which are very helpful
- Includes a free bivvy pad, which you totally don’t have to use
- Supportive back panel carries loads better than most alpine packs
- Crossover compression strap design is simple but brilliant
- Gear loops on harness are generous
- Pack moves with you very well while you climb
- There are lighter/more affordable alpine packs
- Some features (A-frame ski straps, ice tool toggles) seem to be poorly implemented
- I found the sternum strap especially hard to adjust
The Bottom Line: Gregory Alpinisto 50L
The Gregory Alpinisto is a solid competitor if you’re looking for a new alpine pack. It’s a sound choice for those who know they’ll be carrying heavier loads or who simply like the comfort of a fully-featured Gregory with the chops for alpine. I think I’ll enjoy mine for many years to come.
Buy now: Available from Backcountry.com