Firstly let’s start this blog talking about the sale of Gregory, this will help you understand why you might not have heard of Gregory before. Back in 2010 a company that used to go by the name of Clarus bought Black Diamond for $90 million and the underdog rucksack brand Gregory for $45 million. Clarus shortly changed their name to Black Diamond and started to really push the development of the BD and Gregory brand.
In 2014 Black Diamond did something special, they managed to sell an unknown rucksack company (especially in the UK) for an eye watering $85 million! But how did they do this? And in the space of four years? Well it was quite simple, they stripped the brand back to its roots and committed themselves to what Wayne Gregory set about doing in 1977, it’s time for a Gregory history class…
At the age of 14 Wayne Gregory designed his first backpack for a Boy Scout project. Shortly after he met Andy Drollinger who is the founder of Adventure 16 or A16 as its known today (and probably back then). Over the next couple of years Wayne would hang around the A16 factory buying materials and creating his own backpacks, which eventually got him his first job at A16.
In 1970 Wayne started his first company called Sunbird which specialised in external framed rucksacks. In 1973 he called it a day due to his frustrations and the limitations of external frames. He became a freelance designer for the outdoor industry designing sleeping bags, tents and technical apparel. It was from his freelancing that he noticed a lot of up and coming brands working on “soft pack” rucksacks and completely ditching the external frame work. Seeing this technological breakthrough he decided to get back to his first love, rucksack design, and in 1977 Gregory Packs was born.
When Wayne started Gregory he didn’t want just to build and sell rucksacks he wanted to improve the experience and comfort of rucksacks. He spent years designing and redesigning packs. He would talk tech with his customers, getting their feedback and using that to build the Gregory heritage, he wanted to know first-hand what worked and what didn’t. Wayne soon realised that in the backpack business fit was king, he has pioneered many firsts which we take for granted in our backpacks today. Gregory was the first company to build their packs in different frames, harness and waist belt sizes; and most importantly the first (and only) rucksack manufacturer to develop a waistband system that adjusts to fit different hip angles which automatically improves load transfer.
Gregory also developed the first centre-locking bar tack which is a stitch that ends and locks off on the centre of a seam instead of the side (which a lot of modern packs still do) this gives increased strength at major stress points. It’s because of these steps that Wayne and the Gregory team took that made them stand out from other rucksack brands, Gregory are noted for their innovative design, ergonomic fit and an obsession with quality which they proudly still have today.
When Black Diamond took over Gregory it was these key values that they kept and even improved. That’s the main reason why you probably haven’t heard of Gregory, they haven’t mass produced themselves like a lot of other rucksack brands, they have kept their product's core values at heart.
Here’s a cool video that sums up Gregory’s “ethos”:
Weekends: When Real Life Begins from Gregory Packs on Vimeo
The future looks bright when it comes to Gregory and knowing that Samsonite have Gregory under their umbrella it’s only going to get better! Now the history part is explained, we would like to talk briefly about our three favourite packs from Gregory. Let’s begin shall we?
Miwok 24 Rucksack
The first pack that we would like to talk about is the Miwok 24. This is a great lightweight pack. Perfect for trail runners, cyclists and fast-pace hikers. Even in their day packs Gregory don’t cut corners. With the Miwok you get Gregory’s BioSynic suspension giving you a perfect fitting rucksack. The hydration sleeve is external so you can fill out the hydration bladder quickly without having to go into your main pack. The Miwok is perfect for any type of outdoor activity in the UK. If you are looking for a lightweight super strong and most importantly comfortable day pack then look no further.
Miwok & Maya Day Packs from Gregory from Gregory Packs on Vimeo
Women’s J 53 Rucksack
The reason why we have picked the J rucksack is pure and simple, it's fit! We have heard nothing but praise from women about this pack from the web but also from our store in Faversham (where of course they have all been trained on how to fit a Gregory pack).
The J is lightweight with tons of pockets and features that even after two years you will still be finding things out about this pack. The CrossFlo system enables cool air to circulate on your back, the strap systems also are breathable and do a great job at keeping you cool.
Z & J Ventilated Packs from Gregory from Gregory Packs on Vimeo
Baltoro 65 Backpack
The Baltoro is a genuine classic from Gregory. When Black Diamond took over the company they brought this pack back from the dead! Although it’s got that classic design and feel the Baltoro is one of the most comfortable packs that we all (here at Simply Hike) give the massive thumbs up.
You can strip this pack down and adjust it to fit you perfectly, there are so many compression straps and pockets to play with it’s also like a transformer. (We did a review a while back on it, read it >here<). The back system is very comfortable and the fit is second to none (which I’m sure everyone has gathered now from Gregory). If you are after a pack for long distance then look no further. With a newer version out later this year we can't wait to see what they have changed and improved!
Baltoro & Deva Backpacking Packs from Gregory from Gregory Packs on Vimeo
There we have a little insight to the rucksack brand Gregory! Have you got a Gregory? How long have you had it for? And most importantly what’s your favourite feature? Just comment below!