There are sooooo many different brands that make backpacks that it’s virtually impossible to choose – at least without doing the proper research. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m about to buy anything, I always look at reviews; whether it’s just a new toothbrush or a new laptop.
If you also like to know everything upfront, you’ve come to the right place. In this review, we will take a detailed look at the most popular backpacks from both Osprey and Gregory. Both these brands make high-quality gear, and it’s going to be tough to choose between them.
But, I’m here to show you which backpacks are the cheapest, which perform the best, and which ones will give you the best value for money. So, if that sounds good, just keep on reading! :>
First of all you need to decide what kind of backpack you need. In this review we will check out three different types of backpacks – for travel, for daily commute and for outdoor activities (hiking, mountain climbing, camping etc.).
It is important to know what you need it for because different types of backpacks have different features. So, if you know what you are looking for, jump to that section with the quick navigation above. If not, feel free to read about all of them, and then decide which one is the most suitable for you.
This is just a wild guess, but I have a feeling that you are on a budget. Or that you at least have a price in mind that you wouldn’t like to go over.
In general, Osprey backpacks are cheaper than the Gregory ones. But, that also depends on a couple different factors – the size of the backpack and its color.
So, if you are on a tight budget, I can tell you right now that you should choose an Osprey backpack. On the other hand, if you don’t care too much about the prices of these backpacks, then be on the lookout for the best performing ones (read more below).
This is probably the most important thing you should consider. You probably want to get the most out of your backpack, and so you should choose the one that has the best overall performance.
But there are also several other things to consider; the size, the value for money and also comfort. So, I will do my best to give you that information upfront – along with the name of the backpack. So, be sure to carefully read the subheadings, to see which backpacks are the largest, the cheapest, the best performing etc.
Here we will take a look at the best outdoor backpacks from both brands. These are their most popular backpacks for hiking, mountain climbing and similar activities. So if you are looking for this type of backpack, read on!
The Zulu backpack is one of Gregory’s all time best sellers, and there is a good reason for it. It has a ton of cool features that make it great for all kinds of outdoor activities.
One of those features is the integrated rain cover, which you won’t fully appreciate until you get caught in the rain. Another is the hip harness belt that allows helps distribute the weight of the backpack across your entire torso, so that your shoulders aren’t carrying all the weight. And what’s even cooler is that the Zulu has pockets on the hipbelt.
It also has a ton of other pockets, apart from the main compartment. And there are compression straps on this backpack that will further help with securing its load.
In terms of comfort, the Zulu does not disappoint. Its back is lined with EVA foam, which will keep you comfortable throughout the day. And the backpack’s back panel is ventilated. That means that it is breathable, and that your back won’t get too sweaty.
Overall, this is probably my favorite backpack in this section. But, it’s not the cheapest one – that’s the Osprey Hikelite. So if that is your main concern, just keep on reading.
If you are on a tight budget, this is the best backpack you can get for under $100. But, it is also (obviously) the smallest backpack, with a 26-liter capacity. If you don’t mind its smaller capacity, then definitely get this one.
The Osprey Hikelite is equipped with everything that you could need for a hiking trip. It has an integrated rain cover, as well as a convenient front shove-it pocket. And it has a hydration sleeve that is compatible with Osprey’s Hydraulics reservoirs for hydration on the go.
It is also very comfortable, with the ventilated AirSpeed back panel. The sternum strap and the hipbelt harness will also ensure that you stay comfortable while you are carrying this backpack. And the compression straps that go over the main compartment and the front compartment will help keep everything in place.
Overall, the Hikelite is an awesome backpack for a day’s adventure. However, since it is really small (when compared to other backpacks in this section), it isn’t really suitable for longer trips.
With a capacity of 75 liters, this is the largest hiking backpack we are going to look at today. Since it’s approximately the size of a suitcase, this is the perfect backpack for you if you are planning on going on a week-long exploration of the Amazon forest. And that account for the week-long return home from the forest.
Jokes aside, this is a great backpack for anyone who really needs something big. It is perfect for long trips, and its multiple compartments and pockets will also allow you to keep everything organized. And the best part is that it comes with a removable daypack.
Let’s say you are going camping somewhere; at one point you will want to leave the camp, and the daypack will be perfect for that adventure because it allows you to carry only the things that you need, and not everything you brought on the trip.
As for the comfort, the Baltoro does not disappoint in that aspect. It comes with a sternum strap and a hipbelt harness that also has pockets (just like the Zulu). And with the ventilated back panel, it will almost feel as if though you are carrying a cloud on your shoulders. But, all that comfort will cost you a lot of money, so keep that in mind.
This is my overall favorite backpack. That’s because it is incredibly lightweight but still sturdy, and it has a ton of features. It is large enough for a week-long trip, and if that is not enough for you, it also comes in a Osprey’s hydraulics reservoirs (full review).
The most interesting feature of this backpack is the closure of the main compartment. It doesn’t have a traditional zipper, but rather drawcord closure. And, the top part of the backpack goes over the drawcord, which ensures the security of your stuff.
The Levity is equipped with a lot of different pockets and compartments, as well as an internal hydration sleeve, which is compatible with all of Osprey’s hydraulics reservoirs.
The back panel of this backpack is fully ventilated, so that you can stay cool throughout your adventures. And it is also equipped with a sternum strap and a padded hipbelt harness. I don’t know about you, but those features just scream comfort to me.
Granted, some of the larger backpacks for hiking can also be pretty good for travelling. But, they do lack some important features, such as dedicated compartments for you electronics. Because of that, we will check out a few backpacks that are designed to be your travel companions.
The Border is the size of carry-on, which means that it’s a great in-cabin companion. And, it has TSA friendly opening, which will significantly decrease the time that you spend at TSA checkpoints.
In addition to that, the dedicated laptop compartment can fit a laptop of up to 15”. And there is also a tablet sleeve in this compartment, so that your electronics can be safe and together.
This backpack has a front compartment and a pocket on the front panel, in addition to the main and laptop compartments. So, there is plenty of space to pack all your necessities.
In terms of your comfort, you will adore the EVA foam padded back panel. It is really soft, and so is the contoured shoulder harness. The border also features a sternum strap that will keep the shoulder straps in place at all times. Overall this is good backpack, but honestly it’s not the best money can buy.
This is definitely one of the best backpack you can get for travel, and it’s under $150. It is just large enough for a week-long trip (if you pack light), and it opens up like a suitcase. I find that a really cool and convenient feature, and honestly it just makes me want to buy the backpack.
The Compass is equipped with several different pockets and compartments, and that includes a TSA friendly laptop and tablet compartment. In addition to that, there is also a separate, expandable compartment on the bottom of the backpack. It’s the perfect size to store your dirty shoes, if you ask me.
As for your carrying comfort, the back panel is fully padded with EVA foam. The shoulder straps are also padded, and they are equipped with a sternum strap. That will ensure that the backpack won’t budge an inch while it’s on your back. But, there is one thing I really don’t like about this Gregory travel pack.
The only downside of the Compass is that it doesn’t have a hipbelt. That is because it still a pretty large backpack, with a 40 liter capacity. A hipbelt would help distribute its weight more evenly, and it would keep you more comfortable. However, the lack of it means that your shoulders will have to carry all the weight, which will inevitably result in soreness. But it does have carry handles on the top and bottom, so you could just carry it with your hands.
The Sojourn is the ultimate travel backpack. Why? Well, because of its convertible function. It has shoulder straps that allow you to carry it like a backpack, but it also has wheels and a wheel handle, that allow you to pull it along. And, there is no fuss when switching it from shoulder straps to wheels; just put it on the ground and take out the handle and you’re done.
I honestly love that feature, but I also really like the opening of this backpack. You have to lay it flat, and then unzip the main compartment – really similar to a suitcase opening. And I also really like the many pockets in the main compartment. They allow for excellent organization, and you will really appreciate that on longer trips. Also, the Sojourn 45 is the smallest backpack in this line, and it also comes in two larger sizes.
But, there are a few downsides to this backpack. For one thing, it doesn’t feature a dedicated electronics compartment. Also, it doesn’t have TSA friendly opening, which could cause you to spend more time than you need to at TSA checkpoints. But it is overall my favorite travel backpack, precisely because of its convertibility. And honestly, if we could somehow combine the practicality of the Gregory Compass with the carrying comfort of this one, I think we would create the mother of all travel backpacks!
My favorite thing about the Osprey Farpoint 55 is that it comes with a detachable daypack. I find that to be an incredibly useful and convenient feature, particularly if you aren’t bringing along a suitcase with you. The daypack’s capacity is 13 liters, which means that the capacity of the main pack is 42 liters.
Another really cool feature of the backpack is that is has a padded laptop sleeve. And, you know what else is padded on the Fairpoint? The back panel and the shoulder straps, which means that you will stay comfortable when you are carrying it. And, unlike the Gregory Compass, it has a hipbelt along with a sternum strap. That means that the load of the backpack can be evenly distributed among your entire torso, and that you can say goodbye to sore shoulders.
Overall, I think this is the backpack that will give you the best value for money. It is large enough, and it has almost all the features that are necessary for a good travel backpack. The one thing that it lacks is TSA friendly opening, and if you can overlook that, the Farpoint is the best choice for you, particularly because of its affordability.
In this section we will compare the best backpacks for day-to-day use, also known as daypacks. And even some of the backpacks that we already checked out in the review can double as daypacks. So if you are looking for something for school or daily commute, welcome to your section!
The I-Street is Gregory’s most affordable daypack. It’s a great choice for your daily needs, particularly if you live in a rainy area. That’s because this backpack is fully waterproof, with a double lined water-resistant bottom.
That also means that rain won’t be able to touch your electronics in their dedicated compartment. Yes, there is a laptop sleeve in this backpack, as well as a couple other compartments. The lined quick-access pocket with a keychain is also a really convenient inclusion.
The main compartment of this Gregory backpack features roll-top closure. And while that might be somewhat unusual, it’s also a great anti-theft feature. If a thief wanted to get inside your backpack, they would have to undo the hook that goes over the main compartment, and then lift the top part up. And you would most definitely feel that.
Overall, this is a solid daypack. It is not the best looking out of the four, but it is among the most affordable ones. So, if you are on a budget, the I-Street is a great option for you.
The J-Street is arguably the hottest backpack out of the bunch. It is very sleek looking, and it comes in three gorgeous colors. But the black one is definitely the most elegant one. So, if you were looking for a modern, sleek backpack, then this one is definitely the best one for you.
There is a dedicated laptop compartment in the J-Street, as well as several different pockets. The laptop compartment can fit a laptop that’s up to 15”, and there is also a dedicated tablet sleeve, as well as a couple pockets for your cables and cords. Additionally, the main compartment has an organization panel inside, which is essential if you like to stay organized.
This Gregory backpack has padded shoulder straps with a sternum strap, but that’s not the coolest thing about it. In fact, the coolest thing about it is that it’s waterproof. And it has a double lined water-resistant bottom. So, you can rest assured that all your belongings will stay dry, no matter how hard it pours outside.
The Osprey Quasar backpack is one of my all time favorites. It features a very functional and practical design, but it also look good. And you can choose between 4 really cool colors, but the Brilliant Blue is definitely my favorite.
Naturally, this backpack has a padded electronics sleeve, as well as a ton of different pockets. In fact, it features 4 exterior pockets, 2 interior zippered pocket and 7 interior slip pockets. Well if all of that doesn’t help you keep your stuff organized, I don’t know what will.
In addition to all that, there are also elastic bungee cords on the very front of the backpack. They provide you with additional storage space, and they can even fit a helmet when you stretch them enough. I really like this feature because it kind of makes the function of the backpack convertible. That’s because we find bungee straps on hiking backpacks more often than on daypacks.
All in all, the Quasar is a great backpack, but it’s neither the cheapest nor the sleekest out of the bunch. But, the ventilated mesh back panel and the sternum strap certainly make it one of the best performing backpacks.
How does a multi-functional 28-liter daypack for some $50 sound? My guess is awesome. The Daylite plus (full review) is a very good and incredibly lightweight daypack that is just the right size for daily adventures.
One really cool thing about this backpack is that it is fully compatible with almost all of Osprey’s travel backpacks. To be a bit more precise, it is compatible with the backpacks that feature a zip-off daypack, such as the Farpoint.
The back panel of the backpack is both ventilated and padded, for your ultimate comfort. And the Daylite is also equipped with a sternum strap and a hipbelt, so you won’t be just really comfortable, but also pain-free.
In terms of storage space, this backpack has a roomy main compartment, as well as several other pockets including a front shove-it pocket. There is also a padded laptop sleeve, as well as a hydration sleeve – another feature that makes this backpack so versatile.
Well that’s a really hard question, particularly if I don’t know what kind of backpack you need. So, I’ll tell you what my favorites are from each section.
If you are looking for a good, sturdy backpack for hiking and similar outdoor activities, Gregory Zulu or Osprey Hikelite are probably your best choices.
The Zulu is a large backpack with a ton of cool features. But, the most important features of this backpack are the ones that ensure your carrying comfort, such as the ventilated backpanel, padded shoulder straps, and the sternum strap and hipbelt. And the pockets on the hipbelt are just the cherry on top.
On the other hand, the Hikelite is the cheapest out of the bunch. So if you are on a budget, go for the Osprey one; it definitely won’t disappoint you.
If you are in need of a travel backpack, then I would recommend the Osprey Farpoint. I just love how convenient it is, and particularly with all the different compartments and sleeves. And what is best of all, it comes equipped with a zip-off daypack, so you basically get two products for the price of one.
For day-to-day needs, I would have to recommend the Gregory J-Street backpack. It is definitely the sleekest looking, and it has all the features that make a great daypack. And on top of all of those, it’s waterproof – what else can you ask for?
Those are my favorites. In the end, you should choose the one you like the most, regardless of whether I like or not. And head over to Amazon to check out all of these backpacks in even more detail (and to check out their prices)!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!