Reviewed by PaleRider from Rocky Mountains on Saturday, March 09, 2013
The Baltoro has an excellent suspension. The belt, back panel, and shoulder straps form so well to the body that it feels like a part of you. The padding used on them is top notch. Best load bearing performance I've found on an internal frame pack. Keeps weight on your hips even during vigorous movement. The zippers are robust and the material is strong. Triple stitching with heavy thread throughout the whole pack. The sleeping bag compartment will hold approximately 700 cubic inches. The main compartment is just long enough to hold my tent wrapped in my 22" sleeping pad with the rest of my gear packed in around it. The hood and exterior pockets offer some additional storage. Simply put, it hauls gear securely and comfortably. I packed it up to 35lbs and it felt good.
Now for the drawbacks.... The exterior pocket designs are poor. The 2 lower (water bottle?) pockets are mesh which I never like because it's prone to tearing. The upper side pockets are sewn flat against the body of the pack with very little excess material to allow them to expand, so they don't hold a great deal. The large pocket on the back can hold more, but it would have been much better if the zipper was across the top instead of running vertically down the middle because this limits it's functionality. The pockets on the belt (also mesh) are too small for much beyond little stuff like lip balm .The excellent lumbar belt system makes more noise than my external frame pack. Not bad, but noticeable.
The Baltoro would be fantastic for hiking the AT or Camino because it's comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time. Also great for scrambling over rough terrain because it secures to the body so well and stays put. However, doing ecology fieldwork my pack is also a tool box. I need frequent access to gear without digging for it and extra organization. Due to limited function of the external pockets it's not ideal for my professional needs, but it's great for more typical outdoor adventure. I would also say unless you're an ultralight packer or just looking for a couple days worth of gear you may want to consider stepping up to the 75L.
Excellent pack, giving it 4 stars due to the pocket situation.