A few weeks ago I showed up at the Cougar Rock campground in Mt. Rainier National Park for a night of civilized car camping before we set out the next morning to attempt a summit of Mt. Rainier. I glanced around and instantly got worried about the size of mybig pack. We were planning on summiting Mt. Rainier via the Tahoma Glacier route. As one of the longer routes we planned on a minimum of 4 days and possibly 5+ in case of bad weather and summit delays. The problem I saw was that somehow everyone else had a much smaller 60 liter pack and I had stuffed my Gregory Palisade 80 to the brim. The next morning I was relieved when I saw that everyone else had a myriad of items strapped to the outside of their packs: sleeping pads, sleeping bags, boots, ropes and other items. I had only my ice ax and snow picket outside. Everything else was packed away out of the elements inside my pack. I was happy to not have items swinging around and falling off my pack throughout the trip.
When the decision was made to do the Tahoma Glacier route I knew that the only choice for me was the Palisade 80. It has a large capacity and, as always with Gregory, nicely padded hip and shoulder straps to minimize the pain of carrying all that weight. How much weight? A little over 50 lbs. Through the course of the trip I came to appreciate all of the nice touches to the Palisade 80. I could really cinch up the hip belt to carry most of the weight and the thick foam kept the pressure from being uncomfortable. I saw others in my group with large welts on their hips after a single day of hiking. The adjustable sternum strap and, my favorite, suspension straps to keep the weight just where I want it. Once I got the adjustments dialed in it felt more like 30 lbs. instead of 50. The hook and loop straps to keep my ice ax and trekking poles secure is a very welcome touch. I even used one of them to secure my snow picket while moving up to the glaciers. Lateral compression straps kept everything together and all of the buckles and straps, although fairly light, are heavy duty enough to handle all the weight and abuse you can throw their way.
The extendable chimney on the Palisade 80 is awesome. it’s huge and the lid extends all the way up so you can still keep the contents of your pack covered and secure. I put the rope strap to good use for my 30 meter glacier/alpine rope. The lid pocket and the pocket on the back of the pack are both large and a great place to store trail food and other items you need to get to quickly and often. In addition to the large and extendable capacity Gregory has done a good job on other nice compartment touches. The lowest portion has the compartment that I usually use for my sleeping bag. The bottom of the pack is covered in a rubber material which was greatly appreciated on the wet trails leading up to Mt. Rainier as well as setting the pack on the snow and ice of the glacier. The divider above the sleeping bag compartment is easily opened from the bottom to allow access to other items, or to make the interior one large compartment.
The single greatest feature for accessing the items in my pack was the interior zipper that was opened by way of the exterior back pocket. Both the pocket and the interior zipper open up in a big “U” shape creating a 6″ x 14″ opening. Big packs can pack a lot of gear and supplies. The problem lies in getting access to things in the middle of the pack without dumping half of the contents on the ground. The big opening to the interior of the pack makes getting to food and water a snap. I was able to simply open the back pocket, open the interior zipper and swap empty water bottles for full as well as get to my light down jacket and other items that are nice to have available. Along with these features you’ll find other handy pockets on the sides and hip strap. I like to keep my point and shoot camera handy by putting it in the hip strap pocket. The pack is made of very durable 210d Double Diamond ripstop nylon. All of the zippers have nice zipper pulls, great for when you’re wearing thick gloves. The Palisade 80 comes in two colors: Cinder Cone Red (my favorite) and Iron Gray, for those that prefer a more subdued color.
Despite the fact that I did not treat the pack gingerly and pushed some of the seams and buckles to their limit everything held up nicely and the pack still looks completely new. The Gregory Palisade 80 really is a fantastic pack for a week-long trip. I will grab the Palisade 80 without hesitation the next time I need to haul 50 lbs up a mountain.