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Gregory Border vs Tortuga Outbreaker

Gregory’s Border 35 aims to be a traveler’s best friend on the road. They did some things right, but the important details are severely outdated and ones that frequent travelers will spot right away.

A Cardinal Sin: Top-Loading

Top-loading backpacks are perfect for carrying books in high school or college. For travel backpacks, however, they're an unideal solution.

It’s a fact of life that the item you’re looking for -- passport, clean shirt, or fresh socks -- always falls to the bottom of a top-loading backpack. They're frustrating to pack and even more impossible to organize. 

By being a top-loading backpack, Gregory’s Border 35 guarantees your stuff will end up disorganized and hard to reach. You’ll waste beautiful afternoons re-packing your bag after tearing it apart, searching for that one white shirt you packed.

A front-loading backpack -- one that opens like a book, like the Outbreaker -- gives you easy access to all your stuff while keeping it neatly organized. The entire front of the bag opens for easy packing and unpacking, so you can take out or pack a specific item without shuffling your pack’s entire contents.

Better access to your bag means you’re free to pack strategically. Pack lighter items in the bottom for ergonomic-friendly packing and trust they’ll stay where you put them. 

Talk about a traveler’s dream come true for their bag.

Lack of Internal Organization

Clothes and gear have a tendency for raucous parties on the road. They tumble about, heads banging. When the party stops, electronic cords and sock tangle together, exhausted. Wrinkled shirts mingle with dirty underwear.

In the Border 35, these parties are frequent due to the lack of internal organization in the main compartment. Oh wait, the Border 35 has some organization, but it’s for your gear -- not for your clothes.

Don’t you deserve organization for both?

Put your foot down. Demand respect from your travel backpack. Keep your clothes and gear separate.

In the Outbreaker, your clothes and gear have their own compartments. Inside the main compartment, you have two side pockets for small clothing items like socks, t-shirts, bras, or underwear. When not in use, these soft-sided pockets fold flat for no wasted space.

As for your valuable electronics, unzip Outbreaker’s lie-flat electronics compartment. Your laptop travels in fleece-lined comfort in a back panel secured by a velcro tab. Opposite the laptop sleeve are three mesh pockets for chargers, adapters, batteries, power strips, and external hard drives.

In other words, it’s your traveling office desk. It doesn’t get cooler than that.

What Tough Fabric?

Gregory claims the Border 35’s “clean exterior not only looks smart, it sheds weather and resists snagging in crowded subway cars and overstuffed overhead compartments as well.”

If you travel with Border 35, be prepared to run screaming from a downpour. The Border 35 pack can’t handle it.

The Border 35 is not water-resistant.

Whoop-de-do, Gregory, but you don’t want a backpack that “looks smart” but can’t handle a drizzle.

You want a backpack that’s tough. One with an unbelievably durable exterior able to withstand repeated abuse and unpredictable weather.

You deserve a backpack that keeps up with your amazing adventures, easily chilling under a dirty bus seat, getting sprayed with cool Indian Ocean salt-spray, or dragged along a train’s floor. This pack needs to stay together under pressure -- no matter the situation.

You deserve a backpack you don’t have to worry about… and not just about “snagging in the crowded subway cars.”

That’s exactly what we designed the Outbreaker to do. Crafted from high-performance sailcloth, this fabric is engineered to take a beating and look good after. Look so good you’re searching for any evidence of said beating, but that unreadable fabric isn’t giving up any clues.

Any scars are worth writing home about. You’ll be hard-pressed to rip Outbreaker’s sailcloth thanks to its four layers and X-Ply pattern.

At least two of those layers keep any water at bay. Meaning your gear and clothes are safe and dry on the rainiest Thai adventure in the wettest month ever seen.

Poor Ergonomics

Ergonomics is important. When a backpack works against your body’s natural movements, that disconnect knots up your neck, shoulders, and back muscles in a bad way.

Gregory didn’t think ergonomics -- or your comfort -- was important. This backpack is missing a very vital hip belt.

You need a weight-bearing hip belt to take the load off your shoulders. When fitted correctly, a hip belt’s magic is evident: you’ll feel 80% of your bag’s weight move down to your hips.

Suddenly, you’ll stand straighter and feel lighter, ready for any adventure. Oh, and no painful knots in tight shoulders and neck. (Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, and in that case, do what you will.)

The Outbreaker has a proper hip belt to transfer your backpack’s weight from your shoulders to your powerful hips to carry the burden.

Does Chafing Sound Fun?

The Outbreaker’s shoulder straps, hip belt, and back padding are thicker than you’ll find on almost any travel backpack. They’re closer to padding found on large hiking packs.

Soft, sweat-wicking Ariaprene foam makes up the top of the padding and underside of the straps. A high-performance foam, it is engineered for tough workouts.

Ariaprene doesn’t hold moisture and wicks away sweat. Finally, no more sweaty uncomfortable back underneath your pack.

What did Gregory pick for Border 35’s two skinny shoulder straps?

Their website says:

“Contoured shoulder harness shaped with EVA foam for ultimate comfort.”

What’s EVA foam? It is a vinyl-based foam. Sounds itchy, uncomfortable and prone to holding moisture. Sounds very low-performance. We’ll pass on EVA foam, thanks.

No Reachable Pockets

Gregory Border 35 overlooked putting any pockets within easy reach.

The face of the backpack is one big pocket. Gregory didn’t even split up it into separate pockets to keep your passport from migrating south. Instead they force you dig for your passport, panicking that it got lost and wasting valuable minutes.

Sure, they put plenty of handles on the top and sides for easy grabbing, but where’s a good spot to stash your phone and passport through security? Or that small paperback you’re reading?

Wouldn’t it be easier to split up the front panel into two pockets, a top one for documents and a lower one with a concealed zipper for more irreplaceable items?

Or maybe pockets on a hip belt, accessible in a single movement from your hands?

Your phone and passport are the last two items in your hands at the airport whether you’re in security or at your gate. These two items are your most valuable. Zipping them into a pocket within easy reach adds needed comfort to your travels.

The Outbreaker’s front has two pockets on its face. But more than that, Outbreaker’s hip belt has two zippered pockets for your phone and passport. So your most valuable items are a single movement away.

Read more about the Outbreaker and how we crafted it to be our favorite pack on miles of adventures.

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