Why I buy (and wear) Gregory Mountain Products
Let us start at the beginning-
In the 70's, my Boy Scout Troop (Troop 961) and Explorer Post (Post 961) was/were a hiking troop/post. We went on many backpacking trips. One of our leaders (Maurice Cox) had designed an External Frame pack (which was partial designed by Andy Dollinger who started A-16) and this pack was the standard pack of use in our Troop and in our Explorer Post. Parents would actually get together and sew the packs and the leaders would make the frames. This was, and still is a very comfortable pack. At the time it was "State of the Art".
In 1978, while heading down to A-16 (In Mission Valley-San Diego, Ca), I noticed a new store in A-16's building. It was Gregory Mountain Products. I went in and met Wayne and Suszy Gregory. They were very friendly and helpful. They showed me and told me about their packs. Man, was their pack comfortable. Since I had the plan of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail shortly, I thought about the trip and how the pack would handle. One good thing about the pack was that the frame was inside the pack and I wouldn't have to worry about the frame breaking. To make a long story short, I bought the Pack (The Cassin) and have never regretted it. Although I ended up not hiking the PCT due to a shoulder injury and later shoulder surgery (and his packs are the ONLY packs that my shoulder can handle without pain), I have used the pack on many other trips and adventures.
If my Cassin could talk, what a life it would tell. My Cassin has been all over the western United States, not only for my own recreational use, but I also used it when I was a member of San Diego Mountain Rescue and as a National Park Ranger. It has been used in hot and cold weather, technical winter climbs (in my younger days), desert hikes and down in New Zealand and Australia and over to Europe. It was used during rescue efforts in Mexico City after their big Earthquake in the early 80's. I have often wondered how many people later bought a Gregory because of conversations I have had with fellow hikers, mountaineers and travelers concerning Gregory packs. Even with all the hard use it has got, it is still in very good shape (in fact some people have asked how it has stayed in such good shape and I answer back "it's a Gregory").
While Gregory was at his location in Mission Valley, I explained to Wayne that I needed more room in the pack for the PCT and I also wanted a good day pack. With that in mind, he gave me the first proto type of his famous day pack. It had some hardware in the back that allowed it to be attached to the Cassin. That day pack, too served quite well, but has been retired.
As we are all aware, Gregory is no longer in Mission Valley, but about one hour north in Temecula. I had the chance to visit the factory and Wayne in early summer of 1998 (It's been almost 20 years since I last saw him too.). The reason for the visit was that my friend Ken (Ken and I go back more than 25 years. We hiked the John Muir Trail together in 1976 and Ken later hiked the PCT. Ken and I have logged many miles hiking together and most of them with a Gregory pack on our backs. And again, his packs are the only packs I would trust a trip on) was having a problem with the pack he recently bought on the east coast and while here for a business trip, decided to go up to Temecula to try to get this problem solved. I, of course, tagged along.
Wayne greeted us and took us back to the factory explaining things and listening to Ken talk about his problem with his pack. Wayne kept on telling Ken that "I would go to the ends of the earth to satisfy you." Wayne showed us all the fabric (and new fabric that was coming out) and hardware and had us test it. We went up to his office and talked more. Wayne showed to Ken that he had actually been sold the wrong size pack. After much convincing, Ken agreed that the medium size was the size for him. While there, I kept on wondering why Wayne was trying to sell us on his packs. We already knew and agreed that his packs are the best made and wearing packs on this planet.
This visit just reinforced that Gregory packs are simply the best. I'm a believer and wearer of Gregory packs.
Once again I had the chance to go up to Gregory Mountain Products in early December 2000. Spoke with Wayne for about 2 hours on a wide range of subjects and was able to see what is coming up for field testing soon. Let me just say that Wayne is working on and experimenting on a lot of new fabrics and materials (both-lighter and stronger). It looks like the future could bring us MUCH lighter and stronger packs from the master pack builder, Wayne Gregory.
Once again I had the opportunity to talk to and have lunch with Wayne (the joys of living only 45 minutes away). And once again he amazes me with the latest in technology that will be seen in later models of his designs. All I can say is that these new features (that will be incorporated in his packs) just totally blew me away. They are so simple in thought, but so technologically advanced. Once again he shows why he is the Master of all Pack Builders. While I was there, I thought about how back in the 70s, I started off with a "state of the art" external framed pack, and I look at what Wayne is designing now and it's like "night and day". What a difference. And Wayne has seen it all. And if you have a chance, check out the September 2003 issue of "Boys Life". There is a great article about Wayne in it. Wayne also knows some pretty good jokes.
Update August 2, 2009
I had the chance to visit Wayne and his factory in Temecula one last time this last December before his move to Sacramento. He was very excited about the move and showed us pictures of the new place. Once again, Wayne showed us the latest in technology. We discussed the Ultra light packs, which, much to our surprise, he's a big fan of.
I currently use Gregory's Denali Pro, Thru-hiker and his day and a half packs on trips. I do own some of his other products. The Cassin has been retired.
To Contact Gregory Mountain Products (Don't email me-I just do shameful plugs!):
Gregory Mountain Products
1414 K Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95814
Updated August 2, 2009
BTW if you want to send me email, you can here: