Gear Review: Gregory Praxus 45 Travel Backpack
Too Long; Didn't Read
- Very comfortable harness
- ActiveShield compartment for dirty clothes
- 5 carry handles with plenty of padding
- Good price point
- Very sturdy construction
- Very poor location for laptop compartment
- No water bottle holder
- Back panel not particularly breathable
This is Gregory’s offering in the carry-on sized one-bag travel world. You get a lot of the features and studiness from a company known for their large hiking backpacks.
While it suffers from one major design flaw, overall I found it to be a good alternative to other, more well-known backs in the mid-range price category.
The Praxus is made from high-quality ripstop nylon, which gives it durability but also lightness.
It features locking zippers, which are some of the best anti-theft features you can find on a backpack. These allow you to slip a small padlock through both of the zippers, so that it cannot be opened without being unlocked by you.
The Praxus 45 also features compression straps on the outside of the pack, allowing you to cinch your pack good and tight. This not allows makes the pack more compact, but also distributes its weight more effectively.
Another distinctive feature of this pack are its *five* grab handles. Most packs may only have between two and four, placed on the top, bottom, left and/or right of the pack. But the Praxus adds a big comfy handle right on the front. Whatever mode of transportation you’re taking, picking up the pack and going is no problem at all. Each handle is well-padded, which makes carrying it like a suitcase a cinch.
The Gregory Praxus has pretty standard interior organization with one very notable inclusion: the ActiveShield compartment.
This TPU-coated compartment on the bottom of the pack is specifically for dirty clothes and/or shoes. It separates both the dirt and the smell from your clean laundry. It’s a simple but smart addition, one I’m surprised I haven’t seen on other packs. It works very well.
Now I mentioned a major design flaw, and that’s the laptop compartment.
See, any travel backpack worth its salt is going to have the laptop compartment flat against your back. This is for two very important reasons: 1. It helps distribute the weight of your heaviest piece of electronics closer to your body, improving balance, and 2. It sandwiches your fragile, expensive laptop between your body and the rest of the pack, adding layers of protection.
This is the same major flaw that the overwise popular Osprey Farpoint 40 (which I’ll review at a later date) suffered from. That backpack’s been around for years and the problem is well-documented, so why the Praxus, a relative newcomer, would feature the exact same problem is beyond me.
As I mentioned before, Gregory made their name in backpacking packs, where you’re in the back country and have to bring everything in and out with you.
You can really feel that quality when you try on this harness. It molds right to your shoulders and even with 25 pounds of stuff in the pack, I wasn’t really noticing the weight.
Having said that, I’m not very sure why they didn’t include a ventilated mesh backpanel on the back. I can power through a sub-optimal harness, but having a sweaty back after four blocks is really uncomfortable.
Notes from the Road
I ended up not choosing the Gregory Praxus 45 as my personal travel backpack, so I never took it on a plane or abroad. Comparing it to other packs, its dimensions seem slightly large. Not all maximum carry-on size, 45-liter travel backpacks are created equal, and I had my doubts about this one.
Not to mention, that front laptop compartment made me too nervous.
Having said all that…if you’re looking for a bag that you’re mainly going to be taking with you into the back country, or on trains and buses but not planes, and you’re not bringing a big expensive laptop, the Praxus could absolutely work for you. The harness is superb and the ActiveShield compartment is a nice touch.
It feels as though the desginers had nature in mind when they made this more so than urban travel, which coming from Gregory does not surprise me.
About the Company
Gregory Packs has been around since 1977, and they stand proudly alongside names like Kelty, Deuter, and others as some of the highest-quality backpacking packs you can get for the money.
They are, like Cotopaxi, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, which doesn’t surprise. Being in a city where it literally feels like you can throw a rock and hit beautiful mountains does something to inspire good outdoors products.
I remember carrying a massive 80L Gregory hiking backpack during a week-long hike through Canyonlands and Arches National Parks in southern Utah back in college. I personally can vouch for the durability and comfort of their hiking backpacks, and I see the same quality in the Praxus 45.
I hope my list has set you on the right path to choosing your next (or first!) carry-on travel backpack. Please be sure to add any advice or recommendations in the comments below.
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