National Geographic Adventure rated the Gregory Triconi 60 number one for long-haul packs in their just-out May summer travel issue (so new I can’t even link to it on the Web site yet). Gregory packs are highly rated industry-wide: Outside, for one, and Backpacker magazine.

But here’s the rub, quite literally – they don’t fit me.

Packs should fit a back like good shoes fit feet. I have funny feet, and I have an unusually flat back. That means the small of my back doesn’t curve as much as the average woman. I sorely wanted a Gregory Deva – until I tried it, and quickly realized I would be just plain sore. The Deva’s comfortably padded back was too much padding for my back, the pack sat too high and pushed in the wrong lower-back places, and it just wasn’t comfortable. So I went with the equally stellar Osprey (see: previous post), which had the ever-important benefit of being comfortable.

All of this is to not to discourage anyone from buying a Gregory pack, but to say that gear rankings aren’t one-size-fits all. It’s good to have an idea of two or three packs you might like, and then try them all. And it’s not just about the money, but about a healthy back and shoulders – the kind that don’t want to give up after the first mile.