Daypack
Gregory Miwok 18/Maya 16
$100, 18L/1,098 c.i., 1 lb. 12 oz. (men’s)
One men’s and women’s size, adjustable
Moosejaw.com

Look at a row of modern daypacks in any store or at an online retailer and you’ll see an increasing number that strive to strike a balance between good carrying comfort and capacity, with a smart feature set that’s not over-engineered, and low weight. Many of them are using the template employed by Gregory’s Miwok and Maya daypack series for years. Carrying the recently updated Miwok 18 on sections of a five-day trek through northern Spain’s Picos de Europa Mountains, and on an eight-mile, 5,200-vertical-foot dayhike of Idaho’s 12,662-foot Borah Peak—with some third-class scrambling—I was reminded of everything I’ve liked about this pack for a long time, and had an opportunity to evaluate a fine, major improvement these outstanding daypacks have just received.

The most significant change in the design of the men’s Miwok and women’s Maya daypacks is that the torso length adjusts by repositioning the shoulder straps up or down using a hook-and-loop patch behind the back panel—a simple and secure adjustment system that provides a five-inch fit range while adding nominal weight to the pack. On our trek through Spain’s Picos, my 18-year-old son (five feet 11 inches, with a 19-inch torso) and I (five feet eight inches, with an 18-inch torso) alternated carrying the Miwok 18 and a larger daypack, and the adjustability range gave us both an excellent fit. In fact, at times during our Picos trek, my wife, who’s five feet 10 inches, carried the Miwok 18 and it fit her perfectly well (although the Maya would undoubtedly fit most women better than the Miwok).

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Gregory Miwok 18 suspension.
Gregory Miwok 18 suspension.

There’s no aluminum frame or plastic framesheet in the Miwok/Maya to lend it the rigidity and stability found in some daypacks; the perforated, 3D EVA foam of the Bio Sync suspension easily flexes in your hands and while the pack is on your back. The Miwok and Maya compensate for that frameless design with a torso-hugging fit and relatively wide, padded shoulder straps and hipbelt to disperse the weight. The packs handle up to about 15 pounds comfortably, although strong hikers would easily carry more than that without discomfort.

In fact, one of the nicest aspects of this suspension is how the shoulder straps and hipbelt wrap around your torso and waist, creating a fit so close it makes the pack feel like an extension of your body rather than something you’re carrying. The back panel hugs your back, keeping the pack’s weight close to your spine, which improves carrying comfort compared to some trampoline-style daypacks whose frame creates a gap between your back and the pack (to allow cooling air flow). The Miwok/Maya moves with your body and never feels like it’s pulling back against your shoulders.

The Miwok and Maya also compromise very little by eliminating the gap that allows air flow across your back, because the foam back pad and its mesh covering breathe very well, feeling cool even on hot hikes.


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Rather than a traditional lid with two buckles, the Miwok/Maya has a U-shaped, two-way zipper that opens down as far as the side pockets, enabling instant access to basically the entire main compartment—no digging for buried stuff in this pack. There’s one small, zippered valuables pocket inside. While the pack doesn’t feel bulky, its 18 liters/1,098 cubic inches easily fit my rain shell, extra layers, a full day’s worth of trail food, three liters of water in a bladder, small items like my headlamp, plus my DSLR and two lenses. (In the Picos, the Miwok 18 didn’t have the capacity to carry all of one person’s stuff for a five-day trek, of course, which is why my son and I also had a larger daypack to share between us.)

A zippered top pocket with a soft lining for sunglasses and electronics is one of six external pockets. The stretch-mesh front pocket, which has a small buckle securing its top to the pack body, will swallow an ultralight rain shell, and two stretch-mesh side pockets have the space for a liter bottle each (as long as the pack isn’t fully jammed). The two zippered hipbelt pockets have the capacity for a large smartphone and at least a couple of bars.

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and the best ultralight backpacks.

 

Typical of Gregory, the Miwok/Maya nail the details, including:

  • A separate, zippered bladder sleeve (compatible with Gregory’s excellent 3D Hydro reservoir—not included—which I write about in my review of the best backpacking accessories), located between the main compartment and the back panel, for refilling a bladder without having to remove pack contents.
  • A bungee-like strap on the left shoulder strap for stowing sunglasses or collapsed trekking poles while on the move.
  • A front attachment for an ice axe or trekking poles that secures easily with a tuckaway bungee closure.
  • A clip for a hydration bladder hose on the left shoulder strap.
  • A loop to attach a light below the front pocket for biking at night.
  • And large, molded zipper pulls that are a cinch to grab and operate even wearing warm gloves.

In terms of durability, the Miwok and Maya are nearly identical to many daypacks, with much of the pack body made of durable, 210-denier fabric and the bottom comprised of 420-denier, high-density nylon, while the lighter stretch-mesh used in the front and side pockets is more vulnerable to tears. Notably, the hipbelt pockets are made with tougher nylon rather than mesh.

 

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The Gregory Miwok 18 in Spain’s Picos de Europa Mountains.
Testing the Gregory Miwok 18 in Spain’s Picos de Europa Mountains.

These packs both come in two other volume sizes, the Miwok 12 ($90) and Miwok 24 ($120), and the Maya 10 ($90) and Maya 22 ($120).

The Verdict

For dayhikers who prefer to travel fairly light on the trail and like a pack that fits closely and moves with their body, the Gregory men’s Miwok 18 and women’s Maya 16 strike an ideal balance between low weight and having the comfort, capacity, and features to handle most three-season hikes.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase a men’s Gregory Miwok 12, Miwok 18, or Miwok 24 at moosejaw.comems.com, or rei.com, or a women’s Maya 10, Maya 16, or Maya 22 at moosejaw.comems.com, or rei.com. You can also find previous versions of the Miwok on sale at ems.com, or rei.com, and the Maya on sale at ems.com, or rei.com.

See my “Gear Review: The 8 Best Hiking Daypacks” and all of my reviews of daypacks I like, plus my “5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack” (which includes daypacks) and all of my reviews of hiking gear.

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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza