NOTE: This review covers an older version of these daypacks. Click here now to read my newer review of the 2019 versions of the Gregory Miwok 18 and Maya 16.
Gregory Miwok 18/Maya 16
$100, 18L/1,098 c.i., 1 lb. 10 oz.
For most three-season dayhikes—whether it’s several miles or an ultra-hike of 20 or more miles—I want to travel light, and I prefer a daypack that helps me achieve that goal, while remaining comfortable and having a utilitarian feature set. Having been a fan of the Gregory Miwok series for some years for just those reasons, I took the new men’s Miwok 18 out for a spin on various one-day hikes, including the 32-mile, 10,000-vertical-foot Pemi Loop over nine summits in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and came away largely impressed with its versatility for most dayhikers.
It carried comfortably with up to about 15 pounds inside (including six pounds of camera gear) on the Pemi Loop, and with much less on shorter outings, including a 4.6-mile loop on the rocky trails of the Blue Hills Reservation outside Boston. Gregory’s BioSync suspension, used in the men’s Miwok and women’s Maya daypacks, has no rigidity to it; there’s simply a highly flexible, perforated, EVA foam back pad and shoulder straps, and a wide, unpadded, perforated waistbelt that distributes weight over your hips without delivering support. The back pad rides close to the spine for a fit that doesn’t feel like the pack is pulling backward—as can happen with a trampoline suspension—but allows a little air flow across my sweaty back, and the perforation aids breathability.
In short: The pack hugs and moves with your torso, but don’t overload it, and position most of the weight in the middle of your back. On the downside, it’s available in just one non-adjustable size, which fit my 18-inch torso, and would probably fit a wide range of men and women, except those with short or long torsos.
Organization is what I’d call adequately minimalist: a spacious main compartment accessed via a U-shaped top zipper, with two internal mesh organizer pockets; a large, mesh accessories pocket; stretch side pockets big enough for a liter bottle; and two zippered hipbelt pockets that hold three or four bars each. While the pack doesn’t feel bulky, its 18 liters/1,098 cubic inches held everything I needed on a 16-hour hike: a rain shell, wool hoody, extra T-shirt, a few pounds of food, three liters of water, some small items like my headlamp, plus my DSLR and two lenses.
I really like the front stuff-it pocket that expands using vertical zippers and has a bungee closure; although I didn’t need to expand it on the Pemi Loop, in colder weather it would fit more clothing, and it holds a bike or climbing helmet. The bladder sleeve smartly sits behind the back pad, so no need to unload the main compartment when refilling water, and I was able to squeeze a full, three-liter bladder in there.
With 200-denier nylon in the bottom and 100-denier in the body, only the mesh side pockets are vulnerable to tearing. Other nice features include side compression straps to help stabilize the load; an attachment for a light for nighttime urban biking; big zipper pulls for using with gloves; and a hydration hose clip on the right shoulder strap to keep it from bouncing around. There are also attachments to hold trekking poles or an ice axe, which I think would be more useful on a shoulder strap, so you could quickly put away and access poles on the go (say, while shooting photos or scrambling briefly), rather than being out of reach on the front of the pack, where you’d want to attach an axe. Although I can see using this pack on early-summer dayhikes at high elevations in ranges like the Tetons and High Sierra, when you might need an axe for steep snow, I suspect most buyers of this daypack would use poles much more than an ice axe.
The men’s Miwok 18 and women’s Maya 16 hit a sweet spot for many three-season dayhikers. They come in four volume sizes, from 6L to 24L for men and 5L to 22L for women, ranging from $69 to $115.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase a men’s Gregory Miwok 18 at moosejaw.com, ems.com, or rei.com, or a women’s Maya 16 at moosejaw.com, ems.com, or rei.com. Or get a men’s Miwok 12 or Miwok 24 at moosejaw.com, ems.com, or rei.com, or a women’s Maya 10, Maya 22, or Maya 32 moosejaw.com , ems.com, or rei.com.
NOTE: Gregory has updated the Miwok and Maya packs for 2019. I’ve obtained a new Miwok 18 and first impressions are that it looks like a nice improvement over the previous version. Watch for my upcoming complete review.
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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 categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.