Gregory Maven 65L Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, fully featured with pockets and access points, adjustable torso and hip belt
Cons: Back padding buckles uncomfortably, mesh pockets lack durability
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Gregory brings us the Maven as a lightweight option for those who don't want to sacrifice features. A combination of thinner fabrics and a slimmed-down frame shave ounces while adjustable fit features, included rain cover, and a slew of pockets make you feel like you aren't sacrificing just to save weight. A unique design makes the adjustable hip belt decidedly more functional than many for those with larger waists.
Comfort and Suspension
Gregory lists 50 pounds as the max carry weight and, while we didn't expect to comfortably carry that much, we did expect a bit more performance from the suspension and straps. Our testers found the frame itself to be supportive of loads around 35 pounds yet felt that the weight wasn't adequately transferred around the hip belt, putting added pressure on our lumbar area. The Maven, like other Gregory packs we have tested, has a prominent lumbar curve. This seems to fit some users well while causing immediate discomfort in others, so we recommend trying it on before you buy.
The back panel is well ventilated with the pack itself held away from your back, but we were disappointed by the performance of the foam padding that contacts the users back. It's our opinion that it is attached to the frame in such a way that it shifts around and buckles under use, even with lighter loads. Our users found this uncomfortable and difficult to adapt to. We researched reviews on other sites but didn't find mention of the same issue so we don't know if this is a common problem or potentially a recent design change. We did see other users mentioning discomfort in the lumbar area but not with enough detail to indicate a recurring issue with the padding buckling. In our opinion, based on our testing, the back padding is not attached to the frame firmly enough to provide a stable carry.
While we didn't love the way the pack carried weight, we actually found the padding of the hip belt and shoulder straps very comfortable and durable. Even after a week's use on the trail, the padding maintains its form.
The Maven is one of a small class of packs that focused on being lightweight without sacrificing those pockets and features that you love. Retained in this 3.37-pound pack are a two-pocket removable lid, hip belt pockets, sleeping bag section, rear stash pocket, and dual side pockets plus a variety of compression straps and lash points.
One concern is with the durability of the mesh used on the back pocket as well as the sides. Our users put a hole in the mesh after only a few days of on-trail use and based on our research, others have experienced this same issue.
Two of our favorite features of the Maven are the included rain cover and the dual-duty hydration sleeve/summit bag. The rain cover is large enough to accommodate an external sleeping pad and seals tightly around the bag. By designing the hydration sleeve to be a removable day pack, Gregory adds functionality and convenience. We used the day pack daily when going to fetch water from camp.
The Maven's weight, at 3.37 pounds, puts it in on the lighter end of the models in our test while the multitude of features ranks it on par with packs weighing a pound more. We do wish the comfort to weight ratio was a bit better. The Maven's comfort ranked lower in our test than other packs of equal or lighter weight.
Ranking high in our test for adjustability, the Maven offers 4 inches of torso adjustability in each of the two sizes offered. Adjustable torsos in packs sold in multiple sizes like the Maven allow for the improved fit of a sized pack along with the flexibility and fine-tuning capabilities of a sliding torso adjustment. We found the velcro attachment fairly easy to move, although not as smooth as those that slide on webbing.
The hip belt lengthens in such a way to allow the pockets to move forward along with the padding. Users with larger waist sizes will appreciate not having to reach behind their hips to access these pockets. The Maven's shoulder straps are a bit on the short side and may not fully wrap under the arms of those with broader shoulders or larger chests.
A variety of compression straps, removable lashing straps, and a removable lid give you the options to cinch down a less full pack, shave ounces by taking off unnecessary components, and straps on bulky items that won't fit inside.
The price of the Maven isn't unexpected, for the technology, lightweight materials, and a plethora of features, along with the Gregory lifetime guarantee, we wouldn't presume to pay less than right in the mid-range of other similar models. However, our tests revealed that you can find a more comfortable pack that weighs the same or less for a similar price so we feel there is better value one of those other models.
A fully-featured yet lightweight pack is hard to come by but the Gregory Maven manages to keep all the pockets and access points while saving weight with an airy frame and thinner fabrics. Durability may be sacrificed with these lighter materials but that is to be expected in packs of lower weights. The padding is light yet firm, designed to support heavier loads, however, an issue with the padding buckling and shifting caused significant discomfort and instability for our testers. This pack may be a good fit for some but we would hesitate to recommend it to our friends.
— Elizabeth Paashaus