Hands-On with the 55L Backpacking Bag


Backpacking is well my favourite pastime, whether or not it’s a single evening within the woods or a 2,600 mile thru-hike. It is the most effective feeling to hold every thing you want to survive in your again then stroll out into the wilderness. Along the best way you might be all the time sure to see and expertise some fairly superb issues. 

Your backpack is arguably a very powerful piece of substances to contemplate when getting ready on your backpacking journey. It is your contact level to the remainder of your stuff throughout your whole journey. I’ve had the pleasure of attempting a variety of packs and am fairly choosy in terms of what I like and don’t like. 

When selecting a pack for backpacking journeys you will need to have your entire different gear in thoughts. Once you realize what sort of gear you will have, or wish to spend money on, you’ll know the way a lot area you want, how light-weight you need your pack to be, and what small options will work finest along with your package.

This is my Gregory Katmai evaluate. I examined the 55L pack, but it surely additionally is available in a 65L common and plus dimension. I’ll begin by saying that the Katmai was a pleasing shock! Here’s what I assumed.

Gregory Katmai Review Summary

Gregory is a family identify in terms of backpacks. They attempt to make packs which might be “worn not carried,” they usually do that by revolutionary chassis methods that work along with your physique as you carry the pack versus towards it. 

Gregory, together with many of the outside gear trade, has begun to put a better emphasis on sustainability. They have an intensive pack restore program to assist preserve packs from getting thrown away. If your pack is just not repairable on the finish of its life, Gregory recycles or repurposes varied parts of the pack!

The Katmai (males’s) and Kalmia (girls’s) are two of Gregory’s finest luggage. The Gregory Katmai is a basic backpacking backpack with high, backside, and aspect entry factors. It boasts many attachment factors and pockets for gear, in addition to loads of storage on your water.

Since its inception, this bag has develop into a staple for a lot of thru-hikers. It has many thoughtfully-designed options that make it stand out from primary packs that fall in the identical worth vary.

This bag evaluate will provide you with the whole breakdown of the Gregory Katmai Backpacking Bag!

Gregory Katmai Pros and Cons


  • The suspended mesh again panel paired with auto-rotating shoulder straps, known as the FreeFloat 360 system, is snug and ergonomic. An everyday backpack is fastened in place and strikes wherever your physique strikes. With the FreeFloat 360, the pack strikes by itself so it really works with you to remain balanced. 
  • The group and pockets on this pack are nice. I like the skin mesh and zippered pockets that give a number of easy-access storage choices whereas mountain climbing and touring. 
  • The Katmai comes with a rain fly and has a pleasant storage place for it to go when not in use.


  • The stowable water bottle holder on the appropriate aspect of the pack, though a novel and intuitive characteristic, sort of sits proper the place your elbow goes. I hit my elbow many instances whereas testing the pack. It additionally isn’t fairly tight sufficient to carry a slim water bottle, so it could transfer round or fall out if you bend over. It was actually designed for a full-sized Nalgene bottle.
  • This pack by itself weighs 4.68 lbs. I’ve spent a very long time refining my backpacking gear. I attempt to get my pack as mild as attainable whereas mountain climbing longer distances, and over 4 lbs is fairly heavy for a pack. For occasion, the Osprey Exos I carried on the Pacific Crest Trail weighs about 2.5 lbs.

Gregory Katmai 55L Backpack Specs

Dimensions28.7″ x 12.6″ x 16.5″
Weight4.61 lbs
Max Carry Weight45 lbs

Is the Gregory Katmai Right for You?

The Gregory Katmai is an superior pack for anybody trying to get into backpacking. Although it weighs fairly a bit for a backpacking pack, it’s nice if you happen to don’t fairly have all of your gear dialed in but.

The pack has loads of quantity to attempt completely different gear setups and can be utilized as each a journey pack in addition to a trekking pack. 

The FreeFloat 360 suspension system is nice as a result of it permits you to carry heavier stuff with out sacrificing consolation. The manner the pack strikes in your again is also nice to assist make a heavy load really feel lighter.

The Katmai pack is particularly made for males’s our bodies, and Gregory’s Kalmia Backpack is the sister pack constructed for girls.

This pack is just not nicely fitted to somebody in search of an Ultralight pack. If your gear is generally light-weight, you’ll most likely discover that you’ve got plenty of further room on this pack and will look to get a smaller, extra compact bag within the 2 lbs vary. 

Gregory Katmai Features

Backpack Entry Points

Gregory Katmai Top

The Gregory Katmai permits entry into the principle compartment from three zippered entry factors.

It is ready up like a typical top-loading pack with a drawstring closure and a lid pocket. This is fairly customary for many backpacking packs. Sometimes this may be irritating if you happen to’re attempting to get to a bit of substances not positioned on the high of the bag, however that’s the place the opposite entry factors come into play (which many different luggage don’t supply)!

It has a zippered backside sleeping bag compartment, which has a detachable nylon divider that offers you the choice to separate the gadgets on the very backside from the remainder of the pack.

Then there’s a nifty side-access zipper that enables you fast and quick access to the within of your pack. This is a typical characteristic for digital camera backpacks in order that photographers have entry to their gear at a second’s discover, and it’s a welcome boost to a backpacking bag!

A aspect entry pocket means you will have one other technique of reaching your gear so that you don’t must fully unload your pack to get to issues deeper down or pressed towards the perimeters (I’ve skilled this challenge with previous backpacks I’ve owned and it’s a complete ache)!

External Storage

Gregory Katmai Water Pocket

Next to the aspect entry pocket there’s a stealthy one-hand water bottle holder that may be tucked away when not in use. I touched on this earlier, however one challenge I’ve with this design, though I wished to find it irresistible, was that I typically hit my elbow on my water bottle when mountain climbing! I want it was positioned elsewhere so it was extra snug!

On the bag’s different aspect is a stretchy mesh pocket nice for snacks, poles, a rain jacket, or one other water bottle. The entrance outdoors of the pack has a stretchy mesh pouch and a small zippered pocket.

On each side of the pack, there are two adjustable buckled straps to connect issues to the aspect of the pack in addition to compress the pack if you’re not carrying as cumbersome of a load.

The backside of the pack additionally has buckled compression straps to connect a tent or sleeping pad. There are additionally two spots on the pack to connect trekking poles or an ice axe for winter adventures. These varieties of straps are important to backpacking pack! 

The lid pocket consists of three completely different compartments. The smallest one on the highest holds very small issues like keys, a pockets, and sun shades. The fundamental pocket within the lid is nice for straightforward entry to issues like lunch or snacks.

Looking Inside The Pack

Gregory Katmai Inside

When you open the highest, you’ll discover a pocket on the underside on the lid the place Gregory has positioned the bag’s rainfly. I opted to really transfer this to a different place within the bag and use this pocket as a substitute for my small toiletries.

Inside of the bag, there’s a sleeve for a hydration bladder with a SpeedClip. Unless you already personal one, I usually suggest getting the hydration bladder made by the corporate of the bag you’re utilizing. In this occasion, Gregory’s 3D Hydro 3L Reservoir.

One of my favourite comfort options of this pack is the outsized hip belt pockets. Each aspect can simply match regular-sized iPhones and Android telephones. The different pocket is ideal for fast snacks or your headlamp.

I really like having massive hip belt pockets in order that I don’t must take my pack off to get snacks or pull out my telephone to take an image whereas on the path.


Gregory Katmai Harness

The harness of a pack is the entire issues that contact your physique whereas sporting it. This consists of the shoulder straps, the hip belt, the sternum strap, and the again panel.

This might be the most effective a part of the Katmai. They built-in a FreeFloat 360 system with a suspended mesh again panel and auto-rotating shoulder straps.

The FreeFloat 360 is fairly superior. Most firms sew their shoulder straps proper onto the physique of the pack, however Gregory attaches the straps with rivets that permit them to rotate as your physique strikes aspect to aspect.

I’ve carried plenty of packs and was very excited after I had this loaded up for my first hike. It made the pack really feel slightly lighter and the best way it moved along with your physique made it really feel extra like an extension of your physique versus a static object in your again.

The shoulder straps themselves are thick and nicely padded. Gregory made them rounded on the perimeters in order that they don’t dig into your shoulders. 

The precise again panel is a suspended mesh panel on an aluminum body with fiberglass horizontal stays. I like mesh again panels as a result of they conform to your again completely versus a standard pack that sits stiff proper up towards your again. It additionally permits air to circulation between the bag and your again, serving to preserve you cool and fewer sweaty.

Gregory calls the hip belt their 3D Comfort Cradle. The again panel extends down into the hip belt making a seamless mesh panel that hugs you all the best way round your hips. It is padded and sits actually properly in your hips.

For backpacking, this type of hip belt is superb. It feels safe round your physique and does job of taking weight off of your shoulders. Since it’s one mesh panel all the best way down the again there isn’t a place the place the pack can pinch you. 

The design of the hip belt makes it so you may’t take away it. This may be problematic when taking a pack like this on airplanes, as a result of it doesn’t tuck out of the best way. I’ve tried to place an Osprey Atmos (related hip belt design) into an overhead storage bin for a couple of minutes earlier than I had to surrender and gate-check the bag. 

The final piece of the harness is the chest strap. It strikes up and right down to get the strap in the appropriate place and has an built-in whistle in case of emergency. 


Gregory Katmai Pockets

For me, one of the vital enjoyable facets of backpacking is tetrising your entire gear into your pack. The pockets on any pack are one of the vital vital issues to contemplate when shopping for a backpacking bag. 

The Katmai has seven exterior pockets—nicely, seven and a half, if you happen to depend the tuck-away water bottle holder.

The lid of the pack has two outdoors pockets. The smaller one on high is for gadgets like keys, pockets, and permits. The fundamental lid pocket is good and roomy, though the rain cowl saved within the pocket below the lid sort of eats into this area. 

They put a zippered pocket on the very outdoors of the pack with a mesh sleeve inside. I like this pocket as a result of it’s very accessible and large—I ended up placing my camp sneakers on this pocket.

On high of that pocket, Gregory put a small stretchy mesh pouch. I really like one of these pocket as a result of they’re so handy to place no matter you need in it and the stretchy mesh holds every thing in.

I already touched on the 2 hip belt pockets however I’ll say once more these items are nice! They are so massive you may match all types of nicknacks in them. 


The Katmai is a giant pack, making group all that extra vital. Gregory does job with the entire completely different pockets on the skin of the pack that provide help to preserve vital gadgets out of the litter of the principle compartment.

The backside entry for the sleeping bag is nice and the zippered aspect entry additionally helps to not must dump the contents of your pack out.

I dwell in bear nation and lots of of my favourite locations to go backpacking require me to hold a bear canister. As a lot as I hate attempting to suit it into my pack (they’re heavy and ponderous) the Katmai can match one of many massive dimension canisters simply. You can retailer it in the principle compartment or match it below the lid pocket and safe it down.

Gregory Katmai Review

Materials: What’s It Made Of?

Gregory Katmai Materials

The Gregory Katmai is just not constructed from typical backpacking backpack supplies. The supplies used within the Katmai are a nod to Gregory’s dedication to sustainability.

The fundamental pack physique is product of a mixture of 210D nylon and 420D nylon. Of the 210D nylon, 40 p.c is recycled nylon. The 410D nylon is 45 p.c recycled. The lining of the pack is a 135D polyester that’s 45 p.c post-consumer recycled as nicely.

The body is constructed from aluminum with horizontal fiberglass that stays for anti-barreling. 

The again panel and the straps are made with Polygien Stay Fresh Technology, an odor management air mesh remedy that inhibits the expansion of odor inflicting micro organism. Although the mesh helps to maintain you again much less sweaty whereas backpacking, your again nonetheless does sweat and that is superb to maintain the again panel of your pack stink-free. 

Gregory topped all of it off with a PFC-free DWR coating. With time, the DWR (sturdy water repellent) coating wears off your bag. Traditional DWR finishes are petroleum-based, and after they rub off because of rain, they get into the watersheds and might hurt crops and animals. 

However, the PCF-free coating used on the Katmai don’t include environmentally dangerous chemical compounds! 

Comfort: Is It Easy To Wear?

The Katmai is a really snug pack to put on. The suspended mesh again panel conforms to the form of your again, and the auto-rotating shoulder straps preserve the pack balanced in your again and assist stabilize you whereas strolling. The hip belt hugs your hips making it really feel like an extension of your physique. 

I’ve been carrying Ultralight packs just like the ULA Circut for the previous couple of years and I forgot what it was like to hold a completely padded full-suspension backpacking pack! I actually loved it.


The Gregory Katmai is a strong pack by way of workmanship. Gregory used high-quality supplies for every thing on the pack.

The buckles, the straps, and the zippers all appear very sturdy. Gregory paid consideration to the little particulars and put the thicker materials at high-stress factors on the pack.

Overall I really feel like this pack will final me a very long time!

Style & Aesthetics

Gregory Katmai Aesthetics

The evaluate wouldn’t be full with out speaking concerning the aesthetics of the pack.

The Gregory Katmai is available in 2 colours: Volcano Black and Blaze Blue. The blue is a brighter, enjoyable possibility, whereas the black is sleeker and blends in slightly extra. 

The Katmai seems clear but rugged. The compression straps and the trekking pole and ice axe loops make it appear like a backpacking pack.

I had the Volcano Black shade for this evaluate, and I actually just like the pink inside! It sort of made the bag pop slightly extra when the pockets have been opened up.

Gregory Katmai Accessories

There are a couple of equipment that you just would possibly wish to purchase alongside the Katmai. I all the time suggest getting equipment from the identical model as your pack if attainable, so listed below are my high picks from Gregory!

Gregory Hydro Reservoir

Gregory 3D Hydro 3L Reservoir

The Katmai comes with a SpeedClip and a compartment for a water bladder. This Gregory branded bladder suits completely into the pack but additionally comes with Gregory’s fast connection technique. If you will be utilizing a water bladder whereas backpacking, the Gergory branded ones will provide you with the most effective match within the Gregory pack.

Gregory Nano

Gregory Nano 14

The Katmai comes geared up with NANO join, a system of inside toggles that permits you to connect the Gregory Nano 14 to the within of the pack.

The Gregory Nano is a small easy drawstring closure pack that’s good as a small day pack. Whether you’re strolling round a brand new metropolis or bagging a fast peak out of your campsite, it’s all the time good to have a smaller bag so that you don’t have to hold your 55L pack round for a shorter journey. 

Gregory Katmai Alternatives

Here are a couple of product choices which might be just like the Gregory Katmai 55L, and the way they form up compared.

Mountain Hardware PCT 55L Backpack

Mountain Hardware PCT 55L

This heavy responsibility backpacking bag is one other nice 55L pack. Roughly the identical weight and dimension, this pack serves related capabilities to the Gregory Katmai, however gives a bit completely different group.

I really like that this backpack has two massive equivalent aspect pockets which might be good for water bottles. They have a high and aspect entry possibility, which is extraordinarily handy for sliding out your water bottle.

A full trampoline backpanel supplies help and air flow, and the hip belt provides further stabilization to your pack.

This pack has a extremely distinctive entrance compartment that’s virtually like a mini pack on high of the backpack. I like this concept as a result of you may put the entire stuff you want throughout the day on this entrance compartment so that you don’t must root round the principle compartment to seek out these necessities.

It additionally has a backside entry level and sleeping bag storage space, however doesn’t have a aspect entry level just like the Katmai does, which is a bummer.

Overall this can be a fairly related various to the Katmai with some design variations which might be as much as desire!

Deuter Aircontact Core 50 + 10 SL Pack

Deuter Aircontact 50L

The Deuter Aircontact (males’s and girls’s) is a glossy but practical bag that gives plenty of nice options for a backpacking bag.

This is a base 50L bag that may go as much as 60L with its expandable collar on the principle compartment. It has a number of exterior straps to connect gear like trekking poles and a sleeping pad, and options elastic mesh aspect pockets for water bottles.

A entrance stretch pocket and high zip pocket present extra group on your gadgets, nevertheless this one does present total much less pockets and group than the Katmai or PCT packs.

All of the straps are adjustable and constructed from snug padded supplies, and over 50% of the pack’s materials is recycled!

Overall this can be a nice newbie bag whereas determining your favourite gear, as you may develop it to suit extra if you happen to want and fix issues to the skin of the bag.

Gregory Katmai FAQ

What Kind of Warranty Does Gregory Offer?

Gregory gives what they name the Gregory Lifetime Guarantee. It covers every thing aside from regular put on and tear, unreasonable or abusive use, and improper cleansing or storage.

It’s , not nice guarantee. It primarily covers you if the workmanship or the supplies are faulty if you get your pack. Compared to the All-Mighty assure (they are going to substitute or restore and pack for any purpose from any period) that Osprey gives on their packs, this isn’t an amazing guarantee.

Does Gregory Ship Internationally?

Gregory ships to all over the place within the United States, Alaska and Hawaii included, in addition to to Puerto Rico and Guam. At this time Gregory doesn’t ship internationally. However, many retailers carry Gregory each on-line and in brick-and-mortar shops.

Gregory Katmai Review Summary: Final Thoughts

The Gregory Katmai was a really nice shock. The pack is nicely thought out and ideal if you happen to’re in search of a pack that you can simply as simply tackle a backcountry journey as they may on a tour of Europe.

The FreeFloat 360 is the actual better part for me. The consolation on the again and the best way it strikes along with your physique are superior and I beloved mountain climbing with it!

If you might be in search of an Ultralight pack or one thing to tackle a thru-hike, I’d look elsewhere. The Katmai is just a bit too heavy—but it surely’s nice for shorter backpacking journeys.

Overall I appreciated this pack. The Katmai is a good possibility for individuals simply beginning on their backpacking and touring journeys. So have enjoyable, and bear in mind to all the time depart it higher than you discovered it!


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