Gregory Facet 55 Backpack Review

Gregory Facet 55 Backpack Review

The Gregory Facet 55 Backpack is a lightweight ventilated women’s backpack weighing 2 lbs 8.8 oz / 1.16 kg that is designed for backpacking and thru-hiking. It’s an internal frame backpack with a wire perimeter frame, a floating top lid, load lifters, side water bottle pockets, an open front stretch pocket, with a pair of large hip belt pockets. The main compartment is large enough to store a large bear canister vertically or horizontally and there are plenty of straps to carry bulky gear that won’t fit inside like a foam sleeping pad.

The Gregory Facet 55 is the women’s version of the Gregory Focal 58 (men’s) backpack we received recently. These two Gregory packs compete head to head with the new Osprey Exos 58 (men’s) and the Osprey Eja 58 (women’s), which are also ventilated backpacks with suspended mesh frames

Specs at a Glance

  • Mfg. Weight: 2 lbs 8.8 oz /1.16 kg
  • Volume: 58L (also available in 48L size)
  • Gender: Women’s (Men’s model is called the Focal 58)
  • Max Recommended Load: 35 lbs
  • Type: Internal frame, Perimeter Wire with Anti-barrelling Stay
  • Ventilated: Yes
  • Pockets: 5 closed including main, 3 open
  • Hydration compatible: Yes (internal elasticated pocket)
  • Load lifters: Yes
  • Rain cover: No
  • Sizes: XS (Torso: 14-16″, Hip: 26-45″), S (Torso: 16-18″, Hip: 27-45″), M (Torso: 18-20″, Hip: 28-48″)
  • Materials: 100D and 210D High-Density Nylon with 45% Recycled Content and DWR; the bottom of the pack has 2 x 210D HD Nylon layers.

Backpack Frame and Suspension System

The Facet 55 was a suspended mesh back panel that seamlessly integrated with the hip belt for maximum comfort.
The Facet 55 was a suspended mesh back panel that seamlessly integrated with the hip belt for maximum comfort.

The Facet 55 has a really comfortable feel, both when worn with little weight, and when fully loaded.  It has an ultralight, perimeter aluminum frame, with fiberglass anti-barreling cross stays, which creates a great lightweight system for carrying loads.  The hipbelt and shoulder harness are integrated into one unit;  Gregory calls this their FreeFloat hipbelt and ComfortCradle lower back system.  Thus, you will need to know your correct torso length before you purchase this pack.  Overall it was quite comfortable.  Weight from the pack contents is nicely distributed through my hips/torso and I’ve never felt like it was digging into my lower back.  The pack flexes and moves with me, again, a nice feel.

Those of you who hike in the summer or who sweat will appreciate that this pack has a mesh suspension back.  This contributes to both comfort and much-needed airflow on warm days.  Gregory infuses the back panel with Polygiene Stay Fresh Technology which prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes in the fabric.

The shoulder straps are s-shaped to adapt to female chests. The sternum strap is also easy to adjust for comfort.
The shoulder straps are s-shaped to adapt to female chests. The sternum strap is also easy to adjust for comfort.

Gregory found a nice balance between foam/comfort and ‘structure’ in the shoulder straps, which feel great. The straps have a slight S curve which I found ‘female-friendly.’  And, while the shoulder straps are integrated into the back and hip panel, I was able to make many micro-adjustments using the front shoulder strap pulls, the load lifter pulls over my shoulder, and the front, adjustable sternum strap.

Backpack Storage and Organization

When I took this new Gregory Facet 55 Backpack out of the box, I first thought what a compact “footprint” it had for a 55L pack… cool. And then I loosened the compression straps and puffed out the main body of the pack to reveal a very generous top access backpack with a smooth quick-pull drawcord. In fact, a large bear canister fits inside horizontally. The shape/dimensions of the main compartment gave it a “roomy” feel and it was easy to access my stuff sacks and “rummage” about.

The Facet 55L can hold a lot of stuff. There’s also a 45L version if you need less volume.
The Facet 55L can hold a lot of stuff. There’s also a 45L version if you need less volume.

This pack has two generous side stretch-mesh pockets. The fabric has a slight pleat, giving these pockets a bit of extra space for jamming in fleece and other objects. Side access allowed me to store a water bottle so that I could grab it without having to take the pack off. There are tiny tabs you can use to secure/tie off your water bottle, but when I leaned forward, the pockets kept my water bottle in place and it didn’t slip out.

The hip belt pockets are large and functional. They even fit my oversized Smartphone.
The hip belt pockets are large and functional. They even fit my oversized Smartphone.

There are two generous hip belt pockets with super easy zipper pulls. The pockets are big enough to hold my oversized smartphone which I really like. You’ll have no trouble fitting in several snack bars and other snacks.

I like packs with a fairly roomy front stuff pocket. I was able to easily fit my rain gear in this pocket, and it has room to hold your jacket, sandals, or whatever items you enjoy keeping handy on the outside of your pack. An adjustable snap buckle lets me secure the items and create a tiny bit of compression. The front panel is made of pack fabric and not mesh, which adds to the durability of the backpack.

The Facet has a large front stuff-it pockets that great for stashing wet or frequently used items like layers
The Facet has a large front stuff-it pockets that great for stashing wet or frequently used items like layers

Some backpackers enjoy a top pocket (I like to call it the “brain”), and some hikers do not want this feature. And so Gregory created a removable top pocket that has a large zippered compartment along with an underside zippered pocket with a key clip. Now everyone can be happy! I was able to easily and quickly remove the lid by undoing 2 adjustment straps and one toggle loop. In the ‘underside’ pocket, was a light weather flap that I was able to easily/quickly strap on in place of the top pocket. Both the pocket and weather flap are floating, which is important if you want to “scrunch” bulky gear under the lid.

If you don’t want the top brain pocket, you can replace it with a simple fabric panel that covers the drawstring closure
If you don’t want the top brain pocket, you can replace it with a simple fabric panel that covers the drawstring closure.

The Gregory Facet 55 is hydration bladder compatible. They utilize their own SpeedClip which is compatible with Gregory’s proprietary hydration system, but there is a loop from which you can hang any system. I personally prefer water bottles to hydration bladders while backpacking, as I find them a bit of a nuisance to refill with full backpacks. But on the plus side, your hydration tube comes up the center behind your neck, and you can keep it on the left or right shoulder strap as you prefer.

The Facet has holster style cutouts in the front of the side pockets to pull out a water bottle.
The Facet has holster-style cutouts in the front of the side pockets to pull out a water bottle.

Compression and External Attachment System

I really liked the Facet 55’s compression system. As I mentioned above, the pack can be compressed into a small ‘footprint’ or profile, meaning I can use this pack with smaller loads and still have the contents secure as I move. But opened wide and with a full backpack load, the pack’s compression straps did an excellent job of pulling my load in tightly.

You have the option of threading the lower compression strap through the pocket and not just outside it.
You have the option of threading the lower compression strap through the pocket and not just outside it.

There is one strap across the top after you close the main body. Then there are two straps on each side: an upper strap and a lower/bottom strap. The lower/bottom strap comes threaded inside the side stuff pocket, but you can rethread them to the outside of the pocket (which I often prefer). I had to loosen this lower strap ‘all the way’ to wiggle my sleeping pad into the compression strap, as it doesn’t have any quick-release buckles; this will be a tiny nuisance if you carry/use an accordion-style pad.

The external attachment system can easily accommodate a bulky foam pad
The external attachment system can easily accommodate a bulky foam pad

A standard ice ax loop, four front attachment loops, and two attachment loops on the top lid pocket will give you plenty of options for securing extra gear. There was one upper, stretchy cord shock lock for attaching trekking poles or an ice ax. I like to use lightweight carbon fiber z-poles, meaning that when not in use, my poles are in 6 segments. The shock cord was not big enough to carry both of my z-poles, but will easily hold a pair of standard 2-section poles. I am more apt to put my z-poles in a side pocket, so this wasn’t an issue.

Comparable backpacks

The Gregory Facet 55 reviewed here is very similar to the Osprey Eja 58. The biggest difference between the two packs is that the Facet 55 is lighter weight, has larger and more usable hip belt pockets, and has an easier-to-use compression system. That said, the new Eja 58 has an adjustable torso length in addition to being ventilated, which is a big value add, especially for newer backpackers who are unsure about their torso length and how to get a good fit.

Make / ModelWeightAdjustable Torso Length
Osprey Eja 582 lbs 11.3 oz / 1232gYes
Gregory Facet 582 lbs 8.8 oz / 1157gNo
Osprey Lumina 601 lb 14 oz / 850gNo
Zpacks Arc Blast 551 lb 3.9 oz / 565gYes
Zpacks Arc Haul 621 lb 6.1 oz / 627gYes

Both Gregory and Osprey sell other ventilated, suspended mesh backpacks, but with the exception of Zpacks ventilated backpacks, including the Arc Haul 62, your options for lightweight (sub-3lb) ventilated backpacks with suspended mesh frames in a 55-60L size are quite limited.

Recommendation

The Gregory Facet 55 Backpack is a women’s specific backpack that provides 55L of volume and up to a 35 pound load. Coming in several sizes (XS, S, M), this 2 lb 8 oz, lightweight backpack is ideal for multi-day backpacking trips and thru-hiking. The integrated hipbelt and back suspension panel contribute to a comfortable and ventilated body-hugging feel while hiking. I especially liked the compression system, which I think is better than the Osprey Exos or Osprey Eja (not the newest versions just out) which helps the pack to ‘move with me.’  As a woman of smaller stature, I’m acutely aware of weight distribution and momentum when backpacking and find that the Facet 55 works with me and not against me.

Disclosure: Gregory donated a backpack for review.

About the author

Beth Zimmer is an expert backpacker who's backpacked all over New England and Eastern Canada, with a long list of hiking accomplishments to her name. She's section hiked the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail, climbed the New England Hundred Highest and the New Hampshire 500 highest (mostly bushwhacks), hiked all the trails in the White Mountain Guide (1440 miles), and climbed the White Mountain 4000 footers several times over. Beth also teaches GPS and off-trail navigation classes as a volunteer for the Appalachian Mountain Club and is co-chair of the New Hampshire Excursions Committee, which oversees all volunteer hiking and leadership training activities. When she's not hiking and backpacking, Beth resides in New Hampshire where she can usually be found sipping coffee and planning her next adventure.
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4 comments

  1. I’m wondering if I can get by with the 45 liter. Do you know how Gregory measures their capacity? Is the 55 liter just the main, interior portion or does that include all external pockets?

  2. What this the liter capacity and weight of the top pocket?

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