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Gregory Amber 44 Backpack Review

The Gregory Amber 44 is an adjustable-length women’s backpack that’s large enough for overnight backpacking trips but also suitable for more technical hikes when you need to carry extra gear or layers, such as winter hiking. Weighing just 2 lbs 11 oz, the Amber 44 is sized for a smaller female frame, with gender-specific shoulder pads and a hip belt so you get a proper fit. In addition to a 44L size, the Amber is also available in a 60L and 70L size if you like what you see and want more volume for longer trips.

Gregory Amber 44 Backpack

Comfort
Weight
Suspension
Features
Adjustability
Sizing
Durability

Lightweight Women's Backpack

The Gregory Amber 44 is a lightweight women's backpack that can be used for overnight backpacking trips and technical hikes that require extra equipment. It has an adjustable length torso for a great fit and an excellent balance of thoughtful features.

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Specs at a Glance

  • Volume: 44 liters
  • Gender: Women’s
  • Weight: 2 lbs 11 oz
  • Frame: Adjustable-length
  • Torso length range: 14″-19″
  • Hip belt fit: 27″-45″
  • Pockets: 6
  • Pack Access: Top Drawstring and Bottom Hatch
  • Floating Lid: yes
  • Rain cover included: yes
  • Max recommended load: 30-35 lbs
  • Pack body: 200D x 900D Dobby Polyester / 210D Rip Stop Polyester
  • Pack bottom: 630D Ballistic Polyester / 135 High Density Polyester

Backpack Storage and Organization

The Amber 44 is a top-loading backpack with a large main compartment, side water bottle pockets, and a front stretch mesh pocket. It has what’s called a floating lid, which is a top pocket that can be raised or lowered using webbing straps and can be used to hold down awkwardly large items on top of the main compartment, such as rope coils or a foam sleeping pad, that are too large to fit in the main pack.

The top pocket has a unique zipper that makes it easier to find the gear you’re looking for

The top lid has a zippered top pocket that provides easy access to all of the contents of the pocket, so you can reach in and see find exactly what you’re looking for. This is very different from the front-facing zippers you find on most other top-lid packs and much friendlier to use. Still, I try to be careful not to fill it and have too much weight on top of the pack. I like a pocket in the top lid, but this one is so big that it might benefit from a division of some sort to help keep track of your stuff.  There is also another good-sized pocket on the underside of it which has a key clip inside.

The main compartment has two openings, one on top under the lid as well as a bottom hatch in the base of the pack that unzips to let you access contents at the other end. It provides good access to the gear and clothing you’d usually store in the bottom end such as a tent, sleeping bag or rain gear without having to unload gear to find it.

The Amber has side mesh water bottle pockets and a stretch mesh front pocket that’s good for storing wet clothes, layers, or snacks you want easy access to.

The side water bottle pockets are made with large knit mesh and are large enough to fit one-liter bottles. The bottles remain secure in the pockets, but I can’t reach them while wearing the pack.  I use a hydration system so this doesn’t matter much to me.  There’s a central hose port in the main compartment along with a dedicated internal hydration pocket for this purpose.

A bottom hatch provides access to gear in the base of the pack

The front of the pack has an open stretch mesh pocket for storing wet layers, a water filter, wet camp shoes, or snacks you want quick access to. There’s a hidden zippered pocket inside of it that holds a rain cover for the pack. If you’re not into pack covers or prefer to store it elsewhere, it’s another handy zippered pocket in a fairly convenient spot.

A medium-sized smartphone fits easily into the hip belt pockets

Finally, the pack has two hip belt pockets that are large enough to fit a medium-sized smartphone, camera, or snacks.

External Attachment and Compression System

The external attachment system on the Amber 44 is surprisingly complete for such a moderately-sized backpack. I’m not complaining, but it’s just a little surprising. There are two tiers of compression straps on the sides of the pack that you can lash gear to like long tent poles or a bulky sleeping pad. The pack has two ice ax loops and elastic clips to hold trekking poles or ice ax shafts, a detail which is left off many backpacks.

The Amber has two tiers of compression straps and shaft holders for holding trekking poles or ice ax shafts.

There are two additional straps the run under the bottom of the pack that can be used to attach a bulky object like a sleeping pad. My recommendation would be to keep whatever you attach here as lightweight as possible so it doesn’t throw you off balance.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Amber 44 comes with an adjustable length torso that lets you raise the shoulder pads up or down to match your torso length. The adjustment system is an easy-to-use hook & loop system sized to fit torsos from 14″-19” in length.  I like that there is infinite adjustment within the advertised size range.   It means you can really dial it to your torso length and I was able to get a really nice fit with it.

The Amber’s women’s specific shoulder strap and hip belt design work well for my short, curvy body shape

There is an internal wishbone-shaped metal frame in the Amber 44 which keeps the pack from collapsing on itself when you load it up. The hip belt has, soft padding that works well for me. I don’t like a belt that is stiff.  The belt adjustment is pretty standard.  I appreciate that the belt straps are not 3 feet long so I don’t have to tie them in knots or cut them off. There’s also a medium-sized lumbar bad at the base of the back which is a common feature found on Gregory packs. It’s designed to rest on your natural hipbone “shelf” and prevents hip belt slippage.

The Amber’s women’s specific shoulder strap and hip belt design work well for my short, curvy body shape. The sternum strap slides up and down rails for easy adjustment.  The shoulder straps did not need any additional padding for me which was a nice surprise.  I usually have to add extra padding to many of the packs I use.

The back panel has foam cutouts for increased ventilation

While there is a foam cavity behind your back for increased airflow, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Amber 44 is a fully ventilated backpack, like the ones with big curved cavities to keep your shirt dry. It definitely helps. If that’s a must-have for you check out the Gregory Jade 53 or the Octal 45 which are fully ventilated and designed to satisfy that need. Either way, you’re going to sweat if you’re carrying a loaded backpack on a hot day. It’s what all backpackers do.

Comparable Lightweight Women’s Backpacks

Women's Make / ModelFrame: Torso RangeWeightColorsPrice
Osprey Eja 58Fixed: 14-21"42 ozGrey, Blue$220
Osprey Eja 48Fixed: 14-21"41 ozGrey, Blue$200
Osprey Tempest 40Adjustable: 13-20"38.1 ozMagenta, Black$160
Osprey Lumina 60Fixed: 15-21"31.2 ozGrey$270
Osprey Lumina 45Fixed: 15-21"28 ozGrey$250
REI Flash 55Fixed: 16-18"43 ozGrey, Olive Oil$199
REI Flash 45Fixed: 16-18"41.5 ozGrey, Pumpkin$159
Granite Gear Crown2Fixed: 15-21"34 ozGrey, Black$200
Gregory Octal 58Fixed: 14-20"41 ozGrey, Blue$210
Gregory Octal 45Fixed: 14-20"40 ozGrey, Blue$190
Gregory Amber 44Adjustable: 14-20"44 ozRed, Teal$160
Exped Lightning 60Adjustable: 14.2-20.9"40 ozBlack, Terracotta$229
Exped Lightning 45Adjustable: 14.2-20.9"38.8 ozBlack, Terracotta$199
Kelty Redwing 40Fixed: 14.5-18.5"42 ozBlack, Teal$125
Mountainsmith Scream 55Fixed: 14-17"42 ozGrey$160

Recommendation

I really like the Gregory Amber 44 and it’s safe to say I’m a bit picky about packs.  The empty weight of a pack is really important to me and this one is within reason at 2.7 lbs (43 oz).   Generally, I look for packs that weigh under 3 lbs.  Since there are so many lightweight backpacks available these days, that’s a reasonable goal to achieve.  The bottom of the pack has sturdier fabric which should wear well over time.  Some of this sturdy fabric runs up onto the lumbar pad which helps keep the pad from picking up dirt when you set the pack on the ground.  The coarse mesh on the side pockets could be prone to catching on branches if you hike off-trail.  However, I used it on a couple of hikes where the snowpack had me hiking in the treetops and the pack did not sustain damage to the mesh.

I find this pack to be comfortable for loads in the 25 to 30 lb range.  It is rated for 40, but I’m not interested in carrying that much weight.  It will accommodate an overnight summer trip with low gear requirements.  It can also handle the volume and weight needed for winter and shoulder season day hikes.  It’s a basic pack that does what you need it to do without being pretentious and adding weight with a lot of unnecessary features.  I think I’ll add a hook in my gear closet and keep this one around!

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About the Author

Wanda Rice has been backpacking since the late 1980’s. She has climbed the New Hampshire 48, the New Hampshire 48 in winter, the New England 67 and is working on the New England Hundred Highest and the Four-Season 48. Wanda also teaches for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Mountain Leadership School, the AMC New Hampshire Chapter Spring and Winter Schools as well as the AMC NH Winter Hiking Series. She leads day and overnight trips for AMC NH year-round and loves mentoring new leaders. She is a gear junkie, a self-proclaimed Queen of Gear Hacks and loves sharing her tips and tricks with others. Wanda lives in southern NH and is looking forward to moving closer to the mountains in the next few years.

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