With the Gregory Amber Plus size 65l, Gregory has designed a pack with plus-sized bodies in mind that is adjustable enough to suit many shapes.
Price: $239.95 | £200 (available from Gregory Packs)
Weight: 1613g (one size) | Capacity: 65l | Materials: Body: 210D nylon, 420D high-density nylon. Base: 840D Ballistic Polyester. Harness/Hipbelt/Lumbar: multi-density closed and open cell foams. Chasis Support: Alloy Steel Frame. Lining: 40% Post-consumer Recycled 135d Polyester with Pfc-free Dwr | Closure: Quick-pull drawcord closure and top webbing compression with floating zippered lid | Back: Wishbone alloy frame, VersaFit adjustable suspension | Hipbelt: FitTune adjustable hipbelt with extended length in the plus size | Pockets: Main body with removable divider plus dual access from top and bottom, floating zippered lid, dual side mesh pockets featuring side trail access, front oversized stretch mesh pocket, hydration sleeve, dual trekking pole/tool attachment points with bungee closure system, dedicated zip pocket for raincover | Features: plus size fit, compartment solutions, breathable padding | Sizes: One size | Men’s version: Katmai Plus 65 version available
The extended length women’s specific hipbelt (allowing for 4 inches of adjustment) and generous depth of hip buckle eliminated any cutting into the stomach and provided maximum coverage and comfort. Huge pockets are placed within easy reach – I usually have to fumble behind me to access misplaced pockets on ill-fitting packs – and will easily store any large smartphone and a compass plus snacks.
I was concerned the extended harness length and wide angle between shoulder straps would prove too big, but I found my fit easily. Likewise, the VersaFit adjustable torso system proved simple, strong and durable.
The sternum strap is placed perfectly for me, sitting snugly and minimising wriggle in the shoulder region. The floating lid and compression straps mean the Gregory Amber Plus size 65l doesn’t need to be jam-packed to offer balance and could happily hold lighter loads. The quality of straps and drawcords made for a secure yet quickly adjustable pack. ComfortGrip custom molded loop zipper pullers are a luxurious but welcome addition, especially with cold hands.
There is a floating lid and a bottom zipper for easy access to kit, and a good raincover which was secure in wind and waterproof in rain.
On dry days I was grateful for the front stretch mesh pocket for easy access to mid-layers and my map. The mesh side pockets added a light storage solution for 2l water bottles. The hydration sleeve’s universal hanger worked well with various 2l bladders which I couldn’t feel at all through the generous back padding. The signposted exit port and shoulder leash kept the nozzle in place at all times.
Any concerns about bulkiness evaporated as I scrambled Crib Goch with this on my back. I was carrying a full load and never felt unstable. The 3D foam breathable back panel meant I didn’t sweat excessively and experienced no rubbing. This pack is so comfortable, it’s worth its weight.
The Gregory Amber plus size 65l gets Francesca’s ‘Best Buy’ accolade. To read the other pack reviews in this test head to The Great Outdoors’ best backpacking packs.
Tested by Francesca Donovan
Francesca tested these packs on a number of overnight backpacking routes with plenty of ascent and rough terrain in snow, rain and high winds, as well as unseasonably milder days in the Southern Uplands, Eryri (Snowdonia), the Lake District and the Peak District, throughout late winter and spring. She is 5’7 with wide hips and narrow shoulders. All weights were measured on her digital scales.