Probably best known for their full size mountaineering and backpacking technical backpacks, Gregory has recently made a push to address what they call the active trail category. The women's specific Maya 18 and Maya 22 are panel loading day packs that offer just enough room to carry the gear you need for a day spent mountain biking, multi-pitch climbing, trail running, or hiking. I was sent one of the Maya 18 to test and have been using it for just about every activity on my Dolomites trip.
The Maya active trail packs use the Gregory Active Trail Suspension system, inspired by our own bio-dynamics. The shoulder straps and hipbelt are attached to the pack using artificial tendons that enable the harness to not only stretch for the perfect fit, but move with you as you bike, hike, or climb.
An internal compression system keeps the pack nice and tight against your body, so you don't have to worry about it bouncing around when you are mountain biking or trail running. Two finger loops on the side of the pack let you tighten the compression on the fly, as your hydration reservoir empties throughout the day.
The hipbelt and shoulder straps are sized and shaped for a female body. Since I am 5'9", the hipbelt is actually more of a stomach belt. This placement was kind of convenient for both climbing, to keep it out of the way of your harness, and biking, to keep it from digging in when you lean over. However, shorter women will probably find the hipbelt placement and torso length of the Maya active trail packs most ideal.
As I have wider shoulders, I found the shoulder straps a bit too snug under my armpits. Even though the sternum strap is adjustable, it sits awkwardly for larger chested women, so I usually left it undone. Again, more petite women will probably find the shoulder strap shape and sizing ideal.
The back panel is mesh to help wick away moisture, but as it sits snug against your body, can become a bit warm in hot weather. A full length zipper on the back of the pack gives you easy access to your hydration reservoir without having to open up the front. The hydration tube can exit either side, with a velcro bite valve holder on the left shoulder strap.
Two side mesh pockets for water bottles are also handy for holding your climbing shoes. The very front pocket expands open to house your helmet (an angled bike helmet fits better than a climbing helmet), with an elastic band to secure your helmet in place and make sure it doesn't fall out.
The dual hipbelt pockets are great for storing snacks and big enough for your small point and shoot camera. A fleece lined top zippered pocket is perfect for sunglasses or your cell phone. There is a small webbing loop on the bottom of the active trail pack to clip on your bike light.
Inside the main pack compartment of the Maya is a mesh zippered pocket for valuables, as well as a handy removable snap-on zippered pouch you can use for your bike tools or money for the day. The middle pocket has mesh organizer compartments, as well as a key clip to secure your car keys during that bumpy single track ride.
The main compartment on the Maya is roomy enough to carry a harness, water bottle, small fleece, and some snacks. I would love to see the zipper come all the way down the sides of the compartment so you can more easily stow and access the gear in the bottom of the pack.
Bottom Line: The Maya active trail packs are comfortable women's specific packs for high motion day activities like trail running, mountain biking, hiking, or climbing. Shorter or petite women will probably enjoy these packs the most.
The Maya comes in 18L and 22L sizes and retails for $99-$109, available now.