ProView – Gregory Facet 55
I am fortunate enough to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth — Alaska. Whenever I am hosting guests, I try to cram as much fun and sightseeing into their stay as possible. I jumped on the chance to test the Gregory Facet 55 when it became available while I was simultaneously planning a week of adventuring with an out-of-town guest in April.
Gregory Women's Facet 55
Product Name: Gregory Women's Facet 55
Product Description: Designed to support over 50L of capacity, the Facet 55 utilizes the FreeFloat dynamic hipbelt with quick-access zippered pockets and an ultralight Aluminum frame. A fully ventilated backpanel with odor-fighting mesh provides an airy and comfortable carry for extended trips through the backcountry.
Offer price: MSRP: $239.95
The Gregory Facet 55 is a new lightweight backpack designed specifically for women. Its versatility, low weight, and ample features will have users excited for longer days in the back country. I have used this pack almost every day for the past few weeks during my ventures around south-central Alaska.
- Light weight with a large carrying capacity
- Gender specific fit with lots of added comforts
- Many well thought out add-ons
- Only available in one color choice
- Solid objects can be hard to secure in side-stuff pockets
- Outer material could be more durable
Though my ultimate hope with this bag was to use it for overnights and high mileage trips, I started testing it out for shorter trips around town. It is important to get to know your gear before venturing too far into the backcountry where every inconvenience is magnified. I spent the first two weeks with this bag using it for short cross country ski treks and low-key alpine touring ventures. I found this bag to be a great size for these short trips during shoulder season. Though south-central Alaska has been experiencing a beautiful spring, weather can change quickly in the mountains. My smaller day packs often do not allow me to carry quite as much gear as I would like. Storage size is not a problem with the Facet 55, however.
My new bag passed the day trip trial period with flying colors, so I took it with me for our week of adventuring. Part one consisted of a 24 mile cross country ski in the heart of the Chugach Mountains overnighting at a remote cabin, part two was hiking over a glacier, and part three was a short alpine touring trip in the Talkeetna mountain range. I planned to use the Facet 55 for the overnight ski and glacier hike. It easily accommodated all of my overnight gear, extra layers, and food for a couple of days. I ended up loaning my regular ski pack to my partner after she experienced a catastrophic pack failure knowing of course this pack could easily store my ski gear. When we encountered an unexpected road closure, I was also able to rig up my skis, boots, and poles for the two mile carry to the ski route.
Not only did the Facet 55 hold up to each challenge I threw at it, but it made carrying my gear for each day comfortable. Gregory has an easy to follow sizing chart on their website allowing you to determine the best fit. This pack is marketed towards women and has sizing available from extra small to medium. The harness contains “comfortwrap” material and hip belt is wide with “comfortcradle” technology, both of which provide a soft, 3D mesh material that prevents hotspots. The hip belt also uses their “freefloat” dynamic design that allows it to move independently from the fixed frame. This feature made a huge difference when skiing for 24 miles. I felt the bag move with me, did not have any skin irritation, nor did I have to readjust layers due to shifting. Finally, the mesh covered back allows extra airflow helping to minimize sweating under the pack.
The Facet 55 has a sleek, modern look with many of its bells and whistles visible at first glance. I appreciate that they selected a neutral color to use since there is not an option for color selection. The extra compression straps on the exterior help keep your pack looking compact while adding load stability and three mesh stuff pockets allow easy storage for a tidy appearance.
In addition to the many comfort and organizing features, the Facet 55 has hidden extras. The brain of the bag is removeable and replaceable with an included weather flap for any days you want to go ultra light. The sternum strap has a built-in whistle. This pack is compatible with hydration systems with its interior sleeve plus hanger and exterior sternum strap clip. There is also a connection inside the bag to connect their Nano day pack. The top of the main compartment has a quick pull draw string closure making the bag easy to open and close with gloves on! There are large, zippered pockets on either side of the hip belt big enough to fit a standard phone allowing easy access to essentials while on the move. Additionally, the back panel, hip belt, and harness of the bag have Gregory’s Polygeine Stays Fresh technology to inhibit the growth of odor causing bacteria.
One of the selling points of this bag is its weight. The women’s small size weighs a mere 2.55 pounds, but still boasts a 35 pound carrying capacity. This is due in large part to the aluminum frame and fiberglass cross-stay. It is the lightest pack I have every used and I love the idea of the pack itself not weighing you down but still offering ample load support.
Overall, the bag performed well in every situation I used it for. The pack evenly dispersed the weight of its load making for easy carrying. A majority of the features worked as expected. The “freefloat” hip belt was by far the feature that I enjoyed the most. The bag moved so well with me. I am not comfortable using a hydration system during colder weather, so I did not test these features out but was very excited about the idea of the side access to the pockets. I loved the thought of being able to grab my water bottle without a struggle. However, I found this did not leave my water bottle (and other solid objects) secure enough. I nearly lost my water bottle into a river bending forward on the final push up the bank. I will no longer use this side access for anything vital to my trip, but did find that it works great for quick stashing of gloves, hats, and light layers.
I believe this pack is plenty durable for the average backpacking or day trip, but will not be the best choice for bushwhacking, climbing, skiing, or other higher risk activities. The fabric is perfect for keeping the bag light weight, but I did manage to tear a small hole in it from a snag. The bottom of the pack is double lined for added durability, but the remainder of the main compartment has only one layer. The durability of the mesh pockets did exceed my expectations. The elastic has not stretched out and there is no piling on the mesh itself despite me stuffing them with skis, boots, and other large objects. All straps and buckles are also well made and appear to have a long life expectancy.
Friendliness to the Earth
Another area where Gregory really shines is with their efforts to be eco-friendly. The bag is made with recycled materials. When compared to other packs the reduction impacts are the carbon footprint down 28%, water pollution down 16%, primal energy demand down 22%, acidification down 22%, smog formation down 21%, and blue water consumption down 19%. The tags (printed with soy ink) also indicate that to offset the remaining carbon footprint of this bag, one simply has to walk, bike, or hitch a ride for 65 miles instead of driving. I love this extra motivation to change up my commute a bit more often.
The Final Word
The Facet 55 is a fantastic option for anyone looking for an ultra-light overnight pack with a price point comparable or better than the competition. It is a perfect choice for anyone hitting the trail for a couple days, but I do wish the material was a bit more durable for those of us who frequently venture off trail. The pack’s light weight combined with so many well thought out features have earned it the top spot in my gear stash for many overnight trips to come!
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About the Gear Tester
Michelle currently resides in South Central Alaska and works as an environmental technician for the Native Village of Eklutna performing fish, wildlife, and habitat surveys in an effort to restore their historic lands to their traditional bounty. When not at work, you can fine her hiking, skiing, climbing, horseback riding, running, biking, hunting, fishing, or trying out new ways to explore the outdoors. She can be found on Instagram under michelle_ventures. To learn more about the river restoration project, visit eklutnariver.org.