The best small go bag for women: Gregory

The Preparation Concierge Review of the Gregory Maya 22 backpack. By our intrepid woman-on-the-go, Rebecca Lindland

The prospective buyer: Female, active, possibly of smaller stature (our reviewer is 5 foot).

The need: A light backpack that you can use on weekends — but would also do double duty in an emergency.

The emergency circumstance: Encroaching wild fires, or oncoming storms, hurricanes, or blizzards. You've got to leave your house for a few days and need to get away quickly with essentials, including spare clothes, cash, and a few key emergency supplies.

Why we think the Gregory Maya 22 is for you:

  1. Just the right size for two days. Holds up to 25 pounds.

  2. It is specifically made for women, accommodating a range of torsos and waists.

Drawbacks of the Maya 22:

  1. Our reviewer was concerned about the sturdiness of the grab handle.

  2. Be realistic about its size: Accommodating 22 liters, it isn't suited for multi-day hikes or extended survival situations.

Items needed to be packed: Clothes, extra socks and shoes, water, emergency radio, snacks, laptop. Could the Maya 22 do it?

The Review:

Sometimes you've just got to get out of the house. Maybe just for a long hike or weekend getaway away from the family. And sometimes it may even be more urgent. The news is forecasting a serious storm, or there's a Red Flag warning and potential wildfires are too close for comfort. You need to evacuate.

"Sometimes speed is the essence of safety in a dicey situation. You don't need to carry everything — just enough for a couple of days

In either case, you want a lightweight, super reliable backpack like the Maya 22, which is just the right size for moving quickly while holding the key stuff. Speed is essential as you assess a dicey situation. You don't need to carry everything in these situations — you'll likely be back home in a few days. But you do want some spare clothes and a key safety items.

The Maya 22 is light but stout

Note: The gear that you rely on every day is also the gear that will most likely get you through an emergency situation. In this case, it's the backpack which you often travel with, that you know fits your body, and that you're familiar with in terms of pockets, storage space, and zippers. The last thing you want to be doing when you're evacuating the house is trying to figure out how to close your bag!

After going through many backpacks, the go bags that the editors at Preparation Concierge vastly prefer are Gregory products. The backpacks are well made, tailored for different body types (Gregory has a great fit and sizing guide), and are cleverly organized with thoughtful details.

I tried out the Maya as my "light" go bag for emergencies, creating a scenario of a two or three day evacuation. It has eight external pockets, including two secure water bottle holders, and holds up to a maximum of 25 pounds.

The Maya 22 is the largest of three Maya versions offered and carries – cleverly – 22 liters of gear. It was recently updated for the 2019 hiking season, gaining an ounce (from 27 to 28 ounces), but for good reason: a longer waist strap, additional cushioning at the hip belt and back, and Biosync ventilated padding.

Fit for a woman! Choose a backpack designed for your sex

I'm not a tall woman, but the Maya fits my small frame well overall, and nearly every touchpoint is adjustable, providing a comfortable fit, even fully loaded. The cushioning on the shoulder straps isn't extravagant, and hours of walking could present a problem, but that isn’t necessarily an issue specific to the Maya. It is offset by a flexible hipbelt specifically tailored for women, which also has nifty zippered pockets appropriate for small electronics, a multi-tool, or small flashlight.

The zippers have generous plastic cords that make pulling easy with bare fingers or even thin gloves. The outside pocket is adjustable and ventilated, perfect for wet gear. It also has a hook ideal for hanging a light pair of shoes.

There are several hooks just below the outside pocket for attaching a bike helmet or another small bag, and stretchy pockets on the sides for different size water bottles. The top of the bag has a shallow zippered pocket ideal for protecting a mobile phone, keys, and other assorted flotsam.

The main pocket of the bag is a good size and I really like the fact that it’s just one, big space since I can never remember what I put in each pocket! If I need more organization, I use color-coded smaller bags inside the big pocket.

I was very pleasantly surprised at the capacity of the Maya. I was able to fit jeans, sweats, two tanks, two t-shirts, pajamas, sweatshirt, undergarments, socks, a Turkish towel, and bath kit bag in the main pocket. I even had room for two plugs and my emergency radio.

I clipped on a pair of Merrell lightweight shoes to the outside, stuffed a tall water bottle in one side pocket and a shorter coffee to-go cup in the other. My laptop slid nicely into the narrow sleeve at the back, and snacks into waist pockets. I was so surprised by the amount of gear the Maya swallowed up, I unpacked and packed again to make sure it wasn’t an anomaly.

I do have concerns about the thin handle at the top of the bag. I wish it was thicker and more durable. It’s a natural place to grab and I fear it will rip, especially with the bag fully loaded. It also isn’t very comfortable to carry the pack by that handle whenever it’s not on your back, and there’s no other place to grab.

Overall, the Gregory Maya 22 makes an ideal go bag for a quick getaway — in both senses. (For a larger, fully equipped woman's backpack/go bag, we recommend the Gregory Maven 55.) You can use it over the weekend, on a light hike, or when you really need to get out of the house quickly with a few key items.

FULL SLIDESHOW HERE: Click through if you want to really get a good look at the Maya 22

Rebecca Lindland is a lifelong traveler and automotive enthusiast motivated by a baseline fear of getting caught unprepared. She’s lived in San Francisco, New York City, Boston, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Pocket sized — she's five feet tall and full of ferocity — Rebecca has taken several self-defense courses just in case she needs to incapacitate polo-shirt-wearing villains as she navigates the mean streets of southern Connecticut, where she currently lives. She has two passport-toting kitties, loves dogs, and if you need technology broken, she’s your girl. Follow her @Rebecca_drives and see her work at rebeccadrives.com.

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