Ampex Gear Review – Field Test Results

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In this review, we will discuss Ampex Gear’s backpacks, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads. Their unique design features set them apart from larger companies, and their affordable price is a plus.

Over the past few months, I have been using their 50L backpack, 20-degree-rated XL sleeping bag, and insulated sleeping pad.

Ampex Gear Review
Jason wearing the Ampex Gear Backpack with the Camp Pad and Sleeping Bag
Jason, wearing the Ampex Gear Backpack with the Camp Pad Attached

I used them for camping, took the pack on a few hikes, and considered how they would function as part of my emergency preparedness gear.

Keep reading for my experience and thoughts and if they are worth investing in.


Who is Ampex Gear?

Ampex Logo

Ampex Gear was founded in 2023 and is headquartered in Overland Park, KS. All of its products are designed at its headquarters, and the team routinely tests the gear it designs on personal backpacking and camping trips throughout the US.

The design team includes Alex, Tyler, Ally, Conner, and Kevin. They have tested their products in various parts of the country to ensure they perform in all conditions. They took trips to Arkansas, Colorado, California, Utah, and the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, where they tested and refined their ideas.

They also contribute to the community by volunteering with a local trail-building group. Additionally, a portion of Ampex Gear’s proceeds go toward building more trails in the Kansas City area.


Ampex Gear Review

The Backpack

Ampex Gear 50L Backpack

Ampex Gear currently offers four different backpacks. They vary in size from 25L to 65L.

The 25L is perfect for a day hike or overnight trip, while the big 65L is for an extended backpacking trip.

I chose the 50L since it is a good compromise between size and space.

Jason Wearing the Apex Gear Backpack
Jason, wearing the 50L Ampex Gear Backpack

The first thing that immediately stands out to me is the suspension system. It has a full, rigid frame around the rear perimeter. The shoulder straps and hip belt are fully adjustable and connected to a full mesh panel.

I can adjust this backpack to fit my body shape, which helps distribute the weight through my hips. In the past, I’ve experienced back and shoulder pain after carrying heavy backpacks for just a few hours, but not with this one. Ampex Gear offers easy-to-follow adjustment instructions on their website.

Jason wearing the Apex Gear Backpack showing the suspension system
Note how the suspension system keeps the weight of the pack on my hips

This is a bucket-style backpack, meaning that the entire top opens up, and I can fill it up like a bucket. I like this design over others since I can fill it efficiently without wasting space. The problem with most bucket style packs is accessing items on the bottom after I fill it up.

Jason showing the open top of the Ampex Backpack
The top opens fully, so it is easy to load

The Ampex Gear team has solved this problem in two ways. There is a zipper that forms a “U” shape around the entire front of the pack. This allows me to open it up entirely so I can access all areas of the pack.

The backpack also has a zipper that goes around the entire lower section of the main compartment. Just above the lower area, there is an internal divider. In this lower area I can put heavier items like my sleeping bag. I can access and remove any item I put in this section without disturbing the other items packed on top of it above the divider.

Another unique feature is the removable top lid. It unclips from the pack and has built-in shoulder straps. For short hikes away from camp, I can put critical survival items in it. This way, I don’t need to carry the entire pack or a separate bag.

Jason Removing the lid from the Ampex Backpack
Jason removing the lid pack from the backpack
Jason wearing the lid pack on his back
Jason wearing the removable lid pack

The side pockets hold my Grayl water filter plus other tools I want to get to easily. The sides also have adjustable straps to hold larger items like my camp axe. There are also loops around the pack where I can secure various items with a carabiner.

Jason showing the side pockets on the Ampex Gear Backpack
I can securely carry my axe on the outside of my pack

I also like that it has a built-in rain cover on the bottom of the pack. This way, I always know where it is, and it is attached so I don’t lose it.

While being a pretty large backpack, the whole thing weighs just over four pounds. That’s pretty amazing compared to some other backpacks I have used.

The only thing I would like is a larger carry handle on the top. It does get a bit awkward to hold it by the shoulder straps when I am loading it in my truck or packing it at home.

Using it for Emergency Preparedness:

I prefer to use backpacking-style backpacks for my emergency preparedness gear like my bug-out bag. Why? Because they are designed to be carried long distances. Instead of carrying all the weight on my shoulders, it transfers the weight to my hips. This is much more comfortable, not to mention safer.

I may not need to carry it very far, and in most cases, I will probably be in my vehicle. But the risk is there, and I do not want to have to hike miles with my family with some uncomfortable, tactical-looking backpack with no suspension system on my back.

I want something functional that will work in all conditions, and not be an obvious target that could be mistaken for the military. This backpack fits perfectly.

The larger backpacks are perfect to hold all of my bug out bag essential gear, while the smaller 25L backpack is the perfect size for my get home bag gear.

Recommended for:

The Ampex Gear Backpacks are for anyone who likes to camp, backpack, and hike. They also make great bug-out bag backpacks. The multiple sizes give you options as well.

PROS

Adjustable Suspension System

Includes Rain Cover

Bucket Style with Front Zipper

Removeable Top Lid

Affordable

CONS

Top Carry Handle


The Sleeping Bag

Ampex Gear Sleeping Bag

Ampex Gear has four different sleeping bags that are different sizes and have different temperature ratings.

There is a regular and XL size 30-degree bag and a regular and XL size 20-degree rated bag.

The 30-degree bags are synthetic down and a hybrid shape. I would call them a cross between a traditional open-top bag and a mummy bag. If you are looking for a three-season bag that is affordable, this is the one you want.

The 20-degree bags are down-filled mummy-style bags. There are also two sizes, regular and XL.

I have been using the 20-degree XL bag. If you are larger-framed and six feet tall or taller, go with the XL size.

Jason showing the Ampex Gear Sleeping Bag and Pad in a tent
My Ampex Gear Sleeping Bag and Pad in my Tent

Typically, I don’t care for mummy-style bags because they are restrictive. I didn’t experience that with this bag. I was able to bend my legs and sleep on my side. However, my younger kids didn’t like the mummy design so much (probably because they were not used to it).

In some sleeping bags, I have experienced the filling getting compacted and “lumped” inside the bag. This bag has a quilted design, keeping the insulation flat and consistent. I was surprised by how thin the bag felt at first. But after I unpacked it, the bag expanded and filled out nicely.

Jason showing the Ampex Gear Sleeping Bag Open
The inside of my Ampex Gear sleeping bag

I used it in temperatures down to around 40 degrees, and it was warm. A few times, I had to unzip it part of the way because it got too hot.

I like how the top portion of the bag has a collar that I can use to seal the air from getting in around my neck. This really helps make this bag so warm.

Jason showing the collar on the Ampex Gear Sleeping Bag
The collar in my sleeping bag

Another nice touch is the “pillow pocket.” One night, I stuffed a few shirts in it and had a perfect pillow.

Jason showing the Pillow Pocket in the Ampex Gear Sleeping Bag
This is the pillow pocket

The top of the bag also has an outside zipper pocket. This is super handy and a great addition. I used it to store my glasses at night instead of struggling to find a safe place for them.

Jason showing the pocket on the Ampex Gear Sleeping Bag
The zipper pocket on the top of my sleeping bag

I don’t know how many times I have woken up camping and found myself sliding off my sleeping pad or down into one side of my tent. This sleeping bag solves that problem, with straps on the top and bottom that attach to Ampex Gear’s sleeping pad. It essentially creates a sleeping system, and I didn’t have to fight to stay on the pad (just make sure to order the same-size pad as the bag).

Jason showing the full length zipper on his Ampex Gear Sleeping Bag
The full-length zipper makes for easy in and out

I also like the small size and weight when packed in the compression sack. My 20-degree XL bag only weighs about 3 pounds and is about 16” x 10”.

Jason showing the Ampex Gear Sleeping Bag and Pad in their carry bags
My sleeping bag and pad in their carry bags

Using it for Emergency Preparedness:

During an emergency, a sleeping bag is incredibly versatile.

To conserve heat during a power outage, I can move my family into one room. If we all have sleeping bags, it is easy to just pull them out, and we can all “camp” inside.

If we need to evacuate and go to a friend or another family member’s house, we can take our sleeping bags and pad and use them there.

If we are forced to stay in a shelter or even camp outdoors, we can use the same sleeping bags again.

I think having our sleeping gear covered gives us one less thing to worry about. It also gives us an individual item that we can look forward to at the end of the day.

Recommended for:

The Ampex Sleeping bags are great for backpackers and campers and for emergency preparedness. They have all the features that have been tested in extreme conditions.

PROS

Lightweight

Warm Quilted Design

Compact

Exterior Zip Pocket

Sleep Pad Integration

CONS

Kids May Not Like Design


The Sleeping Pad

Ampex Gear Sleeping Pad

Ampex Gear has six different sleeping pads with different weights, insulation, and sizes.

They have a lightweight version that weighs only 1 ounce over 1 pound (there is also an XL lightweight pad that weighs a little more.) The main disadvantage with these is that they do not self-inflate. However, they do come with a large pump sack that works quite well.

There is an insulated sleeping pad that still only weighs 3 pounds (again, a little more for the XL version.) These pads have an R rating of 6.1 and self-inflate.

For very cold weather, they also have a 4-season pad that has an R rating of 9.1.

I chose the insulated pad as a compromise between weight and insulation. I also like the fact that it self-inflates.

Jason showing the Inflate Valve on the Ampex Gear Sleeping Pad
The Inflate Valve on my Sleeping Pad

Once I unrolled it in my tent, I simply opened the inflate valve. The valve is unique in that it is really two valves in one. One is for self-inflation, and the other allows me to fine-tune the inflation level to my preference.

I like that it comes with a large pump sack with the instructions printed right on it. They are easy to follow, and I don’t have to keep up with a piece of paper.

Jason showing the pump bag valve and the inflate valve
The pump bag attaches to the inflate valve

I found it took a few minutes to inflate the first time. I have learned that it works best if I just let it set for a while to fully expand. After a couple hours, it is firm but usually not quite as firm as I like.

I can just connect the pump sack with the micro adjustment valve in place, and about one sack full of air is perfect. I don’t have to blow into the mattress or carry a separate electric pump.

Jason using the Pump Bag to inflate the Ampex Gear Sleeping Pad
The pump bag is large and easy to use

Sleeping on the pad is super comfortable. I have found most sleeping pads will get cold laying on concrete, so one evening, I tried it out. I stayed warm and comfortable and did not have an issue.

Jason showing the Sleeping Pad fully Inflated
My fully inflated sleeping pad

Deflating this pad is also surprisingly easy. I simply opened the deflate valve, flipped the pad over, and started rolling it up. The deflate valve lets air out but not back in, so I didn’t have to struggle with keeping my weight on it inside my tent. Once I pushed the air out, it stayed out.

Jason showing how to deflate the sleeping pad
The deflate valve keeps air from re-entering the sleep pad

The pad comes with a bag and compression straps and even has a patch kit included in case I accidentally puncture it while I am out. It attaches nicely to the bottom of my Backpack.

Using it for Emergency Preparedness:

I have a few of the cheap inflatable air mattresses that are almost as thick as a regular mattress. In fact, I used one in January when we had company at our home. I was in the house on a wood floor and our heat was set the same as normal. I about froze to death.

Regular air mattresses will just suck the body heat right out of you, no matter what time of year. It may be OK in the summer, but during a power outage in the wintertime, they just will not work. Plus, you need a pump to inflate them. Try to inflate one by blowing into it and see how that works (it doesn’t!)

Since these insulated pads match the sleeping bags above, they are a must-have. I can take them anywhere, don’t need power to pump them up, and can sleep on concrete or outside and stay warm.

Again, like the sleeping bags, it is one of those personal items to look forward to every night.

Recommended for:

The Ampex Gear camp pads are a must-have complement to the sleeping bags. It makes no sense to have the bag without the pad.

PROS

Lightweight

Easy to Use

Insulated

Comfortable

Adjustable Firmness

CONS

Not Very Compact


Overall Impressions of Ampex Gear

Ampex Gear is designed and tested for backpacking. Backpackers typically hike for long distances and camp along their route. This is one of the most demanding applications for backpacks, sleeping bags, and pads. They must be lightweight, durable, and comfortable all at the same time.

Ampex Gear is designed and tested in the US, and as I highlighted above, they have been tested in different climates and terrains across the US.

The cost of their gear is noticeably affordable compared to other brands of similar capability and quality. They manufacture their products overseas to keep the price down but still adhere to ethical standards (like the RDS certified duck down on the sleeping bags).

I found their gear to have small design elements that were thoughtful and unique, so I can tell they really put some thought into it.

Overall, the combination of usefulness and affordability makes Ampex Gear one of the best choices for anyone who spends time outside or is interested in emergency preparedness.

I would like to thank Eric at Ampex Gear for letting us spend some time testing their gear. They really exceeded our expectations!

Be sure to read our Survival Guides and Gear Reviews plus check out all of our favorite Bushcraft Gear. Even if you are just into camping and backpacking, there are items that you will find helpful!

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Jason has an engineering and problem solving background. He is an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, and competitive shooter. He enjoys researching the best and most practical solutions for the problem at hand, studying stoicism, and finding innovative ways to be prepared.