We are going to take a closer look at the Z series of backpacks from Gregory. These are light weight offerings that still offer quite a bit of storage capacity and weight hauling capability, again, in a very light weight design, a nice ventilated suspension system that we will take a closer look at. Great for anything from weekends to multi day trips, even extended usage if you are packing appropriately.
Gregory separates their Z series of backpacks into two different series, a smaller hiking oriented series and then a backpacking oriented series which is what we are going to look at here. The capacity range in those hiking Z packs ranges from as small from 35 liters and upwards of 75 liters. We are looking specifically here at the Z55.
The packs have slightly differing organizational features, but they all share the innovative jet stream LTS suspension system.
Two key components on the jet stream LTS suspension system is light weight design and also breathability through ventilation. So you can see there is focus padding high on the shoulders and down on the lumbar section. There is not padding everywhere, but where there is, it is really beefy, really comfortable, really thick. And those contact points cre-ated by that foam actually leave some spacing, some open spacing between the pack and your back which allows this to breathe really well. This perforated panel that you are see-ing here there is actually gapping in beneath it that, again, enhances the air flow and helps to keep you cool while carrying weight.
In terms of stabilizing a load and actually comfortably carrying that weight, there is an HDPE frame sheet out of sight in the interior of the pack. There is also one single hollow aluminum stay which helps to stabilize that load, allows the Z55 to comfortably carry up to 40 pounds.
We took an initial look at the padding on the shoulder straps, yet pretty thick, nice com-fort across the top of your shoulders and then the front of the body as well. There is some pre-shaping, some curve to the shoulder straps on the harness to, again, give you a better fit. Load lifter straps at the top of each of the shoulder straps, again, lets you really dial in that fit appropriately, also an adjustable sternum strap to make sure that everything is locked and in place, driving weight to the hips.
That perforated form that we saw on the shoulder straps is maintained here in the waist belt. Again, nice feel next to skin feel, excellent comfort, great padding there at the waist line.
Interesting feature on the wrap of the hip belt meaning how far around this foam padding comes around the outside of your hip and towards the front of your body. You can make some adjustments with these wings for a large, a medium, a small waist size, but adjusting where that fits, pulling it tight and then securing the Velcro strap appropriately behind that lumbar pad gives this pack nice adjustability as you grow and in different seasons you might be wearing heavier layers and actually better appreciate adjustability on the wrap of that padding.
Streamlined organizational features on the Z55. Ok, just one large single compartment. It does have pass through access on the side. So there is a zipper down the side here that allows you to get hands into the interior of the pack, but it really is a fairly traditional top loader in that you access the pack from beneath this top lid.
The lid folds back. You have got a sizable zippered pocket on the top of that lid. The height of the lid can be adjusted depending on how full you have the pack itself. It also can be removed entirely when you don’t need that extra storage and you are just looking to go with a more streamlined pack.
There is a drawstring closure on the top of the pack back to further secure contents and protect the interior of the pack whether you are using the lid or not. This also gives some expanded capacity to the pack itself. Maybe in colder weather you have got extra layers. Going longer you may have more food and you want that capacity. Again, the height of that lid will adjust to accommodate that and everything cinches down closed, compres-sion strap over the top to make sure that everything stays where you want it to.
On the front of the pack there is a pretty large stuff it pocket. Open this up a little bit and you can see I have got things stored in behind this zippered front pocket which is an additional place for storing and organizing gear. Compression straps allow you to cinch all of that down and in place. If you are traveling light, you know, you can secure everything down in place. Things aren’t going to move around. If you are lashing things beneath it, you can cinch them in place and make sure that they stay where you mean them to.
Some other nice organizational features, stretch pockets on either side of the pack that are perfect for water bottles, but you can put other gear in there as well, tent poles, whatever you like. Trekking pole loops on either side of the pack, tool attachment points to help secure those in place or any other tools you might be carrying. Inside the pack is a lined sleeve that is perfect for hydration systems. The hydration system would be sold separate-ly. Nice pass throughs for the hose, big wide openings that allow that to come through easily, well, thought out design on that feature.
A nice feature on the side compression strap here, the lower compression straps. You can see that I have got them run over top of the water bottle and that stretch pocket. That is fine when you really want to lock things in place. But you can also run this beneath the pocket itself. That allows you to cinch down everything beneath it in place, but still easily get a water bottle in and out without having to lock that in place and potentially buckle and unbuckle it each time you want to put hands on your water bottle.
Nice hip belt pockets, zippered, breathable pockets on either side of the hip belt keeps small items close at hand.
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