User Review: Gregory Z Pack
Design: top loader with outer mesh pouch
Size: 50-60 L
Number of Pockets: 1 main compartment, 1 mesh pouch, 2 zip pockets
Max. Load Carried: 60 lbs
Height of Owner: 5' 11"
Price Paid: $150?
I've owned this pack for nearly 6 years now with very few complaints. This has been my only pack for everything from day hikes, 3 night fast-packs, ice climbing, ski mountaineering, tele-skiing, books+gym bag, carry-on luggage, canoeing, etc in the Alaskan wilderness playground.
Quite frankly I'm hard on my gear. Despite this being a light-weight model, I've had very few wear issues. After 6 years of heavy use, the bottom of the pack (which is not the dyneema pack material mind you) has recently blown a few small holes that I've had to patch. Earlier in the pack's life, it got set sideways on a pallet with screws sticking out. It of course suffered puncture wounds, but that's more abuse than use, and would be expected of such negligence. Easily remedied with some stylish patches.
With just a plastic framesheet and a single stay, this pack carries heavy loads well. I don't weigh my pack, but I'd guess I've carried 50-60 pounds with it before for ski mountaineering+ice climbing gear-intensive adventures, and I've had no real problems. This pack was not designed for such a wide range of uses, but it has performed exceptionally well.
As for features:
Mesh Pocket. This really adds a lot to the pack. I often stuff a layer in there while on the move, and it fits my avy shovel, skins and probe well too.
Zippered pockets: The top pocket is a nice size, and the water-tight zip has held up well. there is another zippered pocket on the outside of the mesh pouch that is also super nice for stuff that needs to be readily available.
Side access zip: Though I rarely use this feature, it does come in handy occasionally. It zips right down the side where you see the curved seam. It lets you get to that pocketknife that trickled its way to the bottom of the pack.
Straps: With the mesh pouch, there really isn't room for daisy chains, so lashing things to the pack can be tricky. I don't usually pack stuff on the outside of the main compartment for that reason, except of course for the mesh pouch, which is sizable. There is a strap that clips to the top of the mesh pouch and goes over the top of the main compartment (under the top flap). This strap is useful for attaching a rope, a pad or a helmet across the top of your load, under the flap. The compression straps are fine, and work okay for attaching skis a-frame style.
Hydration pocket: The pack has a built-in pocket for your water bladder that hugs the frame sheet. works great.
Harness/ hipbelt: Compared to some heavy-duty hiking bags this pack lacks extra-thick padding, but what is there is very comfortable and suits the pack well. Just be sure to get the right size based on your back length, because it doesn't adjust up or down like some new frame designs.
I've tried other packs, and borrowed friends' packs for comparison (including a Mont-bell expedition pack, and an Osprey Aether, among others) but Gregory's fit and attention to performance without hyped-up goofy add-on features beats them all. I'm finally upgrading this year to the Gregory Makalu Pro, which might be better suited to my needs.