Reviews

Updates and upgrades launch the new 2019 Gregory Zulu…

The author of this review received a sample of the product from the brand or its representative in exchange for a review.

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (I kept the product after testing.)

Summary

Updates and upgrades launch the new 2019 Gregory Zulu 35L to new heights of comfort and packability! What once was thought of as a weekender pack, goes the distance for longer lightweight hikers.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Generous hipbelt pockets
  • Comfortable
  • Small but significant feature upgrades

Cons

  • Jury is out on the trekking pole/ice axe bungee cord and loop.

3ECD7B99-10DD-4C67-BB89-8807072298E7.jpg

                                       2019 NEW GREGORY ZULU 35 BACKPACK

Gregory Packs have really stepped up their game in recent years! Not that they’ve been a slouch...Gregory Packs have long been synonymous with easing heavy loads, durability, and comfort. Here's a look at Gregory's new Zulu 35 backpack. As a member of another website, I occasionally have opportunity to review gear at no cost or at substantially discounted pricing, as was the case with Gregory's new Zulu 35.


PROS:

  • Featherweight 
  • Breathable/Airflow
  • Comfortable


CONS:

  • Very limited pole loop and bungee

227969DC-3843-4CE0-8C3C-38448B4B0706.jpg

First and foremost, Gregory's Zulu 35 prolific use of breathable cutouts in the hip-belt and shoulder strap padding, coupled with the large holed mesh liners elevate airflow to new levels. The taut mesh back panel creates ample space between the pack body and the wearer’s back resulting in more airflow. Greater airflow, greater comfort. A thinner aluminum loop outlined the back panel for pack support and stability.

C4ED5A22-B278-48AA-974B-EA1FB66272E8.jpg

 

The Hip Belt: All hip-belts are not created equal. The Zulu 35 is a huge departure from previous Gregory models. The 3D Comfort Cradle was created to eliminate hotspots. Absent is the lower lumbar padding, thick hip bone padding and swivel. Present is the FreeFlow ventilated suspension system. Hip-belt bellow pockets are cavernous in comparison to former Gregory models...8" zippers offer plenty of room for current smartphones, even when housed in protective cases. The pocket bellows 1.5 inches at the top and 2 inches at the bottom...and is nearly 11 inches from front to rear.

Both pockets are coated nylon packcloth in contrast with Gregory’s former generation Baltoro with one waterproof pocket and first generation Paragon packs that offered one of the pockets in a light breathable fabric. Note: Cram too many hard edged or lumpy items in those pockets and you may feel them through the "foam cutout" areas.


FC4328E6-F562-4D10-869B-6ABC252D136A.jpg

 

Shoulder Straps: They may not be thinner, but they feel thinner...amply comfortable. Adjustment for size is a snap...well, actually more of a pull. Slide a hand down and separate the hook-n-loop and adjust to your desired height (marked in 1-inch increments). The chest strap slides along 9" integrated piping making the perfect placement simple. At 6'0" and with my torso length, I felt I was at the very top end of the adjustment.

The logo’d QuickStow eyewear band and elastic keeper strap adorns the left shoulder strap simplifying sunglass storage. The right chest strap incorporates a hydration hose retention hook...but the coolest is the chest strap buckle now has an integrated high shrill whistle! How cool is that?! Buckle coloration has changed too. Male end is a dark gray, female end a light gray.
FE21048D-C8E9-4350-A4D0-97E87F35D5DE.jpg

 

Pack Body: The main body is a lightweight coated, nylon pack cloth shell with lightweight stretch fabric ambidextrous 8"x 6" deep waterbottle/storage sleeves and a 12" x 7" deep breathable stretch fabric exterior rear stash pocket with adjustable top buckle. Two compression straps on each side help keep the load stable.

The Zulu 35 offers one large compartment with a top load cinch opening and a U-shaped 40" zipper allows easy access to entire main pack contents. Absent is an unnecessary bottom zipper. The top load offers a 34" circumference so no worries about restrictions. The main body interior supplies a protective hydration sleeve along with both a Gregory hydration pack specific SpeedClip snap hook and also a nylon loop for other brands.

Trekking/ski pole or ice axe loop (adjustable!) and cinch bungee are intended to keep items secure. (*I found the combo for attaching my poles to be rather ineffective, as the bungee, even cinched tightly, did not prevent my poles from swinging metronome style at the top, which you can see from my pics). All pack zippers include molded Comfort Grip nylon loops for easy pulling.

E8B7E063-FB45-47D0-9DB7-A0779D4D10B7.jpg

Pack Hood: The hood has one outer and one inner zippered pocket. The outer pocket will hold ample ancillary items, whereas the inner pocket is intended as a dedicated "labeled" Rain Cover storage pocket. But stuffing the Rain Cover into the main body stretch stuff pocket or water bottle/storage sleeve frees up an additional zippered pocket. Two small web lash loops on the outside of the hood are nice for securing solar panels or carabiners for hanging your Tentlab Deuce shovel.

D9990441-0D3E-45FD-B0D8-E3D79FDD9FBA.jpg

 

Final Thoughts: Born a skeptic, things are rarely as advertised, but the new Gregory Zulu 35 is the real deal. Until now, I loved my overly padded hip belts, shoulder straps, and back panels of yesterday’s packs...but the Zulu 35’s comfort level was astounding, catching me totally off guard. Granted, I was only hauling 30 lbs, but it was "out of sight-out of mind."

The purposefully engineered breathable mesh and cutouts worked...in blazing sun and 89 degrees, I was comfortable. I usually haul heavy loads (55-65 lbs) for long treks, but I was able to pack enough in the Zulu 35 for four days' worth and still had room.

Apart from the ineffective bungee cinch/adjustable loop for poles...it is nearly perfect! In the future, I’ll just stick my trekking poles (upside down) in the side pocket and cinch ‘em down with the side compression straps with my tent poles. Problem solved.


Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Stats: 

  • Size: Gregory Zulu 35 (Med/Lg)
  • Capacity: 35 liters/2136 cu in
  • Pack Weight: 2.89
  • Recommended Maximum carry weight: 35 lbs
  • Reviewer: 6'0"/185, 21" torso 
  • Price Point: $169.95

B02687A5-EDA7-424E-BDFE-8D7C657207E7.jpg

Experience

As mentioned, I used this pack extensively in hot (90°+), humid conditions of swampy south Florida for this review, but anticipate using it in the Smokeys and Rockies in the weeks to come.

Owning and using numerous Gregory packs of varying size (Baltoro 85, Baltoro 75GZ, Paragon 55, Endo 15, and this Zulu 35) for many long distance journeys allows me to appreciate the innovative changes Gregory is incorporating each year and how it benefits the user in every way!

Where to Buy

Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support Trailspace's independent gear reviews.