Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $115 - $139 | Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros: Nice pockets and access points, killer lumbar support, ventilated back panel.
Cons: Frame runs short, maxes out carrying greater than 40 lbs, heavy and expensive.
Best Uses: Backpacking, mountaineering, trekking, some alpine climbing.
The Gregory Z30 is a fully featured daypack on the larger side, providing exceptional comfort and versatile load carrying capacity. Very similar in features to the Osprey Stratos 24, the Z30 has a ventilated back panel and a clever pole/ice axe attachment. Unlike the Stratos, the Z30 can hold additional weight comfortably without throwing the weight too far back and putting you off balance. The Z30 also has easier to access pockets for organization. It is more than twice the weight of a pack like the Deuter Speed Lite 20, which is smaller but can carry things lashed to the back. The Z30 is not as convenient for travel as the Patagonia Refugio, but it is one of the most comfortable packs for carrying larger loads while day hiking.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Gregory Z30 is a fully featured, slightly larger than average daypack, which makes it the heaviest and most expensive pack in this review (2 lbs 10 oz, and $139), but which also makes it the most capable at carrying large or heavy loads. It is hydration compatible with dual hose ports, has an included, removable rain cover, and an expandable bucket pocket on the front which is extra handy for throwing in an extra layer or two.
It is designed with a Crossflo ventilated back panel construction, which is very similar to the design of the Osprey Stratos and Osprey Talon, but the Gregory Z30 distributes and carries weight much more comfortably than the Stratos.
This pack also has two trekking pole or ice axe carry attachments that are easy to use and adjust, and add some versatile carry options for people heading into the mountains.
At well over two pounds, this pack is not for the lightweight fast-packer. However, if you are looking for comfort in a pack, it offers excellent support and ventilation.
The Z30 comfortably carries a heavier load than other packs in this review and has a ventilated back to top it off. Compared to the Osprey Stratos, it offers many of the same features including ice axe and trekking pole attachments and a ventilated back system, but the pack can hold larger and heavier loads.
The Z30 is more versatile than some of the other daypacks we reviewed simply because it can handle more gear. It has a slightly larger capacity and a sturdy frame that can hold more weight than a pack like the Osprey Stratos, even though it has a similar ventilated back panel. It also has more small pocket options for organization purposes.
The Z30 has so far withstood some hard use, but one thing to look out for is that all the buckles are Gregory proprietary buckles, which means if one did break it would be complicated and expensive to replace.
Ease of Use
In our "10 essentials" pack test, the Gregory Z30 had the most room. Its smaller pockets also helped with securing the little items like lighters and headlamps. The pole attachments, which also can double as an ice tool carry, allow this pack to carry extras with you on more technical excursions
Though a laptop would fit in this pack, it is more suited to hiking and climbing with somewhat larger loads that it would be to traveling or using around town. Ideally, this pack is made for hiking in the backcountry.
For $139, this pack is beginning to enter the price range for a backpacking pack. However, if you are looking for a pack with exceptional comfort, well-thought-out features, and the ability to carry more than your average tiny daypack, this one will do the job and would be worth the price.
Gregory makes the Z model of packs in day hiking and backpacking models all the way up to 65 liters. The Z40 $180, holds up to 40 liters, while the Z55 $200, and the Gregory Z65 $230, would be more suitable for a longer climbing or backpacking trip. The Gregory Z65 is a Top Pick award because it is our favorite pack for moving fast and light. It has the best comfort-to-weight ratio – it's not the lightest or the most comfortable but strikes a great balance between the two. It is ideal for climbers and backpackers who want to pack lighter but aren't ready for, or don't want, a truly ultra-light frame-less or minimalist frame pack.
— McKenzie Long
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 19, 2014
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