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Gregory Zulu 30 Review

A moderately-sized technical daypack with a comfortable suspension but a heavier weight
Gregory Zulu 30
Photo: Gregory
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Price:  $150 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comprehensive features, great breathability, solid suspension
Cons:  Complicated construction, learning curve to use features
Manufacturer:   Gregory
By Jacob Clark ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 28, 2021
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 15
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Weight - 25% 4
  • Versatility - 25% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8
  • Durability - 10% 8
RELATED: Best Daypacks

Our Verdict

The Gregory Zulu 30 is a sound pack, but not over the top in features. Built as a technical day pack, it performs well across most categories. The well-ventilated backpanel and comfortable suspension will be loved by many, but weight and long-term durability leave a bit more to be desired. If you are looking for a dedicated full-function hiking pack, the Zulu 30 is a solid contender. However, if your goals are to travel lightly, this pack may be too bulky and technical. Gregory put out a good pack similar to some award winners but falls a tad shy in functionality and durability.

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Gregory Zulu 30
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Gregory Zulu 30
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price Check Price at REI
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$139 List
Check Price at REI
Check Price at REI
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$55 List
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Pros Comprehensive features, great breathability, solid suspensionComfortable and stable, intuitive and functional design, modular set-up, utilizes recycled materialsTons of features, fully adjustable, comfortable, well ventilated, separate hydration compartmentLightweight, only the necessary features, comfortable suspension for the weightSimple, lightweight, versatile
Cons Complicated construction, learning curve to use featuresNon-adjustable frame, large size for minimalist outingsRuns small, side mesh pockets are debatably smallUncomfortable with heavy loads, not durableA little small, lacks high-end features
Bottom Line A moderately-sized technical daypack with a comfortable suspension but a heavier weightTop comfort and stability make this pack the right fit for hauling your gear on any outdoor excursionThis pack offers a time tested versatile design that is ready for any adventureThis pack is an excellent value, providing all-around performance for light and fast activities at a bargain priceA simple and lightweight hiking backpack that serves a dual purpose with a laptop sleeve
Rating Categories Gregory Zulu 30 REI Co-op Traverse 32 Osprey Talon 22 REI Co-op Flash 22 Osprey Daylite Plus
Comfort (25%)
9.0
10.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Weight (25%)
4.0
8.0
6.0
9.0
7.0
Versatility (25%)
6.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
Specs Gregory Zulu 30 REI Co-op Traverse 32 Osprey Talon 22 REI Co-op Flash 22 Osprey Daylite Plus
Volume (liters) 30 L 32 L 22 L 22 L 20 L
Measured Weight (ounces) 42.1 oz 41.0 oz 30.7 oz 12.6 oz 20.6 oz
Back Construction Mesh back panel with internal frame Contured, foam pad Vented, contoured Simple foam pad Mesh over vented foam
Hydration Compatibility Internal hydration sleeve, hook and loop attachment point, holds up to 3L Internal hydration sleeve, hook and loop attachment point Externally accessed sleeve, holds up to 3L, bladder not included Internal hydration sleeve Internally accessed sleeve, holds up to 3L, bladder not included
Hipbelt Padded with pockets 1 3/8" webbing, countoured padding, ventilated outer layer Broad, padded, with pockets 3/4" webbing removable 3/4" webbing, removable
Number of pockets 7 7 10 5 6
Description of Pockets 1 main compartment, 2 mesh side bottle pouches, 2 oversized hipbelt pockets, an exterior elastic mesh, and 2 organization pockets 1 main combo top-loader/side panel zip, 1 internal mesh w/ overlap closure (inside of lid), 1 external zip on top of lid, 2 mesh side bottle w/ button closure/expansion, 2 oversized hipbelt zip 1 main compartment zippered, 1 stretchy mesh shoulder strap pouch, 2 waist zippered, 2 side stretchy mesh, 1 back stretchy mesh, 1 top zippered, 1 open hydration reservoir pocket behind back panel, 1 internal mesh compartment zipper 1 main top loader, 2 side stretchy mesh, 1 top lid zippered, 1 outer zippered 2 stretchy mesh side, 1 interior padded laptop sleeve, 1 back zippered with internal mesh dividers and key clip, 1 back expandable waterbottle, 1 back zippered.
Materials 210-denier nylon/210-denier high-tenacity nylon Nylon Nylon Nylon
Outside Carry Options Ice axe loop and bungee holder, compression straps with buckles Trekking pole lash points, ice axe attachments, daisy chains,attachment loops, compression straps Bungee helmet tab, blinker light patch, ice axe loop and bungee holder, front-side pole carry bungee loops Ice axe loop and bungee holder, daisy chains, attachment loops around back panel Side compression strap
Whistle Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Key Clip Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Other Notable Features Sunglasses shoulder quickstow Steel frame w/ 1 internal stay, hydration tube holder on shoulder strap, included rain cover, water bottle pockets angled forward to allow on the go access Blinker patch, front-side pole carry loops Removeable foam back panel doubles as sit pad, removeable sternum and hip belt straps, attachment loops to add compression cords Compatible as an attachment to other Osprey packs

Our Analysis and Test Results

With the Zulu 30, Gregory has developed a solid contender in the technical daypack class. Offering a mid-level weight-to-volume ratio, this pack has excellent ventilation and a comfortable suspension system.

Performance Comparison


The Zulu is a strong, technical pack capable of hauling heavier loads.
The Zulu is a strong, technical pack capable of hauling heavier loads.
Photo: Jacob Clark

Comfort


Most daypacks are capable of carrying only a little weight, generally under 20 pounds, so the biggest feature that impacts comfort comes not from the ability to carry a heavy load, but from the breathability of the back panel. The Gregory Zulu has full suspension capable of carrying heavier loads, and its weight limits will likely not be pushed on typical day hikes. The trampoline-style mesh suspension lends to improved ventilation and cooling beyond a standard foam and mesh-constructed back panel. Tested in the humid Virginia mountains, this pack's breathability was well worth the weight trade-off.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Weight


The downside to Zulu 30's breathable and comfortable suspension and larger carrying capacity is its heavier weight. At over two and a half pounds (42 ounces), this pack is one of the heaviest models in our daypack category. On simple and light day hikes, this becomes a considerable portion of the weight. Those who value the comfort, carrying capacity, and technical features of the Zulu 30 will likely be ok with the additional weight. Hikers looking for a more simple daypack should look into other options.

One of the larger packs in this review, the Zulu 30 is a bit heavier...
One of the larger packs in this review, the Zulu 30 is a bit heavier but is also capable of carrying larger loads.
Photo: Jacob Clark

Versatility


The versatility of the Zulu is limited by its own suspension system. The best use of this pack is geared towards day hiking with heavier loads, which makes it less versatile for other disciplines. The rigid suspension provides a limitation on a bike where your back is curved or climbing where flexibility is valued. In these cases, the benefits of a softer, more conforming back panel outweigh the benefits of a rigid, supportive frame. The rain cover provided for the pack adds some versatility for adverse conditions.

The Zulu has big side pockets that are great for large bottles and...
The Zulu has big side pockets that are great for large bottles and best accessed when swung around like shown here.
Photo: Jacob Clark

Ease of Use


The Gregory Zulu is not a simple pack with its compression straps, seven pockets, and main compartment. This large number of pockets lends itself well to organization and access while the pack is on. The hip belt pockets are a particularly useful feature not typically found on small day packs.

All of the compression straps, gear attachments, and storage pockets...
All of the compression straps, gear attachments, and storage pockets make this a little more complicated than more simple daypacks.
Photo: Jacob Clark

Durability


The Zulu 30 has the solid materials and construction that we are used to seeing from Gregory. The biggest potential durability concern comes with the open weave mesh suspension system. While we didn't have any problems during our testing, the mesh system has a higher risk of snagging or tearing than other packs with a foam back panel. The exterior material held up well to bushwhacking through foliage and scrambling over rocky terrain. When combined with the rain cover, the pack stays surprisingly dry too.

The Zulu's included rain cover is easily accessible and does a great...
The Zulu's included rain cover is easily accessible and does a great job of keeping the pack dry.
Photo: Jacob Clark

Value


We the Zulu is worth its price if you're looking for a more heavy-duty pack capable of hauling larger loads. It is priced competitively for its feature sets and suspension. Those living and hiking in particularly wet and humid areas will enjoy this pack most with its excellent breathability and an included rain cover.

Conclusion


The Gregory Zulu 30 pack is a great option for day hikers carrying larger loads, and could even work for overnight backpacking trips for those who pack lightly. Given its technical nature and heavy-duty design, it does its job exceptionally well.

Jacob Clark

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