Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gear Geek - Gregory Z55

Gregory Z55
by Lauren Day

This is an exciting new tidbit where we are going to be giving all of you lovely readers a little review on new, innovative, well built gear we just think you guys should know about. Sometimes we may stray away from the climbing world and venture into the realm of backpacking. These things do go hand in hand after all! Since this is a new column, we would really love your suggestions and comments! Let us know of any gear you want to see reviewed!

This month I’ll be doing a review on the Gregory Z55 hiking backpack. The Z55 is a classic internal frame pack with aluminum frame stays as well as a rigid plastic frame sheet. It is a 55 liter pack, which is perfect for a comfy overnight hike, weekend trip out to your favorite crag, or just a long approach where you want something a little sturdier than a daypack to hold your gear. I love the big open stuff pocket between the main pocket and the front pocket. It’s perfect for shoving a drippy rain shell after a storm, or keeping those smelly climbing shoes out of the elements. Another awesome feature of this pack is the super cushy ventilated back panel. It sits an inch or so off the main frame to allow air to pass between your back and the frame, keeping you cool on the hottest of summer days. The top lid pocket is super roomy as well and has ample space to shove a map, compass, guidebook, and lots of snacks.

The main pocket is basically a giant sack attached to a frame. There is plenty of room for anything you could possibly want or need with you in the outdoors. You might even have room to shove your kitchen sink in there! There is also a sweet water resistant zipper that runs down the entire length of the main pocket, making it pretty easy to access all the goodies you have shoved into the bottom of your pack. The two water bottle pockets are perfectly sized for a Nalgene bottle. And speaking of hydration, there is even a little section to shove your Platypus or CamelBak reservoirs. The two hipbelt pockets are perfect for shoving in more snacks.
The only qualm I have with this backpack was that the compression straps on the bottom of the pack, typically reserved for attaching your sleeping pad, were not effective. They aren’t long enough to wrap around a closed cell foam sleeping pad. If you have a self inflating pad, no big deal, but if you have a closed cell foam pad, you have to use the compression straps on the side of the pack to attach it, which causes you to lose one of those beloved water bottle pockets.

Other than that, this pack is pretty bomb proof. The tough reinforced nylon has withstood a good bit of wear and tear and grinding up against trees and stayed extremely comfortable with a full load.

This pack comes in three sizes, small, medium, and large (depending on your torso length), and is available for purchase from a wide variety of outdoor retailers. For information on ordering this gear, e-mail Karl at!

P.S. Since this is a new column, we would really love your suggestions and comments! Let us know of any gear you want reviewed!
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