Last month, I had the chance to carry this pack through New Zealand and I loved it.
The Gregory Zulu 35 is a lightweight pack which features design improvements to the past Z model, including ventilated suspension, improved shoulder harness and superior lumbar support. The pack carries well and the increased lumbar support and suspension system make it remarkably comfortable to have strapped on mile after mile. The suspension system uses a combination of vented mesh and an alloy frame to contribute to the Zulu’s incredible balance and enables ventilation without sacrificing weight.
- Front Stuff Pocket- with quick-release buckle closure
- Side Pockets- Dual stretch mesh side pockets
- Compression Straps- Cross-over side compression straps with durable quick-release buckles
- Hipbelt Pockets- Dual zippered hipbelt pockets
- Rain cover Integration- Integrated rain cover in a dedicated external access pocket that doubles as accessory storage in mild weather
- Multi Straps- removable via girth hitch, adjustable straps that can be positioned at multiple lash points on the exterior of the pack for carrying a sleeping pad, outerwear, camp shoes, etc.
- Independent tool and trekking pole attachment loops
- Internal hydration sleeve
- Sunglass stash on shoulder harness
New Zealand has been rainy and cold during the couple of weeks I’ve been traveling here, and so I have not experienced ventilation from the heat, but the CrossFlo suspension helps to increase the breathability of waterproof gear in the cold as well. The integrated rain cover has also been a lifesaver, but be sure to never fully rely on an rain cover to keep your gear dry.
Some other features that have proved useful are the two mesh pockets on the hip belt, which allow quick access and storage of snacks or other gear. Securing gear to the outside of the pack is made easy with gear loops and stuff pockets on the side and back, great for holding water bottles or a extra layer of clothing.
The Zulu is intended for lightweight backpacking though sometimes it is necessary to carry things that you would not traditionally bring on an overnight trip or day hike such as a laptop or camera gear. With the added weight and rigidity of these items the CrossFlo Suspension does seem to sag a bit, which decreases ventilation and comfort. Additionally, the lightweight and compact aspect of this pack do not allow for any additional compartments, so if you like to have multiple pockets to store all your gear, lightweight may not be your best option. Though these aspects do not necessarily coincide with the Zulu’s intended use, it is helpful to be aware of these as you consider the primary use for your pack.
Lightweight, Comfortable and Accessible
The Zulu 35 pack is light and streamlined and enables you to carry a decent sized load nicely while staying balanced and ventilated. The U-zipper access panel allows for easy packing and unloading which allows users to reach gear in their pack without having to unpack and repack. So far, my travels in New Zealand have enabled me to use the Zulu 35 in a variety of situations and I have come away with good first impressions. Comfortable and lightweight the Gregory Zulu is the perfect pack for pursuing life outside.