The men’s Z25 and women’s J23 are unique in our test as they have the only back system that holds the pack a few centimetres away from the torso to really promote airflow around the body. At 964g (Z25) and 790g (J23) these packs aren’t the lightest options around, but the less clammy sensation you get may well be worth those few grams extra. The back system comprises of a mesh ‘trampoline’ that holds the body of the sack away from the wearer, and this is combined with wide hip fins and shoulder straps that are well-designed for comfort. I also like that the top tensioning straps allow the top of the sack to be cinched in and stabilised as required. The body of the Gregory Z25/J23 has one main compartment with a ziparound opening, which isn’t my favourite design for hillwalkers. There are mesh wand pockets on the sides of the pack and a compression pocket on the front that’s ideal for waterproofs. But you only get one tiny zipped pocket on the top of the pack, so guidebooks, maps and a spare hat will need throwing inside the main compartment. Also, there are no compression straps to allow gear to be easily stashed on the outside. You can use a pair of dedicated bungee cords for trekking poles, although other designs are better for stowing poles.
Capacity 25 litres (Z25); 23 litres (J2)
Internal compartments 1
External zipped pockets 3
Wand pockets? yes
Hydration pocket? yes
Men’s/unisex back sizes one size (Z25)
Women’s back sizes one size (J23)
The airflow offered by the back system is what sets the Gregory Z25/J23 apart, but other rucksacks have many other benefits for hillwalkers.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine August 2014