Gregory Z65 2011

The Gregory Z65 is a ‘bells and whistles’ pack festooned with pockets, zips and straps, and sporting a complex, venting back system that offers a novel hip angle adjustment. In spite of all this, it only weighs 1750g.

The Z65 is a wide pack that forms a kind of tortoise-shell shape on your back. This is partly to provide space for the ‘Jetstream LTS’ back system, which offers a space in the middle of your back for ventilation and intrudes on the volume of the main compartment. Beneath this is a substantial waistbelt, with a couple of snack pockets, that’s adjustable for small, medium and large waists. On the sides you get excellent mesh pockets and good compression/attachment straps with clips, plus there’s an exit point on either side for the hydration system. On the back is a large pocket with centralised zip access, along with a long curving zip that allows you to open up the main compartment like a suitcase. There are axe/trekking pole attachments, plus further straps on the base for attaching a sleeping mat. This is all polished off with a large, easily accessed pocket on the floating and removable lid.

On the hill
I’m a fan of simple, clean design, and to me the Gregory Z65 felt a little fussy. This isn’t to say the many features are a bad thing, since those who prefer a higher level of function will like what this pack has to offer. Certainly, that large zip on the front of the sack offered useful access to the main compartment and was appreciated when at camp, and it also functioned well as another pocket when walking. It did let rain into the pack, however. The biggest problem I had was the ‘Jetstream’ bulge in the back system. Combined with the overall tortoise-shell shape, it meant it was impossible to get the Z65 to feel balanced. I couldn’t get heavier items close to my back – and so whichever way it was loaded, the pack felt top-heavy and constantly pulled back on my shoulders. This was a major design problem. As for the mid-back ventilation, I didn’t find I needed it. The Z65 did however transfer a decent amount of weight to the hips, although I couldn’t feel very much difference from the various hipbelt angles available. The top and back pockets were also good, offering easy access and plenty of space for day-to-day bits, while the floating lid allowed me to fill this pack to the brim. This is, however, the most expensive bag in our test.

Made in Far East
Weight 1750g
Capacity 65 litres
Backlengths available S, M, L
Materials 210D double diamond ripstop and 210D x 420D HD flat weave
Stockist details (015395) 60214;
Stockists in the UK 11

The Gregory Z65 has good, easily accessible pockets; feels well-made; lots of features; great side compression straps and mesh wand pockets; handy hipbelt pockets; good access to main compartment. But it’s hard to position weight to create
a stable carry; fussy design; main compartment zip leaks in heavy rain; expensive for what you get. Overall, it’s a pack with lots of pockets and straps for attachment that’s well-ventilated, well-made and offers good access and packing. Unfortunately it feels unbalanced when carrying heavy loads.

Review by Ben Winston
First published in Trail magazine June 2011