One of the most critical gear purchases necessary to make when preparing for a backpacking trip is finding the proper pack. If you want a lightweight, durable and comfortable pack for your next trip, the Gregory Z65 Backpack is a solid choice.
Gregory’s website highlights the Z65’s features, which include a Jet Stream LTS suspension with a back panel padded with moisture-wicking Aero-tech mesh and constructed with rip-stop nylon.
The internal frame is a single, hollow, aluminum stay and loads from the top with welded, water-resistant zippers. There is an additional horseshoe-shape zipper on the front of the pack for easy access to gear packed lower.
An adjustable hip belt transfers weight to your hips and is woven with mesh-covered foam for increased airflow. The typical side and bottom compression straps are also offered to help better fit the pack.
There is a zippered pocket on the top of the pack in the “brain” that is waterproof, mesh pockets on the hip belt, and exterior side pockets for water bottles or other gear.
The pack is hydration compatible with an internal reservoir pocket and hydration tube exit ports.
There are also axe or tool loop attachment points that allow for strapping gear on the outside of the pack.
Outdoor Gear Lab, a gear review blog started by a record holding speed-climber, and Outside Magazine’s number one blog on the magazine’s Top 10 Outdoor Gear Blogs list, gave the Gregory Z65 a “Top Pick award” for its comfort-to-weight ratio and I completely agree.
The Z65 provides considerable comfort while still maintaining a light weight. I have hiked with multiple other 55 and 65 liter packs that proved heavier and more cumbersome, which means an unbalanced load and an unnecessarily uncomfortable experience.
Also, Outdoor Gear Lab reported that the Z65 runs short and does not work for most people taller than 6’2″. Being 5’5”, this was not an issue for me. I ordered the pack online and the specified torso measurements were totally agreeable. I ordered a small and after modifying the hip belt when the pack arrived, it fit perfectly on the tops of my hips and against my back.
The Z65 is perfect for lightweight multiday trips. I took it on a four day backpacking trip to New Hampshire in February of last year and loved it. Backpacking the White Mountains is no easy task to begin with, but add on a couple feet of snow and you really need a pack that can perform. The Z65 rode comfortably, offering outstanding lumbar support. Even after a few miles the pack never felt awkward or weighty.
The mesh cushioning kept my back well ventilated, which was especially important when my sweat would freeze when we stopped for breaks. I also really like the dual mesh hip pockets. The pockets proved seriously useful for storing my camera, snacks and a convenient place to clip gloves.
However, I was disappointed with the stretchy side pockets. The pockets were too small to easily store water bottles and difficult to access with gear strapped to the outside of the pack. The straps on the bottom of the pack are also too short. I found it difficult to pack a standard-size Thermarest ground pad without some tricky maneuvering.
Overall however, the Gregory Z65 is really great pack. It is perfect for lightweight multiday trips and super lightweight and comfortable. This pack retails around $200, which is reasonable given the Z65’s quality and features. The back ventilation and lumbar support are really nice and there are a few useful pockets. While there are a few inconveniences with the side pockets and bottom straps, the reasons not to buy the pack definitely do not outweigh the reasons that you should.
Check out my trail testing from the White Mountains National Forest: