Review: Gregory Z55 Backpack

I picked up this backpack in preparation for a month-long trip backpacking through Europe, since my current backpacks were all some combination of too small, too big, too heavy, or too bulky for my needs. I had been wanting a multi-day, lightweight backpack for some time, and this gave me the perfect excuse to start shopping around. While browsing through REI’s selection, I came across the Z55, and immediately liked it.

My second Gregory, the Z55 is an excellent all-around pack. Weighing in at mere 3 lbs 5 oz, it still manages to fit a remarkable amount of gear inside; for my trip, I had several changes of clothes, a pullover, a fleece vest, a rain jacket, a warm-weather sleeping bag, bathroom kit, several books, and other small miscellaneous items, and still had room for more, and yet it could fit in airplane overhead storage. It also handled quite a bit of abuse with ease, from my own throwing it around and stuffing it into lockers and luggage racks, to the dreaded airline baggage handlers. Rain and snow were equally taken in stride, although a pack cover would still be a necessity as with any standard backpack for bad weather to keep everything dry.

For fit, the pack seemed ideal for a medium torso, and rode very well on my hips once properly adjusted. I had no trouble running, scrambling, and climbing while wearing it. And for hot days, the airflow back support kept my back from overheating very effectively.

The one complaint I’d have is that the pack is not necessarily designed around quick access. The rear compartment pulls nearly flat when the compression straps are cinched, making getting things in and out a bit of a chore. While there are side zippers for quick access, I was afraid to use them much for fear of items spilling laterally out of them.

– Lightweight
– Packs a lot in a small profile
– Comfortable and breathable while being worn

– Limited quick access
– No water bottle pockets
– Thin waist and shoulder straps can be uncomfortable under heavy loads

More info
Gregory product info
More reviews of the Z55
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