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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Gregory Z35 or J33 day pack > Test Report by Kara Stanley

GREGORY J 33
TEST SERIES BY KARA STANLEY
LONG-TERM REPORT
December 10, 2014

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kara Stanley
EMAIL: karguo at yahoo dot com
AGE: 31
LOCATION: Phoenix, Arizona
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

I have been hiking most of my life and backpacking since 2006. I have hiked mostly on the east coast, doing weekend trips in the Appalachian Mountains. Since moving to Arizona, my hikes have ranged from short desert hikes to overnight backpacking trips in the mountains. Recently I have taken up canyoneering and off-trail hiking/backpacking to spice things up. I currently use a solo non-free standing tent, canister stove, purification tabs, and lightweight trail runners, conditions permitting, to cut down on weight. My hikes are solo and range from an overnight trip to 4-5 nights on the trail.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Gregory
IMAGE 3
Front view of the backpack


Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://gregorypacks.com/
MSRP: US$ 158
Specifications by Size:
Small -- Vol: 33 L, Wt: 1.19 kg / 2 lb 10 oz, Torso: 41 - 46 CM / 16 - 18 in
Medium -- Vol: 35 L, Wt: 1.27 kg / 2 lb 13 oz, Torso: 46 - 51 CM / 18 - 20 in
Measured Weight: Backpack: 2 lb 15 oz/ 1332 g, Rainfly: 3 oz / 85 g Combined: 3 lb 2 oz/ 1417 g
Colors: Moonrise Purple, Fog Gray, Astral Red
Color Tested: Moonrise Purple
Comfort Zone for Pack Weight: 35 lb/ 15.88 kg

From the Hang Tag:
There is a discription Gregory Mountian Company as a company as well as what has been done to update the Z & J Series of backpacks. They have added a totally breathable backpannel, shoulder harness and waistbelt for cool comfort on the trail. The materials are light weight and durable materials the suspension system is dynamic and auto-balances the flexibility and stiffness as pack weight increases.

Features:
* Women's specific design
* Updated CrossFlo Suspension
* Ventilated backpannel
* Wrap-over padding on waistbelt for added comfort
* Integrated, color-matched rain cover
* Two external stretch water bottle pockets
* Hideaway ice axe/trekking pole loops with secure carry

The hang tag also states that this product has a limited lifetime warranty against defects in the materials and the workmanship.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

IMAGE 1
Hip padding and back ventilation panel
IMAGE 4
Zippered pocket on the hip belt

My first impression of the pack when opening the box was that this pack could be packed down well. With all the compression straps pull tight for shipping, this bag seemed quite small at first. This will be good for day hikes with smaller loads.

I was impressed with the ventilation back panel, it looks like it will allow air to flow between my back and the pack. The back panel is designed with the top and the bottom on the pack resting on the shoulders and hips while the back panel curves away from the back to allow air to flow between the pack and the wear's back. I look forward to trying this out during the heat of an Arizona summer! However, the curved back panel also reduces the amount of room in the main compartment. The waist belt and shoulder harness are made of a lightweight foam with cutouts for ventilation. There are zippered hip pockets on each side of the hip belt. The hip belt closes with a quick adjust buckle system. The sternum strap has a buckle and the ends of the strap are able to be slid up or down the shoulder harness to allow the wearer to adjust them to a comfortable level. The sternum strap doesn't have an integrated whistle like some of the other packs I have used do. While I rarely use the integrated whistle, I like knowing that I always have one handy when wearing a backpack.
IMAGE 7
Full zip opening and full water blatter pocket
IMAGE 8
Storage pocket for the rain cover

There is a large bucket style pocket on the outside of the backpack that allows for easy access to small items. There is a small hole, about 1 in / 2.5 cm long and 1/2 in/ 1.25 cm wide at the bottom of the pocket, which could allow smaller items to fall out of the pocket. There is a zipper around the outside of the bucket pocket that provides direct access to the main compartment. As pictured to the left, there is a zipper pocked that contains a rain cover in a matching color. This rain cover also has a loop on the inside so that it can remain hooked to the pack while in use. I assume that this is to prevent it from getting lost when opening the back or getting blown away on a windy day. Since it doesn't rain much in Arizona, I like the back that the rain cover is detachable as I do not plan to carry it with me unless the forecast calls for rain.
IMAGE 9
The rain cover can be attached to the pack
IMAGE 5
Top pocket's inner pocket with key hook

The main compartment also closes with drawstring top closure that has a cinch strap and buckle to compress the load and keep the pack closed. Inside of the main compartment, there is a full sleeve for a hydration bladder. I tested it out with my 3 L bladder and it fit with room to spare. Additionally, just above the hydration bladder sleeve, there is a small loop

On top of the drawstring closure, there is a top pocket. While Gregory's website lists that the J33's top floating pocket could be removed, I could not find a way to remove the pocket as it looks to be stitched to the back. I find this disappointing, as I often leave the top pocket behind to save weight if I do not needed on that specific hike. The top pocket has an external zipper pocket as well as a smaller hidden zipper pocket with a key hook.

And finally, this pack had the longest zipper and draw string cinch pulls of any pack I have seen. These will make finding the pulls easier, but they do seem a bit excessively long

IMAGE 2
Long zipper/cinch pull next to a AA battery

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The hang tag attached to the pack has a size chart listing out the volume of the pack and the weight for the pack by size. Gregory's website indicates that the pack is only for sale in small and medium while the attached hag-tag indicates that there is also an extra-small option for this pack.

There are no care instructions or cleaning directions listed on the hang tag.

SUMMARY

This pack has a lot of nice features that I look for when selection a pack. I'll be interested in seeing how the pack performs over the summer!

Pros:
* Double Hip Pockets
* Internal zippered compartment with key hook on the floating top pocket
* Comes with a rain cover
* Ventilated back panel
* Zippered Pockets on each hip

Cons:
* The top floating pocket is attached to the backpack and cannot be removed
* There is a small hole in the bottom of the external bucket pocket which batteries and other small might fall out of.
* The buckle on the sternum strap does not have an integrated whistle


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Day Hikes

When: June
Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
Mileage: 14 miles
Elevation: 8,600 ft/2,600 m to 12,300 ft/3,700 m
Conditions: Sunny, warm (over 75 F/24 C) and very windy above tree line
Estimated Weight in pack: 10 lb/4.5 kg

When June
Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
Mileage: 5 miles
Elevation: 7,700 ft/2,300 m
Conditions: Sunny and warm
Estimated Weight in pack: 6 lb/2.7 kg

Backpacking Trips:

When: July
Length: 2 days/1 night
Location: Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, Arizona
Mileage: about 10 miles/16.1 km
Elevation: ~3,000 ft/900 km
Conditions: 70 F/21 C to 90 F/ 32 F and with periods of Sun and Thunderstorms
Estimated Weight in pack: 20 lb/9.1 kg

When: August
Length: 2 days/1 night
Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona
Mileage: 18 miles/ 29 km
Elevation: highest 7,000 ft /2,100 m to lowest 2,500 ft/800 m
Conditions: Hot and sunny
Estimated Weight in pack: 15 lbs/6.8 kg

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 1
Day Hike with the Gregory J33
I have carried the pack on two day-hikes and two overnight backpacking trips so far and find it comfortable and cool. I found that the back panel did in fact allow some cooling breezes between my back and the pack, which is great for Arizona summers. I also found that my back seemed to sweat less with this pack that it has in the past with other packs.

I was able to pack a fleece sleeping bag, tent poles, hammock, 2 days worth of food, and an extra change of clothes into this pack for an overnight trip. However, there wasn't much room to spare and I am not sure that I would have been able to use it for a longer trip and I know that my down bag will take up most of the room in this pack. Additionally, I was hiking with a partner so I was able to share the space of a tent and stove which allowed me to take this pack. I am not sure that I would be able to take this on a solo trip when I needed to carry the tent (tent poles don't require much room).

For the day hikes I took, I found the pack to be too large, but was able to use the compression straps to cinch the pack down and make it smaller for day hiking.

I haven't had any pressure points from wearing this pack, however that could be due to carrying lighter load than I normally would on longer or winter backpacking trips.

I love the hip pockets on this pack, being able to keep some snacks, tissues, and lip balm handy is great while hiking. The U-shaped zipper into the main compartment has been useful. I enjoy being able to set my back down and access gear without spreading everything in my pack on the ground or brush. While backpacking may involve dirt, I do prefer to keep my stuff out of it when possible and this pack makes that easier.

While I have not had a chance to really test out the water-proof cover, I have attached it while hiking when rain looked imminent. I think putting on the rain cover ensured that the rain stayed away. I do like that the rain cover can be hooked to the pack with a clip - this was useful when putting on the cover during windy conditions. Overall the cover was easy to use and good to have along. I do leave it at home when there is little or no chance of rain as it does take up some space and I like using the rain cover pocket for other items.

SUMMARY

So far I have enjoyed the pack a lot and have not had any issues. It was easy to fit and comfortable. It does seem to be cooler that several other packs I have used in the past. This makes a good summer pack as it has just enough room for the gear I need.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have used this pack twice since the field review.

When: October
Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
Mileage: 7 miles/11.2 km
Elevation: 8,510 ft/2,594 m to 10,500 ft/3,200 m
Conditions: Sunny, breezy, and cool (about 65 F/19 C)
Estimated Weight in pack: 10 lb/4.5 kg

When: November
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California
Mileage: ~1 mile/1.6 km
Elevation: 4,300 ft/1,311 m
Conditions: Sunny, and warm (about 75 F/24 C)
Estimated Weight in pack: 15 lb/6.8 kg

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I took this pack on one more day hike and used it as a climbing pack on a recent two-day trip to Joshua Tree National Park. I found that this was a great pack for loading up with climbing does (2 pair), a harness, food, 2+ L of water, helmet, and jacket. It was comfortable and easy to carry with all the gear in it. I also liked that I could cinch down the straps to keep the load close to my body while scrambling to the base of the climbs. The scrambling at times involved using hands to climb over boulders and up rocky slabs. I found the U-shaped zipper access to the main compartment useful on the climbing trip. It was great to be able access everything in the main compartment without having to unload the whole pack to get to items at the bottom.

The pack still looks great, no noticeable wear or tear after four months of use. I will be adding it to my rotation of summer and climbing packs. Based on how full the pack during trips in the summer, this pack won't make the cut for use during the winter when down sleeping bags and jackets are necessary.

While in the beginning I wondered if the small hole in the bottom of the external pocket would be an issue, I never found this to be a issue during testing. Additionally, I never found the attached lid to be bothersome. However, I would be nice if it was detachable so that I could leave it at home on day hikes to save a few ounces. Overall, I have no major issues with this pack and have enjoyed testing it.

SUMMARY

Great summer overnight backpack or day back for long hikes. This pack does seem to keep my back cooler that other backpacks I have used in the past. The pack cinches down well for smaller, more compact loads - which is great when rock scrambling or carrying a small load.

Pros:
* The back panel kept my back cooler during the summer than other packs have
* The U-shaped zipper access to the main compartment is useful and allows access to all items without unloaded the pack
* The waist belt has hip pockets - very useful for backpacking or long day hikes

Cons:
* No whistle on the sternum strap
* The side stretch pockets are very small and it's almost impossible to fit in a water bottle if the pack is fully loaded. Overall the pockets are useless for carrying liter water bottles or anything very large. I rarely used them during the test period.

This back had earned a place in my summer pack rotation and as great pack for climbing trips. I have enjoyed testing out this pack and will continue to use it over the coming years.

Thank you BackpackGearTest.org and Gregory for allowing me to test out the Gregory J33. This concludes my test series.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Gregory Z35 or J33 day pack > Test Report by Kara Stanley



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