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

Test Series by Rick Dreher



INITIAL REPORT - June 13, 2014


NAME: Rick Dreher
EMAIL: redbike64(at)hotmail(dot)com
AGE: 60
LOCATION: Northern California
HEIGHT: 6' 0" (1.83 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.40 kg)
TORSO LENGTH 19.5 in (50 cm)

I enjoy going high and light and frequently take shorter "fast- packing" trips. My longest trips are a week or so. I've lightened my pack load because I enjoy hiking more when toting less, I can go farther and over tougher terrain, and I have cranky ankles. I use trekking poles and generally hike solo or tandem. I've backpacked all over the U.S. West and now primarily hike California's Sierra Nevada. My favorite trips are alpine and include off-trail travel and sleeping in high places. When winter arrives, I head back for snowshoe outings in the white stuff.


Product Info & Specs

The Z 35 is a big, strong daypack, but not heavy.

Product Information

Gregory Z 35

Manufacturer: Gregory Mountain Products

Web site:

MSRP (US): $159

Year of Manufacture: 2014

Size Tested: Medium

Volume (manufacturer): 35 L (2,136 c.i.)

Weight (manufacturer): 44 oz (1.25 kg)

Weight (measured): 49.8 oz (1.41 kg)

Torso Range (manufacturer): 18-20 in. (46-51 cm)

Recommended maximum load: 33 lb (15 kg)

Color (of 4 available): Solar Yellow

Warranty: "Lifetime free from defects in materials or workmanship, for as long as you own it."¯

Report Date: June 13, 2014

Pack Features

  • CrossFlo Suspension

  • Ventilated EVA foam on hip belt and shoulder harnesses

  • Top-loading main compartment with quick-draw top closure and full-body front U-zipper access

  • Floating, removable top pocket with zippered pocket and key clip

  • Under-lid zippered stash pocket

  • Front bucket pocket for quick gear storage

  • Two external stretch water bottle pockets

  • Dual quick-access waist belt pockets

  • Interior hydration sleeve with hose port

  • Hideaway ice axe/trekking pole loops

  • Side and bottom compression straps

  • Quick-attach, integrated color-matched rain cover

Design Evaluation


The Gregory Z 35 is a large, mid-weight, top-loading, perimeter-frame day pack. The main compartment can be accessed beneath the top pocket and via a front zipper, and the pack offers seven external pockets for abundant organizing options. Inside is a reservoir compartment with hose port. The suspension comprises a spring-steel hoop frame with plastic sheet inserts, trampoline-style mesh back panel, and foam-backed hip belt, providing support and load management. A stowable rain cover and tool loops round out the feature list.


Materials and Construction:

The Z 35 exterior is primarily coated nylon in various weights, with heavier or double fabric used for high-wear areas. The two side pockets are stretch fabric. The back panel is open mesh with some added padded areas. Shoulder straps and hip belt wings are die-cut foam faced with wicking fabric. Webbing, buckles, zippers and related hardware seem selected for light weight, with no obvious "over-engineering." Zippers are standard, not waterproof. Fabric, stitching and seams all look good, with no loose threads, missed stitching or exposed seams and edges (seam edges are bias-taped). Zippers, buckles, and straps all operate smoothly and seem strong and secure. Gregory describes the fabrics as follows: "210D robic dynagin, 100D robic GR shadowbox, 200D polyester oxford, 265g polyester stretch woven and 190T nylon taffeta." I think this means I can shadowbox at the Oxford dynagin.


Main Compartment. As noted earlier, the main compartment is accessed both from the top (beneath the top pocket) and the front, via a U-shaped zipper opening that runs outside the bucket pocket. The main compartment is undivided other than the back reservoir pocket. In this yellow color, the fabric lets plenty of light inside for viewing the contents.

Pockets, Pockets, Pockets. The top lid is also a big pocket (#1). It has a second, flat pocket underneath (#2) with key tether inside. The two stretchy side pockets are #s 3 & 4 and around back, is the large bucket pocket (#5), which is open-top with a buckle closure. Immediately above, another pocket (#6) houses the included rain cover. The rain cover is tethered against loss but can also be completely removed and left home, freeing its pocket for other uses. It's worth adding the bucket and raincover pockets both have bottom drains, a nice touch. To round out the external pocket census, each hip belt wing has a zipped pocket (#s 6 & 7). As noted, inside the Z 35 is the reservoir pocket (#8) with hose port and reservoir tether above.

Tool Anchors. On either side of the back panel are loops and anchors for securing trekking poles or an ice axe. The familiar webbing loops and straps have been replaced by a pair of bungee loops and a toggle locks that basically snap into "parked" position when not used, safe from snagging brush.

Raincover. The raincover is coated nylon and fashioned of a single piece, gathered in the corners to eliminate any seams. It has a single drain hole on the bottom and as noted above, clips to a pocket tether to prevent loss but can also be left home if not needed. Elastic completely encircling the cover holds it in place.

Back panel, Frame and Load Control. The back panel is open mesh, tensioned by the perimeter frame. The shoulder strap yoke is also anchored and tensioned by the frame, creating a dynamic, pre-loaded suspension anchored by the padded waist belt. Flexible plastic sheets provide extra support at the shoulders and lower back. The waist belt and shoulder pad foam is die-cut for ventilation. Two compression straps per side can reduce pack volume and help control the contents and maintain pack stiffness with partial loads—they also help protect the main compartment zipper from unwanted strain and opening. Load-control straps connect the shoulder straps to the pack's top, to cinch the frame forward (towards the shoulders).

Documentation and User Guide

The hangtag presents general pack features and specs, in several languages. In addition to description and specifications, the Gregory website has a video covering common features of the extensive Z and J pack series (fitted for men and women, respectively) and individual pages for each pack model, including the Z 35. Other Gregory web resources discuss pack sizing and fitting.

Bureau of Weights and Measures

Sizing & Weight

The Z 35 is available in two sizes: medium (tested) and large. With no torso length adjustment for fine-tuning, it's a pack that needs to fit correctly off the shelf. This size medium is spec'd for torsos between 18 and 20 inches (46-51 cm), which is where I fall (19.5 in./ 49 cm). The Z 35 measured 18 in. (46 cm) from the shoulder strap attachment point to the bottom of the back panel.

What did it actually weigh?

The pack weighs 49.2 oz (1,412 g) on my scales, complete with raincover, compared to the 44 oz (1,250 g) spec, roughly 10% above spec. The removeable cover itself weights 3.0 oz (85 g).


The very yellow edition of the Z 35 is quite photogenic. Here are some views detailing the pack's design and features.

Reverse view of back panel and suspension.

Main compartment top opening.

Main compartment front zip opening.

Suspension and back panel detail, including steel rod.

Top flap main pocket.

Stretchy side pocket.

Rain cover, tether and storage pocket.

My Thoughts, So Far


The only area where Gregory's specs go astray is in describing the top pocket as floating and removable. It is sewn into place.


Everything about the Z 35 seems quite positive—design, features, materials and construction are all top-flight. The suspension looks like it will control varying loads easily and the aggressive back panel ventilation will help in summer's heat. The hybrid main compartment access will be especially welcome for stowing and retrieving camera gear, because I can never guess which gizmo I might need first, when packing. And unlike front-panel only access, I won't ever need to lay it in the snow or mud to get inside. I'm eager to load it up and get going!


My sincere thanks to Gregory Mountain Products and for the chance to test the Z 35.

Field Report

Please check back in two months for the field report.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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