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Zpacks Z1

in Backpacks - Frameless

Average Rating
5.00 / 5 (4 reviews)

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Jonathan Marshall
( marshallj9 )

Bay Area
Zpacks Z1 on 02/06/2007 16:55:28 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

The Zpacks Z1 backpack ( is a no-frills, ultralight (6 oz.), frameless pack ideally suited to long weekend trips. Made of silnylon, it competes with small packs of similar weight made by Gossamer Gear, Mountain Laurel Designs, and Fanatic Fringe. It stood out for me by virtue of its relatively low cost ($70), reasonably large size (2,600 cu. in.), and simple design. I tested it on a recent trip with a base weight of about 7.5 lbs. and a total weight of about 12.5 lbs.

Unlike some competitors, the pack is large enough to accommodate a bear cannister, making it usable in the Sierra. It’s also big enough to carry a lightweight sleeping bag without stuffing it down to the size of a lemon. At the same time, the Z1 is small enough that I never felt the need for a compression system (although a draw cord does let you shrink the bag’s capacity).

Lacking a frame, the pack uses your sleeping pad, inserted as a cylinder into the main body of the pack, for structure and support. (My pack carried very comfortably with a MontBell UL 90 pad and short piece of foam as the “frame.”) Two side pockets are placed just right to let you grab a water bottle or camera while walking, but without interfering with normal arm motion. The hip belt shifts considerable weight off your shoulders, a necessity in my view for any pack over about 12 lbs. The 2.5” wide, padded shoulder straps are extremely comfortable. There is no sternum strap, but I never missed it. (Like most artisan designers, Joe Valesko will customize the pack to include additional features at the buyer’s request.)

I’m no expert, but the stitching looked solid and the bag is reinforced at the bottom and other strategic points with heavier (2.4 oz.) silnylon. I haven’t taken the Z1 on any long trips so I can’t vouch for its ultimate durability, but it looks like it will hold up with due care.

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Richard Gless
( rgless )

San Francisco Bay Area
ZPacks Z1 on 02/23/2007 22:26:57 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I have to agree with all of Jonathan's comments. I bought this pack after seeing it mentioned on BPL and checking it out on the web. It only took about a week to arrive after I ordered it.

After taking it out on one of my local training hikes, I used it on a weekend trip. I used my torso length gossamer gear nightlight to give the pack some rigidity. I especially like the fact it has lots of room, and you don't have to crush your sleeping bag into a black hole. There is no evidence of tearing or weakness at any of the seams or reenforcement points

I prefer a sternum strap and asked Joe Valesko to add one for me. For the weekend trip I also started with a base weight of about 7.5 lbs ending up with 11.5 lbs with food and water. The pack is very comfortable, the side packets easily fit water bottles etc, and the back pocket swallows up all kinds of gear. This is a great pack for weekends and probably up to several days.

I think the Z1 is a great UL pack for a good price. I also liked some of the accessories ZPack offers including the cuben fiber stuff sacks.

I've now used this pack on a 3 day and a 4 day trip in the Yosemite high country carrying up to about 20 lbs. Still think it's a great pack, but one needs to keep it away from that rough Yosemite granite.

Edited by rgless on 09/04/2007 22:36:35 MDT.

George Matthews
( gmatthews - M )
ZPacks Z1 Ultralight Backpack on 12/16/2007 07:16:15 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5
ZPacks Z1 Ultralight Backpack (2007)

Z1 (measured wt: includes optional daisy chain, side compression cords, base loops, webbing waist belt, and detachable sternum strap is 7.0 oz.)

Has worked fine with total loads ranging from 12 to 18 lb. Has a comfortable fit and enough volume for my gear, food and water. The Z1 has excellent quality construction and was a good value.

Matt Lutz
( citystuckhiker )

No-frills, just awesome on 10/03/2009 10:22:56 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I bought my Z1 from a BPL forum member. It had a webbing waist belt and a removable sternum strap. I have since removed the waistbelt (via scissors) and removed the sternum strap, which was attached to two small loops via a Larp's head knot. The pack's current weight is 3.28 oz. There are not a whole lot of packs out there that weigh less.

The pack is fantastic for its simplicity. Much like the original Jardine-style packs, it has a main compartment, and three external pockets. Nothing else. The side pockets are large enough to hold food and medium height water bottles, but my 1.5L Nalgene canteen must go in the rear.

Like all frameless packs without a hipbelt, the pack's comfort is dependent on your trapezius muscles and the strap padding. My padding is the standard 3/8" padding, which is cushy and flexible. The pack is comfortable to me for all-day comfort with 10-15 lb weights. I have not pushed the pack's weight capacity, but I do not intend to go beyond 20 lbs.

My one nitpick about the pack is that the top closure is a drawcord that is meant to be closed by placing the toggle through a bight of thin webbing at the bottom of the rear large pocket. However, whenever I pick the pack up, the drawcord is pulled and the top opens slightly.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 02/15/2010 12:58:18 MST.

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