November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter

Reader Reviews

Add your own review

Gregory Z-55

in Backpacks - Internal Frame

Average Rating
3.80 / 5 (5 reviews)

Display Avatars Sort By:
Shawn Basil
( Bearpaw )

Gregory Z-55 on 08/03/2007 11:25:16 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

After loving my old Gregory Z-Pack, I had high hopes for the beautifully ventilated Z-55. As a southeastern hiker, I usually head west to high cool mountains when summer heat and humidity begin to batter Tennessee and the surrounding region. Thus, the airy backpanel of the Z-55 looked ideal for the 200+miles of Kentucky's Sheltowee Trace, which I hiked in late May and early June.

The pack's suspension proved to be finicky. The large bow in the back panel means I only achieved small areas of contact. Unfortunately, this resulted in undue pressure in the lower back (initially), followed my a downward sag, which resulted in increasing shoulder contact and fatigue.

Making the situation worse was the sternum strap. If it had held securely, it would have placed more support on my chest, which I far prefer to my shoulders. But the strap kept sliding upward until it eventually reached my throat, requiring me to stop and push the strap back down to my sternum.

However, the suspension was the only downside to the pack. There were thankfully a number of pluses to the Z-55. The hip belt pockets were a real blessing, a genuine improvement on the Z-Pack. All the access options (front pocket, stow-it pocket, and lid) remain, and they were very helpful.

The biggest plus was the vented back panel which WORKS. Despite a consistent heat index in the 90's and occasional 100's, I experienced a degree of ventilation and back comfort unlike any other pack I have tried. This ventilation comes at a heavy cost in less comfortable suspension, but may still be worth it if I venture out into very hot conditions in the future (so long as I am not on a long-distance hike, where day after day of shoulder and lower back discomfort became routine.)

With modification, this pack may recapture some of the great function of the Z-Pack (which I rated a 5/5 last year). But for now, the Z-55 is, for me at least, an unfortunate step back.

Shop Gregory products at GearBuyer
John Tunnicliffe
( BenWaller )

Northern California
Z-55 proves adequate for short trips on 09/04/2007 22:15:44 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I have been using the Gregory Z-55 for a few months now, having carried it for a something less than 500 miles on short trips (2-4 days) in the coastal ranges of northern California and for a single week-long summer circumnavigation of Lassen Park.

Typically I load this bag to not more than 28-30 pounds all-up total weight, with full hydration and a pair of 3/4 liter gatorade bottles, freezer bag food, miniworks filter, 4 pound tent, 3 pound bag (soon to be replaced by a quilt) Snow Peak pots and an Esbit stove and the various other necessities. The pack handles such loads very well, producing little to no shoulder strain or belt problems and I have experienced zero sternum strap creep. I have found that running the sternum strap a couple of inches below my collar bones and just snug, not tight, works perfectly and the strap does not drift.

Early on I found that runnig the sternum straps just a little too tight did have the tendancy to drift the anchors north, but the proper combination of correct pack sizing to begin with and what turns out to be a nearly flat load lifter setup eliminated this problem.

The Z-55 is extremely stable in arduous terrain, not tending to launch me down the off-slopes when my footing slips. As a solo, senior hiker this is no small issue, though I do use poles for additional control.

The only modifications that I made was the installation of a hydration bladder hanger, which is a simple loop of flat line looped around the single stay and secured by the velcro strap that constrains that stay. This permits the stable mounting of a 3 liter bag in the hydration sleeve and requires no cutting or sewing or other more permanent foolings about with the pack.

I have no experience with the earlier Z but I have heard from others that the Z was also a very fine pack and I can certainly understand the critique of the reverse-arched back panel of the Z-55. It takes some getting used to, especially in the development of a pack-loading plan.

The big outer papoose is a very useable feature and the outboard compartment of that papoose is perfect for maps and other flat equipment, like a couple of pairs of socks or light thermals. The top hat works well for line, headlamp and light rain wear.
The side-load main compartment zipper is pretty much useless for my loading plan.

I cannot rate this pack higher because I have no other pack of similar size for comparison. I am sure there are equal or even better packs out there and I tried a lot of them on and wandered around with each for several hours before selecting the Gregory.

For me the fit is perfect, the ventilation works very well, it carries a reasonable load and it is very durable and well-built.

I would recommend this pack to the hiker looking for bullet-proof load-handling capability. I will certainly be using mine regularly throughout the months ahead.

I will never own a pack heavier that this, but I might build a liter one. We'll see.

Until then, I will continue to recommend and use the Gregory Z-55. Happily.


Edited by BenWaller on 09/04/2007 22:58:32 MDT.

Shop Gregory, Lassen, Snow Peak products at GearBuyer
Marc Kokosky
( mak52580 )

Washington, DC Area
Uncomfortable on 10/14/2009 05:03:13 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

I have to agree with Bearpaw. I tried this on in REI and couldn't wait to take it off. I also have broad shoulders and chest and the sternum strap was extremely uncomfortable. Also I felt that the lumbar support was too thick which actually bent my spine backwards and made me feel off-balance. Lastly, I agree with the assessment of feeling as if the load was too far away from my back, which also lead to the feeling of being off-balance and pulled slightly backward.

It was a no go for me and I ended up swapping it for the UL 60 (the older, pea green version) which is about the same volume and weight as the Z-55 but with a longer sternum strap, closer to the body and smaller lumbar support.

Shop Rei products at GearBuyer
Omri Ben Ari
( omri79 )
Great weekend pack for warm weder on 06/06/2010 09:32:16 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Gregory Z55

i got this bag about a year ago
and i was very happy so i bought the Jade50 for my beautiful wife.
used it in a few hikes and planning on using it for a long time.

the bag has excellent ventilation system and because i live in Israel and the summer can reach 40C (104F) it was a very crucial key feature in the bag selection.
i love the side access point but i cant understand why The draw-cord on the extension collar sticks and doesn't allow me to close the top of the pack all the way.
and i will also need to attach a cord to hang the water bladder in place.
excellent hip-belt pockets for energy bars\knife\candies etc.
i cant say anything bad about the suspension system works just fine for me.
didn't tried it yet on wet conditions so i don't know haw the fabric and zippers will perform...
me and the Z55 on the trailmy wife with the Jade50

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Gregory Z55 - Men's priced at: $119.37 - $248.95
stephen wark
( coldworlder )

Green Mountains
Great pack on 12/01/2011 18:59:44 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I know many reviewers that might dismiss the Z 55 as a "mass produced" pack - for shame. But, I've gotta say that Gregory seemed to get it right for me. Its light enough and has decent space, support and comfort. I tried GG packs and TNF, but they were not for me.

Shop Gregory, The North Face products at GearBuyer

Add your own review