Gregory Zulu 40 ReviewAugust 25, 2016
- Stable and comfortable with heavy loads
- Well-ventilated upper back
- Easy access to load
- Mobility hampered by stiff frame
- Non-adjustable shoulder harness
- Heavier than other packs in test
The Gregory Zulu 40 is a very stable pack, even with heavier loads approaching 35 pounds. The rigidity of the suspension system combined with spot on ergonomics and padding in the shoulder straps and hip belt allow a comfortable carry with heavier gear, while the ventilation system keeps air moving over much of the back. Mobility is hampered by the torsional stiffness of the suspension system, making this pack better suited to trails, not alpine scrambles.
The Gregory Zulu 40’s CrossFlo DTS suspension system utilizes a HDPE frame sheet and a spring wire “X” frame with a trampoline type mesh back panel. The shoulder straps connect to a yoke that pulls up on the wire frame above the crossover point that forms the “X.” This unique system forces tension to increase in the frame as loads bear down on the shoulder harness. Not only does this increase the load transfer as weight climbs, it also tensions the mesh back panel further to ensure the air space above the lumber region of the back is maintained. The shoulder straps and large hip belt are highly contoured and are have the most padding of any in this test. These factors combine to make this pack comfortable with heavier loads but also reduce the pack’s ability to move with the user. Rounding or twisting the back in certain ways generates resistance and contact with the spring steel frame. The shoulder harness is not adjustable, but the pack does come in three different sizes.
The Gregory Zulu 40 is extremely stable, all the way up to its 35 pound maximum rating. The CrossFlo DTS suspension system’s rigidity and the pack’s compression ability keep the loaded pack riding as a single, solid unit. The contoured, dual density hip belt (the widest in the test) in combination with a large lumbar pad, keeps the weight solidly connected to the lower back and hips. This pack also has load control straps at the hip belt, adding another source of stability.
The Gregory Zulu 40 doesn’t have an extension sleeve, but the permanently attached lid is large, having the usual zippered top pocket and underside pockets. Almost the entire front of the pack is covered by a stretch bucket pocket, which is integrated with the top side compression straps. The front of the main body boasts a large “U” shaped zipper that extends nearly to the bottom of the pack, allowing easy access. Both sides of the pack have stretch mesh pockets and each hip belt has its own zippered pocket, one of open mesh and the other of water resistant nylon.
The Gregory Zulu 40 uses 210d nylon for abrasion prone areas of the pack body, and 100d elsewhere, striking a balance of durability vs. weight. The wire “X” frame is 4mm in diameter, plenty burly in its configuration. The stretch mesh used on the exterior pockets is noticeably denser than most, a good sign for an often snagged fabric. The buckles are more of a standard size and design, avoiding the minimalist approach many packs are adopting.
Gregory adorned the Zulu 40 with these usable features: interior hydration bladder sleeve and hang loop, top rope/compression strap, ice tool/trekking pole attachments, and a shoulder strap sunglass loop.