Gregory Zulu 65 ReviewJuly 11, 2016
- Excellent bang-for-your-buck
- Excellent comfort over long distances with heavy loads
- Has all of the features you need with no extraneous extras
- Heavier than other backpacks in the test set
- Less water resistant exterior than other bags in the set
The Gregory Zulu 65 has an unmatched value; it is a bag that testers would refer to personal friends. The Zulu will efficiently handle most things that you ask of it and is a well balanced all-mountain bag. The principle distraction from this value is its weight.
The Zulu’s simple construction, harness, and suspension performed admirably in a variety of terrain with different loads. The thin diagonally-crossed stays strike a strong balance between flexibility and rigidity, and this bag is just as appropriate for weight-conscious thru-hikers and stability-loving weekend warriors. The CrossFlo system makes an honest stab at providing cross-back ventilation.
The Zulu has a wide enough construction to accommodate a range of load types, including two bear barrels positioned horizontally. It also has excellent expandability for those miles you’re carrying more than you want to be. Although a summit pack is included, our tester found the compactability of the bag made it extremely useful on a light and fast summit day. Top marks.
The Zulu lacks the swivel of other higher-end bags, but the body construction offers the opportunity for more stable packing and securing of your load. The bag carries well, even when your route requires rock-hops, tree-ducks, and river-crossings. Our tester took the Zulu off-trail in the Lillian Lake region of the Ansel Adams Wilderness on granite slabs, over talus, and safely and comfortably back down to the lake.
In this category the Zulu seems perfect for thru-hikers. Yes, it may be a bit heavier than your partner’s new frameless sack, but it has the construction that is going to last your entire walk, while your partner will be sewing and weeping after several hundred miles. The stays are integrated into a single piece, which means no broken connections, and the bottom moorings are reinforced. As long as you don’t throw it on the ground or take a big slide down a snow field, this is a pack that our tester would bring from Mexico to Canada on the PCT.
You’ve got the basics – two water bottle sleeves, gear loops for ice axes or trekking poles, and hip pockets for your handy essentials. The outer sleeve on the back is perfect for rain gear or extra layers and are instantly reachable when the skies open up or the mosquitoes descend. The top of the brain is roomy enough even for the most ardent literature majors among us.