I’ve taken a long time to make up my mind about the Gregory z35-r. But, I’ve finally got a handle on it.
Tha carry is the important thing, and here it’s right on the money. I was intially suspicious of both the air-gap back system and the prominent lumbar pad, but it works well. I quickly lost the sensation of the packfeeling like it’s being supported just on the lumbar pad and hips, it feels secure and unobtrusive, and also allows good lower body movement. The hip fins and shoulder harness have a nice low profile and it’s comfortable with a load over just a baselayer, always the real test. The shoulder straps have an unusual attachment which allows a bit of flexibility and good upper body movement despite the rigid load bearing back system.
The back system is curved away from you to allow an air gap. There’s an unending debate about these features, especially about the effect on the stability which here I felt was minimal. I took it on scrambles with a full load and never once felt like I was badly overbalancing or that the pack was taking over the controls of the aircraft.
So, I like the carry, but to get it to the levels of usability I have to supplement it’s diet with some ingredients of my own. It has good storage, the internal space is good, it has a huge external pocket and two external pockets with waterproof zips. I’ve used all of these for stowing stuff and the capacity is plenty much for a few days in the field. The wee hip fin pockets are handy for gloves, a compact camera and munchies, but…
There’s nowhere to stow a bottle that’s accessible on the move. This drives me crazy in the head. The big pocket that takes in the whole central red section you can see above along with the grey bits at the sides could be split up and you could have two side mesh pockets accessible by the wearer. Maybe it’s just that bladders are more popular in Gregoryville, and it’s well set up for that with a neat internal sleeve and good hose routing. But, I’m a bottle man so I installed shoulder strap mounted bottle pockets, and my OMM chest pouches help, I always use one on an overnighter anyway.
The external strapping is good as well. It’s all functional including the top straps that have to be undone to open the roll top closure (aye, it’s a roll top, did I mention that? It works well, roll tops kick ass), These straps are loops, so you can attach a sleep ma or a packed tent and hold in a good position that doesn’t mess with your centre of gravity too much. You don’t have to undo the loops to access the inside of the pack either, two buckles and they’re out of the way. In the photie above they’re hanging loose anyway.
More than any other item I’ve had on test, this has benefitted from extended use over the time I’ve had it. The first time I thought, “Ach, nowhere for my bottle” and I was all perturbed. But I solved that and got on with it and over time it ceased to be an issue, as did the unusual feel of the lower carrying contact points.
What I see now is a neat pack that carries extremely well, that I’d love to tweak with those extra pockets. Also, it’s got about 300g or more on most other packs in it’s size range and I can’t feel it on my back at all, so I don’t give a shit. Praise be, it’s a sign.
And I’ve confirmed from using it that testing is very different from reviewing.