Monday, April 19, 2010

Gear Review: Gregory Z22 Daypack

"Simultaneousley comfortable, functional, and minimalistic, at a reasonable price"

The Stats:
Price: $88.00 - 102.00
Weight: 2lb 10oz
Volume: 22liters
Hydration: interior bladder pouch, 2 exterior bottle sleeves
Pockets: 1 large main pocket, 1 small top pocket, 2 tiny hip belt pockets

Pros's: lightweight, durable, water repellent, highly adjustable, very comfortable, simple design, solid construction, multi-functional

Con's: capacity slightly small, poor organization, breathability less impressive than advertised

The Full Story:
The Gregory Z22 Daypack is simple, durable, and multi-functional. It ends up being a slightly small,  but the Z22 is a fantastic "go-to" daypack which will hold up in a variety of conditions and on most hikes repelling light rain while staying light and above all comfortable as hell! Gregory's biggest selling point, JetStream DTS, an airflow system designed to keep your back dry unfortunately does not work quite as well as advertised. Still for virtually any dayhike it has space for lunch, a rain shell AND a fleece, water, and extras. More importantly the pack is fantastic at distributing the weight and feels comfortable even when fully loaded. Its stiff frame unfortunately prevents it from being used as a summit pack and it is too small to be used as anything but a daypack preventing this pack from seeing any backcountry use. 
While the JetStream DTS might not have been a home run (at least a walk though) the Z22 has a number of design features that work well. The water bottle sleeves  are made from a stretch material making access very easy, which is fortunate because the hydration system for this pack does seem a little like a design afterthought. A simple bag holds the water bladder which consumes a good amount of space inside the pack. Further the placing of the bladder makes stashing any bulky items near the top where they are easy to access (like a DSLR camera) difficult. Organization is a bit poor because there is only one main compartment as well. The top pocket ends up being very important and is almost perfectly sized for a first-aid kit and a headlamp. Meanwhile the hip-belt pockets are nice for small electronics like cell phones, ipods, and camera memory cars, and spare batteries, even small snacks and sunscreen and chapstick. Anything not already weatherproof though (like sunscreen and chapstick) will need to be moved inside though if a cloud even looks darkly tinted because the pockets are constructed with an open mesh.
All downsides of Gregory's design can be forgiven because the pack just ends up being so comfortable that I've forgotten I'm wearing it on long hikes. The multitude of adjustment points on the Z22 keep the pack from pulling away even when fully loaded. While the JetStream DTS system may not be the massive step up from the competition it advertises itself as, it does still do a reasonably effective job keeping the back fairly dry. The system seems to work most effectively with multiple layers of clothing.
This packs will get you through all but the most extreme environments in a comfortable manner by keeping the design simple and avoiding lots of useless design features. It passes all the important tests, and I personally never give a second thought before strapping it on.

For More:
Gregory Packs -
2008 Pack -
2010 Pack -

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