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Seach Latta Outdoors for Gregory Z55.
"If you are thinking about buying an Osprey Atmos 50 or 65, and you are going to carry more then 20/22lbs. Buy the Gregory. Don't let the good looks and nifty construction of the OSPREY fool you. I own 2 other packs, both ospreys, and they are great, but the Atmos is a serious pack for wanna-be backpackers. It will not carry more then 20 or 25 lbs. With out wanting to fold in half. In my opinion. I tried on 3 of the atmos packs at rei, and wore them for a total of about an hour and made as many adjustments as i could. NO LUCK! In my opinion, OSPREY has sacrificed their normal great quality and aim of knowing what the trail requires, for curb appeal. To make many sales to people who have no idea about what backpacks are suppose to be capable of, and are targeting the urban/yuppi crowd, who will be happy to buy this pack just to impress others with no intentions of using it as it is intended. THE GREGORY, is cheaper, more rigid, better made, and will handle loads in my opinion up to 40lbs. This is the pack you want if you plan on going on 2,3 or more day trips. You can start of with 40+ pounds which will be a little bit of a strain on you and the pack, but by then end of the trip you will be carrying 35 or less lbs, which is the sweat spot for this pack. Basically an ultralight pack with better then ultra light capabilities. IF you dont believe me, go to a store where they have both Osprey and gregory packs. Try on both packs empty, and then load in 32lbs in each and try them on. where them for about 15 minutes each and if you cant tell by then what i am talking about, then you don't need to buy a pack at all. I will bet that the osprey pack will have seem like it shrank in size to do the weight deforming the packs stayes. while the grogory will be holding true!"
Ben Waller, 0/0/00
"The Z55 is a very comfortable pack to wear in the woods; it is stable and strong, has great weight transfer to the hipbelt and lumbar region (if your lumber area is in good shape you'll really like it, if not you won't be able to wear it for very long) and handles 25-35 pound loads like you want them to be handled. A top-loader, this pack is pretty straightforward; bag on the bottom, work your way up.
Although it has no external pockets, the front kangaroo pouch is really handy for all the stuff you wouldn't want to put inside the pack anyway; fuel bottle, nalgene, stove, shovel, tent poles, filter and other stuff can be buried quickly and retrieved quickly without the liability of a zipper. The pouch does incorporate a compartment behind a waterproof zipper that is sufficient for a jacket or whatever. One side zipper on the pack main permits access to a small section of the pack; works for retrieving socks and/or other small items that you need to get to often.
Generally though this pack is built for moving right along for just a few days at most; at 3,100 cubic inches you don't do expedition work with it and for its intended purpose it performs very well.
The compression straps are well laid out and cinch up the pack nicely. The hip belt pockets, though small, are handy for bug dope and sunscreen and maybe a camera. Hang your sleeping pad (I use a Thermarest folder) in the bottom loops, which helps protect the bottom really well. In the top hat I carry my cordage, fixed blade, lightweight poncho and headlamp though there is ample room for more stuff up there.
All in, with empty 3 liter bladder, bag, tent (2 man since I hate to be cramped in camp) Snow Peak titanium cookset, sufficient clothing (long johns, fleece, underwear/socks/liners, jacket, a watchman's cap, lightweight waterproof outers), cooking accessories (salt/pepper/oil/sugar/cocoa, spork) and survival bag, my "dry weight" is about 20 lbs. Add 8 pounds of water, and 4-5 pounds of food and I'm under 35 lbs, which is perfect for the Z55.
I am about to replace my Optimus stove with an alchohol burner so the weight will drop a little more.
In the field this pack handles like a dream; I hardly have to compensate laterally at all for the load as it does not tend to "pull" to the side as some packs do; I think it behaves well because it is designed well and I know that it will continue to serve me reliably because it is a serious build, well finished with no evidence of careless assembly. The components are quality throughout and have taken all the abuse I have been able to dish out over the last several months, which has been considerable.
In my opinion this pack is perfect and I will use it as my primary pack for everything this side of full-week treks, which is what most of us do anyway.
Yep, Gregory has a winner here. I sure like mine.
Ben Waller, 0/0/00
"I have been using the z55 for a couple of months now in the coastal mountains of northern California and have found it to be satisfactory for loads between 35 and 40 pounds and excellent for loads down to the mid-20's. My base load is about 23 pounds so with water and food I am usually hauling around 35-37 pounds (sometimes 40 if I get luxurious) for a 3-4 day walkabout.
What I like about the z55: Fit, strength, suspension, intelligent design, quality construction and the large papoose which swallows my purifier, Nalgenes, shovel, fixed blade knife and fuel bottle no problem at all. The top hat is adequate for a poncho, a hundred feet of flat line, and a well-packed firstaid/survival bag. I find the pockets on the hipbelt large enough for my camera and multi-tool and the below-bag straps are long enough to carry my Z-Lite. The lumbar weight transfer design incorporated into this pack has to be experienced to be fully appreciated and the full ventilation of the back is phenomenal. The load stabilizer strap system is very well laid out and funtional though it took me a while to fully appreciate it.
What I don't like about this pack: Access to the main body through the side opening is close to useless but that is more a function of my method of packing than it is a design shortfall; the contents of a 3,350 cubic inch pack fully loaded for 4 days must be artfully placed, which means that if you want to get anything out of the side access panel and still have a balanced load what you intend to retrieve had better not be anything other than a pair of socks. I am not really sure that this is a negative against the pack because I did not buy this thing as a piece of luggage. If a person was not max-loading this pack the usefulness of the side access would be more, well, useful. Also, the load-lifters seem a little flat if you're used to thinking in terms of 45 degrees, but they do work; the shoulder loads are minimal as load transfer through the lower lumbar and into the legs is efficient. The outer panel on the papoose is of limited utility for my method of packing as the contents of the papoose typically displaces whatever potential space the outer panel might have otherwise provided. Sometimes I slip a map in there but usually I don't load the outer panel at all.
Proper fit matters on all packs but for this pack in particular fit is everything. It is not a "rip and stick" design. I have a 19-1/2 inch torso which puts me at the length limit of a medium size.
Don't buy this pack without loading it up and walking around for an hour.
Overall assessment: The z55 is an excellent pack for me. I like the way it fits, I like the way it looks, it handles the loads, the Jet Stream suspension keeps my back breathing and the positive contact of the load with my lower lumbar helps me to walk upright and to remain in control in the brush. I like it more than any other pack I have ever owned and I have owned more than a couple over the last 40 years. Sure, it is no "ultralight" but neither am I and of course it has its application limits but for those who would venture with 25-40 pounds, wet, I can without reservation recommend this quality piece of equipment.
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