Best Pack Ever
Bought this pack after weeks of research and the studying paid off. For a reasonable price I got the most comfortable backpack I have ever used. With the pull of a few straps a person can always find that comfort zone on your back. Pockets and zippers are durable and well placed. I carried this pack with 25 pounds of gear for 38 miles on the AT in November. Performed. Could have carried 40 pounds comfortably. The Z55 is designed for a minimalist with less than 3000 cu. of storage space but well thought out packing can make you capable of carrying more gear, there is plenty of room in it. My favorite feature is the side zipper on the main compartment, this way you dont have to undo all the straps just to grab a jacket out, just unzip and grab, zip back up. The hydration reservoir pouch and ports are well placed too.
Great over night pack.
This pack is great for hauling the essentials. I really like the top pocket for little things that are needed frequently during a hike. The suspension system is really nice especially when you get a cool breeze on your back. The waistband does hold in some heat so make sure you are wearing some non cotton, wicking clothing. This pack can hold a lot, but if you plan on doing a multi night go for a larger capacity. I noticed with the suspension system cutting into your stuff sack space and if you carry a hydration bladder, it really takes a lot of space in the center. The side entry zip is a must have though. It was great to get things out of the bottom of the bag without fighting the gear near the top.
The perfect weekender
I bought the first model of this pack some years ago. I use it mostly for Sierra High Camps (fixed camps a day"s hike apart, so no need to carry tent or much food). And some weekenders with minimal gear. You have to be conscious of weight. More than 30 lbs and I find the padding a little too light (I'm 70). I take it that the side zipper has been lengthened (good). I would add a zippered inside pocket, for wallet, etc. Given its weight limitations, it's a marvelous pack. I sometimes use it as a day pack, if I feel like carrying extra clothing. Friends have professed envy.
This pack works great for everything from a quick overnight trip to a week long backpacking adventure. Even with 40+ pounds loaded in the suspension still feels great, no straps digging into shoulders. I was impressed with how adjustable everything is. The only problem I could imagine having with this pack is the size of the waist belt. At 5'6" and 130 lbs I have to tighten the belt down almost as small as it will go, this could be a problem for somebody with a small frame. Other than that, this is a really good pack that holds an impressive amount of gear without losing any comfort.
Tried and True
If it isn't comfortable, all the gee whiz features are useless. This pack is extremly comfortable. I carry 32 lbs or less depending on water availabilty, section hiking the Southern ATC.
After optimizing the loading method, I've appreciated the flexibility provided by Gregory. (Example: cross straps in back to carry pad vertically which is secure and out of the way.) Rain cover (Gregory medium) fits and keeps everyting dry.
Switched to light weight 20oz water bottles which fit better than 1L on the sides. (Con: listed in other reviews)
I bought this pack for weekend backpacking, with ultralight backpacking in mind. After having several children and getting them into hiking, I now carry my gear and gear for my 8 and 7 year old boys. I carry probably 40-45 lbs, which is more than I would like to carry in this pack, there is still adjustable enough that I can tweak the suspension straps to keep the loads comfortable. Once I'm back to carrying my gear alone, this pack should get even better. Great pack! Years of use without problems yet!
So far I love the bag. Fits well, very adjustable. You can have the straps loose for casual hiking, but if you get into more technical terrain, you can tighten the pack up to your pack so it doesn't move.
After hiking one year with a pack that was too small and difficult to pack, I hiked another with one that was comfortable, but too heavy. The Gregory Z55 seems to hit just the balance I've been seeking.
I traveled through Europe on a 10 day trip and the bag was great. Pleanty of room, easy to load, and comfortable. I would recommend this pack
Gregory Z55 Internal Frame Pack
It worked beautifully on a week long hike in the White Mountain Range in New Hampshire.