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A hiking backpack is central to that a positive trekking experience and Gregory has been offering some really solid options. The Gregory Zulu is a 55 liter pack made for backcountry trekking.

It’s got all the basic features you’ll need to survive in the outdoors and stay organized.

A hiking backpack is like a pair of shoes or a car though. In that respect, they all have unique designs that can complement your style, cause friction or maybe enhance the whole experience.

We tested and reviewed Gregory Zulu 55 Backpack to help you decide which one of these scenarios might fit your trek.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.8

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    FreeFloat suspension system is excellent for ventilation and offers premium comfort
  • check-mark
    It fits even broad shoulders
  • check-mark
    2-way access water bottle holders, with compression straps to fit any bottle size
  • check-mark
    There’s a built-in emergency whistle and tube clip at the sternum strap
  • check-mark
    U-Zip front loading makes it easy to access the main compartment
  • check-mark
    Mesh front pocket is very stretchable and suitable for draining gear
  • check-mark
    You can remove the bottom compartment’s divider for extra space
  • check-mark
    The mesh front pocket is stretchable and great for your wet gear
  • check-mark
    No additional heaviness since its lightweight
  • check-mark
    Built-in bladder sleeve means you can quench your thirst on the go
  • check-mark
    The key leash on the top lid is a time-saver

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markHip belt pockets are hard to open/close
  • check-markExtra haul loops in the front (top and bottom) so you quickly move the bag while front access is open.

Where to buy:

Gregory Zulu 55 Product Image

Gregory Zulu 55

Specs & Features

  • Materials: 210D Honeycomb Cryptorip Nylon / 210D High Tenacity Nylon (Body), 630D High-Density Nylon / 135D High-Density Polyester (Bottom), LifeSpan EVA Foam, Fiberglass Anti-barreling Stay, HDPE and 4mm Alloy Steel
  • Volume: 55 Liters
  • Dimensions: 28” x 13.25” x 12”
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs.
  • Colors: Empire Blue, Mantis Green
  • Ideal for: Short Technical Trips, Multi-Day Hiking, Trail Running
See the complete list of the best Hiking Backpacks here!

A Backcountry Star

Comfort and functionality are key components of a bag allowing you to get some mileage under your feet without issues. The Zulu has the right kind of suspension systems to carry a sizeable–but not too big–load around while remaining agile on your feet.

This is an ideal bag for some tricky terrain trekking. It’s not exclusively technically oriented. Such is the industry these days, where ultralight, super-comfortable gear has thankfully gone mainstream.

Our experience with the Zulu leads us to conclude that this bag is great over terrain that requires active, agile movements. It’s a sporty bag that feels like a daypack.

Not quite as pricey as the more expensive packs in the market, it nonetheless has attributes commensurate with the best in the business.

Weekend warriors will relish using this bag for its organizational capabilities. And its durability combined with smart features mean it has the realistic potential to be used for many years in different kinds of activities. Backpacking Europe or solo-camping in the Cascades and everything in between.

The Zulu is a bit of a favorite as far as packs with less than 60 liters go. Gregory has done a good job here.

gregory-zulu-55-with-bradley-front-view

Construction

Aside from polyester, another standard fabric used for outdoor gear is nylon, and Gregory Zulu 55 Backpack comes with that. Now, ripstop nylon with regular grids is what you’ll typically see in hiking bags. Thick fibers are integrated into thin threads, adding durability and tear-resistance to the material.

But with this Gregory hiking bag, instead of regular grids, you’ll see that there’s a honeycomb pattern of interwoven thick threads. If your backpack gets a tear, it will stay within its grid.

Since Zulu 55 comes with 210D High Tenacity Honeycomb Ripstop Nylon, expect that there’s better elasticity, abrasion-, heat- and tear resistance compared to regular ripstop fabrics.

The bottom of this bag has a combination of 135D polyester and 630D nylon. When it comes to backpacks for men, nylon is typically stronger than polyester. And with high denier, plus additional backing from polyester, you can count that your belongings won’t tear through the base. Even if you have to put Gregory Zulu down on rough terrains, rocks and stones won’t cause damage.

The stitching is decent, clean, and sturdy. You can walk in the woods without worrying about your heavy load putting too much stress on the seams to the point of breaking.

However, remember that their lifetime warranty is limited to defects only. Damage due to usage is not eligible for repair, unlike Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee.

Gregory Zulu 55 Construction Nylon

Harness System

Another thing we love about the Gregory Zulu 55 Backpack is its harnessing. It distributes the weight evenly, and it’s super breathable and comfortable. The alloy frame keeps the shape of the bag and stabilizes the weight. The shoulder straps paddings are dense as well. With thick 3D mesh on all points of contact, it’s almost impossible to feel discomfort.

Back it all up with Gregory’s FreeFloat suspension. It’s almost identical to Osprey’s ANTI-GRAVITY, where a mesh fabric runs from top to bottom. This design creates a panel between the body and the hiking bag to maximize airflow. Pair it with the pivoting hip belt that goes with your flow, and this Gregory backpack is a definite steal.

If you’re a trail runner and looking for a bag that won’t get on your way, Gregory Zulu 55 is one of the best backpacks for men out there.

gregory-zulu-55-shoulder-strap

Custom the Fit

There’s an adjustment tab at the back for torso length like in deuter Aircontact Lite, Jack Wolfskin Highland Trail 55, and most hiking backpacks. The shoulders straps, hip belts, load lifters, and sternum straps of Gregory Zulu 55 are easy to fine-tune.

To customize the fit, loosen them up and carry the bag. Pull the webbings according to your desired snug. Then, you can adjust the torso length (it might take a few tries).

Since this Gregory bag is one of the best-ventilated backpacks for men, properly calibrating the harnesses makes it comfier to wear.

But if you want more ways to customize the straps, you might want to take a look at Osprey Aether 65 Hiking Backpack. Even its hip belts’ angle is adjustable.

Not impressed? Click here to see more high-quality backpacks for men.

Clips, Loops, Straps

There’s no shortage of lash points and compression straps in Gregory Zulu 55. It’s no secret that backpacks for men are way easier to carry when compression straps keep it squeezed, on the sides, underneath, and on top. It helps with stabilizing the overall weight along with the harness system. The load lifters also effectively counterbalance the load you’re carrying.

You can attach your extras at the lash points on the lid and your trekking pole or ax at the front. The left shoulder strap can hold your sunglasses through the loop and bungee string.

Now, it’s got standard nylon webbing on the adjustable sternum strap. There’s a built-in emergency whistle on the buckle, so you can quickly use it when the situation calls for it. A clip for your bladder’s tube is on the right—no need to reach out for it whenever you need to rehydrate.

You also get the same nylon webbing at the hip belts. They’re not too thin or too bulky that it compromises your comfort.

The mattress holder outside the sleeping bag compartment was hard to adjust. But it gets the work done. Even on the water bottle holders, there’s a loop on each so you can hook up other items.

If these entire lash points talk sounds too much, drop by our complete guide. See other hiking backpacks for men and find one of your likings.

The Zulu 55 is also a great hiking bag for women. It compresses around the contours of different body shapes--both bigger and smaller--extremely well.
The Zulu 55 is also a great hiking bag for women. It compresses around the contours of different body shapes--both bigger and smaller--extremely well.

Storage

Let’s see how this hiking bag from Gregory claims itself as one of the best backpacks for men out there. When it comes to storage, what can you expect?

Main Compartment

With 55-liter capacity and robust construction, you can fit your needs for a few days of a technical nature trip. There’s no stress about access with the drawstring closure at the top and a wide U-zip opening at the front. This design is also present on other backpacks for men like the Salkan Backpacker.

Trust us. It’s no fun digging your hands to the bottom of a large backpack to get something. We had to deal with that annoyance while using the deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 Backpack and TETON Sports Scout 3400 Hiking Backpack.

The front-loading access makes it a breeze to sneak your packing cubes inside. Gregory Zulu 55 Backpack can accommodate a couple of medium-sized packing cubes for your clothing and a couple of small for toiletries and tech accessories. That’s enough for a 3-day weekend in Miami.

On the other hand, it could’ve been nice if there were extra haul loops at the front of the bag. A handle on the top and bottom sections will be helpful when moving the pack from one place to another while it’s flat open. It will avoid spilling your items everywhere.

But overall, if you’re still checking out backpacks for men, Gregory Zulu 55 can be a great companion for your 30-mile hiking journey.

Doesn’t suit your preferences? Click here for more of the best hiking backpacks for men.

gregory-zulu-55-bradley-side-view

Hydration

There’s a built-in hydration sleeve inside the main compartment like most hiking backpacks. You’ll see the tube port going to the back. And what we liked about Gregory Zulu 55 is it doesn’t just leave the tube hanging loose outside. There’s a clip at the right shoulder strap so keep it in place. You can slip in a 3-liter bladder to keep you hydrated throughout your adventure.

The water bottle holders have 2-way access: top and side. You have to be double-jointed to be comfortable grabbing your drink the traditional way while carrying your heavy bag. The side access is a joint- and time-saver since it angles your water bottle towards you. It’s the same feature we loved about the Osprey Aether 65 Hiking Backpack.

Dehydration won’t be a problem whether you’re in Sedona deserts or tracing trails at The Smokies.

Gregory Zulu 55 Hydration Sleeve

Top Lid

Gregory Zulu 55 Backpack has the standard adjustable floating lid. You can store any items you need within reach in this compartment. It can be your map, gloves, some granola bars, or your emergency kit.

There’s a zipped pocket for your valuables like IDs, cards, and your passport underneath the lid. You’ll also find the rainfly here once you receive your Gregory hiking backpack.

Front Mesh Pocket

Not all hiking backpacks for men have a front mesh pocket. Some prefer the security of the zipped front compartment like in MOUNTAINTOP Hiking Travel Backpack and Jack Wolfskin Highland Trail 55. One of the perks of a mesh front pocket is for drainage. Once the rain finally stops, you can place your rain poncho here and dump out some water.

Hip Pockets

There’s nothing special about the hip belt pockets- they’re not that big and not too small. One is enough for your phone and Bluetooth headset and your keychain-sized tools on the other.

We tried on this Gregory backpack while it was empty as soon as it arrived, and we thought the zips were a bit problematic. But once we had all the compartments loaded, they worked just ok.

If you’re interested in hip belt pockets that can transform into a water bottle holster, check out Highland Trail 55 from Jack Wolfskin. It’s a feature that made its mark on us.

gregory-zulu-55-hip-pocket

Sleeping Bag Compartment

The sleeping bag compartment is small compared to other hiking backpacks for men. Tactical and bushcraft types can go here without any trouble since they pack up very compact inside their sacks.

Most hiking bags have a removable divider between the bottom and main compartment. It’s done mainly by unzipping the divider like in Osprey Aether 65, deuter Aircontact Lite, and TETON Sports Scout 3400 Backpack.

With Gregory Zulu 55, it’s through toggles. If you have to force your sleeping bag into the bottom pocket, you might as well remove the divider. You can sneak it in and get it through the wide clamshell front-loading instead.

This hiking bag provides you with more than enough room for a few days of backcountry adventure. But if you’re out for a quick day hike, smaller backpacks for men like Arc’teryx Brize 25 Hiking Backpack and the Gregory Arrio 30 Hiking Backpack will do fine.

If you can’t make your mind up, take a detour to our complete lowdown of the best hiking backpacks for men. These options won’t let you down either.

Gregory Zulu 55 Sleeping Bag Compartment

Summary

For roughly $220, Gregory Zulu 55 Backpack tilts on the pricey end. The tag is just right with a 55-liter capacity, robust build, and complete focus on user comfort.

It’s one of the best hiking backpacks for men in the market for your technical backcountry missions. The FreeFloat suspension system will work great if you have problems with your lower back. It’s also a beneficial feature if you love trail running.

This Gregory bag is not the best of the bunch. Its meticulous attention towards providing you a comfortable overall experience while carrying a heavy load didn’t compromise its quality.

Gregory Zulu 55 Backpack is a must-try for technical trips and serious hiking.

Not what you’re looking for? See other choices here.

Buy this backpack if:

  • You need a quality backpack for a short, tactical trip
  • Want to go camping without the more giant 65ers weighing you down
  • A light packer
  • Willing to pay the price for an ultra-comfortable backpack
  • A trail runner looking for a bag that goes with your flow
  • You have lower back problems but love staying outdoors

Related Reviews

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.8

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    FreeFloat suspension system is excellent for ventilation and offers premium comfort
  • check-mark
    It fits even broad shoulders
  • check-mark
    2-way access water bottle holders, with compression straps to fit any bottle size
  • check-mark
    There’s a built-in emergency whistle and tube clip at the sternum strap
  • check-mark
    U-Zip front loading makes it easy to access the main compartment
  • check-mark
    Mesh front pocket is very stretchable and suitable for draining gear
  • check-mark
    You can remove the bottom compartment’s divider for extra space
  • check-mark
    The mesh front pocket is stretchable and great for your wet gear
  • check-mark
    No additional heaviness since its lightweight
  • check-mark
    Built-in bladder sleeve means you can quench your thirst on the go
  • check-mark
    The key leash on the top lid is a time-saver

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markHip belt pockets are hard to open/close
  • check-markExtra haul loops in the front (top and bottom) so you quickly move the bag while front access is open.

Do you want more?

Stay updated with guides, reviews and more about paddling.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

Is Gregory a good backpack brand?

Gregory packs are frequently compared side-to-side with Osprey bags. That alone is already a tell-tale sign that their products are seriously devoted to providing customers with reliable backpacks that can go head-on with famous brands.

From design to features, Gregory backpacks for men are worth checking out. Plus, your bag comes with a lifetime warranty to ensure it lasts a long time.

Are Gregory Packs made in the USA?

The company innovates new designs and creates prototypes at its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. Gregory continuously crafts stylish yet functional technical bags for every outdoor need you might have.

Where can I find backpacks for men?

If you’re wondering where you can get a Gregory Zulu 55 Backpack, you can check their online store, as well as Amazon and REI. The company has a presence in more than 45 countries globally, so it won’t be hard for you to visit an outdoor shop with Gregory backpacks in their artillery.

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