Gregory Zulu 30 Backpack Review (Is It a Good Day Pack?)

What makes a backpack a good daypack? A good daypack should be a compact version of a backpack that is lightweight, comfortable, and large enough to hold all your essentials for a few hours. 

A backpack manufacturer that stands out for us is Gregory, and more specifically, their new Zulu 30. Hand-crafted to ensure ventilation, adjustability, and balance, the Gregory Zulu 30 aims to work with your body instead of against it.  

gregory zulu 30 backpack

Different size options

The Gregory Zulu 30 is available in both a small-medium and medium-large option. The small-medium size fits torsos between 15-19 inches and waists around 27-46 inches. It measures 21 x 12.25 x 10 inches and has a weight of 2.62lbs with a volume of 28L. 

Alternatively, the medium-large option fits torsos between 18-22 inches and waists around 29-51 inches. It measures 23.5 x 12.25 x 10 inches and has a weight of 2.67 lbs with a volume of 30L. Both sizes have a max carrying weight of 35lbs.

Design and comfort

The Zulu 30 has a unique design that pivots to the shape of your body. The FreeFloat flex panels allow the hip belt to move with your body while hiking and ensures a snug fit. Weight is also distributed more evenly, so the backpack remains comfortable even under heavy loads.

The shoulder straps have been padded for extra support and can be adjusted to find the ideal fit in proportion to your height.  The backpack also comes in 3 colors: Empire Blue, Fiery Red, and Mantis Green.

Multiple storage compartments

The backpack comes with an assortment of storage compartments for quick access to your hiking essentials. You’ll find all the necessary pockets for water bottles, food, and a change of clothes. In the main compartment, there is also support for a water bladder. 

The Gregory Zulu 30 also comes with two unique attachment systems. The Quickstow system on the shoulder harness keeps your sunglasses safe and scratch-free. Additionally, the adjustable loop system can secure trekking poles and ice axes.  

Ventilated mesh material

gregory zulu 30 backpack straps

The Gregory Zulu 30 has a flexible and breathable mesh material throughout the backpack. The rear absorbs the sweat off your back and dries quickly, making it an excellent option for hotter climates.

The outer storage compartments have also been made with this stretchable mesh material, so they can securely hold your items while still ensuring any wetness does not reach the inside of your backpack. 

Speaking about the wetness, the Zulu 30 also includes a raincover that shelters the entire backpack.


Our Review of The Gregory Zulu 30 Backpack 

Gregory Mountain Products Zulu 30 Liter Men's...
  • Free float suspension: low profile open air...
  • Rain cover: easy access rain cover keeps your...
  • 3D comfort cradle system: an ultra...
  • Front stretch mesh pocket: for easy access...

The Gregory Zulu 30 enters a hiking field that should prioritize comfort and functionality for your day out. With a price tag of just over $100, is it worth your time and money? 

Performance and Support 

An important aspect to look out for when buying a daypack is ventilation. It can make a world of difference in terms of comfort and breathability during a long day of hiking. Backpacks that use nylon and foam to the rear tend to block sweat evaporation. 

If you're hiking in the cold, that shouldn't be a problem because you'll want to keep the heat inside. However, under the beating sun, you're headed towards a t-shirt drenched in sweat. The Gregory Zulu makes use of mesh and a suspension system that facilitates breathability.  You'll probably still sweat, but the air space will quickly evaporate your perspiration.  

The straps of the Gregory Zulu have been padded and utilize the same mesh material found on the rear for ventilation. The height of the shoulder straps can also be adjusted so you can find the ideal position to elevate pressure or otherwise have it fit as snug as possible during windy weather. At the front of your torso, the FreeFloat Dynamic Suspension system wraps around your waist using a hip belt that pivots with your body.  

With the padded straps in combination with the hip belt, it truly feels like the Gregory Zulu 30 is moving with your body instead of it being flung around like a regular backpack. This, in turn, removes that bouncing feeling you might have been accustomed to when carrying around books during your school/college days.

With all that amazing storage, suspension, and engineering out the way, the downside of the Zulu 30 is the weight. The materials are somewhat cumbersome, with the pack almost weighing three pounds. If you're a fit hiking enthusiast, this probably won't be a killer, but we wouldn't recommend this as a ‘lightweight’ daypack either. The Zulu 30 is comfortable but will require some effort when carrying and is best for day hikes or over night at most.

Storage and Ease of Use  

Upon the first inspection of the Gregory Zulu 30, you’ll notice a wide variety of storage pockets and features. Water bottle compartments in particular are often overlooked on a daypack. 

Being able to easily access them without removing your backpack or straining your shoulder is a huge plus. The Zulu 30 comes with two side water bottle compartments that can house two 24-ounces with ease.  

gregory zulu 30 backpack hip belt

In the lower front of the backpack, you will find another pocket made from mesh that can be opened/closed using a clip. The material dries quite fast, so you can store your wet swimsuit inside without fear of dampening the middle contents of your backpack.

At the top of the Zulu 30, you'll find a small zippered pocket perfect for snacks. In terms of zip quality, you shouldn’t experience any stoppages or delays when trying to access your items. The main compartment is deep and has enough room to fit all your essentials for the day. As a 30L backpack, you could possibly store your survival gear such as a map, compass, first aid kit, backpacking knife, and multi-tool. 

You could theoretically keep a change of clothes and a pair of shoes, but then again, it's a daypack, so you shouldn't necessarily need to pack for an overnight trip. Taking a closer look inside the main compartment, you will also find a pouch that supports a water bladder. 

Durability and Value  

We do not doubt the strength of the alloy steel and fiberglass frame, but the somewhat thin fabric can raise questions about how long the Gregory Zulu 30 will last. With so many seams of stitching, there is a great likelihood that things may eventually unravel. The Zulu 30 should therefore not be bought as your 'forever backpack,' but rather a daypack to get you through a year or two of regular use.  

Speaking about value, the Zulu 30 still comes with many features you'll likely find on higher-end backpacks, so it is an excellent choice if you're somewhat limited on money. Sure, you can probably find a backpack for way less to carry your things, but the Zulu 30 has everything you need to make your hiking adventures as comfortable as possible while still providing ample storage and support.  

In our opinion, you get more for what you actually pay for here. If you're a fan of the design and features, then you can't go wrong.  

Pros

  • Mesh design provides great ventilation. 
  • Lots of storage compartments. 
  • Body-hugging design that moves with you. 
  • Comfortable straps and adjustability. 
  • Rain cover and emergency whistle included. 

Cons

  • Not an ultralightweight design. 
  • Seams might unravel eventually.   

Comparing the Gregory Zulu 30 With Similar Backpacks 

Zulu 30 vs Baltoro 65 

Gregory Mountain Products Men's Baltoro 65,...
  • Custom Fit Suspension - Response A3...
  • Included Daypack - Sidekick Daypack Included...
  • Sidewinder Bottle Holster - One-Handed...
  • Item Package Weight: 5.49 Pounds

The Baltoro is one of the best-selling Gregory backpack variations. Unlike its smaller Zulu 30 brother, the Baltoro 65 is designed to support loads of up to 50lbs. It's not marketed as a daypack, but more as an overnight backpack.

It has all the great features of the Zulu 30, like the suspension system, which rotates around your hips, multiple storage compartments, and breathable mesh material.  The bigger 62L size has also made space for a dedicated sleeping bag compartment and 9 external pockets. Just remember that the bigger size does also comes with a somewhat bigger price tag. 

Zulu 30 vs Mountaintop 40L 

MOUNTAINTOP 40L Hiking Backpacks with Rain...
  • ✔️【Water-resistant Backpack】:This 40L...
  • ✔️【40L Backpack】:The dimensions of...
  • ✔️【Comfortable and...
  • ✔️【Consummate Design】:The smooth YKK...

The Mountaintop 40L hiking backpack is for adventurers on a budget. The backpack usually goes for under 50 dollars and prioritizes space and value over quality and comfort. Like most value-for-money backpacks, the Mountaintop backpack range promises all the features you'd find on high-end bags like the Zulu 30. 

A breathable material, a hip belt, quick access compartments, and even a rain cover. However, like all things, you'll soon realize that you pay for what you get. The material is predominantly a 400D polyester fabric that is not breathable under warm conditions. The hip belt is a simple clip that doesn't rotate, the quick access compartments are not stretchable, and the rain cover is not entirely waterproof. 

Zulu 30 vs Teton Sports Explorer 4000

TETON Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame...
  • NOT YOUR BASIC BACKPACK: Continues to be the...
  • VERSATILE QUICK TRIP PACK: Perfect backpack...
  • COMFORT YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE: Multi-position...
  • TRUSTED QUALITY: Hiking backpack with...

If you like the size of the Gregory Baltoro 65 and you’re on a budget, then the Teton Sports backpack range could be one to look out for. The Teton Sports Explorer 4000 goes for around $80 and is designed as a multi-day backpack with a storage capacity of 65L. The backpack shell is 600D Squared Ripstop / 600D polyurethane; although it will not be as ventilated as the Zulu 30's mesh material, it will be strong and durable.

The features are similar with a padded hip belt, pass-through side pockets, adjustable straps, and a water bladder compartment. Unfortunately, the hip belt does not pivot, but the backpack does come with a sleeping bag compartment.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How do you adjust a Gregory Zulu backpack? 

Most Gregory Zulu backpacks are adjusted via their straps and hip belt. You can tighten or loosen these straps in order to distribute weight to either your shoulders or your waist. The hip belt is brought together using a clip, while the straps are adjusted through a pulling/release system.    

Is the Gregory Zulu Backpack waterproof? 

Yes, the Gregory Zulu 30 Backpack includes a rain cover. The backpack itself will still be prone to getting wet, but when using the included cover, it prevents water from getting in.

Can you use Gregory Zulu for work? 

Yes, but we wouldn’t recommend it. There are much more affordable options for work, and the Gregory Zulu backpack is more catered towards hiking. The strap and hip belt system will also probably crease your clothes while commuting. Although it feels comfortable, your work clothes won't find it as inviting. 

Can you use Gregory Zulu for travel? 

Yes, of course! Gregory Zulu backpacks make great options for traveling between countries as hand luggage backpacks. The smaller options like the Gregory Zulu 30 fit between your legs on the plane and are easy to carry through the airport.   

Where can you find this backpack on sale? 

The official Gregory backpacks website sometimes advertises a discount on checkout. OtherwiseAmazon is your best option. If you're willing to wait for a really good deal, there is always Black Friday which would see most retailers marking down the Gregory Zulu 30.   


Conclusion

The Gregory Zulu 30 backpack is an excellent option for those looking for comfort, mobility, and storage on the day hike. 

The breathable mesh makes it a clear winner for those hot summer days, and the custom strap adjustments can be tailored to any height for both men and women.

If you want to get the most out of your day, without the hassle of a cumbersome backpack, then the Zulu 30 might be just what you’re looking for.  

  • September 11, 2021