Last Updated: April 4, 2022
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Gregory Zulu 40 Review

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Gregory Zulu 40

Can’t decide between a day pack and a backpack? The Gregory Zulu 40 offers the best of both worlds. With enough room for all the gear you could want on a day trip, yet without the bulk and weight of a larger backpack, it’s the perfect bag for one-day missions as well as tentless overnight adventures. Not only is it super comfortable and will keep you cool, but it also has heaps of special touches usually reserved exclusively for backpacks. View Latest Deal

Gregory Mountain Products (or just Gregory, as it’s often called), is a US company based in Salt Lake City. With offices situated at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains, it’s not surprising that the team is built up of outdoor enthusiasts ready to test all of their products first hand. The result is a range of purpose-built packs that, as the company slogan states, ‘should be worn not carried’.

With a variety of day packs and backpacking packs on the market, choosing the right kind of bag can be a tricky task. Although Gregory’s Zulu range contains bags at both ends of the spectrum, the Gregory Zulu 40 is a very happy medium – use it for day trips where you need that bit of extra space or take it with you for overnight trips in summer.

It offers exceptional comfort on the trail and is constructed from durable high-end materials – plus it has heaps of extra features that we love. It’s designed specifically for men, but don’t worry ladies, there’s a female equivalent available (the Jade 38).

Here, we delve into what makes the Zulu 40 so special, weigh up some key performance factors, and give our final overall verdict on the bag so that you can decide if this is the one for you.

Pros

  • Unique suspension system
  • Integrated rain cover
  • Great ventilation
  • Abundance of pockets
  • Tonnes of extra features
  • Can be used as a day pack or overnight pack
  • Lifetime replacement service included

Cons

  • Lacks sleeping bag straps
  • No side zippered pockets
  • Expensive

Product Rating

90Overall Rating
Materials and Durability
8/10
Carrying Comfort
9/10
Accessibility and Organization
9/10
Extra Features
10/10
Value for Money
9/10

Product Information

  • Dimensions: 23.5 x 13.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Capacity: 40L
  • Maximum carry weight: 35 lbs
  • External materials: 100% nylon
  • Frame materials: 4mm Alloy Steel & Fiberglass anti-barreling stay & HDPE
  • Body fabric: 210D Honeycomb Cryptorip HD Nylon / 210D High Tenacity Nylon
  • Pack bottom: 420D High Density Nylon / 135D High Density Polyester
  • Lining: 135D High Density Embossed Polyester
  • Suspension: Dual-density LifeSpan EVA Foam
  • Weight: 2.86 lbs
  • Compartments: main compartment with U-zip access,
  • Pockets: 1 interior slip, 1 interior zip, 8 exterior
  • Attachment Points: adjustable loop and upper shock lock
  • Straps: compression straps, sternum strap
  • Hydration Compatible: yes

Materials and Durability

Gregory Zulu 40 Backpack

Life in the outdoors isn’t always smooth sailing, you’ll most likely get lost a few times, fall down some verges, scrape yourself on some rocks… and it’s not only yourself you have to look out for, but it’s your gear too. Even the most cautious of explorers will run into some hiccups, so you need to be sure that your bag can handle some wear and tear. But will the Gregory Zulu 40 be able to handle it?

Materials

The exterior of this bag is constructed entirely from nylon, one of the most popular materials for outdoor backpacks thanks to its super durable nature.

We rate the ‘firmness’ of nylon fibers using the term ‘denier’ (D) – the greater the denier the greater the durability. 420-600D is the range seen most frequently in outdoor backpacks, so the 210D nylon used for the main bag is a little on the low side. Having said that, many backpacks are constructed from polyester, and 210D nylon is stronger than 210D polyester.

Plus, the specific types of nylon used for this bag are carefully designed to maximize strength and minimize weight. On top of that, the bottom of the pack is reinforced with 420D nylon, so you won’t have to worry about it becoming threadbare.

Overall, we think this makes for a pretty sturdy main body. And the frame won’t let you down either, as it’s made of corrosion-resistant alloy steel, super-strong fiberglass, and a very strong plastic called HDPE.

Water-Resistance

Not only is it incredibly tough, but nylon is also water-resistant. It won’t keep you dry if you get caught out in a monsoon, but it’s certainly enough to keep your gear dry while you head for cover or fumble around setting up your rain cover. And you can say goodbye to getting soaked while you rummage around for your rain cover (how do they always seem to end up at the bottom of your pack?!) thanks to the Zulu 40’s integrated rain cover – yay.

Carrying Comfort

Gregory Zulu 40 Backpack

Despite its compact size, the Zulu 40 has an impressive maximum carry weight of 35 lbs. If you’re going to be lugging that kind of load around regularly, you want to make sure you’ll be comfortable while you’re doing it – after all, it’s no fun waking up on Monday morning feeling like the Hunchback of Notre Dame after a weekend in the wild. Let’s see what the Zulu 40 has to offer in terms of comfort.

Back Panel

The alloy frame of the Zulu 4o forms a cross shape that is covered by mesh material. This reduces the amount of contact your back has with the main body of the bag while the holes in the mesh allow continuous airflow – say goodbye to sweaty backs!

Suspension

One of the main selling points of the Zulu 40 is its excellent suspension system. It was cleverly designed to minimize how much your pack slides around on your bag when you make energetic movements. This is achieved through ‘dynamic flex panels’ that act as a bridge between the back panel and the hip belt.

Surrounding your lower back and hips, these stretchy panels accommodate your movements, reducing the overall shift of the bag. Furthermore, the lower parts of the cross-shaped frame end in the far corners of the back panel rather than the center, spreading the load evenly and protecting your lower back.

Adjustability

Although adjustable harnesses is becoming increasingly popular among high-end backpacks, the Zulu 40 lacks this feature. However, it is available in two sizes and also comes in male and female models.  Although it would be a nice touch, it probably isn’t essential for this pack given its smaller size and choice of sizes.

Although not adjustable, the Zulu 40 has a clever suspension system to keep your load in place while you’re on the trail. Plus, the shoulders, back panel, and hip belt are all padded yet breathable, and the ‘hugging’ sensation provides by the flex panels only adds to the joy of wearing this very comfortable bag. Overall, this really is a bag that can be ‘worn not carried’.

Organization and Accessibility

Gregory Zulu 40 Backpack

We all hate that feeling of rummaging around in your bag for ages, trying to find that one item, while everyone else waits around… and that’s why all good bags come with plenty of ways to keep your gear in order. But what does the Zulu 40 have to offer?

Main Compartment

Not only is the main compartment nice and spacious with its 40L capacity, but it can be accessed via a large U-shaped zipper that will make those items at the bottom of your bag super easy to find even when you’re in a hurry. There’s also a nifty sleeve for a water reservoir located in the main compartment so that you can keep hydrated while you’re on the move.

Pockets

It might not be as large as a backpack, but the Zulu 40 still has as many pockets as most 60l+ bags – a feature that we absolutely love. As well as the main compartment and interior zip and slip pockets, there are also tonnes of external pockets.

The front stretch mesh pocket is perfect for storing extra layers, and it has an inner pocket where the rain cover is stored, and we love the dual hip belt pockets that let you keep your essentials close.

There are also two mesh pockets for water bottles and a couple of zippered pockets on the lid – phew! The only thing missing is some zippered side pockets… but I suppose you can’t have everything.

Extra Features

Gregory Zulu 40 Backpack

Aside from an integrated rain cover and tonnes of pockets, is there anything else that makes the Zulu 40 special? Of course!

Pass-Through Spaces

There are two of these super handy spaces that allow you to ‘pass’ objects through them. They’re great for long think objects like tent poles as they can be held firmly in place with the compression straps.

Attachment Loops

There are also attachment loops on the bottom of the bag paired with cords higher up that are perfect for strapping ice axes or trekking poles.

Sternum Strap

The Zulu’s sternum strap not only has a hydration clip to hold your water tube in place on the shoulder strap, but it has an in-built safety whistle too – neat huh?

Sunglasses Holder

Finally, there’s also a spot on the shoulder strap where you can safely store your sunglasses while keeping them close for times of need.

Wow, that’s a lot of extra features… the only thing we’d add would be some sleeping bag straps at the base of the bag, especially as there’s no sleeping bag compartment. However, this bag really does have an impressive range of extra features, particularly for its size.

Value For Money

So, the Gregory Zulu 40 has done pretty well in all departments so far… but is that reflected in the price?

Well, it certainly isn’t a cheap bag, especially if you’ll be using it mainly as a day pack. However, it offers considerably more than your average day pack in terms of design and features, so we’d expect it to cost a little more. Plus, you can use it on longer trips too, as long as you don’t need to carry a tent, and you do get a rain cover included.

This bag is also backed by a lifetime replacement service, so you won’t need to worry about buying another one in the future. So, with all things considered, we think that this bag is definitely worth the investment (even if we wish it cost a little less)!

Rating

Despite losing a few points based on materials and cost, with an overall rating of 90, the Zulu 40 has scored very well.

Verdict

So, what do we think of the Zulu 40 overall?

Gregory Zulu 40 Backpack
  • VENTILATED SUSPENSION: Updated CrossFlo Suspension. Dual-density hipbelt and shoulder harness foam for improved heavy load stability.
  • LOAD BEARING COMFORT & FRONT ZIP ACCESS: Enhanced lumbar foam layering for increased load-bearing comfort. Front U-zip main compartment access panel.

It’s an excellent option for anyone that wants a bag they can fill full of gear for day trips and also use for extended tentless outings. This hybrid bag really does fill a gap in the market and is full of high-end features yet lacks the bulk and weight of a backpack.

It is a little expensive but, with this bag, we think it really is a case of you get what you pay for!