By Jon @ Outdoorsmagic.com
25-litre daypack with JetStream DTS suspension, Autofit harness system, hydration sleeve and port, expandable front bucket pocket, side and bottom compression straps, quick access waist belt pockets, side mesh pockets with compression pass-through, dual axe / tool attachment points. Internal stash pocket, front zip panel opening, small gubbins pocket. Also available as women's specific Jade 25
What's It For?
The new for summer 2008, Z25 is, says Gregory, intended to be the ideal size for 'multisport' activities and 'to be the pack you grab 90 percent of the time on the way out the door'. In other words, an all-round day pack that you can use year round for walking, scrambling, maybe even a bit of mountain biking with the trampolene-style Jet Stream suspension intended to keep things cool when it's hot outside.
The Techy Bits
One of the things we like about Gregory is attention to detail - there are loads of neat little touches on the Z25 that you appreciate in use, but the fundamentals of the sac are down to the back system and suspension.
Like the Z30 that impressed us when we tested it, the Z25 uses Gregry's Autofit harness system, basically a neat and simple top shoulder strap mounting system that rotates to conform to your neck and shoulder contours., so the harness mirrors the slope of your shoulders and the width of your neck eliminating rubbing and hot spots. The nice thing about it, is that you don't have to adjust anything, it's all to do with how the straps attach to the pack. The other key to the Z25 is Gregory's Jetstream DTS suspension which uses two rods to transfer loads into the hip-belt, a trampolene-style mesh sheet to vent your back and the DTS harness yoke which, Gregory says, increases the stiffness of the frame as the pack load increases to give maximum comfort.
How It Performs
We've been using the Z25 for several months now and its quietly wormed its way into our affections. For starters, with modern, lightweight kit and clothing, 25 litres is quite adequate for most days out, but should you need it, the big back stash pocket gives extra capacity plus handles soaked waterproofs nicely. Underload it though and side compression straps keep everything neat and tucked in and - a nice touch - as with big brother Z30, the lower strap can be positioned under the side stash pocket so it remains useable. Plus fast release buckles allow easy stowage under the straps if needed. We also liked the two mesh belt pockets, which are ideal for carrying snacks and small, often used items like, say, a compact GPS unit. One thing traditional pack users may miss is a lid pocket, though Gregory provides a small, zipped hanging pocket that'll take a wallet and phone instead. The pay-off though, is easy access to the innards via a big zipped front panel opening making packing and decanting of pack contents pleasingly straightforward. All of which would count for nothing if the Z25 didn't carry well, but the good news is that it does, very well indeed. It's mostly an unobstrusive experience, which is how we like it and was quite happy with loads of up to around 12 kg. The shoulder straps are well shaped and sit neatly while the back system does a good job of transferring weight down into the wide hip belt and spreading it across the back generally. It also sits low enough to use on a mountain bike without fouling the rear of your helmet on descents and seems generally well made and put together.
Another well thought through and very effective day pack from Gregory. The back system carries well and gives some ventilation without sitting far enough away from your back to lever the pack outwards and the detailing works well - you can reach stash pockets, stow poles easily etc