Review: Gregory Zulu 24 LT and Jade 24 LT Daypacks

Daypack
Gregory Zulu 24 LT and Jade 24 LT
$150, 24L/1,465 c.i., 2 lbs. 5 oz./1.05kg (men’s Zulu 24 LT)
One size each for men and women, non-adjustable
Zulu 24 LT: backcountry.com
Jade 24 LT: backcountry.com

This first thing I noticed about carrying Gregory’s Zulu 24 LT on spring dayhikes of up to about 10 miles in southern Utah parks, with plenty of uphill and downhill and a bit of scrambling thrown in, was its exceptional comfort even when testing its maximum weight capacity: This daypack does not wilt under loads that push some daypacks beyond their “I’m still liking this pack” limit. But the more I used it—and actually interacted with the pack, pulling stuff out, stuffing stuff back in, using its various pockets—the more I liked how its design constantly rose to my demands.

Which leads me to a larger observation: Once in a while, a piece of gear comes along that just seems ideally designed for one broad purpose, and that’s the case with the men’s Zulu LT and women’s Jade LT daypacks: They are perfectly suited for dayhiking. That may sound a little silly at face value, but with the ever-increasing specialization in outdoor gear and hyper-focus on marketing low weight, a broader perspective on purpose sometimes gets lost.

From where I stand, it looks like Gregory stayed focused on purpose with the Zulu LT and Jade LT packs and that’s good news for dayhikers.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-books to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.


Most obviously, the Zulu 24 LT felt extraordinarily comfortable carrying up to 20 pounds inside while dayhiking the 9.4-mile Navajo Knobs Trail in Capitol Reef National Park, with about 2,400 feet of uphill and downhill, and the 8.6-mile Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park, with about 1,900 feet of uphill and downhill, in early May.

That comfort begins with the alloy steel wire perimeter internal frame with a stabilizing crossbar, which flexes enough to help the pack not feel heavy on your back while providing enough rigidity and support to keep most of the pack’s weight on your hips, not pulling against your shoulders.

Another distinguishing feature that you won’t find in daypacks that are even just a few ounces lighter is the seamless wrap of the hipbelt, which integrates with the back panel to enclose your hips so evenly that it feels like it was custom-built for your torso. I never felt any pressure points or sore spots from the hipbelt or the mesh shoulders straps. This harness helps distribute the pack’s weight evenly without feeling over-engineered or too bulky on my body or inhibiting movement.

And that Vaporspan ventilated back panel’s very open mesh and wide space between the tensioned panel and the pack bag creates excellent air flow that keeps your back cool on hot days while keeping the pack’s weight close enough to your spine to avoid the pack pulling against your shoulders, even when packed to the gills.

Find your next adventure in your Inbox. Sign up now for my FREE email newsletter.

The Gregory Zulu 24 LT hipbelt.
The Gregory Zulu 24 LT hipbelt.

Gregory rates the Zulu 24 LT and Jade 24 LT packs for carrying up to 20 pounds/9.1 kilos (and 25 pounds/11.3 kilos in the 28 LT models). I’m confident some stronger hikers would find the 24 LT fine with well over 20 pounds, while some smaller hikers might prefer keeping the weight to around 15 pounds/6.8 kilos.

That comfort helps greatly to compensate for the fact that the Zulu LT and Jade LT packs—available in volumes of 20, 24, and 28 liters—come in just one non-adjustable size each for men and women. Gregory says the men’s packs will fit torsos ranging from 16 to 21 inches/40.6 to 53.3 centimeters and the women’s packs will fit torsos of 14 to 19 inches/35.6 to 48.3 centimeters. (Torso sizing is the same for the Zulu 28 LT and Jade 28 LT Plus Sizes.) My 18-inch/45.7cm torso falls right in the middle of the Zulu’s fit range, so not surprisingly, it feels great on me. I often find that people at the extremes of a pack’s fit range will not find the fit as ideal; I suggest choosing the pack with the better torso sizing for you rather than based on the gender model.

I can help you plan the best backpacking, hiking, or family adventure of your life.
Click here now to learn more.

The Gregory Zulu 24 LT side pocket.
The Gregory Zulu 24 LT side pocket.

With a capacity of 24 liters/1,465 cubic inches, the Zulu 24 LT and Jade 24 LT have space for very long dayhikes, including adventures that require extra water, food, clothing layers, and gear—although these are definitely hiking packs, not to be mistaken for technical or climbing packs.

And for hikers who like to remain conscious of gear weight—and I do—for a pack with this much volume and weight-carrying capacity and features, its empty weight of two pounds five ounces/1.05 kilos is impressively light. Compare it against the best daypacks out there today and you may not find another that does this much and weighs less.

Access to the Zulu and Jade 24 LT packs is exactly what it should be in a daypack: easy, fast, convenient, and sufficiently abundant without superfluous excess. Rather than the multi-step process of opening and closing created by a traditional lid, a U-shaped zipper opens the main compartment up more widely than any lid—smart for a daypack.

Most useful of the six external pockets is a large, zippered, vertically aligned front pocket with space for a jacket or two and other lighter, bulkier items. Another, higher, smaller zippered front pocket replaces a traditional lid pocket, holding keys, sunglasses, sunblock, and such. Two stretch-mesh side pockets hold a liter bottle each and—worth noting—you can easily reach into them while wearing the pack. The two zippered hipbelt pockets will each hold four or five energy bars or a standard smartphone with room to spare.

The Gregory Zulu 24 LT daypack
The Gregory Zulu 24 LT daypack in Capitol Reef National Park.

Other nice details:

• You can run the bladder hose through a tiny loop or through a fabric tunnel, both positioned high on either shoulder strap, to control how the hose drops over your shoulder and how much it flops around; there’s also a clip at the sternum strap for the hose.
• You can easily grab the large, custom-molded pulls on all zippers with gloves on.
• The easy-to-adjust trekking poles attachment.
• The sternum strap’s one-hand buckle and easily adjustable fit.
• The internal hydration sleeve features Gregory’s SpeedClip hydration hanger that’s compatible with Gregory’s 3D Hydro and 3D Hydro Trek reservoirs.

Characteristic of Gregory packs, the Zulu LT and Jade LT are bomber, more durable than many packs (especially lighter ones) thanks to the 40 percent recycled, 400-denier polyester ripstop fabric in the body and 420-denier nylon in the bottom, all made without PFAS. As with many daypacks, the most vulnerable areas are the stretch-mesh side pockets, zippers, and seams; but Gregory has reinforced stress points and generally designed the pack to disperse weight evenly—good for the carrier and the pack’s lifespan.

The Big Outside helps you find the best adventures.
Join now for full access to ALL stories and get a free e-book!

Gregory Zulu 24 LT and Jade 24 LT

Fit
Comfort/Support
Access
Weight
Features
Durability

The Verdict

If you’re a dayhiker who needs a pack with extra space and weight capacity and doesn’t need the absolute lightest pack out there, the Gregory men’s Zulu 24 LT and women’s Jade 24 LT deliver superior comfort with loads up to 20 pounds (or more) and a smart design that answers the needs of dayhikers. And, by the way, they don’t even weigh very much at all.

4.3

BUY IT NOW

You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase a Gregory men’s Zulu 24 LT at backcountry.com, gregory.com, or rei.com, or a women’s Jade 24 LT at backcountry.com, gregory.com, or rei.com, or other versions of the Zulu LT at backcountry.com, gregory.com, or rei.com or the Jade LT at backcountry.com, gregory.com, or rei.com.

See “The 10 Best Hiking Daypacks,” “5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack” (which includes daypacks), and all reviews of hiking gear at The Big Outside.

You may also be interested in my “8 Pro Tips for Preventing Blisters When Hiking,” my picks for “The Best Trekking Poles,” and my story “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be,” which you can read in its entirety with a paid subscription to The Big Outside or click here to purchase separately.

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See the Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all reviews and expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza

Previous

The 10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

25 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories of 2024

Next

Leave a Comment