The first thing I noticed about the Zion was that it did not look or feel like a backpack, but rather more like a small piece of luggage. The padded construction of the Zion makes it relatively rigid and prevents it from collapsing when empty like a normal backpack would. It also stands up on its own, even when loaded. The Zion is constructed of heavy duty nylon fabric with padding inside.
There are two large external pockets, each about half of the height of the Zion and an inch or two deep. The front also has a small tripod pocket and bungee straps to secure the tripod. This pocket and the straps also worked well for holding my compact umbrella on a trip where I did not need the tripod but wanted an umbrella. The lower front can also open for direct access to the bottom half of the pack.
All of the external zippers have double pulls, are heavy duty, and are covered with a small ‘weather strip’ to keep dirt and rain out. On top there is a stout carry handle and the backside has padded shoulder straps with a chest strap. The back also has contoured padding designed to allow air to circulate while wearing the Zion as well as allow for the use of the optional waist belt.
The laptop compartment is located in the back of the bag (where it would be against your back when wearing the Zion) and has its own zippers. Each side of the Zion has a pair of D-ring clips for attaching bags from the M-ROCK modular attachment system or other items as you desire, and a small external pocket.