The Jade 63 is an exciting new development from Gregory, which often offers beefy packs on the heavier side of the scale. The Jade is different. It is relatively lightweight but maintains a large carrying capacity. It simple, but still has enough features to please those who appreciate bells and whistles. The downside to this pack's lightweight feel is its lack of support. When carrying heavy loads, the Jade does not provide us with enough padding and support to walk comfortably for long periods of time. We like most of this pack's features, but its lack of comfort overall caused the Jade to fall short in our side-by-side comparisons.
Gregory Jade 63 Review
Cons: Does not handle well under heavy loads, lacks support
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Jade 63 has been updated since we put it to the test. We link to the updated version in this review, but since we haven't tested it out ourselves, this review only references the previous Jade 63. You can compare the two packs below, with the new Jade shown first, followed up by the black version we tested.
Hands-On Review of the Jade 63
Overall, the Gregory Jade landed in the middle of the pack in our performance comparisons. It lacks comfort under heavier loads, but we appreciate its features and design. This pack fell short.
Total Volume = 64 L
Main Bag = 49 L
Pockets = 6 L
Lid = 9 L
Unfortunately, this review does not start on a high note due to the Jade's performance in our comfort metric. Under heavy loads, this pack does not provide the same level of comfort that some of its competitors do. (See the Deuter AirContact Lite or the Osprey Aura AG for good examples). That said, when carrying a fairly light load (about 20 pounds), the pack does fairly well. The shoulder straps are padded, and the hip belt provides support and stability. Unfortunately, once the Jade is loaded with our full 45-pound kit for a 5-day backcountry climbing trip, its shortcomings become clear.
The pack lacks support in the lower back, so most of the weight lands on our shoulders — not ideal! Both our lower back and shoulders feel it after only a few minutes with a heavy load. Comparatively, the Gregory Deva 60 has much more padding in the back, shoulders, and waist, making it more comfortable for heavy loads. The Deuter AirContact Lite also scored well in this metric, especially for heavy loads.
As you may have guessed from the Jade's scores in comfort, the pack falls short in the suspension metric as well. In comparison to the Gregory Deva, the Jade does not provide the level of support needed to carry a heavy load comfortably.
The LifeSpan foam back panel and the LumbarTune insert on the Deva combine to provide a hefty suspension system. In contrast, the Jade has a suspended mesh back panel. This saves weight and is great for breathability and lighter loads, but this particular panel doesn't provide as much support under stress. The lightweight mesh back panel ventilates, but is not supportive. Most of the weight fell on our shoulders with this model. The waist belt has some rigidity but does not integrate well into the rest of the suspension system.
The Osprey Aura AG 65 is a much better option for a pack with a mesh back panel, offering more structural support.
The scale reads just over 4 pounds for the Gregory Jade. This surprised us since the pack has a relatively lightweight feel. Without the rainfly and removable hydration sleeve, the pack's weight goes down to 3.6 pounds. That's a significant difference. We found that removing the fly for trips when the weather looks good is a good way to reduce the pack's overall weight.
The Deuter AirContact Lite and the Deva 60, are comparatively heavy packs, weighing 4.1 and 4.2 pounds, respectively.
Ease of Use
What we did like about the Gregory Jade is its feature set and simplicity. This pack feels lightweight and is easy to use with large carrying capacity. The pack is wider than most, making it easy to pack. It also means that the load sits wider on your hips and back instead of extending high overhead when fully packed. Some packs, like the Osprey Aura and the Deuter AirContact Lite tend to be taller and narrower when fully loaded. They end up feeling more top heavy than the Jade.
The Jade's suspension system is simple and easy to adjust, as are the waistband and shoulder straps. This is a plus, especially when you're getting acquainted with a new pack or changing between heavy and light loads.
Regarding features, the Jade is spot on. This pack is simple, but still has all the bells and whistles you need to stay organized on the trail. Some of our favorite features include the large stretchy mesh pocket on the outside, which is large enough to carry jackets or water. We also appreciated the mesh side pockets, which maintain a low profile when empty, but are roomy enough to fit water, layers, or snacks.
We prefer the pockets on the Jade to those on the Deva because they are more streamlined. Packs with similar features and lightweight design are the Gregory Octal 55 and the Osprey Eja 58. We are excited that companies like Gregory and Osprey are trending toward lighter weight packs with women's specific features! Finally!
It's a little tricky to pinpoint the Jade's best use since it has a large carrying capacity but is uncomfortable when loaded down. If you're looking for a low-profile pack that is lightweight and fairly simple, and you have a lightweight kit or are planning to use it for shorter trips, then the Jade is a good choice. This pack works even when you have a decent amount of gear, but the overall weight isn't crippling. Similarly, the Osprey Eja is a great choice for an even lighter pack with a slightly smaller capacity.
With a price tag of $230, the Jade lands in the middle of the road regarding price. It is less expensive than the Deva and is comparable to the Deuter AirContact Lite or the Osprey Eja. The AirContact is a slightly better deal, in our opinion, since it is more versatile and comfortable.
Overall, the Gregory Jade 63 landed in the middle of the pack in our side-by-side comparisons. The positive aspects of this pack are its simple features, useful pockets, lightweight design, and low profile. On the negative side, the Jade does not carry heavy loads well and has a suspension system that lacks support. While we can't give this pack a raving review across the board, we appreciate the aspects that do suit our needs.
— Jane Jackson