The Jade continues to receive upgrades and improvements. We have tested several versions of this pack and this review reflects the version available in spring of 2019.
The Gregory Jade 28 pack comes in two sizes: XS/S (16-18 inch torso) and S/M (18-20 inch torso). We tested the S/M which has a slightly larger volume (28 liters compared to 26) and is also a few ounces heavier. This pack is made with a 210D nylon body and 420D nylon bottom and has a host of features, including a rain cover, sunglasses storage system, and hip belt pockets.
Cold days in snowy alpine conditions really let the Gregory Jade shine for its ability to pack a lot of gear and stay comfortable.
The Jade 28 received one of our top scores for comfort. Out of the many packs in our review, it is one of the most comfortable when loaded down thanks to the FreeFloat suspension. The frame helps transfer the weight onto the hips (which is a key feature in any bigger pack) while promoting airflow so that we didn't get too sweaty back there. It has a comfortable, body-hugging fit with enough padding in the right places to wear all day. That being said, we found that it runs a bit small. Our 5'4" tester with an 18" torso had to return the XS/S size (16-18" claim) for the S/MD size instead (18-20" claim), even though both sizes have adjustable torsos. For this reason, we think it's important that you try this pack on for size before committing. This is one drawback to a daypack with a frame, as the fit has to be just right for it to feel comfortable. The CamelBak Sequoia 22 is almost as comfortable as the Jade, and it does not have a hard frame, so keep that in mind if the Jade doesn't fit you well.
A long, padded hip belt help make the Gregory Jade a comfortable pack to carry even when loaded down, as seen here on our size 4 tester. However, we wish there was somewhere we could tuck these loose strap tails...
The Jade is packed with features that make it a fairly versatile bag for anyone who needs to carry more than the average amount of gear on a day hike. The stretchy overflow pocket and handy sunglasses quick stow loop make it easy to shed and don layers as you need. The whistle on the sternum clip and included rain cover are excellent emergency additions that preclude you having to buy them extra and remember to bring them each time you go out. The two hip belt pockets are large enough for an oversized smartphone, which we appreciate. While these features make the Jade a versatile bag, its overall size makes it more of an expedition pack or a pack for the mother of small children or trail dogs. For a smaller bag that's also quite versatile, consider the lighter, 20L Lowe Alpine Aeon. But if you want capacity in your pack, the Jade is a great bet.
The Jade's hip belt can hold a Samsung Galaxy S9+ with room to spare - and a matching pocket on the other side.
This daypack weighs 42 ounces in the size that we tested (41 ounces in the smaller size), making it the heaviest bag in this review. That's not totally surprising, considering that it also boasts one of the largest volumes (28 liters), and a wireframe suspension system. Some smaller bags came close in weight because they used heavier denier nylon, which might make them more durable in the long run. There are often tradeoffs when selecting outdoor gear, and if you're looking for something lightweight, it might be made of thinner and less durable materials. The Jade strikes a good compromise between weight and durability in our minds. The 200D material will last longer than a 100D one (like Osprey Tempest) but isn't as heavy as something that uses 600D packcloth. The Deuter Futura 22 SL weighs almost the same as the Jade even though it is significantly smaller because its material is so thick.
The padding, frame and size of the Jade add up to extra weight, but we found this FreeFloat suspension to offer some of the best load distribution and back ventilation in our review.
Ease of Use
The Jade 28 isn't our favorite pack to access during a hike but is adjustable in several helpful ways. This pack is one of just three we tested that come in more than one size. Not only is the Jade available in two sizes, it also features an adjustable harness that allows you to change the torso length to better suit your specific size. While this feature is nice to customize your own bag, we found the Jade to run small. Our 5'4" tester with an 18" torso had to return the XS/S with a claimed 16-18" fit for the S/MD size with a claimed 18-20" fit. Not only do we think the lack of any size above a so-called "medium" sounds a bit constricting for women in these modern times, we also found that this pack adjusted to taller torso lengths is less comfortable to wear. This is mostly due to the instability of the small amount of velcro connection that is left when we extended the harness to these heights.
That said, the Jade is one of the only models we tested with actually helpful load-lifting straps due to the larger size of the bag. (If the top of the shoulder straps and the top of the bag are the same height then the tensioners are not that effective.) The hip belt also has a lot of room to expand to fit a variety of hip sizes, which we appreciate.
The velcro suspension system on the Jade helps to adjust for different torso sizes, but we found that it runs small, with our 18" torso-ed tester needing the larger option (18-20" claim) with a middle-sized adjustment.
We are impressed with the construction on this pack and gave it a good score for durability. We could find little in the way of durability complaints online and didn't experience any firsthand during our testing. The bottom has a double layer of nylon, which will help with longevity, and that's a good thing because after a couple of month's use it is already looking a little scuffed. The 420D material won't last as long as the 600D found on the Deuter Futura SL 22, but it does help keep things a tad lighter without being too thin to survive the desert.
Some things that are supposed to make a pack more adjustable don't actually end up doing much. We found that the load-lifter straps on most of the daypacks we tested were one such feature, with the exception of the larger capacity Gregory Jade 28.
The Gregory Jade 28 pack is a great option for anyone who takes a lot with them into the backcountry on their day hikes and wants to do it in comfort. It's great for winter snowshoe hikes where you will carry more gear and clothing, or for photographers who want to carry a large DSLR camera and tripod setup along with the rest of their kit (and keep it dry in the rain!). It's a decent option for sport climbers looking for a smaller pack, and we were able to fit a 70 m rope, our harness, shoes, a belay kit and some snacks in the bag. Anyone looking for the largest possible daypack without getting too big should consider this one.
The Gregory Jade comfortably carries the extra weight of water for you and your dog in the desert.
This daypack retails for $150, making it one of the most expensive bags in this review. However, for what you get in comfort and versatility in a large-capacity bag, we think this pack is worth it. But if this seems a little steep for a daypack, consider the $80 REI Co-op Trail 25 instead. It has almost as much internal volume as the Jade but will save you a lot of money, though it doesn't have a full hip belt.
We knew we'd enjoy the Gregory Jade 28 as soon as we tried it on in the store, and it didn't disappoint in the field. It can hold a ton of gear (for a day pack), and it is among the most comfortable options in our test group, particularly when weighted down. It might be a little bit too big for those who do shorter hikes only, but if you're into all day affairs, then the Gregory Jade is the way to go.
Gregory makes the Jade pack in a variety of sizes. The 28 that we tested is the smallest, and then it goes up from there: 33, 38, 53, and 63-liter options are all available.