Updated Jade 28
Compare the updated Jade 28 in the first photo to the Jade we tested, right.
Though we link to the updated pack, the following review tells of our adventures with the previous Jade.
Hands-On Review of the Jade 28
The Gregory Jade 28 pack comes in two sizes: small (16-18 inch torso) and medium (18-20 inch torso). We tested the medium which has a slightly larger volume (30 liters) and is also a little heavier (2 lbs. 7 oz. for the small and 2 lbs. 11 oz. for the medium). This pack is made with 210-denier nylon and has a host of features, including dual trekking pole and ice axe loops, a rain cover, and hip belt pockets.
Our Top Pick for Long Hikes can hold a lot of gear and is comfortable to wear even after miles on the trail.
The Jade 28 received our highest rating for comfort. Out of the many packs in our review, it is the most comfortable when loaded down thanks to the 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.
While we think this pack is comfortable, you should take the time to try it on properly (with weight) and assess how and where the frame sits on you. If you feel the frame at the bottom digging into you in any way, then this is not the pack for you. 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.
The frame keeps the pack off of your back, promoting airflow, while the lumbar area is amply padded where you need it.
is packed with features, though a few are executed more successfully than others. For example, there are side compression straps, which we appreciate, but if you cinch the bottom ones tight, it's hard to access your water bottles.
There's a rain cover that stashes behind the outer mesh pocket, along with trekking pole and ice axe holders. The two hip belt pockets are massive, but only one is made of nylon while the other is mesh. Just keep that in mind before stashing your phone or key fob in them, and choose the one on the right side!
The one feature we're not too much a fan of is the U-shaped zipper for the main compartment. It extends the same length down both sides of the pack, but only halfway, so it can be a bit challenging to access things that are in the bottom. Other models, like the Patagonia Nine Trails and The North Face Aleia, have zippers that extend further on one side and help you get to the bottom more easily. Also, if you pack the bag too full it's hard to close the zippers all the way, which would be unfortunate if the weather turned on you suddenly.
We had a hard time zipping the pack all of the way closed whenever we packed a lot of gear into it. This is a downside to the U-shaped zipper.
This daypack weighs 43 ounces in the size that we tested (39 ounces in the smaller size), making it the heaviest bag in this review.
It's not surprising that it's the heaviest, considering that it has the most significant volume (30 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 The North Face Aleia) 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 Jade 28 is adjustable in several ways, and it earned a high score for this category.
It's available in two sizes, which not many daypacks are. This helps you dial in the fit from the start, and the medium felt great on our 5'6 tester. The hip belt has a lot of room to expand to fit a variety of hip sizes, and there are stabilizer straps on the sides to pull the weight in if needed.
The hip belt wraps around the front of our hip bones nicely and has plenty of room to expand for those with wider hips.
This pack also has load-lifting straps on the shoulder straps, which were more functional that some other model's purely 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 back length is not adjustable though, so if you plan to share your pack with another hiker, consider something with an adjustable back length instead, like the Osprey Sirrus 24, or the Lowe Alpine Aeon ND 20.
The load-lifting straps helped a little bit, but this pack is still on the small side for them to be as effective as the ones on a larger 50 or 60L bag.
We were 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 fabric, 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 200D material won't last as long as the 600D found on the Deuter Futura SL 22, but it does help keep things lighter without being too thin.
We spent a lot of time hiking around a sharp desert climate in this pack. The Jade held up well during our testing period, but there is a lot of mesh on the outside of this bag, which is prone to snagging and tearing.
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. 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.
We used this pack for a day out rock climbing, and it was big enough to hold all of our gear without any issues.
This daypack retails for $150, making it one of the most expensive bags in this review. The Patagonia Nine Trails 26 costs a little more, and the CamelBak Sequoia 22 rings up for the same price — but the Sequoia comes with a water reservoir ($20-30 value). 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 love 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 the most comfortable option 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 our Top Pick for Long Hikes 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.