For something slightly smaller that's even more comfortable, check out our Editor's Choice award winner, the CamelBak Sequoia with a capacity nearly as large as the Jade. Looking for a good commuter bag? Check out the Osprey Tempest 20 with its convenient size and handy helmet-lock clip.
Gregory Jade 28L Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Large capacity, good back ventilation, adjustable torso, included rain cover
Cons: Runs small, heavy, expensive, large for average day hike needs
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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 17" 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 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.
This daypack weighs 42 ounces in the size that we tested (41 ounces in the smaller size), making it one of the heaviest bags 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 but isn't as heavy as something that uses 600D packcloth.
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, but 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 a 17" 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, but 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.
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.
This daypack is 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. If you don't need this kind of weight-carrying capacity on a regular basis, we think you'll be happier with a smaller bag.
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, fully loaded 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.
— Maggie Brandenburg and Cam McKenzie Ring