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Gregory Jade 53 Women’s Backpack Review

Comfort

Weight

Suspension

Features

Adjustability

Sizing

Durability

Fully Featured Lightweight Women’s Pack

The Gregory Jade 53 Backpack has a low-profile ventilated suspension, female shoulder harness, hip belt, and lumbar platform that provide increased comfort in all terrain. A wide variety of pockets make the Jade easy to pack for many different kinds of trips from overnights and thru-hikes to international travel.

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The Gregory Jade 53 is a women’s ventilated backpack that features female friendly shoulder straps and a hip belt. Weighing 3 lbs 9 oz (3 lbs 1 oz minus optional extras) it’s one of the lightest weight but fully featured women’s packs available today and well worth a look if you’re shopping for a multi-day gender-specific pack. If you prefer a lightweight backpack with a lot of pockets and great organization, this is the pack for you.

Specs at a Glance

  • Volume: 53L
  • Weight:
    • Total: 3 lbs 9 oz.
    • Rain cover (optional): 3.7
    • Side kick pack (optional): 4.5 oz
  • Gender: Women’s
  • Type: Internal frame
  • Ventilation: Yes
  • Exterior pockets: 7+ main
  • Torso sizing:  XS: 14 – 16 inches; S: 16 – 18 inches; M: 18 – 20 inches
  • Waist Sizing:  XS: 26 – 45 inches S: 27 – 45 inches; M: 28 – 48 inches
  • Bear canister compatible: Vertical
  • Max recommended load: 35 lbs.

Backpack Storage and Organization

The Jade 53 is a top loading backpack with a floating lid, including two internal pockets, that can be completely removed or raised if you need to overfill the main compartment. An additional U-shaped front zipper provides panel-style access to the main compartment so you don’t have to grope blindly for items stored deep in your pack, making this a good pack for backpacking or travel.

The Jade 53 is a top loader is additional zippers that provide direct access to the main compartment
The Jade 53 is a top loader is additional zippers that provide direct access to the main compartment

The main compartment is huge and you can see all the way to the bottom. It’s big enough that I can easily pack my tent inside, with all my backpacking gear. The Jade 53 also has a separate sleeping bag zipper at the base of the pack along with a removable internal shelf, if you want to segregate your bag from the rest of your things.

The internal hydration pocket is removable and doubles as a day or summit pack
The internal hydration pocket is removable and doubles as a day or summit pack.

The internal hydration pocket doubles as a day pack with shoulder straps, making it perfect for travel or summit attempts when you don’t want to lug your entire pack with you everywhere you go. While I can see why some people would like having this extra pack, it seemed like extra weight to me.

The front stuff pocket is large enough to accommodate camp shoes or wet layers
The front stuff pocket is large enough to accommodate camp shoes or wet layers

If you have wet gear, camp shoes, or layers you want to stuff away, there’s an open stretch pocket on the front of the pack made with a durable but soft mesh material. Behind that is another hidden pocket, good for travel, that holds a rain cover. You don’t need to carry it if you hike in dry weather, but I can see how it would be useful for someone just getting started as a backpacker, since it’s one less thing you need to buy.

Stretch side water bottle pockets on the sides of the pack are also available to accommodate any size water bottle. The mesh isn’t super well protected at the base of the pockets, so you need to be careful not to rip them up when you place the pack on the ground.

Large hip belt pockets are big enough to store a smartphone or camera.
Large hip belt pockets are big enough to store a smartphone or camera.

One of the best features on the Jade is the size of the hip belt pockets, which are large enough to fit a camera and most smartphones. Both pockets close with zippers. One pocket is hard faced, while the other has a mesh front, best used to hold bars and other snacks.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Jade is a ventilated backpack with a suspended mesh panel that helps promote airflow behind your back to keep your shirt dry, so you feel less gross in the evening. But not all ventilated packs are alike. Some packs (most notably Osprey ventilated packs) suspend their mesh over huge curved cavities that jut into the main compartment and pull you backwards and off-balance when packed. No so with Gregory’s ventilated packs, which have a more modest curve and carry like normal backpacks. It’s a very noticeable difference that makes the Jade easier to pack and carry, especially if you need to carry a bear canister.

The Jade 53 has a suspended mesh back that ventilates your back and helps keep your shirt dry.
The Jade 53 has a suspended mesh back that ventilates your back and helps keep your shirt dry.

The Jade’s mesh is suspended over a lightweight wire frame that slots into the hip belt behind a well padded lumbar pad on the back of the hip belt. The frame has some spring to it so the pack moves with you as you hike, while the lumbar pad rests on your sacral arch and prevents the pack from slipping down your hips when it is heavily loaded. It’s a really nice feature that is often left off of lighter weight packs, but really improves pack performance and comfort. The lumbar pad was noticeable when I put on the pack for the first time, but I soon got used to it.

The Jade’s shoulder straps and hip belt are padded with soft die-cut foam. The sternum strap moves up and down on a rail so it’s easy to adjust its height while load lifters and hip belt control straps let you pull the pack closer to your torso for better control. I did experience some rubbing near the armpits that I couldn’t get rid of with minor adjustments, but you’ll need to try the Jade to see if it affects you in the same way.

External Attachment and Compression System

Sleeping pad straps let you attach extra gear to the bottom of the pack. The straps are removable if not needed.
Sleeping pad straps let you attach extra gear to the bottom of the pack. The straps are removable if not needed.

The Jade has two tiers of side compressions straps, which is pretty normal for a pack this size. There are also two sleeping pad straps at the bottom of the pack, which you can remove if they’re not needed, which I liked. There are two ice axe loops with elastic shaft holders on both sides of the front stuff pocket, that can serve double duty as trekking pole holders, along with numerous gear loops if you want to tie extra gear to the outside of the pack.

Comparable Women’s Backpacks

Two tiers of compression straps make it possible to last gear to the side of the pack, including snowshoes
Two tiers of compression straps make it possible to last gear to the side of the pack, including snowshoes.

Recommendation

The Gregory Jade 53 is a lightweight, multi-day women’s backpack with lots of organization options making it easy to use for many different kinds of trips. A lightweight wire frame and ventilated mesh back make it a comfortable pack to carry, with a female-specific suspension system cut to accommodate womens’ curves. Numerous pockets and access methods make it easy to pack the Jade and locate gear store in it, while tool holders and external straps make it easy to transport awkwardly sized objects. Weighing just 3 lbs 9 oz, the Jade 53 is one of the lightest, fully featured women’s backpacks available. It is also available in a several narrow torso ranges, so you can dial in a good fit.

Beth Zimmer is an expert backpacker who’s backpacked all over New England and Eastern Canada, with a long list of hiking accomplishments to her name. She’s section hiked the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail, climbed the New England Hundred Highest and the New Hampshire 200 highest (mostly bushwhacks), redlined the White Mountain Guide (1440 miles), and climbed the White Mountain 4000 footers several times over. Beth also teaches GPS and off-trail navigation classes as a volunteer for the Appalachian Mountain Club and is co-chair of the New Hampshire Excursions Committee, which oversees all volunteer hiking and leadership training activities. When she’s not hiking and backpacking, Beth resides in New Hampshire where she can usually be found sipping coffee and planning her next adventure.

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Last updated: 2018-07-02 11:10:24

Gregory provided a backpack for this review.

Published 2018.

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