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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Gregory Jade 50 or Z55 Pack 2007 > Test Report by Stephanie Martin
Test Report: Gregory Jade 50
- Product Performance in the Field - Field Report
- Product Performance in the Field - Long Term Report
INITIAL REPORT June 3, 2007
Joyous day, it's here! The Jade 50 has arrived!
Words on the Web
Product Features and Construction:
The Jade is a roomy top and side loading pack made primarily of 210-denier HT "Double Box" ripstop nylon fabric, along with portions in 210-denier HT nylon twill. The pack body is approximately 21 inches (53 centimeters) in length with a 7 inch (18 centimeter) extension collar. The extension collar is closed by a flat cord and cordlock; a cross-the-top compression strap backs this up.
For gear storage, the pack has a single, undivided main storage compartment and is topped with a detachable lid that prominently bears the Gregory Logo in silver-hued embroidery on its front side, along with the product name, more discreetly in complementary blue thread on the back side below the access zipper. The lid is connected to the pack by two 3/4-inch (2 centimeter) webbing straps and triglides. The lid pocket is made of the same materials as the body and features a straight water resistant zipper with single zipper-pull for access. A mitten hook is sewn inside the pocket, which I usually use to attach a keyring and/or a photon light (for easy access). Inside the pack, a large 16 x 10 inch (40.6 x 25.4 centimeter) pouch is provided to house a water reservoir (or other goodies). The top of the pouch is bound by elastic and it is sewn directly to the backpanel of the pack. The Jade has a pair of small exit ports for a drink tube located on the either side of the pack. In addition to the traditional top opening, this main storage compartment can also be accessed via a D-shaped water-resistant zipper (note the prominent black D in the photo above) on the left side of the pack (when worn). This zip is can be opened using a single zipper pull.
The outside of the pack features numerous pockets for additional storage. Both sides of the waistbelt feature small zippered mesh pockets. Each one is large enough to store some snacks or a small point and shoot camera. Additionally, the Jade features dual expandable side accessory/water bottle pockets.
These pockets are made from a stretchy material, and are closed/compressed by a small zipper running along the bottom edge in addition to a square of hook and loop closure at the pocket's opening. While compressed, the pocket can be used to hold small items by simply pulling on the webbing tab to disengage the hook and loop fastening. To open or expand the pockets for use with larger objects or a water bottle, simply open the zipper and disengage the hook and loop fastening. An elastic cord with a cordlock is attached to the pack just above the pocket to aid in securing a water bottle when it is stowed in this pocket.
Like the G-Pack, the Jade features a large front 'bucket' pocket that wraps around the entire outside of the pack. This pocket is made of durable-looking non-stretchy mesh, with a double box ripstop center panel. The top of the mesh portions of the pouch is slightly gathered and bound with elastic. The center panel of the pouch actually houses yet another pocket that can be accessed via a vertical water-resistant zipper. In addition to being sewn onto the pack, the bucket pocket is further secured at various points on the zippered pouch portion by way of five straps and side release buckles that also act as compression straps for the pack.
On either side of the zippered center panel of the bucket pocket are elastic cords and cordlocks that can be used to secure an ice axe or trekking poles to the Jade when used in conjunction with the ice axe loops located at the bottom of pack. For those that find the internal volume of the pack is insufficient, there are also a pair of webbing straps and triglides located on the pack's bottom that can be used to secure larger items, such as a shelter, sleeping pad, or sleeping bag to the exterior.
The Jade's suspension system features several new components compared to previous models of Gregory packs and is an excellent example of how this company continues to innovate and its designs evolve.
Designed for comfort, the Jade features Gregory's new Jet Stream suspension - this system incorporates a 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) 7001 T6 hollow stay and a perforated frame sheet along with an AeroTech mesh back panel and padded scapula and lumbar supports to create an air gap between the user and the pack. This gap is visible in the side-vew image of the Jade, above.
Further designs for comfort included in the harness system include the sewn in hip and shoulder straps. While they are sewn in (rather than being adjustable or interchangeable), the shoulder strap connection is considerably narrower than the padded portion of the strap, and allows the connection to flex in order to better match the shoulder slope and angle of the individual user. The various components of the harness that are padded (shoulder straps, hip belt, lumbar and scapular pads) feature perforated closed-cell foam and are covered with 3-D moisture wicking mesh. This, combined with the jet stream suspension, make for a pack with a fair bit of moisture management!
Some additional changes to "traditional" pack design include
the sternum strap and the waist belt adjustment. - unlike many packs, the
sternum strap is not detachable. It is attached to the pack via a special
piece of hardware that glides along piping on the shoulder straps, allowing for
more precise placement. The hip belt adjustment is no longer centered on
the buckle, rather it is done via triglides at the ends of the padded portion of
the hip belt itself.
I rarely expect to be surprised or wowed by features on
something like a pack - I guess I think that it's all been done. Gregory
doesn't disappoint, and didn't fail to surprise me. This pack is loaded
with features and it looks fantastic with clean lines. I'm happy to see
that Gregory has moved back a straight zip on the lid (compared to U-shaped on
some previous models). Overall, I am impressed with the design of this
pack, though I do have some small observations for possible improvement. I
note that the exit port(s) for the drink tube are still quite small, and are
just large enough for me to feed my bite valve through with some finagling.
In addition, the draw-cord to close the main compartment of the pack seems to
bind and stick and I have been unsuccessful in being able to close the opening
to my satisfaction. I don't know if this is a product of the fabric or
the type of cord or a combination thereof. I have noticed that this pack
features several water-resistant zippers - they seem to move much more smoothly
than this type of zip has on previous packs - I will be very interested to see
if they are more water resistant than previous models.
Last, but not least, is regarding the weight of the pack - while it is certainly
very light compared to many others, I would loved to have seen it even lighter,
perhaps making it out of G70 fabric.
The majority of the testing of the Jade occurred on a multi-day backpacking trip through Death Hollow, a tributary of the Escalante River in Southern Utah. Days on that trip were long and punishing ranging from 7.5 hours to 10.5 hours of hiking primarily off trail on uneven terrain, with extra water having to be carried on the first day and temperatures well in excess of 100 F (38 C). Starting weight on that adventure was around 30 pounds (13.6 kg), though typical pack weight is usually quite a bit lighter than that with a base pack weight around 15 pounds (6.8 kg).
The most important characteristic of a pack is how well it wears or carries. The Jade doesn't disappoint. It lives up well to the Gregory reputation, and once all the straps are adjusted, the pack fits closely and doesn't shift. The ability to confidently move without having to worry about my pack's weight shifting is something I value highly - especially when traveling off trail on boulder strewn terrain and in rocky streambeds. The Jade stayed close to my torso, allowing me to quickly rock hop my way down canyon and climb around various obstacles. I was able to easily shift the weight of the pack from hips to shoulder and back again as I felt necessary during the course of the trip.
The padding and framesheet of the Jade was comfortable, allowing me to comfortably wear the pack for long hours with nothing jabbing into me. Even more welcome was the new Jet Stream suspension. Some sections of the hike felt as if I was wandering around in a large oven - no surprise, seeing as it was the middle of the summer in the desert! The Jet Stream suspension allowed my back to breathe, and to cool down somewhat whenever we were so fortunate to have a breeze blow by. While the temperatures alone were enough to make me sweat, I do believe that the unique suspension of the Jade kept me drier than I would have been had I been wearing a different pack.
Packing the Jade proved to be quite simple - as long as I remembered to pack the filled water reservoir first! I was able to pack everything I needed to inside the body of the pack, leaving only my fuel bottle to be stored in the large outer pocket (I always carry my fuel bottle outside the main body of the pack). Even after packing the critical gear into drybags, I was still able to pack all the gear neatly inside the main body of the pack with room yet to spare in the extension collar.
For the curious, my typical pack contents include:
For the multi-day backpacking trip down Death Hollow, I also was also carrying a Tarptent Double Rainbow shelter, dry bags and a pool toy (used to float the pack across large pools of water during the course of the trip). Because the Jade has side panel access, I made sure to pack the pack in a way that items that I might want access to during the course of the day (such as the water filter, rain jacket and pool toy) were packed on the side nearest the zippered panel. This proved to be handy several times during the trip, allowing my hiking partner to get things in and out of my pack easily without my having to take the pack on and off.
The outside pockets of the Jade also proved to be quite handy - I used the expandable pocket to carry extra water on the first day in a 1 quart (1 liter) Nalgene bottle. With the top of the bottle secured using the elastic bungee, the bottle stayed put even with my maneuvering over and around rocks and also on the few instances the pack had to be lowered to allow passage past obstacles in the canyon. The large mesh bucket pocket (and the smaller zippered pocket on the center panel) proved to be useful in providing an easy method of segregating dirty gear, or carrying out extraneous bits of garbage left in the canyon from other parties. The small zippered pouches on the hipbelts were just the right size for me to cram in my snacks for the day - from various bar foods (Odwalla, Pro Bar and various granola bars) to snack-sized baggies of crackers, nuts or candy. Having the food conveniently accessible allowed me to eat continuously throughout my activity without having to stop and rummage around for something to eat whenever I got hungry.
After several excursions into the desert, I'm happy to report
the Jade is holding up very well and showing no sign of wear or discoloration.
I am unable to comment on the weatherproofness of the Jade as no precipitation
was encountered during the test period. Based on limited splashing and
accidental partial submersion while negotiating pools of water on my trip, I do
believe the Jade to be water resistant as I did not observe any undue dampness
in gear that was stored in the main body of the pack outside of dry bags.
I wore the Jade for several more hikes and backpacking trips during the course of the long term testing period. Testing was much more moderate in intensity when compared to the field test period, and the pack continued to perform as expected - which is to say it was comfortable to wear and carry, and I've no issues to report! Unfortunately I still cannot comment regarding the weatherproofness of the Jade as no precipitation was encountered during the duration of the test period.
I'm pleased to say that the Jade handles lighter loads just as well as it did the heavier loads. The compression straps worked well to ensure the pack load was secure and didn't shift. The pack has more than enough pockets to satisfy my needs for organization, and I have really grown to like the side access allows me (or even someone else) to get into the body of the pack quickly and easily. Of all the pockets, I have found I use the ones on the hip belt the most (as I usually store snacks in them). The pockets I use the least are the expandable water bottle pockets. I think this is the case because I rarely carry a water bottle (I much prefer using a reservoir). Using the pockets to hold other small items is possible, though unhooking the hook and loop fastener can sometimes prove to be a bit frustrating and awkward while the pack is being worn.
Other than all the pockets and easy access, I really like the Jet Stream suspension system. It really made a difference on hot days, especially when a breeze was present by allowing air to get to my back. The system (including the harness and hipbelt) is strong enough to comfortably support the pack at its maximum rated load without hindering my movement.
Even with numerous miles, the Jade looks practically brand
new. Very close inspections reveal some dirt marks on the light colored
fabric, but that's about it. All components are still working as they
should, and the fabric is free of any permanent blemishes.
Summary: Woo Hoos and Boo Hoos
- Woo Hoo: More than adequate volume for my style of backpacking.
This concludes the report series on this product.
My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Gregory Mountain Products for the opportunity to participate in this test.
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Read more gear reviews by Stephanie Martin
Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Gregory Jade 50 or Z55 Pack 2007 > Test Report by Stephanie Martin