Gear up for backpacking season with the Gregory Jade 53

Gregory makes a nice line of women’s backpacking/overnight packs, but the Jade 53 is the only one that offers the exact sizing I prefer when I’m headed into the wilderness. I’m not a minimalist hiker, so a 40 liter or smaller pack is not right for me during overnights, but I’m also not a must-have-my-luxuries type of backpacker, so I don’t need a pack that’s 60+ liters. I always aim for 50-55 liters, and the Jade fits into this nicely. (Note: you can get a 38 or a 63 if you prefer a different size, or the Gregory Deva has a 60, 70, or 80 liter option.)

The Jade 53 comes in two torso sizes: XS/S or S/M, and both are adjustable via a velcro panel on the harness. You can get it in gray or teal, both solid colors, if not flashy, though, as is almost always the case, I prefer the men’s color range on the Gregory site. When will all outdoor gear be available in all colors, in a unisex nature? Just asking.

The Jade’s body-hugging design ensures it fits snugly and moves with your body, while still remaining removed from your sweaty back, thanks to its ventilated FreeFloat suspension system. The adjustable open-air back panel gives you not only that custom fit I mentioned, but breathability, keeping your body temps down during those inclines.

The details are solid on this pack: you get molded loop zipper pulls, which makes it easy to unzip panels to access gear, even in gloves, and a dual layer on the bottom panel makes me confident I’ll have this pack for a long time. There’s also a quick-stow bungee loop on the left shoulder harness for your sunglasses–nifty!–and there’s a key clip inside the zippered floating top pocket. You also get a hydration sleeve of course, and the included raincover is stored in a dedicated zippered pocket behind front pocket for added organization.

The pack is top-loading, but you do get a U-shaped zippered access to the main compartment on the outside of the pack, too, so you don’t have to unload everything you’ve strapped to the top of your pack (like a tent or sleeping pad, perhaps) just to access things you may need on the trail, like an extra layer or a water purifier.

The hipbelt is nicely cradled against your body as you hike, and the perimeter alloy frame and fiberglass anti-barreling cross-stay keep your load stable (along with that FreeFloast suspension system). The design is solid, with a nice wide mesh outer pocket on the back and a very roomy floating top pocket, plus two side mesh water bottle pockets that are large enough to fit a variety of styles of bottles. There are plenty of straps ready to utilize to strap on external gear and a zippered bottom sleeping bag compartment. There are two zippered pockets on the front of the hip belt, but alas, like with most backpacks, they’re not quite large enough to easily stash my phone (my standard-sized iPhone does fit, but barely). Since I like to use it to take photos as I hike, this is a bummer.

Pick up the Jade 53 on the Gregory site for $199 this spring, a great deal for a high-quality overnight pack!


Amy Whitley is a freelance creative and travel writer and founding editor of the family travel website Pit Stops for Kids. An avid lover of the outdoors, Amy makes her home in Southern Oregon, where she, her husband, and three school-aged children spend much of their time backpacking, camping, skiing, and hiking. When not exploring her own backyard, Amy and her family hit the road for travel reviews of resorts, tour operations, and hotels across the country and abroad. Follow Amy Whitley on Twitter and Facebook.

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