Gregory Jade 28 Day Pack Review
Day hikes are a weekly occurrence in my life and the lives of many other Pacific Northwesterners. I often keep my pack stashed in my car, along with my hiking poles, so as not to miss out on a spontaneous adventure.
My pack has to be big enough to accommodate the ten essentials and the half-dozen layers I need on any given day in the PNW (I swear sometimes I carry more weight on a day hike than on a thru-hike). It has to be durable enough to take from sandy beach to mountain peak and comfortable enough to wear for ten minutes or ten hours.
I bought an earlier model of the Gregory Jade 28 day pack a number of years ago. I’ve loved its comfort and durability and was thrilled to get the chance to review the newest iteration of the pack.
Gregory Jade 28 At-A-Glance
- MSRP: $169
- Weight: 3 lbs 1 oz for S/M
- Storage capacity: 28 liters
- Maximum carry weight: 40 lbs
- Packed dimensions: 23.5″ x 12.5″ x 10.5″ for S/M
- Pack materials: 50% Polyester, 50% Nylon with PFC-Free DWR
Circumstances of Review
I’ve used my Gregory Jade 28 on a handful of day hikes into the foothills and mountains near my home in Vancouver, British Columbia. I’ve also stuffed it with climbing gear to get to some of my local crags in Squamish.
The Jade 28 is a comfortable pack with women’s-specific shaping for a more body-hugging fit. There is a lot of fit flexibility in the design with adjustable torso length, an adjustable chest strap, and a flexible, adjustable cushioned hipbelt.
The FreeFloat suspension system uses panels to link the hipbelt to the frame of the pack, which helps comfortably transfer more of the load to the hips while also moving freely with the natural movements of your body.
I especially appreciate the ventilated back panel that creates a space between the wearer’s back and the pack body, encouraging air circulation and discouraging sweat build-up. Because of this space, you’ll also never have anything in your pack poking against you, thereby eliminating pressure points.
The Jade 28 is designed to be worn all day and carry a lot of gear. With one of the highest maximum weight ratings for a day pack, the Jade 28 makes an excellent pack for adventurous day hikes or even overnight trips.
Adjustable torso length: My previous Jade 28 had a fixed torso length and never quite felt like the right fit. The more recent model includes a velcro-adjustable back panel that raises or lowers the shoulder straps within a 3.5-inch range.
Waterproofing: Previous models of the Jade 28 included a rain cover. Gregory has done away with that and instead opted for durable water repellent coating on the fabric.
U-Zip Opening: The large U-shaped opening makes it easy to load and unload the pack and especially to dig around for something stowed near the bottom.
Pockets: There are lots of helpful pockets to help you keep organized. The pack features a large front mesh pocket with a buckle closure, two side stretch mesh pockets, a top zippered pocket, an internal zippered security pocket, and two large zippered hip belt pockets. The hip belt pockets are big enough to hold a phone with room to spare and are constructed of the same water-resistant fabric as the pack.
Hydration sleeve: The hydration sleeve fits up to a 3L reservoir and has a wide hanger compatible with Gregory’s reservoirs; it’s also able to accommodate other brands.
Gregory Jade 28 Pros
Highly Engineered Design
It was quickly evident to me that the designers of the new Jade 28 put a lot of thought into every single element of the pack. While the suspension system and technical fabrics are obvious design features, the smaller elements like zipper pulls, buckle locations, and pocket design really caught my eye.
Zipper pulls: Each zipper pull consists of a molded plastic ring designed to get a finger into—they’re easy to use, even with gloves on. Gregory also chose to make the zippers two colors. I first thought it was just for style but then realized that it makes it way more obvious to see if a zipper isn’t closed all the way. So smart!
Buckles: The buckles for the side compression straps were shifted towards the body of the pack instead of near the frame, which is a much more intuitive placement for releasing them when I’ve got my pack on the ground in front of me. The designers even added a small clip to keep the extra webbing from flopping around.
The buckle for the front panel pocket also got a redesign. For the newer model, Gregory added a little triangle of fabric where the buckle attaches, making it easier to release the buckle and also easier to stuff the front panel pocket without compromising some of the structure of the pack.
Pockets: The side stretch mesh pockets are a bit taller and were redesigned to have more structure, making them easier to hold a water bottle as well as other odds and ends. The hip belt pockets were similarly redesigned to have more structure and shaping. They’re much bigger than on my previous model and can easily accommodate larger cell phones as well as a bunch of snacks.
One of Gregory’s design philosophies is to make packs that last a lifetime, specifically “designing and manufacturing a superior, long-lasting, and highly durable product.” The new Jade 28 is one of the best-constructed packs I’ve seen. There are a half-dozen different fabrics used throughout the pack to provide structure and protection to key areas.
Most of the stretch mesh pockets on the older versions have been replaced with more durable polyester ripstop. The base of the hip belt pockets and the side mesh pockets are the same highly durable 420D nylon fabric as the bottom of the pack, which means no chance of holes at the bottom of the pockets! Even the front stretch mesh pocket now has a middle fabric panel, making it less likely to be damaged if snagged by a tree branch or rock.
High Capacity and Heavy Load
With a 28-liter main-compartment capacity, plus a bit more with all the stow pockets, the Jade 28 is on the upper end of capacity limits for day packs on the market. On one occasion, I stuffed it full with my climbing shoes, climbing harness, extra jackets and layers, food, and water, and I still had plenty of room to spare.
The Jade 28 is rated to carry up to 40 pounds, a truly impressive amount for a day pack, and comparable to many ultralight thru-hiking packs on the market. The suspension system is incredibly well designed to comfortably transfer and balance the weight of a heavy payload.
Gregory Jade 28 Cons
Small sizing: The Jade 28 is only available in XS/S and S/M with no large option. Those with a torso length longer than 19 inches and a hip wrap of more than 48 inches will need to size up into the men’s Zulu pack, thereby losing out on the women’s-specific fit and features.
Heavier construction: The trade-off for a feature-heavy pack is in the weight. This isn’t an ultralight pack. At over three pounds, it’s likely one of the heaviest day packs on the market (and heavier than many overnight packs).
Over the last handful of years, Gregory has been assessing the environmental footprint of the entire lifecycle of their products, from raw goods creation to manufacturing, packaging, transport, distribution, and disposal.
Since 2020 Gregory has been focusing on redesigning and re-engineering pack collections to reduce the environmental impacts in six key categories: Carbon Footprint (Greenhouse Gases), Acidification (negative effects on soil and water), Water Pollution (Eutrophication), Smog Formation (Ozone Creation), Primary Energy Demand (total extracted from the earth), and Blue Water Consumption (net intake and release of water across the life of the product).
According to Gregory, the new Jade 28 has seen an overall environmental footprint reduction of 24 percent compared to the previous model. All recycled fabrics are purchased from traceable sources and use a PFC-free DWR, eliminating harmful long-chain fluorocarbons from the environment in the creation and use of this pack. Much of the hardware of the pack is designed for easier replacement and field repair.
The new Jade 28 is an incredibly comfortable, durable, and overall well-designed day pack. The attention to detail is evident in every feature of this pack, from fit to function. With the Jade 28, Gregory has created a pack that will be both comfortable to wear, easy to use, and durable enough to last for a decade or more, making it a clear choice for a women’s-specific day pack.
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Mystery Ranch Coulee 30
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The Gregory Jade 28 Day Pack was donated for purpose of review.
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