I have finally lightened my load enough to be able to make some use of a lightweight backpack. I ultimately chose the GoLite Jam 70 largely based on the price – on sale at $120 (Jan ’13). Other worthy candidates included the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus, Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 and Crown VC 60, Six Moon Designs StarLite, and Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus FS.
As the name suggests, the Jam 70 is a 70 liter pack and it weighs only 2 lbs, a big change from my 5 lb Osprey 85L pack. The Jam is considered frameless though it does have a thin and dense foam pad that stiffens the back and probably helps transfer some of the load to the hip belt. Maximum load is about 30 lbs. Geared for moderate temperatures, 4 days of food and fuel, and 3 liters of water in the pack I’m still only at 26 lbs so I think this will work for most of my trips. I’ve got lots of room left in the pack too so I wonder if I could have used the 50L model.
Getting good pictures is tougher than I imagined and I’ll probably do these over again. I stuffed the pack with a king-size quilt and one pillow for these pictures.
Here’s the loaded pack in side view. There’s a lot of depth here. It actually seems bigger than my 85L pack.
Even with the main compartment stuffed, the front pocket easily had room for rain pants & jacket. Note the built-in hook for a key ring or what not.
Here’s a look at the inside back panel. There’s a mesh pocket for a hydration bladder etc. Between the hook and the top of the pocket is a velcro strip running nearly the full width of the pack. That’s the opening for the dense foam pad that stiffens the back panel.
Even with the main compartment stuffed, the side pockets have room for 2 1-liter water bottles and still other stuff. Whether they can handle the weight of two full water bottles is still unknown.
There’s a hydration tube opening on both sides. The load lifters are of questionable utility since they aren’t attached to a frame. There have been some aftermarket mods – here for example – to add a removable tubular frame. It seems like a wonderful idea and wouldn’t be surprised to see GoLite adopt it.
You can see most of one hip belt pocket in the right side of the picture above. The bottom part of the pocket is a stretchy mesh. There is a smaller pocket inside.
One of the unique features is the ComPACKtor™ – a way to reduce the volume of the main compartment. The compression straps squeeze the sides while the ComPACKtor™ shrinks the bottom end of the pack significantly. BackpackingLight.com tested this pack’s predecessor – the Pinnacle – and found the volume can be reduced by about 50%, making it a pretty versatile pack.
The side compression straps are opposite-gendered so in addition to the usual front-to-back attachment, the left and right straps can connect together, wrapping all the way around the front of the pack. Here’s an oblique view of the front and left side. This arrangement leaves an unused buckle half on each side of the pack so you could probably attach a separate strap to them to hang something light on the front of the pack. Snowshoes or an extra mattress perhaps?
Original post: March 13 2013
April 10 2013 update: I’ve used the pack on 2 3-day trips so far and am satisfied with it. The side pockets easily carry the weight of 2 liters of water each. With this much volume I don’t have to squeeze everything to the smallest possible size so that simplifies and speeds packing. Instead of putting the sleeping bag in a compression or stuff sack in the bottom of the pack, I have been putting it loosely in a trash compactor bag filling the front half of the pack. With the pack closed-up and the compression straps tightened, the sleeping bag fills all the nooks between the hard stuff in the back half, holding everything quietly and firmly in place.
September 15 2014 update: I continue to be satisfied with the pack, using it for the majority of my multi-day trips. An exception has been when I needed to carry a bear canister. I still haven’t even tried loading the pack with a canister.
The product was purchased with my own money. I have no material connection with any companies, products or services mentioned in this post.
how much weight were you carrying?
20 lbs without water is typical. The pack seems fine with 25 lbs but is getting uncomfortable at 30. If I know I’ll be above 25 lbs for all or most of the trip, I use my Osprey Aether pack.
I’ve done a 6 day hike with the 50L version of this pack and found it had just enough room (even for the extra food which I always end up with). I also had a total weight of 35lb with the 50L, and don’t recall reading a weight limit, so I’m a little surprised at the 30lb limit for a 70L pack – what could possibly fill it and still come in at 30lb?!
Wow, 6 days in 50L seems like quite a feat. I went with the extra capacity since there was very little weight penalty. I often don’t put my sleeping bag in a stuff sack, letting it fill the unused space. One can also tighten the compression straps a bit before loading it. In hindsight, I think I could easily get by with a 60L pack. 50 might be pushing it.
I think GoLite themselves reccommended 30lb max but it’s not a hard rule. For me it becomes more and more uncomfortable above about 25lb. I don’t have hips so the hip belt tends to slide down more and put more weight on the shoulders. Increasing “torso collapse” might also exacerbate the issue.
The heavier weight also puts more stress on the seams, and probably the fabric itself, which is bound to reduce longevity.
Thank you for your thorough review and long term updates