GoLite Jam 70L
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $80 on sale
This is a solid, lightweight bag. If you need frills, you'll want to look elsewhere. It has lots of room (almost too much). The material held up under some tough conditions.
- Strong materials
- Does not handle overloading well
The Golite Jam 70L is an awesome bag when you use it the way it was designed (I'll bet you know what's coming next). This bag has a great deal of room, and for someone smarter than me, that is a very good thing. It makes cold weather backpacking easier because you have room for the bulkier items that you need.
During three-season camping, it works great, and has a good cinch system to compress the load. However, when you're all giddy because your pack is so light (my base weight was 16 pounds on a 4 day trip), you may lean towards stupidity (such as I did).
The shoulder straps are comfortable, but it doesn't have the extra padding one would desire for heavy loads. That makes sense because it's a lightweight bag, designed for a max load of 30 pounds. When you overload the bag, it does get less cloud-like, and becomes more of a noticeable addition to your shoulders.
My problem is that it felt so good, I started adding the little extras that usually make the difference between a easy trip and a hard one. I do take full responsibility for this, and I blame myself, not the bag. When I keep my extras realistic, the bag makes me very happy. The load adjusting straps did help, and would have been more effective if the bag was WNL (within normal limits).
The waist belt is also very comfortable, and has small pockets on each side. They won't hold a Jimmy Johns Sandwich, but a Clif Bar fits just right (I highly recommend White Chocolate Macadamia).
The bag will hold a hydration bladder (but none is included). The side pockets are very large. I have read other reviews that say these pockets are fragile and tear too easily. The material is thin, but I had a few encounters with aggressive tree branches and rocks, but the pockets on my pack have held up fine so far.
As with most Golite Ultralight bags, the only access is from the top. There is a lot of room in the bag, so when it's not overloaded, it is easy to find items inside. There is a generous front pocket for quicker access to needed items. The opening was wide enough that I didn't have to fight to get anything out of there.
There are a few places to attach some things (they call it ice pic holders), but they also did a great job of keeping hold of my Sheriff Woody coffee mug.
One thing to note with the overloading of this bag is that I really had this thing crammed full, and aside from the payback it gave my shoulders, it held up fine. No threads loosened up, nothing ripped out of its stitching. It is just a solid bag that is extremely well made.
I've had the bag for about a year now, and I expect to use it for a lot longer.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $119.99
An extremely solid and reliable, lightweight, multi-day backpack. Well-designed and comfortable.
- Reliable materials
I like the no-frills design: a large, capacious bucket with an additional front pocket, and two more pockets on the belt that accommodate my glasses and camera; two more unzippered side pockets hold Nalgenes easily. The fastex closures and nylon compression straps work well: easy to pack, open, close, and adjust. The dyneema fabric is claimed to be the strongest available.
I'm often probably packing more than the rated 30 lbs., and the pack has remained comfortable and doesn't shift around. Since it's designed for ultralight hiking, it's nearly frameless, and correct packing is essential. You should reinforce the bag's shape by inserting a rolled foam sleeping pad vertically into the bucket, then spread it out to form a tube inside the bag, within which you'll pack your gear, the heaviest items at the bottom, to create a column.
I actually leave my pad slid inside my bivy sack, and use it to form the tube, which adds another layer of waterproofing. Packing in this manner distributes and cushions the weight. I can say that the Jam 70L is more comfortable than other bags I've used that cost three times as much.
There are no D-rings and few places to lash gear onto the outside of the pack. I attached two carabiner-like clips to the cloth guides for the load-lifter straps, and they work quite well for trekking poles or other gear I need easy access to.
Great pack, great company; would buy again from them.
Source: bought it new
Great pack, but it was uncomfortable in the shoulders and with the frameless design.
- Big capacity
- Less than adequate shoulder padding
- Frameless design was uncomfortable
This a is great lightweight pack and works for weekend backpacking trips and for lightweight loads. I recently took it on a two-week section hike of the AT and found that the shoulder straps do not have enough padding and the frameless design made it really uncomfortable if I was carrying 30+ lbs.
Apart from that it was big enough to fit all my gear in and still have extra room.