User Review: GoLite Women's Jam2
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Bought new on sale approx $100
Great ultralight pack for long-distance hiking, or carry more moderate loads for a weekend trip without adding extra pounds to your back. Rated to carry up to 35 pounds, and does so well. I love this pack!
- Not a lot of pockets/compartments (must be organized!)
- Back panel has started to bend during use
I am a 30-year old woman with lots of outdoor experience. I hiked about 500 miles of the PCT in southern California in 2009, but had to leave the trail for physical as well as financial reasons. Since then, I have made it my mission to complete the PCT in sections. Unfortunately, I can only use my allotted vacation time from work, so it's slow going.
I bought this pack after my thru-hike attempt and wish I had had it back then! I've since used it on three summer solo trips ranging from about 65-85 miles in northern and southern Oregon. This is the fourth pack I have used/owned...I have been gradually reducing my pack weight over the years, and I think this is pretty much the perfect pack for me.
I am 5'9", about 160lbs and the women's medium fits me well. I think mine is a 2010 model, which I purchased in 2011 on the recommendation of the store employee who told me that the newer models do not have a padded hipbelt. While this would save weight, I prefer the comfort of the padding. The straps are all a bit long for me, but that's no big deal. I can always cut off the excess if I want. It looks like GoLite is no longer making this pack men's- and women's-specific.
Since there is only a thin foam back panel, this pack doesn't have the venting capability of some heavier packs with complicated frames and airflow systems. However, the mesh back panel serves its purpose as well as one could expect. The straps adjust easily and are comfortable. The only issue I've had is when I was wearing a shirt that didn't cover enough of my shoulders and the mesh on the shoulder straps rubbed a little.
This is an ultralight pack, in the smallest capacity offered by GoLite (except day packs), so don't expect it to haul your big tent, three cooking pans, 15° synthetic-fill sleeping bag and gourmet meals for a week. But if you can pack reasonably light for a short trip, or have your gear list down to the essentials, you could do a long trail with this pack. I have loaded it with gear and food for about a week. I was hitting its 30 pound capacity with full food and water, but it held up well and carried the load comfortably.
Organization & accessibility:
Ultralight packs are light on excess pockets, straps, etc., so you won't find a sleeping bag compartment or a lid here. You need to be able to organize your gear well to efficiently pack the main compartment and large (but flat) outside pocket. There are two stretch fabric water bottle pockets on the sides and two hipbelt pockets for snacks and essentials. You can also get creative strapping things to the sides and top with the compression straps. It does have ice-axe loops and an internal water bladder sleeve and hose ports on both sides.
The load distribution all depends on how you pack it, but if you do it well, it carries comfortably up to its weight rating. The load stays close to your back, so it feels very stable - it's not up over your head like some larger packs (especially those with large lids). After some use though, I have found that the foam back panel insert is warping, which can be a little uncomfortable. It does not have load-lifter straps, which would be nice, but I don't think they're essential because the load sits low enough on your back that you don't really need that adjustment.
Adjusting this pack to fit different loads is easy. Just roll down the top a little or a lot, and use the side and top straps to keep your load stable and secure.
I don't think I'm super hard on my gear, but I have pushed this pack to its capacity and it shows no signs of failing. It has handled abrasion well too.
Overall, I love this pack and recommend it to anyone looking for an ultralight women's pack!