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Hiking Packs

GoLite Jam 2 Pack | Review

What’s It For?

The Jam2 is, says GoLite designed for fast-packing and light and ultra-light backpacking. It’s a throw back to GoLite’s early packs where comfort and support come second to weight saving. But we also know a few people who use the Jam2 as an ultra-lightweight climbing pack.

The Techy Bits

The key to the Jam2’s light weight is the use of Dyneema reinforced fabric. Dyneema is an ultra-strong fibre that’s ten times stronger than steel and twice as strong as kevlar by weight – it’s also used to make climbing slings and quick draws. Using it lets GoLite produce a lightweight pack that’s also tough and durable.

Otherwise the Jam2 is basically simple and minimalist. Rather like GoLite’s early Jardine-inspired packs but with a thin sheet of added foam to give a little cushioning in the back area.

On feature worth noting is the simple ComPACKtor – grrr, caps lock fodder – system which reduces pack volume by clipping the back and rear of the pack together at the base. Not complicated, but effective enough for day sack use, which makes sense when the pack weighs just 610 grammes.

How It Performed

The Jam2 is incredibly light for a pack that will carry around 50 litres of kit, but that lightness also means that the pack is far more finnicky about weight than more traditional backpacking sacs. It may have more padding in its minimalist back system than the original Gust, but it still puts the onus on the user to keep weight down.

You can’t buy one of these then hope to carry traditional heavyweight tents, sleeping bag, stove and so on in any real comfort, so it’s best suited to use by those who’ve already embraced the light(weight). That said, the shoulder straps with their Brock foam – made out of badgers? – are surprisingly comfortable and a hydration bladder adds welcome extra cushioning to the thin foam padding of the back. The hip/waist belt is more about stability than weight transfer, which is another good reason to keep loads down.

If you’re prepared to do that then the Jam2 is a surprisingly comfortable carry and will still haul volume when needed. The big back pocket swallows everything most people will carry in a lid pocket and more and the roll-over closure is quick and easy to use – drawcord, roll, clip, done.

The ComPACKtor gubbins allows easy day pack use and while there’s nothing special about the compression straps at the side, both they and the minimalist shock-corded tool loops do the job fine.

We know several climbers who like the pack and are prepared to live with a certain lack of comfort for its lightness, deceptive toughness and non-intrusiveness on the crag. For long walk-ins with big racks and rope, you might want something with a more supportive back system though. It just depends on your ability to tolerate mild discomfort.

On the down side, we found the mesh stuff pockets hard to access without removing the pack and in heavy rain, water can pool on the top of the sack and leak through the central opening. One owner we know simply ties the opening shut with an extra loop of the drawcord. Sorted.

Verdict

The lighter your kit, the more onus it puts on the owner to use it properly. In the case of the Jam2 that means choosing your  gear to be as light as possible and also packing it carefully, maybe using a sleeping mat as extra back padding for example.

If you’re prepared to do that, the sac works brilliantly and will carry moderate weight, high volume loads in surprising comfort. What it won’t do is haul a more traditional 50-litre load without complaints.

Buy if… you’re looking for a very light, simple and still surprisingly tough and durable pack for hauling lightweight kit or have a strange desire to suffer with heavier gear.

51-litre ultra-lightweight pack, Dyneema gridstop fabric, foam padded back, Brock foam padding in spacer mesh shoulder straps, large front pocket with water-resistant zip, mesh stuff pockets,  compression straps, rollover top closure,  twin ice tool / pole carriers, chest strap, waist belt, hydration system compatible, ComPACKtor compression system.

Summary

  • Pros: Incredibly light, deceptively tough and comfortable if you keep the weight down and pack cunningly.
  • Cons: Not happy with loads much above 15 kg or so. Top closure can leak in heavy rain.
  • Price: £78.29
  • Year: 2008
  • Weight: 610g
Overall score: 4.5

Performance:

4.5

Reliability:

0.0

Value:

4.5

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