GoLite has redesigned their entire pack line for 2007, replacing 28 previous packs with a new line consisting of 9 packs. And all but one (the Ion) are available in men’s and women’s specific sizes. The Jam2 pack is the midsize model in their new Venture Series of frameless backpacks, and is an upgrade of the very popular Jam pack. What are the changes, and is the Jam2 really better than its predecessor?
- Large front pocket with water-resistant zipper
- Slightly more volume than the Jam
- 3-liter hydration sleeve
- Side compression straps connect to opposite side
- Lightweight durable fabrics make it suitable for bushwhacking
- Transfers weight to the hips very well
What’s Not So Good
- Heavier than a silnylon or spinnaker pack with the same volume
- Side compression straps do not connect in the middle to attach gear to the front of the pack
|GoLite 2007 Jam2|
|Frameless, top loading, drawstring and rolldown closure with top compression strap|
|Size L tested 3200 ci (52 L)|
|1 lb 6.1 oz (627 g) measured weight, size L; manufacturer’s specification 1 lb 5 oz (595 g), size M|
|Men’s M,L; Women’s S,M|
Torso Fit Range
|Men’s M fits 17.5 to 19.5 inch torsos, men’s L fits 19.5 to 21.5 inch torsos; women’s S fits 15.5 to 17.5 inch torsos, women’s M fits 17.5 to 19.5 inch torsos|
|210d Dyneema Gridstop polyurethane-coated nylon|
|Large gusseted fabric front pocket with water-resistant zipper, two side stretch nylon/Spandex side pockets, two compression straps on each side that connect to the opposite side, 3-liter interior hydration sleeve, 9-inch extension collar, two bungee tool loops, Compaktor System for volume reduction, two ice axe loops, haul loop, sternum strap|
Volume To Weight Ratio
|144.8 ci/oz size M/L (based on 3200 ci and a measured weight of 22.1 oz)|
Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity
|20 lb estimated comfortable load for an average person carrying the pack all day|
Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio
|14.5 (based on 20 lb and a measured weight of 1.38 lb)|
There’s an old saying - don’t mess with success - and GoLite recognized that with the Jam when they consolidated their backpack line. They renamed it the Jam2 and gave it a number of upgrades that make it even better than the original. And (just for us) they kept the weight the same - it still weighs 21 ounces in size Medium.
Manufacturer photos of the original Jam pack (left) and the new Jam2 (right).
The more significant changes in the new Jam2 pack are as follows:
- 250 cubic inches more volume (size M is now 3000 cubic inches)
- Internal 3-liter hydration sleeve with two hose ports
- Side compression straps have quick release buckles and are longer so will accommodate a rolled foam pad, and they will connect to the opposite side
- Shoulder straps have an angled attachment, and are more contoured and padded with spacer mesh
- Slightly taller and longer hipbelt wings
- Side pockets are a durable stretch nylon/Spandex fabric and angled for easier access with the pack on
- Bungee tool loops replace the Velcro loops
- Water-resistant zipper on the front pocket
- Compaktor System to reduce pack volume to 1300 cubic inches
Views of the Jam2. The front of the pack (top left) is dominated by a huge fabric pocket with water-repellent zipper. Each side (top right) has two long compression straps and a stretch pocket. Shoulder straps have an angled attachment (bottom left). The top (bottom right) is a simple drawcord and roll-down closure with a compression strap.
The shoulder straps (left) on the Jam2 are mounted at an angle at the top, and are more contoured and better ventilated than the previous Jam. There’s a removable 0.25-inch thick closed-cell foam pad behind the backpanel. The hipbelt (right) is a simple fabric wing and webbing belt.
The Jam2 in size Large fit me (6 feet, 170 pounds) very well. It’s shaped to fit the contour of my back and is remarkably comfortable to carry with loads up to 20 pounds. Although I personally did not find the shoulder straps to be adequately padded to comfortably carry loads over 20 pounds, hikers with stronger shoulders might. With the pack stuffed full to create a virtual frame, I am impressed by how well the Jam2 transfers weight to the hips. The simple fabric hipbelt wing and webbing belt are perfectly comfortable, without the need for extra padding.
Features and Utility
GoLite’s new Compaktor System is a novel idea to adjust pack volume. By connecting a pair of clips to loops at the bottom of the pack, the volume can be reduced to 1300 cubic inches. Remarkable!
Four side compression straps (top left) serve to further adjust pack volume and stabilize smaller loads (shown here with the Compaktor System hooked). Further, the side compression straps have quick release buckles and the straps are long enough to connect to the opposite side (top right). This creates a straight-jacket compression system that seriously compacts and stabilizes the pack. The long compression straps will accommodate attaching larger items to the side of the pack (bottom left), like a full-length RidgeRest pad. However, the gender on the buckles does not work out to connect in the middle (bottom right) to attach gear to the front of the pack. Reversing the gender of the buckles on one side would enable the connection.
The side pockets are a durable stretch nylon/Lycra fabric, and are angled for easier access to water bottles with the pack on. However, the compression straps immediately above the side pockets interfere with re-inserting a water bottle (see photo below). A simple solution is to unclip the compression strap.
The Jam2 adds a 3-liter interior hydration sleeve with two hose ports (left). I personally prefer to use the hydration sleeve for my sleeping pad and carry a short 2-liter Platypus hydration system in a side pocket (right), which is more convenient to access than the interior sleeve.
Unlike other ultralight frameless backpacks, the Jam2 is made of durable Dyneema Gridstop fabric and has durable pockets, which make it suitable for bushwhacking. It’s also very water-repellent (except for the side pockets), which I tested in rain and snow showers in the field. The large gusseted front pocket is advantageous over a mesh pocket because it keeps your gear dry, and has a full-width water-resistant zipper to provide easy access.
To find out how water-repellent the Jam2 is, I tested it under the shower. The water-resistant zipper and PU coating on the inside of the fabric stopped most of the water, but the front pocket leaked a little through a gap between the two zipper pulls and the side seams leaked some. The latter can be eliminated by seam sealing. The fabric surface, shoulder straps, and webbing straps wetted, so the pack did gain a little weight.
The Jam2 is a 3200 ci pack weighing less than a pound and a half with a wonderful large gusseted front gear pocket that is highly water-resistant and easy to access. Also GoLite’s new Compaktor System is simple and elegant, and works very effectively in combination with its four side compression straps to reduce pack volume and stabilize smaller loads.
Recommendations for Improvement
Reverse the gender of the compression strap buckles on one side so they can be released and connected at the center with the straps on the other side. This would add utility by allowing larger gear items to be attached the front of the pack.