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Backpacker Magazine – May 2012

Gear Review: GoLite Jam 50 Backpack

A top performing pack that's only $160.

by: Annette McGivney

GoLite Jam 50 (Ben Fullerton)
GoLite Jam 50 (Ben Fullerton)

See all the ultralight pack reviews from May 2012
[best all-around]
Here’s a rare feat: The top performing pack in this test is also the cheapest. “It has the comfort, stability, and support of packs twice its weight,” says one tester. “When I topped out on the rim after a long patrol, I didn’t have the urge to immediately ditch it like some packs.” Besides price, here are the numbers that matter: It carries up to 35 pounds, has the capacity for five days of supplies, and weighs less than two pounds. Key feature: the pliable backpanel, which is made of high-density closed-cell foam*.

The sheet flexes with the torso but is stiff enough to transfer pack weight to the hipbelt. The frameless design doesn’t have the rigid, supportive suspension of the heavier Osprey, but it provides more load control than the other superlight rucksacks in the test. “Carrying five liters of water was no problem,” says one ranger who loaded the Jam’s hydration sleeve with a three-liter bladder and placed bottles in the two mesh side holsters. The drawstring closure (no floating lid) has a nine-inch extension collar that allows overloading. Ranger bonus: The two hipbelt pouches are big enough for handcuffs (or snacks).

Durability ding: The mesh side pockets suffered a nickel-size hole and several more small tears after 20 days in the Canyon.

> Weight 1 lb. 14 oz.
> Capacity 50 liters
> Price $160
> Sizes 3 unisex (16-22.5 in.)
> Info

*High-density closed-cell: foam A versatile material that offers near-rigid support with cushioned comfort and flex

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Reader Rating: -


Tom Sexton
Nov 02, 2013

I'm not sure how the tester fitted this pack but I've worn my Jam 50 3 or 4 times now and I've found it to be uncomfortable to the point where I probably will try to get half of I paid for it on eBay (anyone who wants one and can't find one, let me know).
I've carried relatively light day loads and found the direction of pull right down my shoulders to the load. I can't see to get the load Xfered to my waist belt and get the required separation under the shoulder straps.
All I can say is that the mechanics of the pack are not well designed.

Steve Sykes
Oct 16, 2012

I've used the Gregory G Pack for the last 3-4 years and have been very happy with it. It was recommended by Backpacker about 3-4 years ago. I'm not sure why it did not make the list this year.

Oct 16, 2012

Tookit on a 4 day hike in NZ and it came through admirably.

Oct 16, 2012

Why review an it that has not been available all summer and is still out of stock?!

Oct 16, 2012

I am on the site now. Suggested retail, $220; sale $131.99

Oct 16, 2012

This pack demolishes the idea that ultra-light packs need to feel like a "rucksack"- sagging off your back under any kind of load.
because of the capacity, I now also use it for day hikes when i need to carry my wife's stuff too, allowing her to hike *light*.

Matt White (Whitey)
Oct 16, 2012

I bought this pack and took it on a 5 day in the lost coast. I wasn't particularly easy on the pack but I wasn't harsh on it either. The material had holes at the bottom of the pack that resembled mouse nibbles where it had frayed from sitting the pack down. I sent it back for a full refund but aside from this, the pack was great. Light, able to hold what I needed, and comfortable to wear.

Oct 16, 2012

Golite sold out of the "Jam" months ago and recently jacked their prices up from $80 each to $132 a pop... Plus they are still out of stock! Not cool.

Oct 16, 2012

I am on the site now. Suggested retail, $220; sale $131.99

Oct 16, 2012

Try $131 on sale at

Oct 16, 2012

The price should be listed as $80. Yes, the MSRP may be twice that, but it's been on sale for over a year now and most items on are constantly on a 50%+ off sale right now.

Richard Davies
Jun 04, 2012

Buy it from for about $80. What a deal!


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