Golite Jam Backpack

It's not the lightest pack around, but its very close and has some extra features that I feel are worth the weight.

First, a little history… the origin of ultralight packs started with good old Ray Jardine. In his book, Beyond Backpacking he describes a light weight pack system. How to pack it to be stable and how to sew your own! Fortunatley, some commercial guys got involved and decided to pre-build them for consumers. Golite are one of the mainstream makers of ultralight packs. Six Moon Designs have some interesting ones also.

Golite used to make a pack called the Breeze that was a replica of the one in Rays Book. I have this pack also, and it's amazing light at only 14 oz. However, I was unable to get one for Theresa as they are no longer made (Ray and Golite had a "falling out"), and so settled for a Jam.

On our first outing together with both the Jam and the Breeze I was a little envious of some of the features. Most notably:

  • The Jam has a hip-belt and I found that my shoulders got a little sore even with carrying only 18lbs.
  • It has a interior pocket for slipping a playtpus inside, with a slit for the hose to run out of without needing to have the top open.
  • It has a very light weight back-pad, where the Breeze has none.
  • It has an exterior pocket, which I find really handy for stashing things I need.

An off-the-shelf Jam weighs in at 22 oz, which is still incredibly light. I have modified my size medium by removing the inner water pouch, removing the backpad and reducing unecessary straps – it's now down to 19oz. The backpad I don't miss as my thermarest doubles as this quite well, and the pouch I found to be more awkward than useful – the slits are the most valuable part.

Available from Amazon for $79.

8 thoughts on “Golite Jam Backpack

  1. Aubrey

    I recently bought one of these packs. I ditched the old Gregory Forrester and have been happy ever since! I also did the same mods since I pack my gear in a similar way with my sleep pad as my back pad. Great site and great reports, please keep them coming!

  2. Tom K

    This was the first pack I got when starting out, since I had no intention of hauling around insane weight. My size large weighed in at 19.5 ounces with no modifications at all, so I’ve kept mine stock. However, removing the backpad and shortening the straps are the two primary mods I would do if I were to modify it at all.

    It’s just a shame that they’re gone. Hopefully, the Jam2 will continue the legacy!

  3. The Shot Caller

    Brett, Thanks for the site info, I am new to ULBP and have learned a lot from your site. Question or opinion on the Jam Pack @ $63.00 vs. the Granite Gear ‘Virga’ pack at 63 bucks as well. They seem very similar but the online reviews for the Virga are rare. Thanks again.

    Peace, The Shot Caller

    ps are you guys ipod-less hikers?

  4. brett Post author

    Shot Caller,

    I’m not familiar with the Virga – it seems to get good reviews on BackpackingLight.com. I’ve been very happy with my old Jam pack, and know several people that have the newer versions – and they love it. I don’t think you’ll go wrong with it.

    You might want to invest in a membership to BackpackingLight.com to get access to some of their in-depth reviews – it’s a great resource.

    Yeah – no ipod on the trail for us. Funny – as I always snowboard with an ipod and love it – but not when backpacking – I would rather hear the sound of the water, trees and marmots. 🙂

    Have fun lightening up…

  5. Brad

    Hi Brett, I have a question about how you use your Platy in you Jam pack. I have a Jam2 pack and am heading out for my first short overnight with it this weekend. I test loaded my pack last night and the full Platy (I have the 2L version like you) created a strange bump in the middle of the pack resting against my back. I am wondering if your wife has that same problem and also where you store your Platy (as I see you have torn our your bladder pocket).

    thanks for any help (and all the inspiration to go UL)!


  6. brett Post author

    Hey Brad,

    As you noted, I cut out the bladder holding pocket and also took out the backsupport of my Jam. I have a v1 Jam, but I think it’s pretty similar to the v2. The way I pack – is I put my foam pad against my back for comfort, then the tent and gear. My platy is the last thing to go in (as it comes out often for refils on the trail) and i just plop it in the top on top of everything else, and then pull the draw-string to close the pack.

    I found the Jam bladder pocket more of a gimmick than useful. I do like the slots to run the hose through’ tho’ – that’s a great feature 🙂

    Have a fun weekend! I’m down in our basement all weekend working on a remodel project – would LOVE to be out there…


  7. Brian


    Just stumbled across your site. I have been backpacking for a couple years and am finally starting to realize I need to downsize (weight wise). What is the capacity on these jam packs? They have a couple different sizes now although all of them are way lighter than the Mountain Smith I am lugging around now.



  8. brettm

    Hey Brian,

    The Jam wouldn’t be my first choice today (they are heavier these day – see here) – although still way better than your Mountain Smith (I have one of those kicking around in my attic too :)) Looks like the Jam holds ~ 50L.

    I need to update my gear list one of these days – My current pack is the ULA CDT (http://www.ula-equipment.com/cdt.asp) – which I LOVE – but it’s quite a bit smaller than the Jam.

    Good luck lightening your load!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *