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Gregory Jade 53 Women’s Backpack Review

Gregory Jade 53 (2023) Backpack Review

The new Gregory Jade 53 (2023 model) is a ventilated backpack with an adjustable-length torso designed for women for multi-day trips. It has a women’s specific hip belt and shoulder harness and has big hip belt pockets and other pockets and features that you would expect from a Gregory pack in this size & price range. I’ve been a fan of the Gregory Jade line of packs for a while and have been backpacking and winter day hiking with the previous generation Jade 53 and day hiking the rest of the year with a Jade 33 for several years. This version of the Gregory Jade 53 lives up to expectations in terms of general comfort, quality of materials and construction, and overall usability. It’s a solid choice for a comfortable multi-day pack that will haul a pretty big load with ease.

Specs at a Glance

  • Volume: 53L
  • Weight: 4.02 lbs (64.3 oz) / 1823g
  • Gender: Women
  • Type: Internal frame
  • Access: 3 (top, bottom, front)
  • Adjustable Torso Length: Yes
  • Ventilation: Tensioned mesh with open space
  • Hydration Compatible: Yes
  • Sleeping Bag Compartment: Yes
  • Trekking Pole Attachment: Yes
  • Rain Cover: No
  • Pockets: 6 + main
  • Torso Size: XS/SM 14”-17”, SM/M 15”-19”
  • Hipbelt Sizing: XS/SM 24″-46″, 25-48”
  • Max Recommended Load: 50 lbs

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Jade 53 features a mesh backpanel to keep your back cooler and drier.
The Jade 53 features a mesh back panel to keep your back cooler and drier.

The new Gregory Jade 53 has a ventilated back panel to keep your back cooler in hot weather and help perspiration dry faster. The torso length is adjustable and uses a simple rip-and-stick mechanism to move the shoulder yoke up or down, in order to make the torso length longer or shorter. It’s very intuitive, although you may want to ask an experienced friend to help you fit the pack if you’ve never done it before so that the load rests on your hips for the most part and not on your shoulders.

The Jade 53 also features a free-floating hipbelt that follows the movements of your hips when you walk. Gregory leads the industry on this dimension and it really improves the carry with moderate to heavy loads because the pack moves with your hips instead of your back. Ladies, I’m sure you understand what I mean!

The shoulder straps can be raised or lowered using a rip-and-stick (velcro) mechanism.
The shoulder straps can be raised or lowered using a rip-and-stick (velcro) mechanism.

This pack also has a women’s specific shoulder harness and waist belt that are quite comfortable. The material covering the shoulder straps in this new model has been changed to something that is less abrasive so it is less irritating to your skin. The sternum strap also has an integrated whistle and hydration clip.

Backpack Storage and Organization

The Gregory Jade 53 is a top-loading backpack with a floating top lid. The main compartment can also be accessed via a zipper on the bottom which opens into the sleeping bag compartment and through a U-shaped zipper on the front of the pack under the stretch pocket that offers panel access to the interior. Panel loaders are great because they let you access gear deep inside the backpack without having to remove everything from the top first.

The Jade 53 has a zipper that runs around the front mesh pocket, providing panel access to the contents.
The Jade 53 has a zipper that runs around the front mesh pocket, providing panel access to the contents.

The floating top lid has a roomy pocket on top that has plenty of space to store snacks and essential gear with quick and easy access. There is also a pocket on the underside of the top lid which has a key clip and is handy for smaller items that you like to keep handy. The top pocket straps can be extended up, so you can overload more gear under the lid and scrunch it against the top of the main compartment.

The main compartment is roomy and the divider for the sleeping bag compartment can be disconnected so that you have a single large compartment. There is an interior pocket for a hydration system and a hose port in the center back of the pack.

The top floating lid has two pockets, one on top and one on the underside.
The top floating lid has two pockets, one on top and one on the underside.

The front stretch pocket is part mesh and part solid cloth for improved durability. It still works for things you want a stretch pocket for but should hold up better over time than less durable mesh pockets.

The side water bottle pockets are made with sturdy stretch mesh. They will hold a 1-liter Nalgene bottle upright placed in from the top of the pocket. There’s also a front, holster-style opening.

However, even though there is a holster-style opening, it is not possible to put a 1-liter Nalgene in the pocket that way. This opening will only work with smaller-diameter bottles. This is a change from the previous Jade 53 that could accommodate 1-liter Nalgenes holstered.

The Side Water Bottle Pockets can hold a 1L widemouth Nalgene
The Side Water Bottle Pockets can hold a 1L wide-mouth Nalgene

The two large hip belt pockets easily hold snacks, an average-sized cell phone, gloves, and other small items. The pockets are big enough that the curvature around my hips does not make it difficult to get the phone out of the pocket. These are much larger pockets than the previous Jade 53 and can hold quite a lot of stuff: finally, hip belt pockets big enough to be useful.

The Jade 53 is hydration system compatible. There is a pocket inside the pack for your hydration bladder with a clip to keep the bladder from sinking to the bottom of the pocket. There is a port for the hose at the top of the pack in the back and a hose clip on the right shoulder strap.

External Attachment and Compression

The pack has dual compression straps which open and close with glove-friendly buckles.
The pack has dual compression straps which open and close with glove-friendly buckles.

There are two side compression straps on each side of the pack. The lower one can be run inside the pocket, so it can be used for compression even though you have a bottle in the pocket. If used on the outside of the pocket, you can use the compression strap to attach gear to the side of the pack like a tent or pair of snowshoes.

There is a set of straps on the back at the bottom of the pack for a sleeping pad or other gear you wish to store externally like a tent or chair.

There is one set of hiking pole/ice axe loops which consists of a bungee at the top and an adjustable webbing loop at the bottom.

Similar Women’s Ventilated Backpacks

Make / ModelWeight
Osprey Aura AG 504 lbs 5 oz
Osprey Renn 503 lbs 5 oz
Osprey Ariel 554 lbs 14 oz
Osprey Aura AG LT 504 lbs
Gregory Kalmia 504 lbs 6 oz
Gregory Jade 534 lbs


While the new Gregory Jade 53 is a very nice backpack and a pleasure to use, it’s worth noting that it’s around 8 ounces heavier than the previous version. I feel like we are in the age of expecting increasingly lightweight packs and that Gregory may have missed the mark by going the other way on this one. They already have a high-end, heavy load hauler in the Deva line of packs and the 60-liter Deva only weighs 9 ounces more than the new Jade 53. That said, the Jade 53 is an excellent load hauler and a very good value if you want something a bit lighter. If you don’t need to haul really heavy loads (35-50 bs) and want one for carrying 25-35 lbs instead, I’d also recommend the women’s Gregory Facet 55, which shares any of the attributes of the Jade 53, but is intended for lightweight backpacking loads.

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About the author

Wanda Rice has been backpacking since the late 1980’s. She has climbed the New Hampshire 48, the New Hampshire 48 in winter, the New England 67, the New England Hundred Highest, and the Four-Season 48. Wanda also teaches for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Mountain Leadership School, the AMC New Hampshire Chapter Spring and Winter Schools as well as the AMC NH Winter Hiking Series. She leads day and overnight trips for AMC NH year-round and loves mentoring new leaders. She is a gear junkie, a self-proclaimed Queen of Gear Hacks, and loves sharing her tips and tricks with others. Wanda lives in southern NH and is looking forward to moving closer to the mountains in the next few years.


  1. I have trouble with packs that have a suspended back panel. they throw my center of gravity off which irritates a back injury I have. Do you know of a pack that has a movable hip belt that does not have a suspended back panel?

    Also, reading your Bio, would you ever be able to discuss the schools that you are affiliated with, educate us on what’s available, why a hiker would want to take the courses and any others that may be available in different locations? It’s a big ask but you have an interesting background.

    • If anyone makes one, Gregory does. Check out their other packs.

    • I haven’t had an issue with the suspended back panels on my Gregory packs, but it could be I’m used to them at this point. I put snowshoes on the back of a Jade 53 and even though I would expect that to really pull back, I don’t have a problem with it.
      I teach workshops the the New Hampshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club. I teach a beginner backpacking weekend workshop in spring and some different winter hiking related workshops as well.

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