I consider myself detail-oriented. But somehow, when agreeing to review the Gregory J38 pack, I missed a key bit of information: this backpack is specifically designed for women. Sure, I’ve used my wife’s Secret deodorant in a pinch. But hiking through the mountains with a 20-inch torso pack seemed a little outside of nature’s laws. So while Gregory’s J38 could easily have been everything I could want in a pack, it quickly became everything my sister could want in a pack. (Can you give a birthday present four months in advance? Just asking.)

Gregory J38
The Gregory J38. Specifically designed for women.

My sister and I took the Gregory J38 into the mountains near Lake Chelan and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington. And she’s taken it on a few trips without me and filled me in on how much she likes it. I’ve also learned that as a dude, I should have gone with the Gregory Z40. Why J = women and Z = men is still a mystery to me, but their both great packs. Built to hold about 35 pounds comfortably, the women’s J38 is a little larger than an average day pack, making it ideal for long day hikes or one-nighters. There are nine different compartments, including two zip pouches on the waist belt, perfect for cameras and energy bars. There are two stretch water bottle pockets on each side, and exterior loops for securing trekking poles, fishing rods, ice picks, or whatever you’re into. There’s even a built-in matching rain cover that fits perfectly over the entire pack and comes in its own compartment, attached to a strap so it won’t ever be misplaced or lost.

Gregory J38
Zip pouch on the waist belt.

But the best part of the J38 (according to a grateful sister) is how breathable the back is. The CrossFlo™ Suspension creates enough space between you and the pack to keep it ventilated so you don’t end your day with a stagnant pool of sweat on the back of your t-shirt.

Pros

  • CrossFlo™ Suspension keeps your back ventilated
  • 9 compartments total
  • Built-in matching rain cover
  • 2 water bottle pouches
  • 2 front zip pouches on the waist belt
  • 2 exterior loops for poles, etc.
  • $179.00 is a great price for a pack of this quality

Cons

  • Top cover did not seem detachable. According to the specs on gregorypacks.com there is a “floating, removable top pocket with zippered pocket and key clip.” But if “removable” means “detachable,” we didn’t see how.
J38 2
Matching rain cover.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Maybe if I’d had a chance to try on the Gregory J38 in-store I would have realized it’s suited for a 20-inch torso. Or if the ♀ on the tag were in a slightly heavier font, I would have realized I was getting a mountain lady’s pack. But no matter who’s wearing it, it’s pretty easy to see that the Gregory J38 (like the more masculine Z40) is a great pack. It’s a trusted brand, it’s thoughtfully designed, and it looks great. Sis, you owe me.

TECH SPECS (Figures based on medium size pack. Small and XS also available.)
Gregory (gregorypacks.com)
$179.00 MSRP
Volume: 40 L
Weight: 2 LB 15 OZ / 1.33 KG
Made from 210D robic dynagin, 100D robin GR shadowbox, 200D polyester oxford, 265g polyester stretch woven and 190T nylon taffeta
Available colors: Astral Red, Fog Gray, Moonrise Purple
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