CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW

Durable and adjustable, but initially confusing to set up.

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by Matt Eckhart | 2006-12-12 03:00:00-07

CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW

Introduction

The durable 60 Liter WorkSack is currently the largest pack CiloGear makes; with the extension collar loaded it can hold up to 90 liters. Removable straps allow the pack to be compressed down to a 28 liter volume for overnighters or day hikes without all the excess slack and weight in straps. And with further stripping of removable components, it can be reduced down to a 30-ounce frameless pack. The pack has some good characteristics but there is a steep learning curve to mastering strap use and some useful features are missing.

What’s Good

  • Durable for all types of use
  • Many adjustment options
  • Removable straps, framesheet, hipbelt, and top pocket let you reduce weight
  • Hipbelt + top pocket convert to a fanny pack
  • Foam backpanel doubles as a short sleeping pad
  • Hydration compatible

What’s Not So Good

  • Removable adjustment straps are confusing and hard to adjust
  • No side pockets
  • No hipbelt pockets

Specifications

  Manufacturer/Year/Model

2006 CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack

  Style

Internal frame, top loading, drawstring closure, top pocket

  Volume

3660 ci (60 L), 5490 ci (90 L) with extension collar filled, 1709 ci (28 L) with side buckles connected

  Weight

3 lb 9 oz (1.62 kg) measured weight, manufacturer’s specification 3 lb 8 oz (1.59 kg)

  Fabrics

Main body is VX51, center panel is VX42, center sides are VX21, side panels are 210d Spectra, crampon pouch is 500d Spectra

  Features

Removable hipbelt and top lid combine to create a fanny pack, many strap options, one outside front pocket, two zippered pockets on top lid, two ice axe loops, 3-liter hydration sleeve with one port, haul loop, load lifters, hipbelt stabilizers, sternum strap

  Volume To Weight Ratio

64.2 ci/oz size L (based on 3660 ci and a measured weight of 57 oz)

  Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

35 lb (15.9 kg) estimated maximum comfortable load an average person can carry all day in this pack

  Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

9.8 (based on 35 lb and a measured weight of 3.56 lb)

  MSRP

$185 US

Performance

The CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack has a strap system I’ve never seen before. I spent some time trying to figure out the different options available. There are three different types of straps that come with the backpack, for a total of ten straps. There are many places on the backpack where you can place the straps, with no directions on the manufacture’s website or included with the pack on how to use them. Quite a bit of time is required initially to strategically place the straps to best suit your needs.

Once the straps are installed, the pack has a 60 liter volume with compression options. The extension collar lets the pack expand up to 90 liters. To make a 28 liter volume pack, remove the adjustment straps and clip the side buckles together. The option of having a smaller pack without the weight or extra length of the straps is nice, but it also means you can’t compress the load since the straps are removed. CiloGear mentions you can have one side of the backpack with straps and the other side with no straps for a 43 liter pack, but this causes the pack to be asymmetrical and I don’t see any advantages to this option.

CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW - 1
Basic strap options for the CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack: straps removed (left) for full pack volume but no compression, buckles connected (center) for 28 liter volume, and straps added (right) for 60 liter volume with compression.

The pack comes in three different torso sizes, small, medium, and large. The hipbelt is removable and attached by Velcro allowing further adjustment for different size torsos. The hipbelt is made of foam that is a little over ½ inch thick. The top lid has a smaller zippered pocket in the inside and a larger zippered pocket on the outside. The lid can also be removed and attached to the hipbelt to make a fanny pack for short hikes around camp.

CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW - 2
The top lid and hipbelt can be removed to create a large fanny pack.

The harness system includes load lifter straps to pull the top of the pack in closer to your back. The shoulder straps are curved and include an adjustable sternum strap. The shoulder straps have foam padding that is a little under ½-inch thick.

CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW - 3
The harness is easy to adjust but the shoulder straps are closer to the neck than most packs.

The backpanel is made up of a single aluminum stay, plastic framesheet and a closed cell foam pad folded in half that can double as a small (18 inches by 24 inches) sleeping pad.

CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW - 4
The closed cell foam backpanel pad of the CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack can be unfolded and used as a sleeping pad, and the plastic framesheet with single aluminum stay can be removed to convert the WorkSack into a frameless pack.

The inside of the bag has some reflective material sewn into one side that brightens up the interior of the pack, making it easier to spot items you’re searching for. There are two ice axe loops and one outside pocket on the pack.

CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW - 5
The interior of the pack has reflective material on one side to brighten up the inside.

The CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack performed well in the field with loads up to 30 pounds. The shoulder straps are sewn into the pack at a right angle so they are close to my neck and rub against it with loads over 30 pounds. On most packs the shoulder straps angle away from each other slightly giving your neck a little more room. 

The diameter of the pack is smaller at the bottom and gets larger towards the top, with the collar having the largest diameter. This is good for throwing in some extra food near the top or stuffing in a jacket, but if your sleeping bag is large it might not fit in the bottom of the pack - although my three-season down bag fit just fine. The backpanel pad, framesheet and stay, top lid, and hipbelt can be removed to save some weight and turn the pack into a frameless backpack. The stripped pack weighs only 1 pound 14 ounces.

CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW - 6
CiloGear WorkSack 90 degree shoulder straps (left) compared to the angled shoulder straps on a Gregory G-pack (right).

Assessment

The CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack is durable and can stand up to abuse in the field. I’m not afraid to bushwhack or scrape against rocks with this pack like I am with some other lightweight packs. It is capable of carrying a variety of loads with comfort and is well made. The pack is not user friendly at first and it takes some time to get used to the strap system. There are no side pockets and one front pocket so you’re limited to using the front pocket for a water bottle holder if you don’t use the hydration bladder option.

At 3 pounds 9 ounces, the 60 liter WorkSack is about 8 ounces lighter than the popular Osprey Aether 60, but lacks side pockets. It weighs about the same as the new Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian and GoLite Quest, but does not have nearly as nice a feature set as those packs. The main reasons for considering the CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack are its superb durability and volume adjustment, which make it a good choice for mountaineering applications.

What's Unique

The removable backpanel pad that can be unfolded and used as a sleeping pad along with the interchangeable and removable compression straps are a unique combination.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Make it easier to adjust the straps or scratch the idea of removable straps
  • Add side pockets to hold water bottles
  • Add hipbelt pockets
  • Slightly angle the shoulder straps away from each other

Addendum to CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW

December 21, 2006

Our statement in this review that there are "no directions on the manufacture's website or included with the pack on how to use them" is incorrect. A detailed manual is available on the CiloGear website. We apologize to Graham Williams of CiloGear for this oversight. - CC


Citation

"CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW," by Matt Eckhart. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/cilogear_60_liter_worksack_backpack_review.html, 2006-12-12 03:00:00-07.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW


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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW on 12/12/2006 23:18:42 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW

Graham Williams
(crackers) - F
Re: CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW on 12/13/2006 18:23:49 MST Print View

As the manufacturer of these packs, I'd like to make a some comments.

1)In the words of the reviewer from Alpinist Magazine:
"The instructions provided for fitting the pack ... were straight forward and easy to follow." He went on to describe the manual's clear description of how to use the straps. The manual lives online at wiki1.cilogear.com . We are always eager to develop better materials to make it easier to use the entire system.

When we supplied the packs to BPL, we sent an electronic copy of the manual to BPL, and they clearly stated that they had and understood the manual. The manual is clearly linked to in a number of places on our website. Like on the bottom of every page that talks about the packs...Obviously, the BPL reviewer was not able to find the link, and we will address that ASAP.

3) There is no 'reflective material on one side of the pack'. The DP cloth has a white polyester scrim which does make the inside of the pack very bright. There is also a piece of ScotchLite on either end of the internal compression strap.

In other news, the new packs are lighter, just as strong, and we've fixed several of the flaws of the first generation packs. For example, we have several accessory pockets and pouches that will be available in January. We also have a different geometry for the shoulder straps, a new method for the hydration bladder and several other improvements.

As a small company, we strive to improve our product as soon as we detect a shortcoming. We did this with the shoulder straps, and we'll continue to do it. We offer an update package for all of our customers, allowing them to get updated removable parts, like lids, hipbelts (yes, with pockets coming in the spring) and the like.

Please feel free to check out my blog at blog.cilogear.biz to see the new packs and see what else we've been working on...I know that the blog is mentioned in a thread over in the gear section, but I'm taking the liberty of pointing it out again.

Finally, we're updating our website and should have the new one rolled out on Monday. And we've got a moving / clearance sale on the '06 packs. http://www.cilogear.com/packs/sale.shtml

Graham Williams
(crackers) - F
Re: Re: CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW on 12/13/2006 18:29:09 MST Print View

In an effort to make the Manual easier to find, I changed the font size of all mentions of the manual on the website.

A visitor to the website can find a link to the manual on the bottom of virtually every page.

I will make sure that the manual is incredibly obvious and easy to find on the new website.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Graham, re:CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW on 12/13/2006 18:51:28 MST Print View

Graham,
Thanks for following up. I found the wiki no problem. There is one broken link on the strap page:
Error creating thumbnail: convert: unable to open image `/home/.beckie/cilo/wiki1.cilogear.com/images/thumb/200px-TwointoDee.jpg': No such file or directory

I have a suggestion. The straps and hipbelt are not described or photographed anywhere on your site, the wiki, nor the other online reviews. Only BPL did that. These are the critical parts of the pack which touch the wearer; and comfort can make or break a pack. If I knew the straps were so close, and perpendicular, I would hesitate before buying a pack. Did you separate and angle the straps for 2007? If so, show it with some pics on another wiki page?

I am just getting into mountaineering, and your multitude of strapping compression options is a strong selling point, but because your product is on-line, some clear shots of the harness would be critical to review before purchasing.

Good luck
Brett

Graham Williams
(crackers) - F
Re: Graham, re:CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW on 12/13/2006 20:25:25 MST Print View

Brett:

Thanks for your comments, and I will make sure to fix the broken link in the morning when I'm back at the office.

The angle of the straps was changed over a year ago. The pack supplied to BPL was supplied with that information. Check out the 40L pack that I supplied to BPL...

The new website does address some of your concerns about showing clear shots of the shoulder straps and the results of the variability of the compression / load transfer system. I will add some snapshots of the shoulder straps to my blog tomorrow.

Thanks,
Graham

Edited by crackers on 12/13/2006 20:26:57 MST.

Graham Williams
(crackers) - F
Re: Brett, re:CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW on 12/14/2006 07:00:06 MST Print View

Brett:

You wrote:
"I have a suggestion. The straps and hipbelt are not described or photographed anywhere on your site, the wiki, nor the other online reviews. Only BPL did that."

The most linked review of these packs on the internet, to be found at http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=1288501 has about 13 pictures, including three of the suspension. In the discussion following the review, there is substantial discussion of the suspension. I would also recommend checking out the review of the 40L worksack on rockclimbing.com, which has more photos and discussion of the suspensions.

That said, I will continue to develop better methods of ensuring that everybody knows how to find the manual and that there are ample photographs of the suspension. To be honest, since I'm basically out of stock of the old packs and waiting for the new ones to arrive, I've taken a lot of material down from the website. The new website will have a lot more information on it, and I will start making two new pages exclusively about the suspension and the usage of the Dee-Clips and straps.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Thank you Graham on 12/14/2006 08:26:47 MST Print View

Thank you for the prompt replies; your responsiveness to potential customers is really excellent, so I expect your follow on service would be as well. Glad to hear about the improvements. I just packed my Mountainsmith 45L for an alpine trip, and its too small. Im going to take another look at your 60L; it looks very versatile.

Greg Vaillancourt
(GSV45) - F

Locale: Utah
Re: Re: Brett, re:CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW on 12/16/2006 10:46:04 MST Print View

Graham,

Where are your packs made?

Graham Williams
(crackers) - F
Re: Greg, re:CiloGear 60 Liter WorkSack Backpack REVIEW on 12/18/2006 08:18:40 MST Print View

Howdy Greg,

http://www.cilogear.com/oem/ends.shtml but I anticipate that page changing in the next week. I will make sure that it drives you to the new page automatically, which will be http://www.cilogear.com/corp/ethics.shtml

All of the high value inputs are made in the USA, as much as we can determine. We do the sewing in Turkey. We do our prototyping here in New York City and over there in Istanbul. I also do a lot of outreach in Turkey, the only Muslim majority member of NATO and the USA's only democratic Muslim ally.

Our goal is to keep the high value work / patents here, while delivering excellent value for the customer's dollar. Basically, sewing is a dead end in the USA, and pretty much only exists for very small and expensive operations or the military. The textile business in the US is incredibly bizarre, and dominated by the military in terms of production and very powerful lobby groups in terms of tariffs.

Most of the value of the fabric in our packs is represented by the Dimension Polyant stuff. The fabric is a laminate made from five layers. The most valuable layer is Cordura. however, the Cordura is manufacturered in Japan under license of Invista using (most of the time) Shell's nylon 6.6. The work done by the DP workers is definitely the most skilled labor, and I am glad to support my regional economy as much as possible.

I source the vast majority of my fabric from Connecticut and Rhode Island, and virtually all of my buckles and webbing from Long Island, New York.

By way of an example, if the waist band of a pair of pants hasn't been attached, and you attach it in the states, your pants are now made in the USA.
Another example: in conversations with the former CFO and current CEO of Malden Mills, they stated that the only reason they still make stuff in the USA is because the US military demands it. None of the rest of their major customers are interested in buying their US production.

Sorry about the long winded response to your short question.

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Manual on 12/21/2006 07:33:19 MST Print View

Yep, there is one and we missed it. I've added an addendum to the review so folks who might not read the forums know the manual is on the website. Thanks for working with us on this Graham!

Jeremy Cleaveland
(jeremy11) - F

Locale: Exploring San Juan talus
comfortable carrying weight on 09/18/2007 22:11:00 MDT Print View

The review mentioned that the pack carried comfortably up to 35 pounds.
I carry up to 30 pounds in my frameless Golite Gust; compared to the Gust, this pack is a major load hauler, suitable for heavy loads.

I have had a V1 60L for a year and a half, including 2 summers of wilderness guiding, plus carrying rope solo trad gear, and backpacking. It is really a great pack.
I have carried up to about 70 lbs in it. I was guiding a jr high backpacking trip, so went ultralight on my personal gear, but then carried a really heavy meal for 12 plus 2 full 6L water bags for a dry campsite, plus 3.5L of my own water. It was not comfortable - 70 lbs is never ever comfortable - but it was very doable. This August I did a trip into the Winds for 8 days with rock climbing and glacier gear. The pack was heavy, but again, performed well.

In regard to not having waterbottle pockets, it was initially designed for alpine climbing and mountaineering, where outside waterbottle pockets can get in the way while climbing. I use the crampon pocket for a bottle and a hydration pack for drinking on the go. Maybe make a version for backpacking with features like waterbottle pockets and hipbelt pockets but without the crampon pocket and with only a single basic ice axe loop. Anyone with basic sewing skills could do these mods. The fabric could also be lightened up for a non-mountaineering pack.

the dee-clip system is especially useful when carrying big items like snowshoes, since straps can be linked together to go around the snowshoes.